The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), H.E. Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen, said that the OIC is committed to promoting interfaith dialogue, peace building and conflict resolution, which are priority issues of the OIC Program of Action 2025 and integral components for fostering better understanding between peoples and cultures in promoting sustainable development and encouraging positive relationships between nations.
Al-Othaimeen said this in his speech delivered on his behalf by Dr. Bashir Ansari, Director of Dialogue and Outreach Department, at the Conference on Interreligious Dialogue in South and South-East Asia organized at the campus of Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand, from 18 to 20 December 2017. The Conference is organized in partnership with King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) and support from the Southern Region Islamic Higher Education Foundation; the Religions for Peace – Interreligious Council of Thailand; Mahidol University and Fatoni University.
The Interreligious Dialogue Conference sheds light on how religious leaders in South and South-East Asia can foster and promote better understanding and mutual respect in society. It also examines current challenges to inter-religious relations in the wider Asian region and aims to propose recommendations to strengthen protection and acceptance of followers of these religions in their respective countries.
The Secretary General also emphasized the need to tackle the root causes of misunderstanding which lead to violence; to teach followers of religions to challenge those who promote fear and hatred, and to work together in preventing conflicts and rebuilding broken societies. Moreover, he called on the media to avoid promoting hate speech, biased and provocative reporting and encourage educational reforms to prevent the distortion and misinterpretation of history and of scriptural texts and to work for social harmony He also encouraged participants in the Conference to consider creating a worthwhile interfaith dialogue that leads to greater understanding, reliable peace and harmony, among the nations and peoples of the region.
Dr. Eakpant Pindavanich from Mahidol University welcomed the participants in this Conference and emphasized the need for interfaith dialogue between religions. Dr. Ismail Lutfi Japakiya, President of Fatoni University and Dr. Safiullah Munsor, Director of Programmes at KAICIID also delivered statements in which they highlighted the context of organizing this Conference, their respective institutions’ contribution for the event, as well as outcome and future directions.
Seventy participants consisting of religious and civil society leaders, academics, policy makers and intellectuals from Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Singapore, and Malaysia participated in the Conference. Also, representatives from Foreign Ministry of Thailand and diplomatic missions from Europe and North America, including, Austria, Switzerland and Canada attended the Conference as observers.