Tunisia, Qatar propose ‘Western-Islamic’ conference: report

Tunisia’s President Kais Saied and Qatar will seek to promote dialogue between Muslims and the West to prevent anti-Muslim backlashes following extremist attacks, he said during a visit to Doha Sunday.

Saied told Qatar’s news agency that Doha and Tunis proposed to hold a “Western-Islamic conference… aimed at achieving greater understanding and overcoming the obstacles that appear after some terrorist operations”.

The initiative appeared to be at least partly in response to recent remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron that Islam is “in crisis” following a series of jihadist attacks in France.

Last month, the French leader also unveiled plans to defend his country’s secular values against “Islamist radicalism”, which sparked criticism from across the Muslim world.

Saied said the Western-Islamic conference’s “aim is also to avoid confusing Muslims with those extremists who claim to be Muslims,” the state-run news agency reported.

There is a “need to differentiate between Islam and its true purposes and terrorism, which has absolutely nothing to do with Islam”, he added.

No further details of the proposed conference were given.

Saied and a large Tunisian delegation were in Qatar for a three-day state visit, during which the two sides also discussed the hot-button topic of conflict-hit Libya, according to the Qatari foreign ministry.

The ministry gave no further details of the meetings concerning Libya.

The visit came during a week of UN-led talks on Libya held in neighbouring Tunisia that were set to conclude on Sunday.

The political talks brought together 75 delegates selected by the UN to represent a broad range of constituencies in the latest efforts to end a decade of conflict in the North African country.

Observers have criticised the way the delegates were chosen and cast doubts over their clout in the country, where two administrations are already vying for power.

Qatar has played an active role in Libya, signing a security agreement with the UN-recognised Government of National Accord last month.