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Muslim-Christian dialogues.

FIFTEEN hundred people have taken part in a series of three community dialogues between Muslims and Christians in Sydney, Australia, over the last year. The dialogues, in Greystanes, Cromer and Castle Hills, were organized by Initiatives of Change in partnership with the Catholic Bishop of Parramatta, Kevin Manning, Keysar Trad, a director of the Lebanese Muslim Association, and Wendie Wilkie, Associate Secretary of the Uniting Church General Assembly.

The gathering in Cromer, in May, was hosted by the local Catholic and Muslim communities, and chaired by the Mayor of Manly, Peter Macdonald, who welcomed the occasion to 'build bridges not walls'.

One of the initiators, Abdalla Eissa, told the Manly Dally, 'A few extremists are highjacking the agenda but the majority (whether Muslim, Christian, or Jewish) are desperate to talk to each other. The trouble is, they haven't had the venues to allow them to do so. We are trying to change that.'

Bishop Manning spoke of the way Christian-Muslim dialogue in the English-speaking world had been galvanized by the events of 11 September 2001. 'The fact that we are gathered here at all may be the product of terrorism, but it is also a defeat for terrorism. Instead of closing minds and closing doors, your presence here today moves our communities towards opening minds, doors and indeed hearts.'

In September Barbara Perry, MP for Auburn, commended the 'work and vision' represented by the dialogues to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly. A fourth dialogue, in the inner south-west suburbs, is scheduled for the new year.
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Title Annotation:News Desk
Author:Thwaites, Peter
Publication:For A Change
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Dec 1, 2004
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