Rabbi Arthur Schneier, widely recognized for his life-long devotion to the cause of human rights and religious freedom and inter-religious dialogue, will participate in the Second Meeting of the Alliance of Civilizations, the United Nations High Level Group, on Feb 26-28 in Doha, Qatar. The meeting comes at a time of particular urgency in relations between the Western and Muslim worlds.
Rabbi Schneier commented that, “The outbreaks of violence and condemnation in the Muslim world following the Danish cartoon depiction of the Prophet Muhammad are only the tip of the iceberg of tension between the West and Islam. The immediate challenge is to contain violence that has further exacerbated already-volatile situations in many countries, and to advance dialogue between Europe, other Western nations and the Muslim world. I welcome and value greatly the participation of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Hon. Javier Solana, European Union High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, and Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference at this Doha meeting.”
The twenty-member UN High Level Group includes Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Federico Mayor, former Director-General of UNESCO, Mehmet Aydin, Minister of State of Turkey. Her Highness Sheikha Mozah, Chairperson of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, and former Foreign Minister of Indonesia, Ali Alatas.
The call to form the Alliance was initiated by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The High Level Group was established last August by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as part of an effort to bridge gaps between cultures, particularly Islam and the West, that threaten peace in the world. At this Doha meeting, members and invited speakers and panelists will discuss ways to engage youth and immigrant populations to help bridge differences and combat extremism.
Rabbi Schneier, president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, was a U.S. Alternate Representative to the 43rd Session of the UN General Assembly and also a member of the U.S. delegation to the Stockholm International Forum for the Prevention of Genocide, Sweden in 2004. Rabbi Schneier is a recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal, 2001, in which he was cited as “a Holocaust survivor who has devoted a lifetime to overcoming forces of hatred and intolerance and set an inspiring example of spiritual leadership by encouraging interfaith dialogue and intercultural understanding and promoting the cause of religious freedom around the world.”