RIYADH: Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League, participated in the International Religious Forum 2022 at the invitation of the Evangelical Leaders of Texas, representing the center of the Evangelical community of the US.
The forum, held under the slogan “Unusual Allies Build Prosperous Communities,” was hosted for the first time by the three most important US states that foster the American Evangelical community, numbering more than 90 million people. These states are Texas, the first and most important incubator for Evangelicals in the world; Kansas, where the largest US churches are located, and Maryland.
The forum also saw the participation of representatives from the US government, the leaders of various other American religious communities, and the leaders of several international organizations. It was also attended by representatives of the American Muslim community, and a selection of influential religious, social, intellectual, and academic figures from inside and outside the US.
The forum was launched by an introduction to the Makkah Declaration and a speech by the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, Rashad Hussain.
In his speech, Bob Robert, an Evangelical pastor and community leader, said: “We are happy to welcome Al-Issa in this forum, the famous international religious figure in the Muslim world, who is leading the Makkah-based organization representing all Islamic peoples. Al-Issa, whose name has been deeply engraved in the field of world peacemaking, building bridges between religions, cultures, and civilizations.
“Al-Issa is a strong, moderate voice that our world needs today to face all the voices of hatred, racism, and extremism, thanks to his strong influence on the international scene.”
Robert said that he was proud of the strong partnership with the MWL led by Al-Issa in its journey to establish community coexistence and world peace. “We are working hand-in-hand to bridge negative gaps between followers of religions and cultures, particularly hate speech, racism and intolerance, promoted by extremists, fanatics and conflict advocates.”
Stressing that the exceptional efforts of such leadership gives hope to overcome the world’s current problems, and to look forward to a better future, he praised the Makkah Declaration, a turning point in contemporary Islamic thought, laying the foundations for justice, human rights, and universal human dignity.
Al-Issa highlighted in his speech that real progress occurs only when work and courage are accompanied by determination to create a better world for all people, regardless of religious, ethnic or other differences. The pursuit of positive change, he said, “is not easy at first, in terms of accepting it, and then in terms of the time of response necessary, which might require long cycles, and most of all a sound and ambitious vision.
“I am pleased that our dialogue today has produced a strong alliance to support our shared values,” Al-Issa said, pointing out that “hate speech is at the forefront of the causes of division and violence and must be criminalized in all legislation, with no leniency.”
The Executive Director of the UN World Food Program David Paisley stressed that the hotbeds of conflict in the world have taught us something important: The lack of communication between followers of religions causes a lot of pain to all.
“We do not care about the religion of that hungry child, what we care about is that he does not starve again. We see the consequences of religious discrimination all over the world. At the end of the day, one does not think about the children one saved but the children one fails to save. One person dies every four seconds due to hunger. One must love for one’s brother what one loves for himself. If we could instill this principle in places of conflict, people would not fight,” he told the forum.
“When we look at the religious backgrounds of victims of human trafficking, they are of all religions in the world,” said human rights activist Christine Caine. “Since we help everyone regardless of their religion, we must protect them regardless of their religions as well.”
Caine stressed that the joint work of followers of all religions is the only way to end human trafficking and modern slavery.
Al-Issa held meetings with various Evangelical leaders in three American states during his trip.
In its final statement, the leaders of the forum confirmed that the MWL represents an Islamic religious reference and a strong ally with whom they can work to promote shared values.