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KAICIID Participates in Washington Conference on Threat to Religious and Ethnic Minorities in the Middle East

01 August 2016

WASHINGTON, DC, August 1, 2016 -- A delegation from the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) participated in two conferences held in Washington, D.C. organized by the U.S. Department of State on the threat to religious and ethnic minorities living under the terrorist organisation, Da’esh . 

The KAICIID delegation was led by His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel, Metropolitan of France and President of the Conference of European Churches, who stressed the need to safeguard the rights of all individuals and groups in order to ensure that religious and cultural diversity in the region survives the current conflict. 

The Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs hosted the first day of the two-day event, which gathered perspectives from religious leaders, civil society, international agencies, academics and policy experts on 28 July 2016.

In his keynote address at the Georgetown University event, US Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom, David Saperstein, reminded the participants of the fundamental reality that if any group can be persecuted, then all are in danger. “There cannot be safety and security for the religious freedoms of some if others are denied it,” he said.

During his intervention, the Metropolitan reinforced the Ambassador’s sentiments by encouraging the participants not to frame the discussion in terms of protecting minorities, rather to seek to secure equal rights and common citizenship for all groups regardless of their affiliation.

“It’s more important than simply asking others to protect minority groups; it’s about establishing and supporting equal citizenship rights throughout the whole area of the Middle East,” he said.

The Metropolitan mentioned the conference that was organized by KAICIID in Athens in September 2015, at which religious leaders drafted and jointly endorsed the Athens Declaration in support of the citizenship rights of Christians, Muslims, and other religious and ethnic groups in the Middle East.

The Athens Declaration coincided with the launch of the Paris Action Plan, also in September 2015, which now serves as a roadmap for the international community on the concrete steps that can and should be taken to address the situation. The Athens Declaration compliments the Action Plan by committing religious leaders to do everything in their power to facilitate joint local development projects to help different communities meet, cooperate and build trust.

On 29 July 2016, H.E. Metropolitan Emmanuel and KAICIID Senior Advisor Professor Mohammed Abu-Nimer participated in a State Department meeting at which more than 30 countries were represented, including KAICIID’s Council of Party members Austria, Saudi Arabia and Spain.

The recommendations and perspectives gathered at the two Washington events will be presented at a follow-up conference hosted by the Spanish Government later in 2016.