The international conference entitled “The Arab Awakening and Peace in the New Middle East: Muslim and Christian Perspectives” was held in Istanbul on 7-8 September 2012. The Middle Eastern countries, Muslim and Christian religious leaders, politicians, opinion leaders, academics, and journalists from the U.S. and some European countries attended the conference.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu hosted a dinner for the participants in the Dolmabahçe Palace on 7 September. Foreign Minister Davutoğlu, in his speech stated that Turkey was a protector of those oppressed in Middle East. He added “When we look at the Middle East, we do not see Sunnis, Shiites, Muslims, Christians; we see living components of that ancient tradition.” In addition, Foreign Minister Davutoglu stressed that the destiny of this region could only be drawn by the people of the region itself.
Foreign Minister Davutoğlu also said “While we stood by Tahrir Square, we did not question which of these youth belonged to Christianity or Islam. We stood by the spirit and philosophy of Tahrir. When we look at Syria, we do not look at who is Sunni, Shiite, Christian, Muslim or Alawite. We wholly stand by the Syrian people.”
During the conference entitled “The Arab Awakening and Peace in the New Middle East: Muslim and Christian Perspectives”, the roles and responsibilities of Muslim and Christian communities and their leaders were discussed from the point of view of the culture of co-existence. Given that religious identities are not necessarily an element of conflict, the guiding role of religious and community leaders in times of social change was also addressed.