* Muslim, Jewish leaders ready to combat hate in own ranks
* Mooted bans on circumcision, ritual slaughter unite faiths
* Tensions persist, including Islamist attacks on Jews
PARIS, Sept 5 (Reuters)- Seventy European Muslim and Jewish
leaders pledged on Wednesday to show "zero tolerance" to hate
preachers of any faith including their own ranks, citing what
they called rising religious intolerance on the continent.
Imams, rabbis and community leaders from 18 countries agreed
to jointly counter bigotry against Jews and Muslims and combat
legal threats to common religious practices such as circumcision
of boys and the kosher and halal ritual slaughter of animals.
The two-day meeting brought together Muslim-Jewish teams
from around Europe to compare experiences in fighting religious
prejudice and report on recent trends against minority faiths.
There have been several attacks on Jews in Europe this year,
some from radical Muslims. In the worst case, a French Islamist
killed a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse
Extreme right-wing political parties are also increasingly
agitating against Jews and Muslims, participants in the meeting
"We must institute a 'zero tolerance' policy against
religious leaders of any faith who misuse their pulpits to
incite religious bigotry," they said in a declaration.
"We vow to each other to speak out loudly and forcefully
against any religious leader who defames those of other faiths,
and, if such bigots emerge from within our own communities, to
condemn them loudly and clearly."
Among the organisers was the New York-based Foundation for
Ethnic Understanding, whose co-founder Rabbi Marc Schneier has
promoted Muslim-Jewish unity projects in the United States.
Schneier told Reuters that European Muslims and Jews had
come together more this year to defend their common interest in
protecting religious traditions from legal challenges.
That was not enough, he said: "Real cooperation is when you
stand up for others even when it's not in your common interest."
Participants gave examples in their countries of interfaith
harmony as well as tension, especially that arising from radical
Islamism that has spread among some disaffected Muslim youths.
From Britain, Fiyaz Mughal of the non-profit group Faith
Matters and Jewish Volunteering Network official Esmond Rosen
presented a booklet on Muslims who saved Jews in the Holocaust.
Mughal accused far-right groups in Britain of trying to
provoke anti-Semitism among Muslims, especially on the Internet.
"A lot of these issues are happening online," he said. "This is
where the real battle is."
Rabbi Michel Serfaty and Scheherazade Zerouala told how
their French Judeo-Muslim Friendship group made bus tours around
France to promote understanding in poor neighbourhoods where the
two minorities often live side-by-side and sometimes clash.
Noting that a rabbi had recently been attacked in Berlin,
the secretary general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany
said imams must condemn anti-Semitism among Muslims.
"We also have anti-Muslim sentiment among Jews, as we saw in
the beating of a Palestinian by Jewish children in Israel,"
Stephan Kramer added. "We are condemning these acts strongly."
ATTACKS RISE IN FRANCE
Moussa Diaw Al-Hassan, coordinator of Islamic studies at
Osnabrueck University in Germany, said his programme helped
future imams analyse YouTube videos of hardline Salafi preachers
who appeal to some alienated young Muslims in Germany.
"It's important to teach imams how to detect this radical
version of Islam," he said.
Toulouse Chief Rabbi Harald Weill regretted that no local
Muslim leader contacted him to condemn the murders at the Jewish
school there last March, but he did not want to give up hope.
"I came here today to say that, contrary to a large part of
my community, I think there is a possibility that we can walk
hand in hand," the Orthodox rabbi said.
Both Muslim and Jewish leaders in France say hostile acts
and attitudes have spread in the wake of the Toulouse killings.
Muslim community leaders have registered a 15 percent rise
in anti-Muslim acts in the first half of this year compared to
the same period in 2011. Jewish observers say anti-Semitic
attacks and acts of intimidation have risen 37 percent over the
(Writing by Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor; Editing by Mark