OIC chief praises pope’s efforts to revitalize interfaith dialogue

Updated 16 December 2013

OIC chief praises pope’s efforts to revitalize interfaith dialogue

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), has commended the efforts exerted by Pope Francis to revitalize interfaith dialogue between Christians and Muslims.
Ihsanoglu made the comment during his first meeting with the pope at the Vatican on Friday.
The secretary-general pointed out that today the presence of Muslims in historically Christian countries has expanded, while some OIC countries either have native Christian communities or have witnessed in recent years the arrival of Christians as guest workers.
The two expressed the need for greater efforts to foster respect for religious pluralism and cultural diversity and to counter the spread of bigotry and prejudices. They stressed that inter-religious dialogue is a necessary condition for peace in the world and is a duty for adherents of all faiths and traditions.
Ihsanoglu shared with the pope his vision regarding the need for a “historic reconciliation” between Islam and Christianity based on the common Abrahamic roots, in order to establish multiculturalism and harmonious societies. The pope commended the proposal and stressed the need to follow it up.
The two leaders expressed concern over the increase in inter-communal tension between Muslim and Christian communities and over the transformation of communal conflicts in some parts of the world into religiously motivated conflicts, even though the root causes are not religious in nature. Concern was also expressed about the exploitation of religion in conflict situations as a means to mobilize supporters.
They highlighted establishing a secondary, cultural tract to support interfaith dialogue initiatives.
During the meeting, views were exchanged on regional and international developments, especially the situation in Palestine. Both leaders expressed hope that the holy city of Jerusalem would be a haven in which Muslims, Jews and Christians may live and worship in peace and harmony.
Concern and dismay were also expressed about the continuation of violence in Syria, which they agreed requires a solution based on dialogue and negotiation.
The secretary-general concurred with the vision of Pope Francis on the need for a just world where poverty and hunger are eradicated and commended him for being recognized as “Person of the Year” by Time magazine.
Before the audience with Pope Francis, the OIC delegation met with Antoine Camilleri, undersecretary for relations with states, to discuss means of forging cooperation between the Holy See and OIC to contribute to global peace and security.


Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

Updated 14 November 2019

Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

  • Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined a sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks
  • Firebrand cleric leading the protests called for nationwide demonstrations

ISLAMABAD: Anti-government protesters in Pakistan blocked major roads and highways across the country on Thursday in a bid to force Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign.
The demonstrators — led by the leader of opposition party Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), the firebrand cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman — have taken to the streets as the start of their “Plan B” to topple the government and ensure a general election after failing to push Khan out through a fortnight-long sit-in in Islamabad, which ended on Wednesday.
That same day, Rehman told his party workers to spread their protests to other parts of the country.
“This protest will continue not for a day but for a month, if our leadership instructs,” said JUI-F Secretary-General, Maulana Nasir Mehmood, to a group of protesters who blocked the country’s main Karakoram Highway — an important trade route between Pakistan and China that also connects the country’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province with its northern areas.
The JUI-F protesters also blocked other key routes in KP and a major highway connecting the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. The party’s Balochistan chapter also announced its intention to block the highway connecting Pakistan to neighboring Iran.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined the sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks, demanding the prime minister’s resignation and fresh polls in the country following allegations of electoral fraud last year and the mismanagement of Pakistan’s economy. The government denies both charges.
Rehman is a veteran politician who was a member of the National Assembly for 20 years. He enjoys support in religious circles across the country. His party has yet to share a detailed plan regarding which roads will be closed when, or how long this new phase of protests will continue.
The JUI-F and other opposition parties have been trying to capitalize on the anger and frustration of the public against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf ruling party, which came to power last year promising 10 million new jobs for the youth, 5 million low-cost houses, and economic reforms to benefit the middle class.
Since then, Pakistan’s economy has nosedived, witnessing double-digit inflation and rampant unemployment. The government signed a $6-billion bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund to stave off a balance-of-payments crisis.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan has stabilized the deteriorating economy, and Maulana Fazlur Rehman ‘Plan B’ will fail like his ‘Plan A,’” Firdous Ashiq Awan, special assistant to the prime minister on information and broadcasting, said in a statement to the press.

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