World Council of Churches to host dialogue between Muslims and Christians

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is to host an inter-religious dialogue between Muslims and Christians this November in a bid to address conflict fuelled by religion in predominantly Muslim countries.

The head of the WCC’s International Affairs and Public Witness, Mathews George Chunakara, told Christian Today that Christian and Muslim leaders will gather in Geneva, Switzerland, to address key issues in the present context of Muslim-Christian relations.

"About 70 top leaders from both these communities will discuss issues of common concern, mainly the inter-religious disputes and their possible solutions," said Chunakara.

The meeting will address the recent attacks on Christians in Jos, Nigeria, where several hundred people were killed in inter-ethnic clashes.

A delegation led by Chunakara visited the conflict-affected areas in May to find out about the situation there.

Chunakara told this newspaper that the "state of affairs in that region is heartbreaking and tearful".

"The situation is very pathetic. We were greatly distressed by the aftermath of the violence. We pray that never again such incidents occur against any community."

Tensions between Christians and Muslims in Jos had killed as many as 500 people. The dead were Christians and members of an ethnic group.

Chunakara said the violence was not sparked by a religious cause. “It started as a tribal or ethnic conflict."

The WCC delegation visited Dogonahawa and Bukuru, where only a handful of people now live.

In Bukuru, an entire market was burnt down and hundreds of houses and shops were destroyed.

The team offered prayers at the site of the mass grave and also held discussions with local Muslims leaders on fostering peace.

Chunakara said efforts must be taken for lasting peace.

He said: "The November gathering is one such effort we are taking to take the message of peace to those in the grassroots level."