Religious, cultural diversity ensure security, dignified life: Muslim World League

WASHINGTON, The second day of the conference “The Need for an Alliance for Virtue: Its Foundations and Impacts”, now running in Washington DC, brought together a large number of scholars and researchers from the US and the Islamic world.

Today’s sessions started with a debate titled, “The Need for New Alliances,” which saw the participation of Dr. Mohammed Abdul Karim Al Issa, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah, President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini, and Sam Brownback, the US’s new Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom.

In his opening speech, Dr. Al Issa stated that religious and cultural diversity should be an added value to achieving community security and a dignified life, in the face of the “New Nazis” while highlighting the importance of following the correct methods of addressing diversity and the necessity of avoiding violence.

He also highlighted the importance of the conference in bringing together the followers of various religions and civilisations, and in promoting universal values, to achieve peace around the world. He spoke about the responsibility of religious leaders and scholars to promote peace while pointing out the league’s statistics show that 80 percent of religious followers around the world believe in the influence of religion on public opinion.

Al Issa added that Islam obliges everyone to live together in peace and that religions, societies and politicians should be thoroughly aware of human values.

In his speech, Shaykh bin Bayyah stated that the forum is based on two issues. The first is to study the phenomenon of violence and its roots, and the second is related to the initiatives and co-operation between those seeking peace. He also highlighted the forum’s vision that focusses on the complex nature of violence, its reasons and the factors affecting it while stressing that clergymen should search into their religious texts, history and heritage, to find out the solid foundations of tolerance and co-existence and the models of revival that will help promote peace and kindness in the souls of believers.

Shaykh bin Bayyah believes that religious texts contain the answers for those who blame religion for wars, adding that humans are misinterpreting religion and using it for their own purposes.

He further stressed that the goals of the conference include the promotion of honesty, to achieve co-existence, create friendships and encourage love among the followers of divine religions, as well as to highlight the fact that religions are a means of peace and love and not war.

Brownback expressed his happiness at starting his new position by participating in the conference, which represents the core of his work while stressing that religious freedom and combatting religious oppression have become key to facing international relations issues and is among the priorities of the US foreign policy and its national security, due to the correlation between the issue and the need for peace.

He also declared his support for the leaders of the Alliance, to promote peace and identify the challenges facing the co-existence of people and their beliefs. The US government will provide the means for encouraging and promoting related initiatives, he added.

For his part, the Finnish minister said, “If religion is part of the problem, then it is also part of the solution.”

Source: Emirates News Agency