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Imams and rabbis in Calgary meet at synagogue following clashes at Gaza rallies

CALGARY - Calgary's Muslim and Jewish leaders have condemned tensions during recent rallies in the city over the Gaza conflict.

Leaders of both religious groups met Thursday after an imam reached out to Jewish leaders and requested a meeting.

Last week, a protest at city hall in support of Palestinians killed by Israeli fire in Gaza turned violent when a handful of Israeli supporters showed up.

Some men began pushing and shoving, and one man stomped on an Israeli flag before police moved in and separated the groups.

Police have also charged a man after two replica handguns were brought to a pro-Israel rally earlier this week.

The leaders have agreed imams will invite rabbis to speak at mosques and rabbis will invite imams to speak at synagogues to promote understanding.

"Violence cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. We may disagree on issues and perspectives but we are firmly against resolving disputes and conflicts through violence," reads a statement from both sides following the meeting.

"The only way to resolve disputes and conflicts is through dialogue and the promotion of mutual understanding."

The meeting was held at the Beth Tzedec synagogue.

For most of the Muslim leaders, the joint statement said, it was the first time they had ever entered a synagogue and met a rabbi.

"We believe in the freedom of expression. This is a treasured value of Canadian society that every citizen has an equal right of expression. We recognize and respect the rights of both the pro-Palestine and pro-Israel individuals and groups," the statement said.

"They have the right to protest and lobby for their causes, but these protests and rallies must be peaceful and law-abiding. We will never allow anyone to disturb the peace of our city."

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