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Posted On: 17 February 2010 01:32 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:10 pm

Forum looks to bridge divide

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The 7th edition of the US-Islamic World Forum, hosted by the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution and Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, concluded here yesterday with five working groups presenting the key findings of their sessions. The Assistant Foreign Minister for Follow-up Affairs, H E Mohamed bin Abdullah Al Rumaihi, who is also head of the Conference’s Permanent Committee, said in his address at the closing session that the 8th edition of the Forum would be held in Washington DC. “This 7th Forum that we are concluding now, will give us new orientations and maybe it will also help us to see how the relations between the US and the Muslim World are going to be,” he said. In the final session moderated by Steve Grand, director of the Brookings Project on US Relations with the Islamic World, the five working group chairs presented the key findings of their sessions with a focus on recommendations for policy makers and private sector supporters. Presenting the recommendations from one of the sessions that dealt with the role of religious leaders and religious communities in diplomacy, Bishop John Bryson Chane, President and CEO from the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral foundation in the United States, said moral purpose was the very core of Islam, Christianity and Judaism and religious leaders must reaffirm this truth and exercise their leadership, partnership and diplomatic initiatives to bring about a cessation of violence against humanity. Chane said the Brookings Institution will become the convening force of a council of religious leaders that would meet three times a year, with one of those meetings being part of the US-Islamic World Forum. The group also called for addressing the situation of human suffering in Gaza which it termed as unacceptable. Amit Pandya, Director for Regional Voices from the Stimson Centre in the US, spoke of the establishment of a cyber platform that his group had agreed upon in the sessions devoted to ‘Scientific, Intellectual and Governance Cooperation on Emerging Environmental Challenges’. The cyber platform could be used to pool in expertise from all parts of the Muslim world, particularly Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, which were under represented at the Forum, he said. The group recommended the establishment of a joint scientific forum involving the US and the Muslim world to promote cooperation in the field of science. The working group on ‘New Media to Further Global Engagement’ stressed the need to support the media in the Muslim world, particularly the Internet, which is the sole outlet in some countries for the youth and civil society organisations to express their views. The closing session of the Forum also recommended establishing lasting relationships between Muslims and others in other countries as well as following up the work of this Forum and continuing discussions between the two sides on the issue of democracy and Islamic parties. It also called for the adoption of projects for the development of local communities, strengthening relations between local government institutions, non-governmental organisations and international bodies, and opening channels of dialogue between charitable organisations on both sides.