Diplomatic Seder

Article excerpt

Byline: James Morrison, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Diplomatic Seder

A Catholic ambassador celebrated the Jewish feast of Seder with Jewish and Muslim guests in an attempt to reach across religious divides.

Austrian Ambassador Peter Moser welcomed about 180 visitors to the Austrian Embassy, saying, "Peace, harmony and freedom are universal values, built within the core of our societies that start within the family. Tonight's event symbolizes these values."

The guests included Jewish, Muslim and Christian familes, feasting together to mark the beginning of Passover.

"At a time when we are faced with mistrust, hate and danger to our social systems and institutions, we need open dialogue to achieve understanding," Mr. Moser said. "We hope that people-to-people efforts that stress the best that mankind has to offer will help to defeat the forces of hate, violence and war.

"Jewish, Muslim and Christian traditions share great principles and achievements. These should provide the cement to bind us together and give us hope.

"They are much more important than the differences that have been magnified by those who want to drive us apart. It is a paradox of the modern world that our obsession with difference often makes us forget the sources of inspiration and encouragement that could provide the basis for peace, prosperity and happiness."

The diplomatic guests included Chilean Ambassador Andres Bianchi, Slovak Ambassador Martin Butora, Mohamed Hatem El Atawy of the Egyptian Embassy, Meshal Al-Thani of the Qatari Embassy and Darius Jadowski of the Polish Embassy.

Terror warning irks Italy

Italian authorities are annoyed that the U.S. Embassy in Rome issued a terrorist warning of a suspected Muslim militant plot to kill American tourists in Italy over the Easter holidays.

Defense Minister Antonio Martino told Rome's La Repubblica newspaper that the embassy's statement could "cause panic."

"I think the decision to release it was unfortunate and inopportune," he said.

The embassy on Wednesday cited "credible evidence" of a terrorist plot and warned Americans to avoid Florence, Milan, Venice and Verona. …