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The Importance of Interfaith Dialogue Discussed in The Hague

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The Embassy of Kazakhstan in the Netherlands, together with the N. Nazarbayev Center for the Development of Interfaith and Intercivilizational Dialogue, held a round table on “Interfaith Dialogue for Peace and Harmony.” The event was organized ahead of the VII Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.

Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the Netherlands Askar Zhumagaliyev welcomed the participants of the online round table: “Today, representatives of more than 130 nationalities, represented by 18 religious denominations, live in peace and harmony in our country. That is why Kazakhstan is rightly called a “crossroads of civilizations,” A.Zhumagaliyev said.

The Ambassador noted that Kazakhstan is a natural border between Islam, Christianity and Buddhism. Moreover, our country has managed to become a unique international platform for dialogue between world and traditional religions. For almost 20 years, Congress has been playing an important role in the reconciliation of cultures and civilizations, in the search for answers to the key challenges and threats of our time.

The Ambassador’s thesis was supported by the Vice-Rector of the Islamic University Rotterdam E. Akgyunduz.

“The world we live in is, unfortunately, fragmented. People argue and fight about almost anything. We are all different, but we all have something in common that unites us and will help us get through all the challenges of the 21st century – faith. Therefore, dialogue between confessions is more important today than ever,” said E. Akgyunduz. He thanked Kazakhstan for the initiative in organizing and holding the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.

In her speech, Erin Wilson, Professor of Politics and Religion at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at University of Groningen, noted that today there are no challenges that only certain countries face. In the geopolitical arena all states go through common difficulties.

«Therefore, we need to establish a dialogue not only between religious confessions, but also to involve non-religious circles in the dialogue. I suppose this is a fundamental change in attitude towards the current situation. This action will direct us to build peaceful and sustainable communities in which every person can achieve and unleash his potential», said Professor Wilson.

According to Yuliya Shapoval, Professor of the Department of Religious Studies at Eurasian National University, between the states there should be a clear coordination and support not only at the political level, but also through the prism of religion.

«The future of our world is our responsibility. Therefore, as soon as the situation with the coronavirus more or less stabilized, Kazakhstan continued its work on establishing interfaith dialogue», said Professor Shapoval.

In turn, the Chairman of the “Uzbek Ethno-cultural center of Nur-Sultan”, Sherzod Pulatov informed the participants of the round table on the activities of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan. He noted that the Assembly is a unique model of interethnic accord and support between representatives of different ethnic groups.

«States can take it as a basis, as an example of friendship, respect and well-coordinated work between people», he concluded.

During the round table, Deputy Chairman of the Board of the N.Nazarbayev Center for development of interfaith and intercivilizational dialogue Nurlan Yessimov told the participants about the preparation and organizing work of the Center to the VII Congress of World Leaders and traditional religions, which will be held on September 14-15, 2022 in Nur-Sultan, noting that the Congress is a universal global interreligious dialogue platform that provides a constructive dialogue on the most pressing issues of our time.

In general, the participants of the round table noted the importance of promoting interfaith and intercivilizational dialogue at the international level, especially in the context of joint efforts to overcome the consequences of the pandemic, as well as to resolve regional conflicts that require interethnic and interreligious harmony in the name of peace and mutual understanding.

The round table was attended by H.E. Mr. Askar Zhumagaliev, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the Netherlands; Nurlan Yessimov, Deputy Chairman of the Board of the N.Nazarbayev Center; Yuliya Shapoval, Professor of the Department of Religious Studies at the Eurasian National University; Sherzod Pulatov, Chairman of the “Uzbek Ethno-cultural center of Nur-Sultan”.

From the Dutch side the event was attended Emrullah Akgunduz, Vice Rector of Islamic University Rotterdam; Erin Wilson, Professor of Politics and Religion at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies of University of Groningen; Jessica Roitman, Professor of Jewish Studies within the Faculty of Religion and Theology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; Ambassador Jos Douma, Special Envoy for Religion and Belief at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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