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Statement of Mahmoud Hamdy Zaqzouq, Minister of Religious Affairs of Egypt Print E-mail
Image Mr. President!

First, I am happy to convey to Your Excellency the greetings of President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Muhammad Hosni Mubarak, and my sincere congratulations on success of the Republic of Kazakhstan achieved under your leadership in the country which have made tremendous efforts to enhance mutual understanding between followers of different religions in our world today. I am also pleased to pay tribute to all the delegations, participants of this Congress and wish them success in their work for the sake of the world, where we live.

Ladies and gentlemen!

We firmly believe that sending religion is the message of peace. Indeed, there is no one religion calling for violence, war, aggression, intolerance and hatred. All human beings have common origin and there is no difference between the different peoples and religions. They differ only in actions aimed at delivering good deeds for people.

In fact, existing differences or contradictions between different religions are the result of prejudices and false ideas of parties in relation to each others. The spread of misconceptions leads to negative attitude towards the followers of other religions. This has already caused many conflicts, wars and hatred in different historical periods.
However, our time is very different from previous eras. We live in an era where distances have been brought together, interests have intertwined and common threats to everybody, such as environmental pollution, weapons of mass destruction, as well as the global financial and economic crisis, spread of fatal diseases unknown previously, organized crime and other challenges for present time, undermining global security, stability and peace of all mankind. All of this make to feel the need for solidarity and cooperation for prevention of threats faced by all of us.

The Prophet Muhammad compared the whole mankind with sitting in one boat people, when some of them were in the upper part, and others were at the bottom of it. Those who were at the bottom, climbed upstairs for water. Then, when they are tired to go up and down constantly, to disturb others, they decided to make a hole in the bottom of the boat to get the access to necessary water for them. If they had been given to implement this idea, the boat would have sunk and everyone would have drowned in it. That is why it was necessary to prevent them from doing this to save themselves and others.

If we want to save the boat of our world today from the dangers threatening it, then we first need solidarity in the face of all challenges facing us. Just here the role of religious leaders and their shared responsibility should be manifested, they must stand in serried ranks to address all the global challenges, explicit and implicit threats of the modern of the present.

Achieving this goal requires, first and foremost, establishing mutual understanding among religious leaders to embark on a constructive and responsible dialogue. You should also agree on common positions, which will unite all the religions around them and present a set of ethical and humanitarian principles that do not cause disputes from none of the parties. This will be the principles that establish mutual trust between religious leaders. It is very important, as the leaders of various religions have enjoyed enormous respect among their followers. There is no doubt that utterances of leaders will be perceived by followers with great confidence, that will have positive influence on them, will help to pave the way for removal of obstacles that stand on the way of proper relations between different religions.

If we all recognize the need to respect human rights and protect them from any attack, we must recognize the human right to choice of faith, i.e. religion, as one of the fundamental human rights. If it cannot be questioned by anyone, then this fact calls us to respect right of each man to his faith.

We need to understand that giving ourselves the right to our own faith, we must give to other people the same right to their own religious beliefs. It is inadmissible any party to believe only it has the absolute right, and all the others are on the opposite bank, equating them to the wrong.

If we grasp this, we can reach the level of mutual respect between followers of different religions. It also means tolerance of followers of other religions. Mutual respect and tolerance are two sides of one coin. Religious tolerance, about which we speak, should not be neutral, positive, it must not only accept another religion, but also respect its culture and characteristics.
It is not admissible to think that mutual respect and tolerance among followers of different religions mean a waiver of any beliefs of one religion in favor of another. This point is totally unacceptable. We should have serious commitment to achieve the common goal of creating the society in which everyone will feel safety and stability, where all will live in peace and tranquility.

The widespread human values such as trust, mutual respect and tolerance among followers of different religions can correct misunderstandings, prejudices of one of the parties with respect to the other. Of course, this will give impetus to the followers of one religion to learn more about other religions, without showing any acts of extremism and hatred. Thus, the way for cooperation between all and everything will be opened that can be beneficial for the whole world where we live.

The facts brought before the eyes of the international community, show that we face a common destiny in modern living conditions. All that one nation befalls comes to other ones, somehow affecting the destiny of our world. The current financial crisis and so-called swine flu are a convincing proof of it.

Hopes, to which people aspire, can not be realized if religious leaders will not be convinced of the necessity of cooperation, in that the world is ruled by universal values, i.e. tolerance, mutual respect and cooperation between the followers of all religions for the benefit of the whole mankind. The Holy Quran testifies to the fact that differences between nations and peoples can not be a starting point for conflicts and disagreements between them, but a fruitful starting point for getting to know everybody. The Quran says: “People, We created you as man and woman, and divided you into nations and tribes so in order you to learn about each other”.

There is no need to point out that mutual knowledge is the first step towards mutual understanding, concord and cooperation between different nations, peoples and religions, aimed at producing benefits for a person at any time and any place.

In conclusion I would like to note that the experience of many regular meetings in Astana, which were attended by representatives of religions, being worthy of praise for their efforts in preparing this Congress and two previous, makes a great contribution to establishment of friendly and brotherly relations among everybody.

We hope that at the next stage, the attention will be directed to discuss the most effective means and mechanisms through which it will be possible to convey friendly atmosphere reigning among us and our followers in all corners of the world, in order to establish piece among all nations in this world which is common to all of us.
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