VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict XVI has invited 300 religious leaders to a meeting in Assisi in Italy to repudiate "violence in the name of God" amid growing tensions fuelled by fundamentalists across the world.
The day of interreligious council, which will be held on Thursday in St. Francis of Assisi's birthplace, is intended to be a "journey of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world," the Vatican said.
Over 50 Islamic representatives are expected to attend the talks from several countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iran.
They will be joined by Rabbis, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, a Zoroastrian, a Bahai and representatives of Taoism and Confucianism as well as of other traditional religions from Africa and America.
For the first time, four atheists will also attend the meeting, which is traditionally organized so as not to coincide with the Muslim day of prayer on Friday, the Jewish one on Saturday or the Christian one on Sunday.