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Fri Jan 25, 2013, 03:44 PM

Freedom of Religion and the Right to Be Respected

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amb-ufuk-gokcen/freedom-of-religion-and-the-right-to-be-respected_b_2543763.html

Amb. Ufuk Gokcen
Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, United Nations
Posted: 01/24/2013 2:55 pm

As the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's Ambassador to the United Nations in New York, I have recently attended for the second year in a row a special commemoration event at the Park East Synagogue in New York in conjunction with the U.N. International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Every year, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, the respected and veteran interfaith dialogue contributor, brings together his congregation with the members of the U.N. diplomatic community, including the U.N. Secretary General, to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, pay tribute to survivors and underline the commitment of the international community not to allow religious persecution and genocide.

This year, I attended the ceremony with my 12-year-old son out of a deep conviction that we need to educate the new generations on the merits of human dignity, respect for the other, co-existence and the horrible consequences of hatred. It is our responsibility to utilize the opportunities that interfaith and faith based civil society has to develop early childhood multi-culturalism and peace-building programs. Would it not be encouraging to see individuals, families and civil society partner together to educate the next generation on human dignity and respect?

Recently, the situation of Christian minorities in OIC countries has become a concern for Christian institutions in the West and for those committed to religious freedom. However, we should not ignore the promising trend of interfaith cooperation in many of these countries. I am writing this article on my way from Helsinki, where I attended (as a cosponsor together with Finn Church Aid, Religions for Peace, and the UN Mediation Support Unit) an important seminar on strengthening the role of religious and traditional actors in peacemaking. A network of peace practitioners from universities and think tanks -- evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox and Lutheran Christians, as well as Jewish and Muslim grassroots peacemakers -- came together to discuss various conflict case studies. This synergy created among faith-based institutions is becoming a global movement and also can be seen in the field of humanitarian assistance.

The United Nations has intentionally joined these interfaith efforts with the establishment of the U.N.'s Alliance of Civilizations (AoC). The AoC was initiated by Turkey and Spain to foster inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue and combat the voices of extremism. On the eve of the AoC annual forum in Vienna, former President of the U.N. General Assembly, Qatar's Nasser al Nasser, replaced Portugal's former president, Jorge Sampaio, at the helm of the AoC. Sampaio exhibited courageous leadership in steering AoC forward and expectations are high that the new High Representative would bring a renewed sense of purpose and fresh ideas. The new era of the Alliance coincided with the recent inauguration in Vienna of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Interreligious Dialogue Center (KAICIID) founded by Spain, Austria and Saudi Arabia. The Center will be guided by a board of nine Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu members. Significantly, the Holy See is a Founding Observer of the Center. Furthermore, Common Word and World Interfaith Harmony Week initiatives of Jordan met with unprecedented global acceptance.

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Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply Freedom of Religion and the Right to Be Respected (Original post)
cbayer Jan 2013 OP
longship Jan 2013 #1
cbayer Jan 2013 #2
tama Jan 2013 #3
longship Jan 2013 #4
tama Jan 2013 #7
cbayer Jan 2013 #5
cleanhippie Jan 2013 #6
Phillip McCleod Jan 2013 #8

Response to cbayer (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 03:56 PM

1. They should have asked some non-believers to attend as well.

There are many of us who would be glad to attend, who are interested in both inter- and intrafaith outreach.

This group sounds like just the type who would be welcome to it as well.

R&K

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Response to longship (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 04:24 PM

2. Agree. I think they are missing an important opportunity and will not address

some of the injustices that are aimed at non-believers around the world.

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Response to longship (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 04:58 PM

3. More

 

One of the organizers was UNDP, a secular organization. The topic of seminar war "Engaging with Religious and Traditional Peacemakers", and the practical purpose of the seminar was to start building a network of religious and traditional peacemakers to assist UN peace mediation, to bring their cultural insider knowledge to aid third party conflict resolution.

http://www.kirkonulkomaanapu.fi/en/about_fca/advocacy_work/finn_church_aid_appointed_to_develop_religious_leaders_peace_mediation_network/?id=2720
http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/religious-leaders-as-peacemakers/

I can't find a full list of participants, but seems there were also secular activists and NGO's and their representatives attending, and the organizations mentioned such as Finn Church Aid has many partnerships also with secular organizations.

So at least in this case it does not sound like there is cause for worry of exclusion of non-believers, as this is a UN project to gather network of cultural (religious and traditional) knowledge to help peace mediation.

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Response to tama (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 05:03 PM

4. Excellent, Tama.

I am close to being up against my month-end bandwidth wall. I cannot afford to click through to non-DU sites. It dumps my browser cache. I'd rather stay on DU then.

Thanks.

I like what I read, though.

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Response to tama (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 05:09 PM

5. Great find, tama, and glad to hear it.

Thanks for the research and the links. Too bad they didn't mention this in the article.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 05:31 PM

6. Respect the right to believe but not the belief.

No ones personal belief, especially beliefs based on nothing other than faith, deserves respect. Those beliefs will earn respect on their merits, should they have any.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #6)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 07:58 PM

8. always thought 'respect' was to high a bar.

 

we should start with something easier like 'tolerance'

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