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Vatican, al-Azhar ask world to help stop religious extremism, terrorism


Representatives of the Vatican and al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam's highest center of learning, meet at the Vatican Feb. 23 to discuss practical ways to stop terrorism and religious extremism. Second from left is Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Vatican delegation. (CNS photo/courtesy Adyan)

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CAIRO (CNS) -- The Vatican and al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam's leading institution of higher learning, called for the world's governments, organizations and leaders to cooperate with each other in countering extremist and violent groups, noting that such groups "have negatively impacted stability and peaceful coexistence among peoples."

In the final statement after a Feb. 22-23 symposium at the Cairo university, representatives of al-Azhar and the Vatican called for finding realistic ways to fight terrorism and terrorist organizations: cutting off resources, including money and weapons, or closing down social communications that spread extremist ideologies to young people.

They also called for eliminating the "spirit of hatred and animosity for religions and defaming religious symbols, since these are hostile actions."

The joint statement pointed to the need to address the "causes of the phenomena of extremism, violence, poverty, ignorance and the political abuse of religion and incorrect understanding of religious texts."

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