Alliance against terror and war

Four years ago, Spain's head of government Jose Luis RodrIguez Zapatero, together with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, submitted his idea of an "alliance of civilizations" to the United Nations. Zapatero's proposal to forge an alliance against war and terror was accepted: On Tuesday and Wednesday, more than 300 participants from 100 countries will meet for the first time in Madrid to discuss this alliance. But even in the host country the project is controversial.

You can't forge alliances with countries like Iran on tolerant coexistence while homosexuals are hanged in public squares there, says Gustavo ArIstegui, foreign policy spokesman for the opposition People's Party. Nevertheless, he, too, believes a forum for dialogue is necessary. The vast majority of Muslims are moderate. They are the first victims of religiously motivated terrorism and must be supported, says ArIstegui.UN Secretary General Kofi Annan supported the idea from the beginning, and it is now an official UN project (UNAOC). The official list of "Friends of the Alliance of Civilizations" includes some 80 states and organizations, including Germany, like most EU countries, as well as Turkey, Afghanistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iran or the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

Skepticism about Begi The former Portuguese head of state Jorge Sampaio was appointed Secretary General of the UNAOC. Nevertheless, skepticism was high at the beginning. The project did not seem concrete enough to many countries. For example, the British were initially very reluctant, Spanish diplomats report. It was only after the London attacks on 7. July 2005, the realization grew there that the world needed a common strategy against extremism.Spain and Turkey see the alliance as a counter-model to ideas such as the "war on terrorism" or the seemingly inevitable "clash of civilizations" announced by U.S. political scientist Samuel Huntington in 1996.

Creating understanding for other cultures and religions The states of this alliance should take measures in their country that create understanding for other cultures and religions and in this way take away the ground from extremism and terrorism, so the basic idea. During the conference in Madrid, the participants will present national action plans for this purpose, for example, for the integration of immigrants or diplomatic initiatives.However, the Madrid Forum is not intended to be an intergovernmental conference, stresses the Spanish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Bernardino Leon before the conference. The alliance is intended to mobilize civil societies, which is why Christian and Islamic representatives and youth organizations will also be attending. The UNAOC attaches special importance to the media, which are not only invited to report, but should also participate in the discussions. The list of participants includes CNN and Al-Jazeera as well as representatives of the WAZ Group and Deutschlandradio.By Hans-Gunter Kellner (epd)

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