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The New Arab

Muslim leaders plan summit to protect religious minorities

Christians and other religious minorities across the Middle East are fleeing extremism.

Date of publication: 23 January, 2016

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A conference in Morocco next week aims to reaffirm the rights of non-Muslims living in the Middle East, as Christians and religious minorities across the region flee extremism.

Muslim leaders will meet in Morocco next week to reaffirm the rights of non-Muslims living among them.

More than 300 religious and political leaders are expected to attend the conference from Muslim-majority nations - including Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan and Iran.

In these times, Muslims must affirm their tradition's true teachings on tolerance, said Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, co-founder of Zaytuna College, the first Muslim liberal arts college in the US, reported the Religious News Service.

The conference takes place as Christians and other religious minorities across the Middle East flee extremism.

The Islamic State group in particular has shown no mercy for nonbelievers and killed thousands of Muslims and non-Muslims across Iraq and Syria.

The event is regarded as the first major effort of its kind since the Prophet Muhammad enumerated the rights of non-Muslims in the Charter of Medina in 622 AD.

Article 17 of the charter says: "No Jew will be wronged for being a Jew."

It is hoped that the conference will lead to a new declaration, rooted in Islamic law, that asserts the rights of religious minorities living in Muslim lands.

"The most important point about the declaration is that Muslim scholars are addressing this issue from within the tradition of Islam," said Imam Mohamed Magid, executive director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, an influential mosque in northern Virginia.

Other religious groups, including representatives from the Vatican, and Hindus and Sikhs, have also been invited.


Non-Muslims are also expected to attend the conference, including Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, DC, and Rabbi Burt Visotzky of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.

Other religious groups, including representatives from the Vatican, and Hindus and Sikhs, have also been invited.

The conference aims to remind Muslims around the world how seriously their tradition takes the rights of religious minorities.

We want to counter "the idea that Muslims and non-Muslims can't live together", said Yusuf.

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