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Archbishop's Christian-Muslim initiative continues in Qatar

Wednesday 2nd April 2003

As the second Gulf War got underway, Dr Williams announced a conference bringing together Christian and Muslim scholars in the Middle East

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is to convene the second 'Building Bridges' seminar from April 7-9th in Doha, Qatar. The conference is being hosted by the Amir of Qatar, His Highness Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and follows on from a similar gathering last year at Lambeth Palace.

Around thirty Christian and Muslim scholars from across the world will hold detailed discussions over three days. This year the gathering will focus on the place of scripture in the two faith communities; speakers will address issues such as the contemporary interpretation of scripture and scriptural perspectives on those from other faith traditions. The format of this year's conference includes both open lectures and private sessions. As with the first conference last year, it is hoped that an account of the deliberations will be published in book form.

The conference was planned well in advance of the military conflict in Iraq and is part of a continuing process of engagement between Christian and Muslim scholars. Dr Williams underlined the importance of dialogue. "Christians and Muslims have much to learn from each other, and much to share, despite all the differences we acknowledge. A meeting such as this is a clear demonstration that we do not have to be imprisoned in mutual hostility and misunderstanding when our encounters are shaped by the scholarship and experience of people such as those who will be contributing to this meeting."

Notes for editors:

The conference is being held in Doha and begins with a formal opening in the presence of the Amir. Each day the conference will hear public lectures in turn from a Christian and a Muslim before moving into private session for the work of dialogue to continue.

The Lectures will cover the following topics:
Listening to God – learning from scripture
Interpreting the Scriptures – legacies of the past and challenges of the present
Scripture and the 'Other'

List of participants:
Prof Muhammad Abdel Haleem
Prof Mehmet Aydin
Dr Zaki Badawi
The Revd Canon Dr Kenneth E Bailey
Prof Vincent Cornell
Prof Ellen F Davis
Dr Salwa El-Awa
The Most Revd Michael Fitzgerald
Prof David Ford
Dr Ida Glaser
Prof Riffat Hassan
The Most Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon
The Revd Canon Dr Michael Ipgrave
Dr Assaad Kattan
Dr Basit B Koshul
Prof Jane Dammen McAuliffe
Dr Daniel Madigan SJ
Dr Maleiha Malik
Prof Mustansir Mir
Dr Esther Mombo
The Rt Revd Dr Michael Nazir-Ali
Dr Mona Siddiqui
Prof Muhammad Suheyl Umar
Mr Timothy Winter
The Most Revd Dr Rowan Williams
The Revd Canon Dr Tom Wright
Prof Frances Young

The first Building Bridges seminar was hosted at Lambeth Palace by Dr George Carey when Archbishop of Canterbury in January 2002. The proceedings of this seminar, for which Muslim and Christian scholars gathered for a wide-ranging theological dialogue, were published as The Road Ahead (Church House Publishing, ISBN 0-7151-5002-2).

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