Press Releases

     

    SG/SM/8815
    13 August 2003

    CRUCIAL NEED FOR EXCHANGE, DIALOGUE BETWEEN
    MUSLIM, WESTERN WORLDS SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL
    IN MESSAGE TO MOROCCO SYMPOSIUM

    NEW YORK, 12 August (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the symposium on “Europe, America and Islam”, held during the twenty-fifth International Cultural Festival of Asilah Asilah, Morocco, on 3 August, delivered by Iqbal Riza, the Secretary-General’s Chef de Cabinet:

    It is with great pleasure that I send you all my warmest greetings.  I should like to pay tribute to the members of the Asilah Forum Foundation and, in particular, to its Secretary-General, Minister Benaïssa.  Under his leadership, the Cultural Festival of Asilah has become an annual gathering of the most prestigious, as shown by the presence at this symposium, of a large number of eminent persons from around the world.

    Allow me also to congratulate the organizers for having chosen “Europe, America and Islam” as the theme of this symposium.  I wholeheartedly support their efforts to bring about closer relations between peoples.  We must combat the ignorance, the prejudice and the misunderstandings that deepen distrust between peoples and cultures.  We must strongly condemn all those who invoke religion to justify violent acts, just as we must reject the amalgam that is sometimes made between Islam and terrorism.  Our societies are too interdependent for relations between peoples to be based on anything other than tolerance, respect for the dignity of everyone, and dialogue between all cultures.  The United Nations itself arose from the conviction that dialogue can overcome discord, that diversity is an asset and that the world’s peoples are far more united in their destiny than they are separated by their identities.  From time immemorial, the Muslim and Western worlds have been enriched by their contact with each other.  In view of the enormous problems of our time, this need for contact, exchange and dialogue is more crucial than ever before.

      I wish you a fruitful symposium and look forward with interest to the outcome of your discussions.

    * *** *