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Tackling religious radicalism

By Liao Xiaoyi | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-11-01 13:32
Astana is the capital of Kazakhstan.

Simultaneous prayer for world peace by representatives of different religions was held in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. The prayer lasted only a few minutes, but the message was clear. To ensure global peace and stability the world needs to come together, especially as the situation is aggravated daily. And the term "terrorism" is already firmly entrenched even in economically developed European countries. The number of problems associated with religion is only increasing. In Europe, anti-Islamic sentiments are growing, connected with the mass migration of refugees. Scandals in the Catholic Church related to sexual abuse. But Astana managed to put priests at the negotiating table, despite disagreements.

Chairman of the Association of Daoists of China Li Guangfu, the Supreme Imam, Sheikh Al-Azhar Muhammad Ahmad al-Tayeb, and Patriarch of Jerusalem Feophilus III, and the Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Pontifical Council for the interpretation of legislative texts by Cardinal Francisco Kokkopalmerio, High Representative of the UN Alliance of Civilizations Nasir Abd al-Aziz an-Nasser, Secretary-General of the World Assembly of the rapprochement of Islamic Mazhabov Ayatollah Mohsen Mohammadi Araki, the Sephardian and Ashkenazi rabbis of Israel Yitzhak Joseph and David Lau, the Vice-President of the World Buddhist Community Lama Choyzhilzhavyn Dumbawav, the Secretary General of the OSCE Thomas Greminger, Secretary General of the World Organization "Religions for Peace" William Wendley spoke at the plenary meeting of the forum.

Kazakhstan brought together more than 80 delegations from 45 countries of the world. And it is obvious that the leaders of world religions have a need for such meetings on the platform of equal opportunities and negotiations.

Opening the VI Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev voiced the main idea: "Despite the rapid technological development and growth of global wealth, the scale of social disasters continues to expand. According to the UN, 14 percent of the world's population is chronically hungry. The total number of unemployed persons exceeded 190 million. This reinforces social inequality as a fertile ground for radicalism. Therefore, a central issue is a safe, just peace".

But every year the world community seems to be moving away from the world of just. According to Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad al-Tayeb the political forces spent about $1.5 billion in the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria between 2001 and 2018. And this when 750 million people in the world can neither write or read. And sometimes a religious figure is the only source of education and upbringing, a role model. And it is very important that the thought of peace and tolerance of the cleric could bring as many parishioners as possible, and this requires new approaches and technologies. That is why the information portal will be created on the initiative of Nazarbayev. Its task is to help study and apply methods of strengthening resistance to any manifestations of religious radicalism, violence in general.

The task is crucial as the events of the last few years have shown that neither rich countries nor poor countries are immune from religious radicalism. Therefore, the "right" in every sense of religious education is now also included in the list of principles of stability and security of the state. That is why we are talking about the resolution of conflicts and the possibilities that the representatives of different faiths have in this context. Of course, it is impossible to solve all problems during the sixth congress, but nobody claimed that the problems accumulated over the years can be solved in one day. The congress, and this is also one of the indicators of the urgency of the problem, accredited hundreds of journalists, and they covered the event exhaustively. The speakers of the congress were unanimous: peace and love will help humanity.

The Chairman of the Council of Muftias and the spiritual administration of Muslims of Russia Rabul Gainuddin said such interreligious dialogue is a real requirement of the world, demanding its participants to make such a move. Priests are ready to make such a move, taking advantage of the main principle of all religions: tolerance, tolerance and respect for other race and faith.

The fact that Astana became the capital of world and traditional religions for the sixth time was also very symbolic. Nazarbayev in his speech cited such figures: the country registered more than 35,000 religious subjects, 18 different confessions. Polyethnicity of Kazakhstan is the basis for a unique model of interfaith and interethnic peace in Astana, which after having gained independence after the collapse of the USSR found itself in the same conditions as the rest of the CIS countries.

But against the background of other post-Soviet states, the first thing that catches the eye in Kazakhstan and serves as a basis for respect for its religious tolerance, is that religion and traditions serve stability of the country, developing the national identity of the people. That is why Kazakhstan has initiated the establishment of the Center for the Development of Interfaith and Inter-civilizational Dialogue. And such dialogue is more necessary than ever for the world.

The author is an observer on Central Asia affairs based in Beijing.

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