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Rountable on Iraqi Religious Conference with Chaplain Col. Hoyt

This is the post promised below, on the recent religious conference in Iraq.  Chaplain Col. Michael Hoyt joined us to tell us about it.  The transcript is here.  This one is too important to excerpt.  You'll want to read it all -- especially the parts about the Samarra bombing, and how he has been treated by the Iraqi clerics.

After the jump, the fact statement that OASD sent out about the conference.

The conference resulted in an Accord calling upon mutual support,
tolerance, and unity of the Iraqi people around the free expression of
faith and the mutual protection of holy sites. It also renounces
violence and appeals to rule of law and Government structure to solve
Iraqi problems. It's a pretty comprehensive Accord considering the
audience that agreed and wrote it; a major accomplishment as a step
forward for GOI.  In the chaplain's estimation, this may be a
contributing factor to holding down violent outbreaks in the wake of
the mosque attacks.

This Accord is the first of its kind to set a process and structure in
place to allow religious leaders to debate issues in sub-committees and
present formal proposals through the IIRC Implementation Committee to
the government. This conference was only a first and foundational step
towards a working exchange of ideas and solutions using democratic
principles and allowing for the traditional role of clerics in an
Islamic society. It is not the silver bullet but it is unequalled in
its comprehensive commitments to religious leadership in problem solving,
support to democratic principles, denouncing violence, and displaying
Iraqi national unity and religious peace. Great potential.  -Hoyt

Bottom Line: Just the fact that these disparate groups met together and
began a reasonable dialogue of mutual commitment and tolerance is
unequaled in the last 3 years and a significant step to a viable peace
initiative and reconciliation mechanism.

Unique aspects of the conference include:

*  First one to create a mechanism for advancing the process of
religious leader involvement as a working body to assist the GoI with
credible mutual proposals from senior religious leaders of a variety of

*  First religious accord to have the PM's endorsement and signature
affixed to the document

*  First one to publicly denounce Al Qaeda

*  Broadest representation of faith groups and geographic dispersion to
meet in the last 37 years in Iraq