Austria, Saudi Arabia, Spain Stand Up to Abuse of Religion to Justify Violent Conflict

24 Sep 2014

The deplorable violence and the humanitarian crisis in Northern Iraq and Syria, as well as in other parts of the world, call for a united response. To help build a united international front to bring peace to these regions, the Foreign Ministers of the Republic of Austria, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Kingdom of Spain today signed a declaration affirming dialogue as a path to lasting peace and social cohesion.

 The Foreign Minister of Austria, Sebastian Kurz, the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Spain, Gonzalo de Benito Secades, and Reverend Father Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot of the Founding Observer, the Holy See, signed the declaration during a Ministerial Meeting in New York on 25 September 2014.

The declaration is a statement of principles by KAICIID and has also been unanimously adopted by the multireligious Board of Directors of KAICIID, who represent the major world religions of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.

The declaration outlines the responsibilities of the Centre, of religious leaders, and of the international community at large, in violent conflict situations, especially when lives and livelihoods are placed at risk. The declaration condemns violent conflict in the world, more so violence committed in the name of religion. KAICIID deplores loss of life and commends those who seek to alleviate suffering, as well as those who strive to promote wellbeing, harmony and peace.

Foreign Minister Kurz stated, “The appalling violence in Northern Iraq, Syria, Nigeria and many other places underlines that interreligious and intercultural dialogue is more needed than ever before. I am deeply convinced that there exists no alternative to dialogue. It is our obligation to do the utmost to prevent violence being committed in the name of religion.”

His Royal Highness, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia praised KAICIID’s pivotal role in spreading a culture of peace and building bridges of communication and coexistence through its important activities, initiatives and efforts that are all based on common human values. He wished the Dialogue Centre continuous success in serving followers of different religions and cultures for the sake of a peaceful world.

Secretary of State de Benito highlighted that interreligious dialogue can contribute to reduce tensions by addressing the underlying causes of conflicts. Intra-faith and inter-faith dialogue can be a tool for conflict prevention and conflict resolution fostering peaceful coexistence and collaboration on shared problems. He stressed the tradition of dialogue among different cultures and religions in Spain throughout history and nowadays with immigrant communities.

KAICIID Secretary General Faisal Bin Muaammar said “Dialogue is the surest means of building the trust that leads to reconciliation. Dialogue offers a lasting means to replace fear, and even hatred, with understanding. Dialogue can create and strengthen respect between and among followers of different religions, and members of different cultures.”

The original signed document will be archived and displayed at the KAICIID Headquarters in Vienna. The full text of the KAICIID Declaration of Principles ‘In the Face of Conflict’ follows:

The King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue declares in the face of conflict the following:

We Believe

We believe in the sanctity of life and the inherent dignity of the person. We believe that religion is an enabler of respect and reconciliation.

We believe that dialogue among people of different religions and cultures is the path to lasting peace and social cohesion.

We affirm the purposes and principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. These equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family are the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.

We Reject

We condemn violent conflict in the world, more so violence committed in the name of religion, and call for an end to violent hostility. We deplore loss of life and commend those who seek to alleviate suffering, as well as those who strive to promote wellbeing, harmony and peace.

We oppose the instrumentalization of religion to make war.

We strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes.

And we condemn hate speech and extremism that incite violence and fuel prejudice. KAICIID combats prejudice and intolerance, in all their forms.

We Will Act 

KAICIID counteracts the abuse of religion to justify oppression, violence and conflict and facilitates peaceful resolution by bringing conflict parties to the dialogue table.

We continue to enhance interreligious and intercultural dialogue in order to foster respect, understanding and cooperation among people.

We Resolve

We resolve to promote mutual respect and understanding among followers of all religions and peoples of all cultures, particularly through dialogue.

Let us look upon each other as sisters and brothers and, and let us appreciate difference as enrichment rather than fearing “otherness” as a threat.