03/16/2010, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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The non-aligned movement for dialogue and peace in Mindanao

by Santosh Digal
Two days of meetings of the Non-Aligned Movement, historic international organization that brings together 118 countries in the developing world. Muslim leader: Sowing the seeds of the culture of peace among people and nations through dialogue to consolidate efforts towards the total elimination of the shadow of war.

Manila (AsiaNews) - Starting from the dialogue between countries and people of different faiths to resolve the conflicts of the world and stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Such is the purpose of the two days of meetings on interfaith dialogue, peace and development organized by the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), an international organization that brings together 118 countries not aligned with the major world powers.

The event, entitled "Non - Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace and Development", opens today in Manila and will last until next March 18.

Delegations present, include those of India, Iran and Pakistan. "Planting the seeds of a culture of peace among people and nations through dialogue - said Maged Abdelaziz, the Egyptian Muslim and head of research centre of NAM - is the instrument for consolidating the efforts towards the total elimination of the shadow of war and the dangers posed by the continuing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. "  

Abdelaziz observes that it is essential to combat the scourge of religious extremism, intolerance and violence that undermine the ability of developing nations and destabilize peace and harmony among the people. NAM was born in 1961 at the initiative of then Yugoslav leader Tito, in an attempt to bring together non-aligned countries on the two fronts of the Cold War. Composed of 25 members at the beginning, the organization now involves 118 countries in Asia, South America and Africa.

Raphael Seguis, head of the ongoing negotiations between the Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said that the meeting organized by NAM "is a great opportunity for the Philippines, particularly in our efforts to promote religious dialogue in Mindanao." The Muslim majority region is prey to forty years of conflict between Islamic rebels and the army that over the years and has caused thousands of deaths and over 750 thousand refugees.

 Seguis cites as an example of dialogue, the experience of the Forum of bishops and the ulema, born in Zamboanga (Mindanao) on the initiative of the Catholic Church. The organization groups together 22 Catholic bishops, 24 Muslim leaders and 18 Protestant clergymen. It has been active for over 20 years in promoting dialogue between different faiths, starting from the cooperation of people and not only between organs of state. On 6 March in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) the government and MILF resumed negotiations after about 6 months of deadlock.

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