Arabs leaders decry 'rise of Islamophobia'

March 30, 2008 at 10:12 PM

DAMASCUS, Syria, March 30 (UPI) -- Arab leaders ended a summit in Syria Sunday by issuing a statement lamenting what they see as growing anti-Islamic sentiment around the world.

"The growth of ferocious attacks against Islam and the rise of Islamophobia are a deep source of concern, particularly given that the offenses to Muslims are increasing in countries known for their pluralism and acceptance of difference," said the final statement reported by Gulf Daily News.

The Arab leaders said the "phenomenon" needs to be confronted, "as well as the ignorance and racism shown toward Islam, a religion of moderation and tolerance."

The Arab League wrapped up its Damascus conference without reaching agreement on a way to end the political impasse in Lebanon, which was among the 11 league members who boycotted the meeting. The group called on Lebanon to elect Gen. Michel Sleiman, who heads the country's military, as president, the Gulf Daily News said.

The Arab League also urged Iraq "to disband all militias without exception ... and speed up the building and training of the Iraqi armed and security forces ... in preparation for the withdrawal of foreign troops." Iraq officials refused to endorse the statement, citing the absence of a condemnation of terrorism in Iraq.

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