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ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi has called for practising the cherished principles of Islam which call upon everyone to practise one’s own religion without interfering in others’ religions, ensuring political, social, cultural, legal, and religious freedoms for the followers of all religions, respecting and protecting their places of worship and allowing followers of all religions to pray in their worship places.

The president was addressing the opening session of the International Inter-Faith Peace Conference titled, “Respect for Humanity and its Importance”, in Islamabad, on Wednesday.

Inter-Faith Council for Peace and Harmony Maulana Syed Muhammad Abdul Khabeer Azad and Founder of the Community of Sant’ Egidio Prof Dr Andrea Ricardi also addressed the occasion, whereas, the Secretary General of the Muslim World League Muhammad bin Abdul-Karim Al-Issa addressed the occasion through a recorded video message.

The conference was attended by national and international scholars of different religions and people from different walks of life.

Addressing the occasion, the President said that all the religions of the world preached peace, security, and harmony in society but unfortunately, followers of different religions forget and neglect these teachings and resort to war on the basis of vested interests, nationalism, racism, land, resources or politics.

The President said that it was the duty of the Islamic society to protect the religious places of other religions, provide security and respect to their religious leaders and give equal rights to them under the law. He added that Muslim societies are responsible to protect the honour, dignity, life, and properties of followers of all other religions.

He said that religion is wrongly labelled as the reason for war as most of the wars fought in recent history were by those countries which had the knowledge, education and information, were developed but still they fought among themselves and with the others on the basis of their hegemonic designs and self-serving vested interests.

The President said that human beings learn more from making observations of what was happening in reality around them and less from the history and academic debates and in the same manner countries and nations do not learn from their past mistakes of waging senseless wars but repeat the same mistake again and again like USA and USSR invaded Vietnam and Afghanistan and learned a bitter lesson, but soon forgot and invaded again in Afghanistan and Ukraine. Similarly, he added that Jews went through the harrowing experience of the Holocaust but the same Jews who were victims of the Holocaust forgot their experience and are perpetrating cruelty and inhuman treatment on Palestinians.

The President condemned the abhorrent act of burning and desecration of the Holy Quran in Sweden and urged the international community to take notice of this heinous and abhorrent act and take all necessary measures to provide justice and put in place a mechanism to prevent re-happening of such shocking acts in future. He emphasized that the religious sentiments of followers of all religions need to be respected and safeguarded and no one should be allowed to hurt and insult the religious sentiments of the followers of other religions in the garb of freedom of expression. He added that hate speech, speech inciting violence, promoting racism and bigotry should be curbed and discouraged at all forums.

He called for ending discrimination in the treatment of refugees, saying that refugees should not be discriminated on the basis of their colour, race, religion, or place of origin. He said that Pakistan hosted four million Afghan refugees for four decades without discrimination and imposing conditions, and the world needed to learn from Pakistan’s generosity and experiences.

Prof Dr Andrea Ricardi also addressed the occasion and appreciated Pakistan’s hosting of the Afghan refugees. He said that dialogues among communities were essential for promoting peace and harmony, adding that different religions needed to coexist peacefully. He said that minorities had a right to their identity as it strengthened the foundations of a nation. He said that dialogue should be promoted at all levels of society and different religions should compete on promoting good and the welfare of humanity. He said that war was the mother of poverty, and religions could help reduce wars, conflicts, and hatred in the world.

Secretary General of the Muslim World League in his message called for establishing an international society based on mutual coexistence, love and humanity. He said that behind the great diversity in religions and religious beliefs lay the wisdom of Almighty and the people needed to learn this wisdom and live in peace and harmony together despite their differences and diversity of views. He said that different religious communities needed to come together and hold a dialogue on the commonalities among them instead of promoting hatred and differences.

Maulana Abdul Khabeer Azad on the occasion called for establishing international laws preventing hate speech. He said that the world had become a global village and people with different views needed to learn to live together peacefully. He said that Pakistan had been a flag-bearer of love, tolerance, hospitality, and had fought against terrorism and religious extremism. He said that Pakistani religious scholars had issued a unanimous religious decree against suicide attacks, terrorism, and extremism.

Earlier, the President distributed awards among the representatives of different religions for their efforts towards the promotion of peace, harmony, and respect for humanity.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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