The Christian Science Monitor is reporting that Georgetown University, home to a Center sympathetic to the global Muslim Brotherhood, will host a March 2009 conference that is part of Western/Muslim dialog. According to the report:
Gatherings of top religious leaders and even some heads of state will take place this year in the United States, at the Vatican, and in Britain, aimed at defusing tensions between the West and the Muslim world. The first-of-their-kind dialogues – which will kick off in July – will begin with theological discussions but seek practical results. Yet they’re stirring some debate within the faith groups as to the proper way to engage “the other” and whether common ground can be found. The initiative was sparked last October by “A Common Word Between Us and You,” an open letter from 138 Muslim clergy and scholars from more than 40 nations to the leaders of all the world’s major Christian churches. Concerned that “the future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians,” the Muslim leaders proposed dialogue on the basis of the shared principles of “the love of God, and love of the neighbor.”
The report goes on to state that Yale University will host the first global conference in July, followed by a Catholic-Muslim forum in November to include the Pope and then in March 2009 the next U.S. based conference, sponsored by Georgetown. In April 2009, the plan is to invite all those participants to a meeting in Amman, Jordan, at a site where according to tradition Jesus was baptized.
The dialog effort followed the long controversy which arose last year when the Pope made a speech in Germany where he “explored the historical and philosophical differences between Islam and Christianity and the relationship between violence and faith.” As previous posts have reported, the speech was followed by an open letter to the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury warning of the dangers to world peace in the absence of peace between Muslims and Christians. The letter, signed by a large number of global Muslim Brotherhood leaders, was drafted by the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Jordan who last year sponsored the Amman Message that was also signed by many Muslim Brotherhood leaders. Under the reign of the previous Pope, the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi organizations such as the Muslim World League had been meeting with the Vatican under the auspices of the The Islamic – Catholic Liaison Committee which was formed in 1995. The most prominent leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, Youssef Qaradawi, has objected to the Jordan-based effort.
Dr. John Esposito, the head of Georgetown’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, has been a long-time supporter of the global Muslim Brotherhood and has espoused views consistent with Brotherhood doctrine. He has served on the advisory boards of Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas-linked organizations such as the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in the U.K. and the United Association for Studies and Research in the U.S. and has defended global Muslim Brotherhood leaders such as Youssef Qaradawi. Saudi prince Alaweed bin Talal donated $20 million to the Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown, headed by Dr. Esposito. The CSM article quotes Dr. Esposito on the dialog effort:
John Esposito, head of Georgetown’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, sees these dialogues as different and significant. “This process has an in-built snowball effect: The number of signers on both sides keeps broadening,” he says. “When you realize that leading religious leaders have to think of repercussions within their communities, it’s really phenomenal.”