KAICIID Secretary General’s Opening Remarks at OSCE Security Days

22 May 2015

Faisal Bin Abdulrahman Bin Muaammar

I would like to commend the OSCE for convening this discussion and I am privileged to be able to share some thoughts as a part of this distinguished panel.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this conference comes at a critical moment for the world as a whole. Terrorism and extremism are gaining strength. A lack of understanding between people of different cultures and religions is breeding new generations of fear and intolerance.

Collectively, we need to do more to understand why so many people are joining radical groups that commit violence in the name of religion. We need to ask the right questions. The traditional approaches - military and political - cannot alone provide us with an accurate diagnosis and have been proven to be ineffective without dialogue. In fact, / they often increase the problem of extremism. 

The coordinated, international use of dialogue to prevent violence and to reverse extremism must form part of the solution.

Political solutions are necessary to address the socio-economic and systemic root causes of extremism. But political solutions alone /cannot reconcile enemies, or build trust between people of different cultures, or support cooperation between communities. That is the result of dialogue.

Without dialogue, no solution can last long.

Our challenge today is radicalization. Religious extremism cannot be tackled without bringing religious leaders and religious institutions to the dialogue table. 

Religion governs the lives of millions of people, shapes their worldviews and guides their behaviour. People who are insecure, seek assurance. Religion offers many who live with fear the security they seek. If religion is misused to incite and justify hatred, prejudice and violence, the safe refuge becomes an oven for radicalization.  Too many young people are deceived by the false sense of identity that extremists offer. Dialogue/can reverse that deception.

For people who live in secular states, it is important to understand that in other regions, religion is often falsely used to justify conflicts that are actually territorial, political or geographical.

The good news /is that for the vast majority of the faithful worldwide, religion is a force for good. By focusing this force on promoting coexistence and mutual understanding, dialogue strengthens international efforts to tackle extremism. 

Effective dialogue requires a non-judgmental and neutral space. A space where each side can begin to understand the other’s point of view. It must be a meeting on equal ground.

The OSCE has shown great leadership in this field. Ten years ago, it issued the Cordoba Declaration. It recognized how important it is to promote interreligious dialogue. The Declaration calls on us all to reject any identification of a religion, a nationality or a culture with terrorism and violence.

The International Dialogue Centre, or KAICIID, is designed to build bridges that can link different worldviews, different religious and cultural groups, and people who never met. We work as interpreters, connectors, and promoters. Our goal is to make equal, open and unbiased dialogue possible where it never existed before.

Our partners are UNESCO, the UNDP, the UN Office on Genocide Prevention, the UN Alliance of Civilizations, ISESCO, the OIC, The Union for the Mediterranean and the Anna Lindh Foundation.  We also work with other civil society partners, namely, Religions for peace, the Scouts Movement, Search for Common Ground and the United Religions Initiative.

For example, in the Central African Republic we are partnering with civil society organisations to support a radio station that bridges Christian and Muslim communities and broadcast messages of peace and interreligious dialogue.

In April, in Fez, Morocco, we worked with the UN Office for Genocide Prevention to convene religious leaders from several religions, including religious minorities. Those religious leaders are now committed to combat the incitement to violence that could lead to atrocity crimes. An Action Plan over the coming twelve months will recruit religious leaders from around world to join that commitment.

This week, in Beirut, we held the first follow-up event to the groundbreaking conference in Vienna last November, where leaders of Christian, Muslim and other minority religious communities from Iraq, Syria and the larger Middle East region joined in one voice to denounce violence in the name of religion.

We are also engaged in conflict resolution with international partners such as ASEAN to support work in Myanmar and with Religions for Peace, in Nigeria.

Secretary General, ladies and gentlemen, we are here today to find new ways for our organizations to join forces. To propose new partnerships that promote dialogue in order to subdue extremism and prevent violence in the name of religion. That is a huge task. No single organization can succeed on its own. We need to combine our expertise to jointly confront this threat that faces us all.

I look forward to a lively discussion in the upcoming panel session. And, of course, I will be happy to elaborate on KAICIID’s work if there are any questions.