Muslim and Christian Religious Leaders Unite to Denounce ISIS and Violence in Iraq and Syria

In an unprecedented demonstration of multi-religious solidarity, leaders of Christian, Muslim and other religious communities from Iraq, Syria and the larger Middle East region yesterday have denounced with one voice all violence in the name of religion, and have called on the international community to protect religious and cultural diversity in Iraq and Syria.

Religious leaders from Sunni, Shiite, Christian, Mandean, and Yazidi communities across the Middle East yesterday jointly issued the Vienna Declaration, "United against Violence in the Name of Religion", at the international conference organized by the KAICIID Dialogue Centre.

This is the first time religious leaders representing so many different religions from a crisis region have come together as one to denounce oppression, marginalization, persecution and killing of people in the name of religion.

The religious leaders were united in acknowledging that the current conflict in Iraq and Syria targets followers of every religion. They jointly rejected all violence in the name of religion, and attempts by groups like ISIS to claim legitimacy for their actions within the teachings of Islam. They also condemned the serious violation of human rights in Iraq and Syria; especially against Christian, Yazidi and other religious and ethnic groups.

The religious leaders emphasized the right of all to be treated with dignity and humanity regardless of their religious tradition. Atrocities committed in the name of religion are crimes against humanity, and crimes against religion. The declaration also rejects and denounces the support or sponsorship of terrorism.

Together the religious leaders expressed their collective solidarity with all who are oppressed due to these events, especially those who have been uprooted and displaced from their homes. They called upon relevant political powers and the international community to spare no effort to help these people return to their homes.

Speaking after the meeting, Faisal Bin Muaammar, KAICIID Secretary General, the international organizer of the conference said, "The manipulation of religion in Iraq and Syria has horrific human consequences. Today we witnessed a reason for hope: the conviction and resolve of religious leaders from many different faiths, speaking with one voice, to say that ISIS and other extremist groups do not act in the name of religion".

"The KAICIID Dialogue Centre is privileged to have brought these religious leaders together, and is committed to work with them, and with our partners in the international community, to help build peace for the people who suffer in this crisis, and to ensure that the world hears this call for action."

The participants at the KAICIID Conference "United against Violence in the Name of Religion" also recommended initiatives to promote social cohesion and peacebuilding in the region. The initiatives' implementation will be overseen by a permanent interreligious committee and working groups from various dialogue and interreligious institutions.

Further information about the conference and the declaration: http://religionsunite.org/

- Cross reference: Picture is available via epa european pressphoto agency and can be downloaded free of charge at: http://www.epa.eu and http://www.ots.at/presseaussendung/OTS_20141119_OTS0241

Contact KAICIID Dialogue Centre:

Peter Kaiser

Head of Communications

Schottenring 2, 1010 Vienna

Mobile: +43 664 231 0593 Email: peter.kaiser@kaiciid.org