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Events of last September reinforce need for tolerance, Annan and Assembly President say

Events of last September reinforce need for tolerance, Annan and Assembly President say

Addressing an inter-religious service on the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the United States, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the President of the UN General Assembly, Jan Kavan, today said the events of last September reinforce the need for dialogue, mutual understanding and tolerance.

"9-11 put all our faiths to the test," Mr. Annan told the annual Interfaith Service of Commitment to the Work of the United Nations, which is traditionally held at the start of the UN General Assembly. "9-11 threw each of us back on our personal faith, as we struggled to make sense of what had happened, and to find the right response. 9-11 made us look with new eyes at each other's faiths."

The Secretary-General said that the international community sensed, very quickly, that the effect of the attacks could be to fan the flames of mutual hatred, distrust and intolerance, which was very likely what the terrorists wanted. "But almost in the same moment, we knew that that response must be resisted, and we resisted that response, firmly and promptly," he told the congregation at St. Bartholomew's Church in Manhattan.

Addressing the assembled, Mr. Kavan said a multireligious gathering such as theirs "embodies the ideals of understanding, interrelationship, mutual tolerance and acceptance."

The United Nations, he added, is similarly a forum that unites peoples of a multitude of faiths and backgrounds. "It is a place which offers room for finding common language and common solutions through dialogue and cooperation," he said. "It is only in this spirit that the Organization can fulfil its mission of bringing peace, advancement and dignity into the life of every human being."