Peaceful dialogue

By Eric Gor

In late May Astana (Kazakhstan) hosts the IVth Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.

Kazakhstan - one of the most unique countries of the world. The republic is home for over 130 nationalities and unites, perhaps, all concessions of the world. In a country with a population of just over 16 million there are represented 42 faiths and denominations and about 4500 religious organizations.

Despite the difference of religious views, the country maintains peace and harmony. Today the successful experience of Kazakhstan on preservation of interreligious and interethnic tolerance is implemented in other countries.

In 2003 Astana hosted the summits of the world's leading concessions. At that time, the need for such an event was dictated by the growing tension between representatives of Islamic and non-Islamic world. The reasons for that were, first of all, the terrorist attacks organized by "Al Qaeda".

In fact, the first congress was some kind of platform on which representatives of different faiths could not only talk to each other over a cup of tea, but also find a common ground of values and have discussions on some subjects. The outcome of congress was a declaration in which all participants stressed that "extremism, terrorism and other forms of violence for the sake of religion have nothing in common with a true understanding of religion, they represent a threat for human life and, therefore, must be rejected".  At the same time it was declared the desire of religions to cooperate as an instrument of peaceful coexistence of all peoples.
> Kazakhstan Map
The next meetings of religious leaders (Congresses are held every three years) were less like the summits of the theologians. They were rather political routs. Their main topic was a discussion of the role of religious leaders in the process of peaceful settlement.

Thus, despite the quite peaceful dialogue between Islam and Judaism, the religious representatives of Israel and Palestine could not help keeping from mutual taunts and accusations. Just as during all Congresses, religious leaders of these countries did not stand with each other closer than a few meters, and sat at opposite ends of a table.

The IIId Congress held in 2009, was participated not only by the churches representatives, but also by politicians from different states. The most representative was the Israeli delegation, headed by a president of this country Shimon Peres. There were also politicians from the majority of Muslim countries, France, USA and Spain. Even former Prime Minister of Norway.

It is interesting that the theme of "Solidarity, especially in times of crisis" was one of those discussions. Then, It was actively discussed by political guests.

The theme of this congress -"Peace and harmony as the choice of mankind". However, the suggested topics for debates make it clear that most of the disputes will be focused on integration of Islamic values to Christianity.

Thus, one of the thematic clusters was defined  as " Religion and Multiculturalism ".  Europe has declared the crisis of multiculturalism on its territory a long time ago. So within this theme it is planned to discuss issues of identity and the development of peoples at their national unity, the ideology of multiculturalism.

But if we consider in details, in fact, this meeting should be a place for civilized discussion between representatives of Islam and Christianity on the tradition of wearing headscarves and veils by women. That is, as Christians believe, over-expression of religion in secular European countries, where historical religion is Christianity.

Of course, we might expect mutual accusations. Thus, during many "hijab scandals" in Europe the representatives of Christianity have repeatedly called the supporters of Islam on "consideration of the traditions of the host country». Motivating it by the examples of compliance with the dress code by the arrivals to Islamic states. Muslim leaders are also likely to remind Europeans the indispensable democratic premise of religion freedom and as a result the freedom in the choice of religious clothing.

Certainly, within this debate, it will be raised the issue that recently stirred up the British - the right to publicly wear a cross.

This theme is so important that the Congress has formally invited Pope Benedict XVI. Given the recent scandals associated with very sharp negative remarks of the Pope to the Muslim religion, his presence at the meeting could be the beginning of "peaceful dialogue" between the two religions. (Remind, that a few years ago, Pope Benedict XVI quoted Manuel II - a Byzantine emperor of the XIV century, that Muhammad had brought the world only "evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread the faith he preached by the sword". His words provoked a strong reaction in the Muslim world.)

It is possible that there will be held the debates around the ideas of renewals in the Catholic Church. In particular, on whether to allow the ordination of women.

By the way, the female subject is also offered to discuss by the religious leaders. The organizers of the Congress (in Kazakhstan, gender equality is still far from ideal one) propose to discuss the role of women in family and society. And also the responsibility of women for a future of the nation and the planet. And a role of women and women's organizations in the field of intercultural and interfaith harmony.

However, the main theme of the meeting will bethe role of leaders in achieving sustainable development in the world. Their role is increasing nowadays and it can be proved by the fact that more recently, U.S. President Barack Obama said that he is ready to "permit" Iran to develop nuclear energy. But he intends to keep the dialogue on this subject only with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -the spiritual leader of this country. A little earlier the latter stated that nuclear weapons are contrary to Islam. The head of the White House asked Ayatollah to provide proof of the absence of plans to develop nuclear weapons in Iran.

Increasingly gaining popularity the platform of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, initiated by Kazakhstan and carried out in the capital of this country, shows that in an economically unstable world, religion becomes a key factor. In fact, today the world has to correct mistakes of the twentieth century, when religion was receded with mercantile interests. And re-learn to peacefulness through a dialogue of different gods.