Religious leaders from Christian and Muslim communities in the Middle East will gather in Athens in September to discuss plans to better support the citizenship rights of Christian, other religious and ethnic groups in Iraq and Syria.
The meeting, which will take place from 2 to 3 September, is a joint initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Vienna-based KAICIID Dialogue Centre, with the support of the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The meeting will bring together Christian and Muslim religious leaders from across the Middle East, including representatives from the Armenian, Catholic, Evangelical, Rum (Greek) Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, Sunni, Shi’a and Druze communities.
His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel, who is a member of the KAICIID Board of Directors, said the meeting will give Muslim and Christian religious leaders the chance to intensify their joint work to address the critical situation facing Christians, and other minority groups, in Iraq and Syria, where violence and political upheaval have placed long-established communities in jeopardy.
“Christian communities are integral parts of the diverse societies of the Middle East. It is essential for religious leaders from all faiths and denominations to speak with one voice, and address this current crisis to preserve the endangered communities. Christian communities have lived in this region for over 2,000 years and contribute to all aspects of Middle Eastern societies. Their loss would be a catastrophe for coexistence and the region as a whole,” he said.
The meeting will underline the role of religious leaders as active peacemakers, rather than passive observers of religious co-existence and conflict. The leaders will take stock of the existing situation, map out requirements, share best practices and develop concrete follow-up measures that can be implemented at the regional level.