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June 4 2015


An offensive of dialogue in the face of wars in the Middle East: the conference "East and West: dialogues of civilisations"

Presented today in Rome the international conference sponsored by Sant'Egidio to be held on 8 and 9 June in Florence, with the participation of religious leaders of Islam and representatives of politics and the European institutions

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After the conference Catholics-Shiite and the first summit of all the Eastern Churches in Bari, the Community of Sant'Egidio proposed a third international meeting in Florence, with the participation of the highest religious authorities in the Sunni world, led by the Grand Imam of Al Azhar (Cairo), Mohammad Ahmad al-Tayyeb, on his first official visit to Europe. The international conference "East and West, dialogues of civilisations", which will take place on 8 and 9 June in the Tuscan capital, in Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Medici Riccardi, was presented today in Rome by the president of Sant'Egidio, Marco Impagliazzo: "It is not - he said - an interreligious meeting, but a dialogue between cultures, which will give opportunity to the Grand Imam and other important Muslim authorities to explain the face of Islam so different from the one presented today by ISIS and from ' violent obscurantism" preached to power conflicts:" To stop feeding these movements, we must not give in to resignation, manifested in many cases by the international community in the face of ongoing wars in Syria and Iraq, and on the contrary we must carry on an offensive of dialogue". To have a dialogue with these prestigious voices of Sunni Islam, there will be in Florence, as well as the founder of the Community of Sant'Egidio, Andrea Riccardi, some politicians and European institutions including Romano Prodi and the Secretary General of the European External Action Service, Alain Le Roy .

"We hope - added Impagliazzo - the creation of a Union of Muslim countries on the model of the European Union, because one of the problems in the Islamic world is the lack of integration: it could be a valuable partner for Europe". "The goal - he insisted - is a collaboration between two worlds to stop the conflict and save cohabitation: we need to build bridges in a time when too many bridges are systematically destroyed. On the one hand the Muslim world, which is experiencing a complex crisis, "must become aware of taking a clear position in favour of dialogue, against all violent drift", on the other "the West must pursue serious self-criticism in front of attitudes of Islamophobia and xenophobia, which have occurred recently with the rejection of refugees arriving on our shores".

The greetings of Dario Nardella, mayor of Florence, the city that will host the international conference, also came to the press conference: "This meeting is placed countercurrent because it aims to dispel old and new prejudices, some sedimented over the centuries, other more recent: they are like a screen filter on our eyes and made us think that the clash was an inevitable fate. We believe that the present and the future are living together and together, East and West, rediscovering roots and common horizons. The City of Florence will be an active part in this difficult task. I am pleased that this meeting should take place in Florence, the cradle of humanism, which welcomes with enthusiasm and with a look full of expectations and prospects all those that, next Monday and Tuesday, will come to exchange views in the Dialogues of Civilizations".

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