Religious leaders in Turkey.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A delegation from Israel comprised of rabbis, sheikhs and a priest resolved in
Istanbul on Thursday to form an interfaith convention – along with their Turkish
hosts – that will arbitrate disputes in the Middle East and Muslim world to
counter religious extremism and promote peace.
The Israeli group arrived
in Istanbul on Wednesday at the beckoning of Adnan Oktar, known also as Harun
Yahya, a philosopher and theologian with a large following in the Muslim world.
The delegation was led by Deputy Minister for Development of the Negev and
Galilee, Ayoob Kara.
Also taking part in it were Holon’s Chief Rabbi
Avraham Yosef, who is the son of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, and
part of the Chief Rabbinical Council; Rabbi Avraham Sherman of the Supreme
Rabbinic Court; Chief Rabbi of Ohr Yehuda and Sha’ar Hanegev, Zion Cohen;
Secretary of the Shas party, Rabbi Zvi Jacobson; the Vatican’s representative to
the Middle East, Fr. Giries Mansoer; and Druse Sheikh, Yusuf
“Through joint efforts, we must find the formula to cancel the
legitimacy of people who use religion for religious extremism and bring
disasters upon the world,” Kara said after the joint press conference wrapped up
a round of meetings.
“When a supreme body that will force all to act
according to the Creator’s will shall be formed, the level of religious
extremism will drop since God commanded us to not murder and use his name in
vain. These imperatives have become vague after certain people used God’s name
in vain to break the most important commandment of not murdering, and turned the
world into a killing field in the name of God,” he added.
It is Oktar who
will be organizing the meeting in Turkey this year, which will host 1,200
religious leaders. A second meeting of the forum will be aimed at taking place
in Jerusalem, where a peace accord will be announced along the lines of Oktar’s
vision of the Turkish Islamic Union he is promoting – based in Turkey and
including dozens of countries from the area, including Israel and other
non-Muslim states, which will enjoy the protection of Turkey.
religious leaders, rabbis and Mr. Oktar talked about peace and brotherhood in
“There are no conflicts in religions,” Oktar’s assistant Seda
Aral said. “That’s false propaganda from the point of Islam and Judaism. We are
all children of Abraham, and there should be no problem with each
Oktar is trying to revive the feelings of brotherhood and
compassion and love for each other, though there is cold tension at the
“But [conflict] can’t be done away with political agreement –
rather by reviving brotherly feelings and through understandings – which is why
we need the involvement of religions leaders. One can’t end violence and
terror and expect peace by making more conflict. You can only battle opinions
with opinions – violence just breeds more violence. This is our
ideological struggle. You can almost call it our jihad,” she
Kara told The Jerusalem Post
, “we decided on forming an interfaith
convention in Turkey that would deal with the surging religious radicalization;
attended by Libya, Syria, Egypt, Yemen and any other Arab nation with religious
problems ... Israel as well. The convention will also form a religious court
that will arbitrate on the disputes in the Middle East and Muslim
Kara explained that the meetings focused on the dangers of
religious radicalization and ways to counter it, initiated by Oktar, who also
reiterated to the delegates that “Israel has a right to exist in peace, and with
sustainable borders,” Kara said.
The meeting was an expression of the
desire on both sides to see relations between Jerusalem and Ankara warm up, he
“Turkey is eager to reestablish its ties with Israel. They
realize how beneficial the relationship is to them,” he noted.
aware of the danger of standing out as a political figure amongst religious
leaders, Kara – a Druse – said how flattered he was to have the trust of the
spiritual leaders who took part in the visit.
Kara said this year’s
delegation created hope.
“I am very encouraged by this visit, we have the
opportunity to turn 80 million Muslims into non-enemies, and make them once