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Religious Figures Boycott Interfaith Dialogue

The third Interfaith Dialogue in the Qatari capital Doha was marred by boycotts from several senior religious leaders.

The conference brings together representatives of Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

Organizers invited Israeli rabbis, but they declined the invitation after learning they would not be addressing the participants in the opening speeches.

Five non-Israeli Jews took part for the first time in the dialogue, which is jointly sponsored by the University of Qatar and the Qatari Foreign Ministry.

Some Muslims figures have boycotted the meeting, protesting the invitations to Israeli Jewish rabbis, even though the latter chose not to come. Egyptian-born Muslim cleric Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qara’dawi decided not to attend the meeting. An official from his office said Al-Qara’dawi’s absence is due to scheduling conflicts.

Other than Al-Qara’dawi, Egypt’s Coptic patriarch Pope Shanuda and Sheikh Muhammad Sayid Tantawi, one of the Sunni Muslim world’s most respected clerics, are not attending the forum.

The declared aim of the forum is to help each side learn more about the other religions and to foster relations based on respect.