“Policymakers and Religious Leaders Share Common Cause of Peaceful Coexistence”: KAICIID Secretary General at Prominent Interreligious Summit in Japan

4 August 2017

4 August 2017: Religious leaders and policymakers have a shared responsibility to build community resistance against extremist hatred and violence, KAICIID Secretary General Faisal Bin Muaammar said yesterday. The Secretary General was speaking at the 30th anniversary of the Religious Summit Meeting on Mount Hiei held from 3-4 August at the Kyoto International Conference Center in Kyoto and Enryakuji temple on Mount Hiei in Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture.

One of the world’s foremost interreligious gatherings, the first Religious Summit meeting was held in 1987 at the initiative of Most Ven. Etai Yamada, the 253rd head priest of the Tendai Buddhist denomination. The purpose of the first meeting was to revive the spirit of the Day of Prayer for World Peace, held in 1986 in Assisi, Italy under the leadership of Pope John Paul II. 

A religious summit meeting has been held annually on Mount Hiei since then, under the auspices of the Tendai Association of Religious Cooperation for International Peace and Enryakuji temple. It brings together hundreds of high-level religious representatives and advocates for interreligious dialogue in a shared commitment to world peace and cooperation among followers of different religions.

In this vein, the theme of this year’s meeting was “Now is the time to cooperate to overcome violence and hatred.” In a joint communique ahead of the event, the Japan Conference of Religious Representatives expressed their hope for renewed dialogue among religions “as a measure to deal with the crucial issues of our time”, without which, they said, “the reasons for our existence would be questioned.”

They expressed their determination to work together with international institutions to solve global challenges.

Responding to this commitment, Secretary General Bin Muaammar reiterated his belief that religious leaders, policy makers and civil society can cooperate to build a global dialogue and education infrastructure.

“We need sustainable solutions and we need to include all stakeholders. I am pleased to tell you the United Nations and many in the international community now realize that religious leaders and policy makers have a common cause. They both need to preserve peaceful coexistence. They both need to build community resistance against the virus of extremist hatred and violence.”

“About 5 billion people have a religious identity. If their understanding and empathy of the Other can be awakened through dialogue, then 80% of the world’s population could help prevent extremism“, he said.

As proof of his belief in the power of dialogue to effect positive change, the Secretary General briefly mentioned key KAICIID programmes, such as the joint KAICIID-UN Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent and Counter Incitement to Violence that Could Lead to Atrocity Crimes, which was launched this month in New York by the UN Secretary General, and KAICIID-supported interreligious platforms in Myanmar, Nigeria and the Arab region.

During his visit, the Secretary General also met with KAICIID Board Member Reverend Kosho Niwano, President-Designate of the Rissho Kosei-kai, whose organization has been closely involved with the Religious Summit meeting for many years now.

The Secretary General first attended the Religious Summit Meeting in 2015.