The conference was meant to fostering mutual respect and clearer understanding between cultural and religious groups through education, dialogue and mutual understanding.
Fostering mutual respect and clearer understanding between cultural and religious groups through education is indispensable to ensure peace, tranquillity and co-existence across the globe, United Religious Initiative (URI) press release sent to The Ethiopian Herald states.
According to the release, the remark was made at a High-level Conference on Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Dialogue in Addis Ababa, at the Headquarters of the African Union Commission with the theme: “The Image of the other: Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Education – Best Practice in Africa.”
The conference is believed to offer an inventory and assessment of best practices, materials and methods in Africa which could be utilized in formal education around cultures and faith traditions.
The conference was organized by King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Dialogue (KAICIID) in partnership with African Union Commission (AUC) and United Religions Initiative-Africa in connection with the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Golden Jubilee of the African Union.
It was also meant to fostering mutual respect and clearer understanding between cultural and religious groups through education, dialogue and mutual understanding.
The release quoted African Union Commission Representative Dr. Jinmi Adisa as telling conference participants: “This unique event is taking place as part of the 50th Anniversary celebration of the African Union and has underlined the crucial intent of leadership of the AUC to effectively mobilize all relevant constituencies of our people within and outside the continent along our partners and friends to champion the cause of African Renaissance.”
He further said that the conference will help to enhance the African Union Interfaith Dialogue Forum officially declared by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in June 2010. The objective of the Forum was to explore and fully utilize the vast spiritual resources of the continent and harness it to the goal of integration, peace and development in Africa.
The AU Commission would work closely with KAICIID, URI Africa and other stakeholders and partners in a manner that will add value to the work of the African Union in promoting peace, security, prosperity and regional integration.
KAICIID Deputy Secretary General Cludia Bandion-Ortner also said the Centre is aggressively working towards facilitating inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue and understanding thereby enhancing cooperation, respect for diversity, justice and peace and we are looking forward to working in partnership with the African Union and its member states and all its partners like URI Africa.
Representative of URI to UNECA and AU Ambassador Mussie Hailu, who is also the focal person for the conference,on his part said: “In the era of civilization and globalization, dialogue is a prerequisite and a decisive tool to peaceful co-existence. Therefore, as we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Golden Jubilee of the African Union, it is very relevant to highlight the Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Education best practices in Africa. This in turn helps every state underline and well acknowledge the role of different religions and cultures to promote a culture of peace, mutual respect, harmony and understanding other than being a cause of conflict and violence.”
He also said that peaceful co-existence and harmony among different religions and cultures can be significantly enhanced by inter-religious, inter-cultural and inter-civilization constructive dialogue, education and cooperation. One practical action which helps promote inter-faith and inter-cultural harmony is the teaching of the Golden Rule which says ‘Treat others the way you wish to be treated.'
He acknowledged and appreciated the effort of the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Austria and Spain for establishing KAICIID to enable, empower and encourage dialogue among followers of different religions and cultures around the world. “As we gather today to reflect on inter-religious and inter-cultural issues in Africa, we shall pray for peace and stability to prevail in Egypt, Syria and in all countries where there is political instability and conflict,”he said.
The high-level conference brought together experts, educators, policy makers, high level government officials, and leaders in the field of inter-religious and inter-cultural education from Africa and outside of the continent.