GENEVA: Prominent thinkers, authors, diplomats and other personalities gathered to see the Muslim World League (MWL) launch the “Role of Religions in the Reinforcement of Global Peace” forum in Geneva on Thursday.
Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the MWL, said in his opening speech that his organization, as an umbrella for Muslim nations, works hard to explain true Islam, to fight extremism and terrorism, to enhance religious and intellectual awareness among Muslim communities, and to communicate with all concerned to promote moderation, tolerance and peace.
Al-Issa stressed the importance of approaching the world with more optimism and hope, working hard to reinforce peace and security, and accepting diversity among people.
In this respect, he pointed that the Kingdom has become a global platform for fighting extremism and terrorism.
Dr. Al-Issa stressed that terrorism must be tracked in the cyberspace, adding that people of different faiths and cultures should resist exclusionism and hate theories, such as Islamophobia, which is currently considered the most difficult hurdle against the efforts of fighting extremism and positive integration of Muslim minorities.
Al-Issa blamed personal ambition and political competition regardless of facts and true conscience for arriving at this situation.
On the other hand, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Vatican’s Permanent Observer in the UN in Geneva, said that the right way to achieve real peace was through religious tolerance, stressing that peace and tolerance should be far from force or coercion, and that the promotion of the culture of respect for all religions is important to have peace-loving generations.
Reverend Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, talked about the concept of the Abrahamic family and the establishment of peaceful coexistence.
Dr. Tveit stressed that members of the Abrahamic family believe in one God who created humans to live together. “We are here today to share these ideas and display together what our belief means in real practice,” he added.
Next, Dr. Fawzia Al-Ashmawi, professor at the University of Geneva, noted that Jews, Christians and Muslims share a common origin and one founding forefather: Abraham. She stressed that followers of the three religions share this belief. Moreover, she said, Islam considers Jews and Christians as “People of the Book,” recognizes the Torah and Bible as Holy Books, believes in Moses and Jesus as prophets of God who have outstanding positions in the Qur’an, and calls the mother of Jesus Virgin Mary.
Ashmawi stressed the importance of looking for commonalities among the three religions and promoting dialogue in order to live in peace.
The first common point shared by the three religions, she said, is that the three Holy Books have common elements which tackle issues of the hereafter, such as resurrection, reckoning, apocalypse, paradise and hell, among other things.
Ashmawi noted that followers of the three religions should always hold fruitful dialogues on the basis of reaching a common approach.
In the forum’s second session, Michele John talked about the issue of religion against extremism and terrorism.
John said that you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
He also stressed that violence, in all shapes and forms, must be condemned, and cited the Italian author Castiglione, who stood against terrorism and is considered one of the founders of peace among religions.
John condemned the actions of groups which conduct violent acts against Muslims in Myanmar.
The forum concluded its sessions by calling for a new international global motto: “Peace for some communities is peace for all communities,” based on the fact that the whole world has become so interconnected that the corruption of one part would necessarily extend to spoil the other parts as well. The forum warned that complacency in promoting justice, freedom, tolerance and peace among all religions and cultures would probably form a basis for an extreme idea or terrorist crime.
The forum called in its recommendations for intensifying the meetings between Muslim scholars and scholars from other faiths in order to discuss outstanding issues and problems and form common concepts about them.
The forum also stressed the importance of getting rid of the effects of the historical conflicts to promote peace and mutual understanding and reject the culture of violence and exclusion.