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Freedom from extremists

PASAY, Philippines (CNS): Organisers of a gathering of Asian religious leaders said they envision a region free of religious extremism.

The three-day meeting, which began on August 18, brought together Islamic scholars, Catholic and Protestant bishops, pastors, priests and lay people in Pasay, outside Manila.

The theme of their gathering was “Seeking Peace and Development Through an Authentic Christian and Muslim Dialogue of Life in Asia”.

The event was organised by the seven year-old Bishops-Ulama Conference, which sponsors meetings of Catholic and Protestant bishops and Islamic scholars in the southern Philippines.

Catholic Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao, Philippines, said that he and other religious leaders in Mindanao decided to initiate the Asian gathering after the bombings that killed more than 200 people in Bali last October.

Archbishop Capalla said organisers did so because the Bishops-Ulama Conference shares the concern of some government officials about “increasing extremism on the part of some Muslims in Asia” that could affect many people in Asia.

“We can help prevent extremism on both sides – on the part of Christians and on the part of Muslims,” he said at an August 16 press conference in Manila.

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