doha • Establishment of the Doha International Centre for Inter-Faith Dialogue was officially announced at the concluding session of the fifth Doha Conference of Inter-Faith Dialogue here yesterday.
The Centre, headquartered in Doha, will be financed by the Qatar government but will function as an independent entity, Dr Aisha Al Mannai, the conference Chair and Dean of the College of Shariah and Islamic Studies at Qatar University, said, while making the announcement.
The Centre will start in a small way and will be expanded in future, she added. The basic structure of the Centre will consist of a Board of Directors selected from Qatar and an international advisory board. This advisory board comprises a Jewish representative from the US, along with three Muslims and three Christians.
The Board of Directors will be chaired by Prof Ibrahim Saleh Al Nuaimi, former president of Qatar University. Other board members are: Dr Khaled Bin Nasser Al Khater, professor and former Dean, College of Business and Economics, Dr Yousef Mahmoud Siddiqi, College of Sharia and Islamic Studies, Dr Hassan Abdelraheem Al Sayyed, Dean of College of Law and Dr Abdul Aziz Al Marwani , from the College of Shariah and Islamic Studies.
Dr Aisha Al Mannai and Dr Deen Mohamed Saheb, assistant Dean of the College of Shariah and Islamic Studies (Qatar) and Prof Winston Cornell, Director of the King Fahd Centre for Middle East and Islamic Studies, Arkansas University, the US are the three Muslim members of the advisory board.
The Christian members of the advisory board are: Dr Johan Taylor, UN representative of the International Society for Religious Freedom (Switzerland), Vitorio Yanari, theologist specialising in Islamic Studies from the Society of Saint Egdio (Italy) and Bishop George Saleeba of Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Mount Lebanon (Lebanon). Rabbi Rolando Matalon from the US is the sole Jewish member in the board.
The Board of directors will perform its duties from the Doha headquarters and follow up the conference resolutions, papers and studies and engage in communication with local and international research centres and universities. The advisory board shall hold two meetings annually to follow up the functions, provide advices and look into various issues related to inter-faith dialogue and the annual Doha conference.
Earlier, the conference concluded with a call for social, educational and media policies to avoid stereotypes which feed phobias and hostilities between and within religions. The three-day conference was attended by about 150 delegates representing three prominent world religions — Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
The final declaration statement fell short of any reference to the two regional issues — Iraq and Palestine — that crept into the discussions in most of the panel sessions.
The conference categorically denounced and disapproved the desecration of religious sites and defamation of all religious symbols and figures.
The participants decided to send a message of their expression of gratitude to the Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani for establishing the Doha Centre as an implementation of the Draft Resolution of the third Doha Conference on Inter-faith Dialogue. They committed to accompany the work of the newly set up Doha International Centre for Inter-faith Dialogue with exchange of information, and practical support, “where possible”.