Beliefnet
Cairo, Egypt, Nov. 27--(AP) The Muslim world must correct its own social and political problems if it wants to defend Islam against charges of extremism, Arab intellectuals said Tuesday as they ended a meeting called in response to what many see as a Western defamation campaign following the Sept. 11 terror attacks. "Extremist thought, radical discourse and violent practices are the result of cultural, social, economic and political mistakes made by both domestic and foreign powers," 73 intellectuals from 18 Arab countries said in a final declaration at the end of the special Arab League conference.

The also called for dialogue with non-Arab thinkers, saying such contacts should be based on mutual respect of "culture diversity." In the statement, called "the Cairo Declaration," the participants said Arabs should take the first step to "put Arab culture in the right place among other world cultures." Among their recommendations was establishing an English-language satellite television station that would work to explain Arab and Muslim culture to the world.

As the conference opened Monday, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa had said the league had started a fund with an initial $1 million donation from United Arab Emirates President Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to finance research and publications to promote dialogue among civilizations. "There is a dire need to formulate effective cultural policies to counter the images of economic and social deterioration as well as reconsidering the educational, cultural and media systems in the Arab countries," the declaration said. It also said that Arabs should adopt "a culture of peace that prevent wars" and promote "values of social justice (and) democracy."

The Arab League convened the meeting, dubbed "Civilization Dialogue - Contacts, Not Struggle," amid concern among Muslims their faith has been misrepresented in the wake of Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington. The attacks were blamed on extremist Arab Muslims.

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