Almost a year has passed since completion of the fifth Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Astana.
Today, on the eve of the upcoming regular session of the Congress Secretariat [on May 30] and preparations for the sixth Congress, let us look back and highlight the most important and characteristic events and trends of the past year.
There is an increasing number of participants involved in armed conflicts; nobody can be protected from a terrorist threat. The migration crisis, growth of a domestic opposition and nationalist movements serve as background.
As you have already noticed, in this list of negative events, I did not use words such as “religion” or “religious,” and that is not a coincidence.
The fact is that any man of sense, who is able to compare and analyse, can understand that these series of tragedies do not involve traditional forms of religion but fanaticism.
This past year was full of the tragic events related to extremism and terror.
An Oriental wisdom says that “You can be saying “halva” for a long time, but that will not make it sweeter in your mouth.” To make it sweet or at least cease to be bitter, it is necessary to make an effort. Is there any hope? There is.
Increased intensity of negotiation processes, quantitative growth of participants and platforms are a positive feature of the last year. I am glad that this awareness comes in all social layers that at different levels and in different ways tries to influence ongoing processes.
Of course, religious organisations and their leaders are not sitting on the fence. In this case, experiences gained at the congresses might be very useful.
In the framework of the congress, a wide range of religions and influential religious organisations are presented. Some of them cannot be separated from the state. That is very important because many representatives are from places tormented by strife and military conflicts.
The congress has an experience and ability to find common ground and to conduct dialogue with the participation of all parties as well as to find mutually acceptable solutions and reach compromises.
In addition, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev draws the interest and attention of heads of state, politicians and representatives of international organisations to the congress. This factor makes it possible for a call of religious leaders to be conveyed to and heard by politicians.
“Peace to all! Everywhere! Regardless of race, nationality and religious affiliation!” I believe that this is the most important call, the main slogan and the urgent task.
With respect to the importance of other problems, it is paramount to understand that people should not die in wars. Therefore, peace to everybody and everywhere!
I think that the congress, which involves dignified and authoritative people, will make every effort to contribute to this goal.
The author is Bishop of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Kazakhstan.