Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd told The Australian yesterday he wanted Australia to take a lead in promoting an interfaith dialogue designed to combat fundamentalist religious militancy as part of “an intelligent policy response” to global terrorism and faith-based conflict.
The event would highlight “essential commonalities between the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Islam and Christianity”.
“The key thing is to make it real both to religious elites, but also what you’d describe as political and social elites across countries,” he said. Greater understanding of common elements of the faiths could “lift the scales” from people’s eyes and make them less vulnerable to preachers of faith-based hate.
To illustrate his point, Mr Rudd explained that he had recently opened a mosque built in Afghanistan by the Australian Defence Force.
He said local tribal leaders had been told by fundamentalists that Australian troops in the area were “Christian crusaders”, a claim demolished by the delivery of the mosque.
Australia already co-sponsors an interfaith dialogue in Indonesia and is using aid money to redevelop local schools and replace curriculums based on religious doctrine with mainstream programs promoting reading, writing and mathematics.