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King calls on clerics to help end Syrian sectarian strife
Amman, 20 August 2013

His Majesty King Abdullah on Tuesday called on senior Sunni and Shiite clerics to bring an end to the growing sectarian strife in Syria and across the region, which, King Abdullah warned, threatens to “destroy” the Arab and Islamic world.

In an address to dozens of senior Muslim clerics in Amman, His Majesty urged religious leaders to curb rising sectarian violence in Syria, which, he cautioned, threatens to spill over into neighbouring states.

“You are the scholars of the Islamic World and it is your responsibility to confront the ethnic and sectarian strife (Fitna) in Syria, and prevent its spill over into the Arab and Muslim world,” the King told a crowd of senior Muslim scholars from Iran, Turkey and elsewhere currently gathered in Amman for the 16th General Conference of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought.

“The bloodshed in Syria should be stopped and the unity of this country, and that of the rest of the Arab and Islamic nation should be preserved,” His Majesty said.

The King reiterated Jordan’s calls for an end to ethnic and intra-religious violence, which he called a “recipe for the destruction” of the Islamic world.

“I warn again against the danger of manipulating religion for political purposes and sowing the seeds of hateful ethnic and intra-religious sectarian division,” the King added.

His Majesty urged Muslim leaders and scholars to work in the spirit of the Amman Message, the initiative launched by His Majesty in 2004 and endorsed by over 600 religious leaders from 84 countries, that unanimously denounces terrorism, calls for an end of apostatising and determines who is qualified to issue religious edicts.

The King urged Sunni and Shiite clerics to implement initiatives to curb growing sectarian strife throughout the region.

His Majesty said that “I am keen to work with you to implement any initiative you suggest to serve our Islamic World, preserve its unity, discourage Muslims from apostatising each other, promote respect among the followers of the eight schools of Islamic jurisprudence, Sunni, Shiite - including Salafists, Sufis, Alawites and Ibadhists.”

Concerning the role of Islam in democratic systems, the King urged Islamic leaders to consider democracy as a “goal in itself, rather than mere figures and percentages”, urging for respect to minority rights and opinions.

“Majoritarian rule is not the essence of democracy, because democracy is achieved when all share the feeling that they are truly represented. This is the essence of political consensus in Islam,” the King said.

The conference was attended by His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi, the King’s chief adviser for religious and cultural affairs and his personal envoy, His Majesty’s Office Director Imad Fakhouri as well as His Majesty’s advisers Ali Al Fazza' and Abdullah Wreikat.

His Majesty met with Dr. Shaykh Al-Islam Allah-Shakur bin Hemmat Bashazada, Mufti of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the sidelines of the conference, who delivered a letter from the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev which addressed bilateral ties and means to develop them in various fields.

The 16th General Conference of Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, which concludes on Wednesday, aims to address the role of democracy and human rights in Islamic thought. It has featured the participation of top clerics and Islamic scholars from 33 countries.