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More than 120 Muslim leaders Commit to the Future of Afghanistan during International Conference in Turkey

Nov. 29, 2011

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Istanbul, Turkey — From every province of Afghanistan, Imams and civil society leaders will meet together today with Islamic scholars for the first time during the Islamic Cooperation for a Peaceful Future in Afghanistan conference, an unprecedented gathering that will open on November 30 in Istanbul, Turkey. More than 80 Afghan scholars will meet with over 20 of the world’s most prestigious Muftis and Islamic scholars, with millions of followers across the world, from Pakistan to Indonesia.

The conference participants consider this gathering, discussion and commitment for peace and non-violence as the establishment of a historically significant point of reference for Islamic teachings of moderation, tolerance, peace and cooperation.

The conference is an academic forum created by the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution (CRDC) at George Mason University, together with a highly distinguished Afghanistan advisory board, Marmara University in Turkey, and the Grand Mufti of Istanbul. The conference is designed to foster and provide a safe venue for intensive conversations on peace, Islam and the future of Afghanistan. The conference opening will be observed by senior Turkish officials, senior diplomats from the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), including U.S. President Barack Obama's Special Envoy and the United Kingdom’s Ambassador to Turkey.

The goal of the conference is to empower Afghan religious leaders who are committed to peace and cooperation, and help them create a tolerant civic space wherein the Afghan people and their leaders can jointly move toward stability, peace and prosperity.
 
Aziz Abu Sarah, Co-director of CRDC commented, “There are deep concerns about the use of religious interpretations—often misinterpretations—in justifying violence, particularly against civilians, religious leaders, places of worship, and cultural heritage in Afghanistan and beyond. I believe the participants hope for a responsible and pro-active role in peacemaking and peacebuilding via dialogue and non-violence.”

Neamatollah Nojumi, Senior Fellow of CRDC and critical architect of the project concluded, “This alignment of scholars inside and outside Afghanistan will give great strength to Afghan civil and spiritual leaders, and will set the foundation of a new spirit of cooperation with practical projects for nonviolent civil society that will be announced in the near future.”

About George Mason University
George Mason University is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., Mason provides students access to diverse cultural experiences and the most sought-after internships and employers in the country.  Mason offers strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering and information technology, organizational psychology, health care and visual and performing arts. With Mason professors conducting groundbreaking research in areas such as climate change, public policy and the biosciences, George Mason University is a leading example of the modern, public university. George Mason University-Where Innovation Is Tradition.

About the Center for World Religions Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution
The mission of The Center for World Religions, Citizen Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution (CRDC) is to engage emerging indigenous and global conflict resolvers, partner with them in innovative entrepreneurial growth, mobilize support for them, and create linkages between peacebuilders, citizen diplomats, students, business people and policy makers. CRDC specializes in: innovative international practice of conflict resolution and citizen diplomacy, international education seminars and field experience, conflict resolution analysis of current events, and business/organizational consultancies. CRDC is housed within Mason’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution.

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