Dialogue between Muslim and Christian worlds must: Kazakhstan president

October 17th, 2008 - 4:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Astana, Oct 17 (IANS) The future of the world was at risk if measures for peace and reconciliation between Muslims and Christians were not taken immediately, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev warned here Friday. Kicking off an international conference on ‘Common World, Progress Through Diversity’, he stressed the need to jointly stave off threats to world security due to terrorism and the apparent discord between Muslims and other faiths.

The summit is being held in a multi-storeyed pyramid shaped architectural masterpiece called the Palace of Peace and Concord.

Nazarbayev said in his address that some hotheads were predicting a “global stand off between Islam and Christianity”.

“The message is being imposed that Muslims represent a threat to Western civilisation or that the Christian world is driven only by a blind desire to have neo-colonial revenge over Islamic countries.

“These insinuations should be condemned. I refer both to Islamophobia and anti-Western sentiments. Today, it has become important as never before to join our efforts in fighting attempts to divide the humankind into friends and foes,” he said.

Condemning what he said were “mass media outrages” against the feelings of followers of other religions, Nazarbayev warned that “journalists involved in these practices will face outrages against their own faith”.

“That is why, it is imperative to stave off the division of the world along civilisational, cultural and religious lines and unite in the face of common threats to humanity.”

He said no global problem could solved be without the engagement of the Islamic world, which accounts for one-fourth of the world population.

“Rapprochement and trust between people can be achieved only on the basis of mutual understanding and genuine respect for one another rooted in true knowledge (about each others’) values and beliefs.”

He underlined three “principles of understanding” for the dialogue among different religions.

“First, we should give up centuries-old stereotypes. Second, we should consciously resist temptation to invade spheres sacred to other people. Something that is sacred for one cannot be a butt of jokes for another. Third, we should realise that there are threats that are common for all cultures and civilisations. Not only terrorism but also proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, transnational crime and environmental degradation.”

He said a “fateful denial of spirituality, a tradition that has existed for thousand years - thanks to many religions mainly Islam and Christianity, was even more dangerous”.

Asserting that the Astana conference was a tangible contribution to the expansion of dialogue between cultures and civilisations, Nazarbayev said: “Without dialogue our planet is threatened. Dialogue and common sense should prevail over discord and insanity.”

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