The Teaching of the Golden Rule Highlighted at the 3rd Kiev Interfaith Forum in Ukraine
Representatives from over 30 countries have gathered in the 3rd Kiev Interfaith Forum, which took place for the third time in Ukrainian capital from April 23 to 24, 2013. The Forum, often called the religious “Davos,” brought together some of the world’s most distinguished religious leaders, politicians, peace activist and academics from diverse countries around the world including Ukraine, the United States, United Kingdom, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Tunisia, India, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Poland, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway and Ethiopia to discuss the growing role of religion at present time. This year’s forum theme was “The role of religion in politics, the state, and government”.
The participants discussed on such topics as “Moderating Fundamentalism: A 21st Century Approach,” “Pluralism: Many Faces of Faith,” “Religion, Women and Political Change” and “State Intervention in Religious Practice.”
The panelists were Patriarch Theophilos III Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem; Dr. Deborah Weissman, President of the International Council of Christians and Jews, Prof. Hamid Bin Ahmad Al-Rifaie, President of the International Islamic Forum for Dialogue; Dr. Satpal Singh , President of the World Sikh Council; Dorka Holveni, Minister of Religious Affairs and National Minorities in Hungary; Hon. Fatma Gharbi, Member of the National Assembly of Tunisia and Vice President of the Committee for Human Rights and Foreign Relations; Mufti Farid Salman, head of the Ulema Council of the Russian Association of Islamic Consent; Ilshad Iskenderovp, Chairman of the State Committee on Work with Religious Organizations; Hon. Anne-Marie Lizin, Honorary Speaker of the Senate of the Kingdom of Belgium; Mr. Stein Villumstad, General Secretary of European Council of Religious Leaders; Ishak Haleva, Chief Rabbi of Turkey; Mr. Walter Schwimmer, Secretary General of Council of Europe (1999-2004), Chairman of the International Coordination Committee, World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations”; Amb. Mussie Hailu, Regional Director of United Religions Initiative for Africa and Representative of URI for United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and African Union and others.
In his welcoming remarks, founder of the forum Oleksandr Feldman said that all religions, in spite of their differences, are united by responsibility to the world. “We all share the view that the world must become closer so it may better respond to the challenges posed by the world and to achieve peace in the world,” he said. “We must find a “third way” between upholding religion as the solution to all of society’s ills and dismissing it as unfit for the public square. Seeking that balance is the principle agenda of the third annual Kiev Interfaith Forum,” He adds.
Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem in his speech stressed that the religious impulse is the basis of our human identity, and therefore religion can be a force for good and a weapon against evil. In his view, religion must not become the basis for hatred, but should serve the common good of society. “True religiousness awakens in us a deep respect for other religions,” said the patriarch.
He also addressed the issue of Jerusalem: “Religion defines everything in our region, so it cannot be ignored. Jerusalem is a paradox. It is a place of conflict, but at the same time, it is a model community where different religions and ethnic groups are living together and trying to seek peace and harmony in their coexistence.”
The second day of the meeting took place at Ukraine Parliament House in the presence of Hon. Leonid Kozhara, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Hon. Zeev Elkin, Deputy Foreign Minister of State of Israel, some Members of the Parliament of Ukraine and different Ambassadors.
President of Ukraine H.E. Viktor Yanukovych has met with the representatives of the 3rd Kiev Interfaith Forum. The head of state stressed that he welcomed the efforts of religious and secular communities leaders aimed at promoting public tolerance and human values irrespective of faith and ethnicity. He also stated that this kind of forum help to decrease violence, intolerance and hate in the world.
In my remark I highlighted on the need of the teaching of the Golden Rule and gave the Golden Rule poster to the participants.
During the meeting I make an appeal to the participants of the Forum and it is accepted as part of the 3rd Declaration of Kiev Interfaith Forum. Here is some of the appeal I made which are indorsed as part of the 3rd Kiev Interfaith Declaration
• To strengthen religious harmony through mutual respect, confidence, trust and understanding;
• To promote constructive dialogue, understanding, and cooperation among followers of different religions for peaceful co-existence and harmony
• To work together for the wellbeing of children of the world and to promote gender equality and to stop any form of discrimination against women;
• To combat hatred, prejudice, disrespect and stereotyping on the basis of religion, ethnicity and to reject all form of violence and terrorism act in any part of the world;
• To nurture those spiritual resources in our individual traditions like the Golden Rule which promote the value which are fundamental to culture of peace, co-existence and harmony;
• To commend Member States, UN agencies , Interfaith organizations and civil society groups that have led the way to greater acceptance of interfaith peacemaking efforts that share the goal of ending violence in the name of religion;
• To support the resolutions of the United Nations on World Interfaith Harmony Week and spread the message of interfaith harmony in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship;
• To call upon different religious leaders in the world to work together in harmony for positive change in the world
• To call upon media to contribute in avoiding the wide dissemination of stereotypes, hate and biased images, and to promote better understanding between different cultures, ethnicities and religions;
• To take concrete action to bring positive change in the world and to do our best to find a new direction for our individual and collective common future and to focus on the practical solution to the problem of our world
· To commit ourselves to take a personal pledge for peace and non-violence;
• To promote the teaching of the teaching of the Golden Rule “Treat others the way you want to be treated” in the world as it is a fundamental principle that addresses critical issues such as democracy, human rights, respect for each other, gender equality, social development, interfaith harmony and help to build right human relationships;
• To strongly recommend peace education starting from the kindergarten as part of the school curriculum;
• To bring to the attention of religious leaders, government and international organizations and civil societies to intensify cooperation at national, regional and international levels to work together in partnership for the promotion of peace, family value, pluralism, respect for diversity, interfaith harmony, to end weapon of mass destruction and nuclear weapon, and to promote constructive dialogue among civilizations and different religions and cultures;
• To address the issue of climate change and environmental protection
The Forum is organized and co-sponsored by Kyiv Interfaith Forum, Institute of Human Rights and Prevention of Extremism and Xenophobia and the Ukrainian Jewish Committee.
MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON EARTH