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Jerusalem interfaith dialogue sees increased participation

Jerusalem, September 14 (ENInews)--Religious leaders in Jerusalem are more willing than ever before to take part in dialogue with members of other faiths despite growing political turmoil in the region, said Daniel Milo, the director of the Jerusalem Center for Ethics, prior to the start of the third annual Interfaith and Ethics Symposium on 14 September.

Religious leaders now realized "that the alternative to dialogue is not acceptable," Milo said, noting that attendance at the annual symposium, which delves into interfaith challenges, has grown over the past three years. Still, he admitted, some Palestinian religious leaders from East Jerusalem declined an invitation this year, largely due to internal community pressures. 

The modern global era is forcing religious leaders to face challenges in maintaining influence on their followers, Milo said. "Religious leaders can’ t keep their communities closed in anymore" and people are exposed to different views and ideas, he said. 

"The leaders need to use stronger tools now to reach their communities. Before they just spoke in their churches, synagogues and mosques; now they have the Internet and Web social networks and they must use them," he added. 

Following a roundtable discussion where some of the 50 participants in the symposium split into small groups and discussed issues relating to these challenges, representatives of the three faiths participated in an afternoon panel discussion. They were Archbishop Aristarchos, Chief Secretary of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem; Abdul Rahman Kbha, Chief Imam, Inspector of the Holy Muslim Places in Isra