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Iosif Diskin: It is important that people know they have much more in common than ethnic or religious affiliation

Meeting with leader of the Iranian Interreligious Dialogue Center at Russia’s Civic Chamber

Iosif Diskin: It is important that people know they have much more in common than ethnic or religious affiliation

A meeting with Director General of the Interreligious Dialogue Center of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization Mohammad Mahdi Taskhiri has been held at the Civic Chamber of Russia.

The meeting focused on the goals and formats of interreligious cooperation at the local, national and international levels.
 
Iosif Diskin, Chairman of the Civic Chamber Commission on Harmonization of Interethnic and Inter-Confessional Relations, who moderated the discussion, said the main goals of the commission were overcoming and preventing interethnic and interreligious conflict and controversy.
 
“We are cooperating closely with the Russian Presidential Council for Coordination with Religious Organizations on this track. Another important tool of our work is cooperation with the relevant regional gubernatorial councils – such councils exist in almost all regions of the Russian Federation,” the expert noted.
 
Furthermore, all regions have their own civic chambers that include commissions dealing with similar interethnic and inter-religious issues, he added.
 
“This is an extensive infrastructure, which ensures that we hear people’s opinions on existing problems and how they can be dealt with and, accordingly, we interact with government bodies to address these problems as soon as possible,” Diskin explained.
 
Another important area of the commission’s activity is fighting pseudo-Islamic extremism, he added.
 
“Our principled position is that there is no Islamic extremism in Russia. There are just rogues hiding behind the symbols of Islam, which are sacred to many Russians, in order to carry out their dark deeds,” he said.
 
The commission is intensively involved in the Russian Unity project. “Our President has repeatedly said that in the modern world, a broad consolidation of public forces is needed, and this consolidation should have a substantive foundation. And it is very important for us to show the Russians that they have a lot that unites them, regardless of their ethnic or religious affiliation or ideology,” he explained.
 
Mohammad Mahdi Taskhiri added that we need to combat ignorance, which, in his opinion, often leads to conflict. He is confident that society should strive for justice and make every effort to defend it. This way, extremism and violence will be defeated, he said. Taskhiri also shared examples of similar work in Iran.
 
According to him, Iran has established several bodies and institutions working on various tracks: intra-religious, inter-religious and inter-cultural. Overall, Iran has about 200 centers dealing with issues of inter-religious dialogue, and the Interreligious Dialogue Center he heads coordinates the activities of all these organizations.
 
“For example, in Iran, we do not use the term religious minorities in relation to our compatriots,” said Taskhiri. “Our minorities have representatives in parliament, even if their number is small.”
 
At the end of the meeting, Iosif Diskin declared the commission’s readiness to partner with the Iranian Center in discussions with foreign colleagues. The meeting participants agreed to accelerate further cooperation and engage in a constructive and friendly dialogue.

Tags: Iosif Diskin

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