The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has led a delegation of Anglican leaders to the “Muslim Council of Elders” at a meeting in Abu Dhabi, UAE, to discuss integration and religious freedom.
According to Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS), a letter by Anglican Communion Secretary General Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon stressed equality of all human beings “made in the image of God”.
Dr. Idowu-Fearon said “Muslim and Christian leaders have to accept that there is no alternative to a policy of co-operation and toleration,” ACNS last week reported. His speech was delivered at the Council by Mrs Shunila Ruth, a member of the Anglican Consultative Council from the Church of Pakistan, a country where minority Christians face regular discrimination.
The letter argued for the rights of non-Muslims in Muslim-majority countries, adding: “If we are committed to the full participation of non-Muslims in national life, this affirmation calls for a new revision of rights and obligations of those who have been traditionally called and treated as dhimmiyin [“protected” subjects] and ought to be treated as co-citizens.”
In his address to the conference, Archbishop Welby praised Abu Dhabi for having “taken practical steps to enable religious minorities to … worship,” adding the concern “that this is becoming the exception rather than the rule in many parts of the world.”
During sessions of the interfaith dialogue, Toby Howarth, UK Bishop of Bradford, hoped feelings of anger and hurt were heard.
“They [feelings] have been uncomfortable, but they have been important for us to hear. Because they are also part of the reality of ourselves and our world, they need to be part of our dialogue.”
According to Open Doors’ 2016 World Watch List, a list of 50 countries where Christians come under the most pressure, in almost 40 of the 50 countries, Islam either predominates or Islamist non-state actors (e.g. militias) are at work as “engines of persecution” against Christians.