East and West: Dialogues of Civilizations: Texts and documentation of the Paris Conference

On May 24th, 2016 the conference “East-West. Dialogue of Civilizations,” promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio, the University of Al-Azhar (Cairo), and the Muslim Council of Elders, was held in Paris at the Salle des Arcades Hotel de Ville. It was the second stop in Europe of a movement of dialogue carried out by the Community of Sant’Egidio and the University of Al Azhar. The pilgrimage held its first meeting last year in Florence (June 2015), and was honored by the first official visit to Europe by Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayyeb.

In the presence of the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, and accompanied by influential religious leaders and leaders of international institutions, the founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio, Andrea Riccardi and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayyeb, declared two interventions that mark a breakthrough between the two cultures in the name of integration. “Positive” integration will serve as a safeguard to peace, and thus fight all forms of terror and violence committed in the name of religion.

At the end of the conference, Andrea Riccardi and Ahmad al-Tayyeb, along with a representative of the City of Paris, went before the Bataclan Theatre to pay homage to the victims of the 13th of November. The Grand Imam was deposed, along with a wreath, and a prayer that contains these words:

“I’m here to declare before all of you, in the name of Islam, that the blood of all human beings should be preserved as burnt offerings and sacrifices. The relationship between human beings, that God has ordained to have, are based on peace, brotherhood and cooperation. Terrorism has no homeland, no religion, no faith. I and all Muslims have suffered in seeing the shedding of blood drops here, as elsewhere, because of what is an evil virus. Consequently they must all, East and West, show solidarity to combat it. I’ve been suffering for the victims, for their families, for their friends. But today there is great hope that the French people, free, peaceful and open to life, are able to overcome this tragedy. May God protect all of us from all evil.”

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