Muslim leaders write 'harmony' letter to Jews
By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent
An international group of Muslim leaders have sent a letter to the world's Jewish community appealing for better relationships between the faiths.
The unprecedented letter, which is being seen as a significant gesture of reconciliation, said: "Many Jews and Muslims today stand apart from each other due to feelings of anger, which in some parts of the world, translate into violence.
"It is our contention that we are faced today not with 'a clash of civilizations' but with 'a clash of ill-informed misunderstandings'."
Signatories of the letter include Professor Akbar Ahmed, a former High Commissioner of Pakistan to Great Britain, who also signed a similar statement earlier this year from Muslim scholars to Christian leaders around the world.
The new letter said: "Deep-seated stereotypes and prejudices have resulted in a distancing of the communities and even a dehumanizing of the 'Other'. We urgently need to address this situation. We must strive towards turning ignorance into knowledge, intolerance into understanding, and pain into courage and sensitivity for the 'Other'."
It added: "There is more in common between our religions and peoples than is known to each of us. It is precisely due to the urgent need to address such political problems as well as acknowledge our shared values that the establishment of an inter-religious dialogue between Jews and Muslims in our time is extremely important.
"Failure to do so will be a missed opportunity. Memories of positive historical encounters will dim and the current problems will lead to an increasing rift and more common misunderstandings between us."
One signatory, Sheikh Michael Mumisa, a Cambridge University lecturer, said the letter was the first in modern times sent to the Jewish community with the backing of scholars and Muslim leaders.
"The message in this letter conveys to the Jewish community a genuine desire for mutual respect, for dialogue and deeper understanding," he said.
1) Muslim leaders write 'harmony' letter to Jews