Religious leaders in Moscow condemn terror, extremism

Moscow, Russia - Religious leaders in Moscow adopted a final statement condemning terrorism and religious extremism Wednesday after a three-day forum.

The summit, which opened Monday in the President Hotel in central Moscow on the initiative of the Interreligious Council of Russia, convened about 300 religious figures from 49 countries, ahead of a summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations in St. Petersburg later this month.

"We condemn any form of terrorism and extremism, and attempts to find religious excuses for them," the forum said in the final statement, which will be presented to leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States during the July 15-17 G8 summit.

Religious leaders said the exploitation of faith as a means to incite hatred or an excuse to commit crimes was a major challenge that could only be counteracted through education and moral instruction.

"We call on all religious people to respect and accept each other despite religious, national or other differences," the statement said.

Ayatollah Muhammad Ali Taskhiri, the head of an Iranian government commission to bring Islamic schools of thought closer together, said the main result of the summit was a decision to raise the level of morality through cooperation between religions.

Taskhiri said it would help resolve many problems, including terrorism.