Online conference on “Inter-faith and inter-civilizational dialogue against the background of the pandemic” organized by the Nursultan Nazarbayev Center for the Development of Interfaith and Inter-Civilizational Dialogue

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An international scholarly conference was organized online by Nursultan Nazarbayev Center for the Development of Interfaith and Inter-Civilizational Dialogue, based in Nur-Sultan City, Kazakhstan, on 24 September 2020 on the theme “Inter-faith and inter-civilizational dialogue against the background of the pandemic”. The high-profile conference received addresses by dignitaries and scholars from various countries and international organizations.

In his address at the conference, IRCICA Director General Prof. Dr. Halit Eren emphasized the crucial importance of inter-faith dialogue especially in dealing with global problems facing humanity such as the present pandemic where reinforcement of the principles of compassion, justice, equality and inclusiveness shared by all faiths and beliefs becomes vitally instrumental. Prof. Eren underlined the unique case of the OIC, and its cultural organ IRCICA, in the history of international relations, as an inter-governmental organization in modern sense whose foundations are rooted in the common faith of its Member States. Director General also outlined those activities of IRCICA such as scholarly conferences that address themes relevant in the context of the pandemic.

The conference was opened and moderated by Ambassador Altay Ibragimuly Abibullayev, Chairman of the Board of N. Nazarbayev Center. Greetings were expressed by Mr. Marat Almasovich Azilkhanov, Vice Minister of Information and Social Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The following addresses were by: Dr. Abd al-Aziz Sarkhan, Representative of the Muslim World League, Secretary General of the International Organization for Relief, Support and Development, Saudi Arabia; Monsignor Khaled Akasheh, Head of the Bureau of Islam at the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Holy See; Prof. Dr. Halit Eren, Director General, IRCICA; Father Gennady, Manager of the Metropolitan District of the OCK, Rector of the Almaty Orthodox Theological Seminary; Ambassador Jahan Ismat, Permanent Observer, OIC Mission to the EU; Naib Mufti Dr. Ershat Ongharov, Deputy Chairman of the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of Kazakhstan; Kogen Yeshaya Elazar, Chief Rabbi of the Republic of Kazakhstan; Mr. Ali al-Khushayban, Researcher, Center for Research and Knowledge Sharing, columnist for the Riyadh News newspaper, Saudi Arabia; Mr. Sergey Stanovkin, Head of Commercial Representation of BBC World News in Eurasia, U.K.; Mr. Mohammad al-Muayni, Chairman of the Board of the International Institute for Cultural Diplomacy, United Arab Emirates; Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, Director General, Islamic Research Institute, Pakistan; Ms. Lyazzat Yangialiyeva, Director, Office of Social Communication of the Bahai Community, Kazakhstan. Cultural and religious figures from within and outside Kazakhstan joined as attendees online. The proceedings of the conference will be collected and published as a book. From IRCICA the conference was also attended by Prof. Ashirbek Muminov.

Nursultan Nazarbayev Center for Development of Interfaith and Inter-Civilizational Dialogue was established one and a half years ago on the decision of Kazakhstan President H.E. Qassym-Jomart Tokayev. Its objectives are in line with those of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions which was established by former President of Kazakhstan H.E. Nursultan Nazarbayev and formed a forum that served the purpose of mutual respect and rapprochement between different faiths through triennial sessions. The Sixth Congress, convened on 10-11 October 2018, was themed “Religious Leaders for a Safe World”. Sessions of the Congress are attended by high-level followers of all religions, traditional faiths and beliefs, religious and public organisations from around the world.

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