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By Lisa Bryant
Paris
17 December 2008

Imams and rabbis from around the world have wrapped up a three-day meeting in Paris aimed at finding ways to promote peace in the Middle East and work more closely together.

French Jewish and Muslim leaders attend a demonstration in Paris, after 500 graves of French Muslim war veterans were daubed with swastikas and anti-Islam slogans at Notre-Dame-de-Lorette cemetery, 14 Dec. 2008
French Jewish and Muslim leaders attend a demonstration in Paris, 14 Dec 2008
This was the third world meeting of the group, known as Imams and Rabbis for Peace. It ended with a decision by some 70 members attending it to create of permanent committee of members of both the Jewish and Muslim faiths, as well as Christian leaders.

The Paris meeting was held at the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO.

Chris Sacarabany works for the Swiss foundation Hommes de Parole, which organized the meeting.

"The aim is not to have a declaration," Sacarabany said. "It is to help religious leaders develop concrete actions. They want to be involved in peace at the religious level, and they want to act through peace through educational programs, through exchanges and so on."

Protest calls for peace between Jews, Muslims

Earlier this week, Jews and Muslims marched through Paris to show outrage at the desecration of Muslim and Jewish graves.

The French Jewish-Muslim Friendship group organized the march, which included local elected officials, imams and rabbis. The protest called for peace and underlined the links between Jews and Muslims.

The graves, on the eve of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, were vandalized by a suspected group of neo-Nazis who sprayed racist slurs on military gravestones in a northern France cemetery. Muslim tombs were targeted twice in the same cemetery in the past two years.

The new interfaith committee is expected to be set up next March. It aims to develop a network of religious institutions interested in dialogue and to collect proposals from imams and rabbis on projects they can work on together, notably in matters of education and in developing a booklet on how to respect different beliefs.

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