The conference, titled “World Interfaith Harmony: Vital for Peace and Development, was co- sponsored with the United Nations Alliance of Civilization (AOC).
“The harsh fact is that turmoil exists in a number of countries around the world,” stated H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, who delivered a keynote speech for the third annual observance of World Interfaith Harmony Week. “Radical notions embodying a distorted perspective of religion often fuel acts of violence. But why? The idea that religion could be used to justify violence is a contradiction in itself.”
Dr. William F. Vendley, President of the Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations, which co-sponsored the event said in his speech, “Today, we need to acknowledge that religion- related hostilities — harassment, intimidation and abuse —proliferate.”
However, Dr. Vendley, Secretary-General of Religions for Peace, the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition, called interfaith harmony “perhaps the most powerful antidote to the rising tide of social hostility.”
The conference was held in the wake of a new and alarming report issued by the Pew Research Center, which found that the number of countries with religion-related terrorist violence has doubled over the past six years. “We religious believers must, first of all, acknowledge that our traditions are all too often being abused by extremists,” said Dr. Vendley. “Then, standing together across all religious differences, we must reject this abuse.”
However world religion leaders and experts said there is hope on the horizon.
Dr. Brian Grim, said that his studies show that where respect for religious freedom and diversity flourishes, so do economies and societies.
“The new promising players on the field are businesses, because it is in their interest —where religious freedom grows, so does business.”