Spearheaded by Jordan's Prince El Hassan Bin Talal, a group of Arab and international scholars, thinkers and religious figures -- Muslim and Christian -- have launched a global appeal to protect worshippers and places of worship.
"In the face of what we see as the continuation of repeated attacks on places of worship and on the souls of safe worshipers in several places in this world, and based on a common human and moral responsibility, we call upon a group of religious leaders, scholars and thinkers ... to urge all people to reject all forms of extremism, hatred and painful practices against the spirit of faith and human dignity," the more than 40 signatories said in their Nov. 2 appeal.
They stressed that "hate speech and polarization that provokes hatred and justifies bloodshed continues to escalate" and is accompanied by some who resort to "the misuse of religions and beliefs as a pretext for violence, exclusion and discrimination."
The Muslim and Christian signatories continued: "These abhorrent targets also include historical and archaeological sites and architectural heritage, including museums, libraries and manuscripts, which is an erasure of the memory that preserves the civilizations of peoples and their value core from extinction."
"There is no doubt that the attack on places of worship and their sanctity at a time when worshippers perform prayer and religious rites in their premises is the culmination of these atrocities. This leads us to a legitimate question: Isn't it time to consider the issue of freedom of worship as an integral part of the right to life and to consider the value of human heritage in relation to culture and identity?" they stated.
The Jordanian prince chairs the Arab Thought Forum and also the Board of the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies.
The signatories included Father Rifat Bader, director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Jordan; retired Bishop Salim Sayegh of Jerusalem; Nayla Tabbara, president and co-founder of the interfaith Adyan Foundation in Lebanon; and Gabriel Said Reynolds, professor of Islamic studies and theology at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana.