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Hundreds of Islamic Scholars Discuss Global Muslim Conflicts in Jakarta

Around 350 Islamic scholars and observers from 64 countries have gathered in the Indonesian capital Jakarta to discuss ways to end conflict in the Muslim world. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins in Jakarta has more.

The third annual International Conference of Islamic Scholars opened in Jakarta Wednesday with prayers from the Holy Koran and hopes aimed at finding solutions to a broad scope of conflicts plaguing the Islamic world.

Hasyim Muzadi, chairman of Indonesia's largest Muslim organization the Nahdlatul Ulama, stressed the need for Muslims to unite against militants.

"We have come together because we cannot and we must not let Islam be hijacked by a few, those propagating violence, hatred, and terror. This conference is aimed at
addressing the most pressing issue for Muslims in the world - that is conflict, conflict, and conflict," said Muzadi.

The conference, organized by the Nahdlatul Ulama and Indonesia's department of foreign affairs, will have at least one speaker for every conflict affecting the Muslim world, including those in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, the Sudan, southern Thailand, and the southern Philippines.

Indonesia, a secular democratic nation, has the world's largest population of Muslims. It has held various international conferences during the past several years aimed at promoting tolerance and peace in the Islamic world.

Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told participants without economic prosperity, peace will remain elusive.

"To promote enduring peace in the Muslim world, we must start working today for the economic empowerment and the social welfare of our peoples," he said. "We cannot tolerate a situation where the great majority of Muslims languish in poverty."

President Yudhoyono cited the latest statistics from the U.N. Human Development Index that state nearly 40 percent of Muslims around the world live below the poverty line,
and millions more live on less than $1 a day.

The three-day conference will end on Friday.