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).


Unspeakable grief: A husband, wife and three children wiped out in Sri Lanka

Updated 23 April 2019
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Unspeakable grief: A husband, wife and three children wiped out in Sri Lanka

  • The Gomez family gather for funeral of a husband and wife and their three sons
  • They were brutally killed as they attended Easter Sunday Mass at Colombo’s St. Joseph’s Shrine

COLOMBO: The dark wooden coffins, sitting side by side, attested to one family’s unspeakable grief.
The Gomez family gathered Tuesday to say a final farewell to five loved ones — a son, a daughter-in-law and three young grandsons — brutally killed as they attended Easter Sunday Mass at Colombo’s St. Joseph’s Shrine.
“All family, all generation, is lost,” said Joseph Gomez, the family patriarch, as tears welled in his eyes. Dozens of family members and neighbors were gathered in his simple home, where the sound of hymns sung by mourners gently wafted in the background and candles flickered beside three coffins. The bodies of two grandsons have yet to be recovered.
Across Sri Lanka, Tuesday was a national day of mourning as families began to lay to rest the more than 320 victims of the bomb blasts that struck a half-dozen churches and hotels in the island nation.
For the Gomez family, the loss was unfathomable: A 33-year-old son, Berlington Joseph, the young man’s 31-year-old wife Chandrika Arumugam, and their three boys, 9-year-old Bevon, 6-year-old Clavon and baby Avon, who would have turned 1 next week. A funeral card with a photo of the family clutched in his hands, the elder Gomez wailed: “I can’t bear this on me, I can’t bear this.”
“My eldest son, my eldest son,” he sobbed as he laid bouquets of red roses and brightly colored daisies on the largest coffin. Next to it was a tiny coffin, a photo of little Avon tucked into a wooden frame nearby.
The coffins, draped with long white tassels, were then carried to a Colombo cemetery and lowered into side-by-side graves.
At St. Joseph’s Shrine, dozens of mourners gathered outside, lighting candles and praying in unison for the victims of Sunday’s blasts as heavily armed soldiers stood guard.
At St. Sebastian Church in Negombo, a funeral service was held Tuesday for victims killed there as they worshipped, led by Cardinal Malcom Ranjith. The church was heavily guarded by hundreds of army, air force and police troops, and soldiers were deployed every 15 feet along the streets of the city some 20 miles north of Colombo.
Throughout the country, people observed a three-minute silence for the victims of the near-simultaneous attacks at three churches and three luxury hotels, and three other related blasts, the deadliest violence to strike Sri Lanka in a decade.
The Sri Lankan government has blamed the attack on National Towheed Jamaar, a little-known local extremist group, and on Tuesday, the Daesh group also claimed responsibility, though it provided no proof it was involved and has made unsubstantiated claims in the past.