Religious leaders from Sunni, Shiite, Christian, Mandean, and Yazidi communities across the Middle East jointly issued the Vienna Declaration, "United against Violence in the Name of Religion", at an international conference organized by the KAICIID Dialogue Centre.
This is the first time religious leaders representing so many different religions from a crisis region have come together as one to denounce persecution and killing in the name of religion.
They called on the international community to protect religious and cultural diversity in Iraq and Syria and rejected attempts by groups like Isis to claim legitimacy for their actions within the teachings of Islam.
They also condemned the serious violation of human rights in Iraq and Syria – especially against Christian, Yazidi and other religious and ethnic groups.
The religious leaders emphasized the right of all to be treated with dignity and humanity regardless of their religious tradition. The declaration also rejects and denounces the support or sponsorship of terrorism.
Speaking after the meeting, Faisal Bin Muaammar, KAICIID Secretary General, said, "The manipulation of religion in Iraq and Syria has horrific human consequences. Today we witnessed a reason for hope: the conviction and resolve of religious leaders from many different faiths, speaking with one voice, to say that Isis and other extremist groups do not act in the name of religion."
KAICIID has been under scrutiny in Austria recently, with the government keen to establish if it is really meeting its objectives of promoting inter-religious dialogue and peace.