BusinessMirror - From religious conflict to an interfaith community: "“Religion rejects conflict. Violence in the name of religion is violence against religion.”
Based in Vienna, Kaiciid (the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue) is comprised of a Council of Parties made up of the governments of Austria, Spain and Saudi Arabia, with the Holy See as a founding observer.
Its board of directors includes religious leaders from five leading world religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism), who, together, seek to foster a bottom-up process of engaging and empowering local faith-based organizations and religious leaders in peacekeeping, conflict prevention and development.
The center estimates that eight out of 10 people in the world identify with some form of organized religion and almost all of them are likely to classify themselves as peace-loving individuals.
Sadly, according to bin Muaammar, politicians and extremists have “hijacked” the inherently tolerant and peaceful nature of religious practice for their own—often violent and divisive—ends.
Only through sustained dialogue, he said, can people be empowered to overcome their fear of the “other,” and work toward a more inclusive and tolerant world.
Kaiciid’s entrance onto the global stage is highly opportune, according to a new study by the independent Pew Research Center—which covered 198 countries, accounting for 99.5 percent of the world’s population—social hostilities involving religion are on the rise in every continent, except the Americas.
The report found that “the number of countries with religion-related terrorist violence has doubled over the past six years. In 2012 religion-related terrorist violence took place in one in five countries (20 percent), up from 9 percent in 2007.”
Half of all countries in the Middle East and North Africa experienced sectarian violence in 2012, bringing the total global average of countries facing such hostilities to 18 percent, up from 8 percent in 2007.
In a single year between 2011 and 2012, the number of countries experiencing a very high level of religious hostilities went from 14 to 20. Six of those countries—Syria, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Thailand, Sri Lank and Burma—experienced relatively few hostilities in 2011 compared to 2012.
Things also worsened for religious minorities, according to the study, with 47 percent of the countries studied reporting incidents of targeted abuse of minorities, up from 38 percent in 2011.
“In Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka, for example, monks attacked Muslim and Christian places of worship, including reportedly attacking a mosque in the town of Dambulla in April 2012 and forcibly occupying a Seventh-day Adventist church in the town of Deniyaya and converting it into a Buddhist temple in August 2012,” the report’s authors said."
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