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24 september

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“Where is the role of religion in the modern world? The results of the conference will pave the way for productive efforts”

Members of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation took part in an international online conference

“Where is the role of religion in the modern world? The results of the conference will pave the way for productive efforts”

On September 24, an international scientific and practical conference “Religion in our changing world. The role of education in the upbringing of youth” was held at the TASS press center in Moscow via videoconference. This conference became a major and important event held at the international level, which simultaneously gathered representatives from more than 20 countries of the world online.

As part of the conference, a plenary session was held, as well as three workshops on the topics:  “The world of the future: religion, science, youth”; “Education during a pandemic: effective responses to the challenges and threats of our time”; “Youth and Religion: Keys and Prospects.”

The main organizer of the forum was the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia (SAMR), headed by member of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation Albir Krganov. The forum was held with support from the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, Moscow State Linguistic University (MSLU) and the Foundation for Support of Islamic Culture, Science and Education. The conference was also co-organized by the Commission of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation on Harmonization of Interethnic and Interreligious Relations.

The organizers and participants of the forum received greetings from His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev, Chairman of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society Sergey Stepashin and other prominent public and political figures. Speaking at the opening of the international forum, Secretary General of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) Salim bin Mohammed Al-Malik conveyed greetings from His Highness King Mohammed VI of Morocco.

More than 80 leading experts in the field of education and spiritual culture from the regions of the Russian Federation, the CIS, the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa and America discussed the influence of religion and religious education in regard to international relations. Interreligious dialogue and peace have been rated as the greatest social and religious values. In addition, the forum participants explored the established traditions, ways and experience of strengthening interregional stability, harmonizing interethnic and interreligious relations in the world community.

The speeches of the representatives of well-known international organizations deserve special attention: the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization; International Interfaith Peace Corps; The World Council of Muslim Communities; Organizations of the Islamic World of Education, Science and Culture; Organization of Islamic Cooperation; The World Federation of Arab Islamic International Schools; Center for Dialogue and Cooperation among Civilizations of Foreign Countries, etc.

Around 20 secular and religious universities took part in the discussion as well; some organized broadcasting to live audiences. Many speakers noted an interesting and very successful experiment on the part of the conference organizers — the International Interreligious Youth Forum, which was taking place in Dagestan, joined the work of one of the workshops. Dozens of young people were able to conduct dialogue with experts and had the chance to pose questions relevant to young people.

The speakers at the conference noted the relevance of the topics, emphasized the need to combine efforts to unite the world community and strengthen the bonds of trust and cooperation between countries, since the coronavirus pandemic highlighted the vulnerability of humanity in the face of universal danger. Furthermore, speaking about the ongoing decline of moral values, the participants emphasized that special attention should be paid to organizing systematic work with young people by creating platforms for discussing critical problems of our time. The patriotic education of young people must be brought to the forefront of religious and secular education.

One of the key topics of the discussion was the ethics of scientists. Numerous studies confirm that this issue is of great concern to the world community. High-tech developments increasingly intersect with people's private lives which creates grounds for accusing the scientific community in violating human rights.

The participants agreed that in the face of common threats, an aggressive policy towards each other is unacceptable. On the contrary, it is necessary to carry out joint humanitarian and educational work, establish contacts in the area of social and religious diplomacy, and make an attempt to remove artificial restrictions.

Numerous speakers drew attention to the fact that Russia has always opposed and continues to oppose aggression, extremism and violence based on ethnic and religious grounds, as well as against all kinds of concepts of exclusivity. Today, as never before, the search for ways for peaceful coexistence of states, peoples, religions and cultures, as well as the practice of preventing conflicts is crucial.

Opening the conference, Albir Krganov stressed the importance of the issues discussed as a factor contributing to reducing risks of ethno-confessional disagreements and the upbringing of the younger generation in the spirit of rejecting the ideas of radicalism. The Mufti noted that, despite the different time zones, various climate regions and different languages, everyone today is concerned with important questions such as “Where is the role of religion in the modern world?”, “What does the system of education and upbringing of the youth offer?”, “How can we be useful to each other?”, and “How can we bring together the ardent, active potential of the youth and the wisdom of the ages?” He expressed confidence that the results of the conference would pave the way for productive efforts.

Albir Krganov also spoke about his meeting with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia the day before. “On the eve of today’s conference, I met with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. We touched upon the issues of today's conference as he had been informed of the agenda. And the patriarch supported the initiative of joint activities of traditional religions in spiritual education, training the younger generation, as well as creating real effective interreligious youth platforms. Today we are all talking about the fact that we must learn to speak the language of the younger generation in order to understand them.”

The Mufti also spoke about the intentions of representatives of different confessions to build an interreligious center in Kommunarka in Moscow. “Our traditional religious denominations — the Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Buddhist communities — proposed a very interesting project several years ago and it was supported by the Moscow authorities and the Mayor's Office. They proposed constructing an interreligious center on the territory of Kommunarka. We assume that this will be a modern social center, where there will be conditions not only for public activists, but also for the disabled, the elderly and people with impaired mobility. There are also plans to open a school for the blind, conduct various trainings and master classes from leading experts, as well as arrange various kinds of museum exhibitions,” said the Mufti.

The press service of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia reported to TASS that four denominations had agreed on this project with the Moscow Mayor's Office, however, eight years had passed and still they have not been able to obtain a final building permit or land survey. The decision to allocate and secure the land plot for the Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Buddhist communities is being delayed.

The Chairman of the Commission of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation on Harmonization of Interethnic and Interreligious Relations Vladimir Zorin noted in his speech that “today it is no coincidence that four members of the commission are present on the presidium of this major international forum, since the topic under discussion is extremely important for the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation. A key issue has been touched upon: not only the positive influence of religion, but also the influence of pseudo-religious extremism. Although this phenomenon is not characteristic of religion, it does not form part of religion, and exists outside from it.”

“The basis of the emerging disagreements is the absence of cultural, interethnic and interreligious communications. And today the state has realized the importance of solving this particular problem, and now we are striving at all levels to take a proactive approach in the direction of organizing work on the upbringing and education of young people,” he was quoted as saying.

“Russian youth are increasingly interested in traditional religions,” emphasized Sergey Gavrilov, head of the State Duma Committee on Development of Civil Society, Issues of Public and Religious Associations. “We can see a sharp increase in interest, including among our youth, in the religious tradition and faith. And above all to our main religions such as Russian Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism,” he added. According to Sergey Gavrilov, the uniqueness of Russia lies in the fact that the main religions do not just coexist, but cooperate. “And we will not allow any representatives, including liberal extremism, to destroy our unique world,” the State Duma deputy stressed, noting the importance of state support for traditional religions.

Furthermore, members of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation Sergey Ryakhovsky and Alexander Boroda delivered speeches at the plenary session.

Summing up, the participants of the conference emphasized that the preservation of peace and stability was possible only by combining the efforts of representatives of all religions, nations, governments, international and public institutions. Overcoming modern challenges and threats is directly related to the strengthening of cultural, civilizational and interreligious dialogue, they concluded.

Tags: Sergey Ryakhosky, Alexander Boroda, Albir Krganov, Vladimir Zorin

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