A cross-cultural group of 20 prominent world figures has called for urgent efforts to heal the growing divide between Muslim and Western societies. They say the chief causes of the rift are not religion or history, but recent political developments, notably the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The panel, drawn together by the UN, says a climate of mutual fear and stereotypes is worsening the problem. To combat hostility bred of ignorance, they want education and media projects.
The Alliance of Civilisations, which includes Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, dismisses the notion that a clash of civilisations is inevitable, but says that swift action is needed. Their findings were presented in a report to the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at a ceremony in Istanbul on Monday morning.