Researchers, politicians, and religious figures met in Istanbul, Turkey on Monday in order to discuss ways to improve the shaky relations between cultures, and in particular between Muslims and the Western world. At the center of the summit was a report submitted by a UN panel, made up of researchers and leaders for various cultures, set up to examine the issue in-depth.
A message on behalf of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that the problem was not found in the Koran, Torah, or New Testament. The message added that faith was not the problem, but rather believers and the way they behave to one another.
According to the 39-page report composed by the panel, a copy of which has appeared on the BBC website, one of the clearest symbols of the increasing gap between cultures is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the report's authors called for a renewal of the Middle East peace process.
Among the recommendations in the report, the authors said the world must recognize the reality shaping the stances of millions of Muslims, the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
'Israel-Palestinain conflict is urgent'
The authors said they wished to emphasize the "urgency" of the Palestinian issue, which forms a significant factor to the growing tear between Muslim society and Western society, the report said.
The authors said that without a "fair, respectable, democratic" solution to the problem, based on the good intentions of all involved to end the conflict, all efforts to bridge the cultural gap would fail.
With that, the authors recognized other factors causing tensions, including violence in Iraq, the ongoing war in Afghanistan, and terror attacks against civilian populations in various countries. However, the authors added, the Israeli-Palestinian issue carries a symbolic value, and is the one influence the cultural and political relations between the followers of the three monotheistic religions.
The panel members included former Iranian president Muhammad Khatami, and Nobel Prize Winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu.