Interfaith summit ends with ‘Madrid declaration’, mixed views

Representatives of the world’s major religions met for a three-day interfaith conference called by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. In a final declaration, participants urged for the UN to play a large role, and saying they hoped to follow up recommendations in enhancing dialogue among the followers of religions, civilizations and cultures through conducting a special UN session on dialogue. This need for dialogue was cited to prevent a clash of civilizations. Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist representatives all attended the conference. However, critics of the conference cited insufficient representation by Israelis and Palestinians, and that King Abdullah’s decision to organize the event was a publicity stunt to restore the image of the country, badly tarnished after 9/11. Saudi organizations dismissed these complaints.