Interfaith coexistence on agenda at Moscow meeting

From right to left: Vice chairman of the IOPS, Elena Agapova; Chairman of the IOPS, Sergei Stepashin; Russian mufti and head of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia, Albir-hazrat Krganov; Chairman and CEO of the (DLT), Eng. Zuhair bin Ali Azhar and president of the Center for International Partnership and Business Cooperation (CIBPC), Stanislav Kudryashov. (Supplied)
Updated 26 September 2018
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Interfaith coexistence on agenda at Moscow meeting

  • The meeting between Zuhair bin Ali Azhar, the chairman and CEO of DLT, and Sergei Stepashin, the chairman of IOPS, developed grounds for a joint agreement to renounce extremism
  • The DLT CEO told Arab News that during his visit to IOPS the two groups discussed the Qaweem initiative, which aims to combat intellectual extremism and promote moderate thought

JEDDAH: A joint agreement to counter extremism was discussed at a meeting between the Distance Learning and Training Company (DLT) and the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (IOPS) on Tuesday in Moscow.

The meeting between Zuhair bin Ali Azhar, the chairman and CEO of DLT, and Sergei Stepashin, the chairman of IOPS, at its headquarters in the capital, developed grounds for a joint agreement to renounce extremism, promote peaceful coexistence among people of different religions, and to support cooperation in training and education.

The DLT CEO told Arab News that during his visit to IOPS the two groups discussed the “Qaweem” initiative, which aims to combat intellectual extremism and promote moderate thought.

He highlighted that “the initiative is being finalized to launch during the coming period across the world.”

Azhar added: “The Qaweem initiative has a clear, effective and purposeful message for the whole world and aims to counter extremism, renounce terrorism, and promote moderate thought, intellectual security and coexistence values for people to communicate with each other without discrimination.

“The initiative also contributes to supporting education, development and training in countries that need it.”

The chief of IOPS called for a strategic partnership that aims to reject extremist ideas and promote peaceful coexistence between religions without religious, lingual or gender discrimination.

The meeting was concluded by the signing of a strategic cooperation and partnership agreement covering the initiative.

The meeting was attended by Elena Agapova, the vice chairman of IOPS, Albir-hazrat Krganov, the mufti of Moscow and head of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia, and Stanislav Kudryashov, the president of the Center for International Partnership and Business Cooperation (CIBPC).


At least 161 dead in northeast Congo in apparent ethnic clashes

Updated 17 June 2019
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At least 161 dead in northeast Congo in apparent ethnic clashes

  • A series of attacks in Ituri province has mostly targeted Hema herders, who have long been in conflict with Lendu farmers over grazing rights and political representation
  • Open conflict between Hema and Lendu from 1999-2007 resulted in an estimated 50,000 deaths in one of the bloodiest chapters of a civil war in eastern Congo

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo: At least 161 people have been killed in a northeastern province of Democratic Republic of Congo in the past week, local officials said on Monday, in an apparent resurgence of ethnic clashes between farming and herding communities.
A series of attacks in Ituri province has mostly targeted Hema herders, who have long been in conflict with Lendu farmers over grazing rights and political representation, although the exact identity of the assailants remains murky.
Open conflict between Hema and Lendu from 1999-2007 resulted in an estimated 50,000 deaths in one of the bloodiest chapters of a civil war in eastern Congo that left millions dead from conflict, hunger and disease.
Tit-for-tat attacks between the two groups in late 2017 and early 2018 killed hundreds of people and forced tens of thousands more to flee their homes, but a tenuous calm had taken hold until this month.
Pascal Kakoraki Baguma, a national lawmaker from Ituri, said the latest violence was sparked by the killing last Monday of four Lendu businesspeople.
“Members of the Lendu community believed that these assassinations were the work of the Hema,” Kakoraki said. “This is why they launched several attacks on Hema villages.”
“Sources affirm that 161 bodies have been found so far. But the death toll goes beyond the bodies recovered, as there were other massacres of civilians and police officers,” he said.
Jean Bosco Lalo, president of civil society organizations in Ituri, said 200 bodies had been found since last week in predominantly Hema villages, including the 161 mentioned by Kakoraki. Lalo said the toll would rise once his teams gained access to other villages where killings had been reported.
Ituri Governor Jean Bamanisa said provincial authorities were still working to establish the exact death toll and declined to say who was responsible.
He said the assailants’ tactics were to “empty out the villages, burn them and pursue those who had fled to the surrounding areas with bladed weapons.”
Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, who took office in January, is trying to restore stability to the country’s eastern borderlands, a tinderbox of conflict among armed groups over ethnicity, natural resources and political power.
Several rebel leaders have surrendered or been captured during his first months in office, but armed violence has persisted, particularly in North Kivu province, south of Ituri, which is the epicenter of a 10-month Ebola outbreak.