Faith leaders denounce violence in the name of religion
July 2. Christian Today
by Robert Williams
Extremism, terrorism and other forms of violence in the name of religion are “threats to human life and should be rejected”, say delegates attending the Third Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Inaugurated by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Wednesday, more than 400 academics, clerics and leaders from 60 nations have gathered for the two-day meeting to deliberate the prospects of peaceful coexistence among the world’s religions and the link between religion and terrorism.
“Politicians, public figures, scientists, the mass media and the global community should demonstrate greater moral and spiritual strength and genuine solidarity in pursuing just solutions to the economic, financial, social and environmental problems plaguing the globalised world,” said the leaders in a statement.
President Nazarbayev said over the past six years that the Congress had played a significant role in promoting harmony and removing distrust among the world’s religions.
“There is much that has been achieved. There is much more that needs to be done. It is up to us and the sincerity we display,” the president said.
According to Mehdi Mustafavi, an adviser to the Iranian president, “religious leaders should pay more attention to resolving the world’s problems. This is because people believe religious leaders more (than politicians).”
Shlomo Amar, Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi said: “It lies in out hands to try and understand what creates differences between religions and to try and reduce these to the extent possible.”
“There is much commonality between religions. It lies in our hands to try and understand what creates differences between religions and to try and reduce these to the extent possible.”
According to Abdullah bin Abdul Mohsin, Al-Turki, the secretary general of the Muslim World League, the goal of religious leaders should be to protect religious institutions “and preserve them from falling prey or (becoming) tools in the hands of unscrupulous people”.
Orthodox Church leader Metropolitan Emmannuel of Constantinople said the Congress “provides a golden opportunity to tell the whole world that we are prepared to accept our responsibilities and help in the resolution of critical issues”.
The Congress was first conceived by the President of Kazakhstan, who felt that dialogue between the leaders of world and traditional religions formed could widen the prospects for mutual cooperation and contribute to overcoming negative manifestations of faith like violence, fanaticism, extremism and terrorism in the name of religion.
The first congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions was first held in 2003, when Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jew, Hindu and Tao leaders adopted a declaration stating that “extremism, terrorism and other forms of violence in the name of religion … are threats to human life and should be rejected”. The second congress was held in Astana in 2006.
According to the Azerbaijan Press Agency nearly 400 representatives of more than 60 countries are attending the Third Congress, which ends today.