|Interreligious dialogue as base for approach of cultures|
As we see from the history, Kazakhstan has always been and is still crossroad, venue for meetings and dialogue of various religious traditions, cultures and civilizations of East and West.
For twenty year of independence full freedom of religion for representatives of all confessions was provided in the country. Significant quantity and quality growth of religious institutes took place.
Nowadays Kazakhstan is a multinational country, on the territory of which representatives of about 130 nations and ethnical groups, 46 confessions and denominations reside.
In recent times growing religiosity of Kazakhstani society is being noticed. Thus, according to statistics of sociological surveys for 2011 carried out by International center of cultures and religions for the past 3 years every tenth became more religious, another 4,5% started to believe in God, while earlier they referred themselves to irreligious.
The majority of Kazakhstanis think that interethnic relations in the country have steady positive nature, and most of them consider sharing the same society with the people of different confessions is totally acceptable for themselves – 79,6%, it, certainly, proves high religious tolerance of Kazakhstani community.
According to latest statistical data the total number of religious associations amounts to 3975. Religious associations have at their disposal 3423 cultic constructions, of which 2495 – Muslim mosques, 260 – Orthodox and 100 – Catholic churches, 7 – synagogues, and more than five hundred Protestant churches and houses of worship.
Over 90% of country’s population reckon among themselves to one of two main religious confessions in Kazakhstan
– Islam (54,7%) and Orthodox Christianity (36,2%).
Qurban Eid and Christmas are official religious holidays, announced as days off in Kazakhstan.
So, support to intercultural and interreligious dialogue in cultural, ethnic and religious diversity, conservation of traditions of ancestors, peace and concord, unity of spirit and mutual understanding is considered as invaluable experience for the young country.
With reference to the succession of traditions, taking into account an increased role of religions in contemporary world, Head of the state N.A. Nazarbayev forwarded an initiative to conduct the Congress of leaders of world and traditional religions. It is necessary to mention that world did not witness analogic experience of interreligious meetings, which were given a state support.
From ancient times religion is one of the basic forms of spiritual culture. Throughout the history of humanity religion has its impact on all spheres of human activity; it is a forming factor both in spiritual and social life of society.
In modern realities of worldwide globalization meeting of leaders of world and traditional religions creates wide range of prospects and opportunities for mutual cooperation, promotes crossing violence, religious fanaticism, extremism and terrorism.
The I Congress of leaders of world and traditional religions, which took place in September 2003 in Astana with participation of representatives of more than 12 countries, became a benchmark event.
Chance of real dialogue, search for answers to questions relevant for all times and people, settlement of disputes in interconfessional and international relations were main ideas of the Forum.
One of the objectives of the I Congress is establishment of permanent interreligious institute for carrying out meetings and taking consistent decisions.
Issues of religious and political extremism and terrorism, conflicts and discrimination on religious grounds, lawlessness and violence were discussed in the course of work of the Congress.
Summarizing the results of the forum religious leaders came to the same opinion about need of perfecting interreligious accord, mutual perception, crossing hatred, antagonism, intolerance and xenophobia, development of education programs and instruments of social communication in order to promote positive approaches to religions and cultures. Result of the Congress is adoption of the Declaration on joint actions for assurance of integrity of the world, provision of stability and progress for humanity in the future.
The I Congress became unique and memorable event that has demonstrated to the world timeliness and necessity of implementation of ideas of cooperation and unity of representatives of various religions in the name of peaceful and deserving life of the people all over the world. Idea of the Congress was supported by such outstanding personalities and politicians as C. Annan, G. Bush, M. Thatcher, Jiang Zemin, N. Mandela, G. d’Estaing and etc.
Certainly, the I Congress became a kind of bridge on the way of strengthening concord and establishment of constructive dialogue between religions. Success of conducted event was confirmed in the Decision of the I Congress on conducting interreligious forum on the regular basis – no less than once in 3 years.
The II Congress of leaders of world and traditional religions under the chairmanship of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan N.A. Nazarbayev took place on September 12-13, 2006 in
a new building called “Palace of peace and concord” which was specially constructed for this forum.
The meeting was carried out under the general subject “Religion, society and international security”. “The Principles of interreligious dialogue”, which are followed by participants, were adopted at the Congress.
One of the initiatives, stated at the Congress, was the invitation of Head of the state for religious leaders to read lectures in the Palace of peace and concord. The invitation was supported – Kazakhstan received representatives of religious associations along with lectures, which accompanied by notable scientists, representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations, students.
Global demand for replacement of “confrontation ideology” with “world culture” was significantly incorporated in a final document of the Second Congress.
In accordance with the Plan of action on implementation of initiatives, stated by Head of the Republic of Kazakhstan N.A. Nazarbayev at the II Congress of leaders of world and traditional religions, the International center of cultures and religions was established, which implements the following objectives:
– observation and appliance of international practice of harmonization of public relations in the sphere of culture and religion;
– provision of efficient interaction of government agencies and institutes of civil society in the sphere of interethnic and interconfessional relations;
– strengthening of Kazakhstani patriotism in terms of interethnic and interconfessional relations;
– arrangement and carrying out events, focused on intellectual education of the population and strengthening interconfessional concord.
One of the main tasks of the Center is work on organization of Congresses of leaders of world and traditional religions.
Moreover, the Center contributes to extension of dialogue of representatives of different cultures and religions by means of involvement of representatives of secular and religious media, women’s and youth associations, scientific and creative intellectuals to activity of the Congress.
The III Congress was held on July 1-2, 2009 with the participation and technical assistance of the UN system, 77 delegations from 35 countries of the world took part in its work.
Upon completion of the Forum Address of participants of the III Congress was received, in which gratitude was expressed to the President N.A. Nazarbayev and all people of the Republic of Kazakhstan for support and promotion of culture of interreligious concord and cooperation.
Conduction of the Congresses of leaders of world and traditional religions became an evidence of efficiency of unique Kazakhstani concept of interconfessional cooperation.
The next step in strengthening interrelations between confessions and contribution of Kazakhstan into global dialogue of civilizations will be conduction of the Fourth Congress of leaders of world and traditional religions, which will take place according to existing tradition in Astana on May 30-31, 2012 – such decision was approved by the Secretariat of the Congress at its X meeting.
It is worth to mention that May 31 in Kazakhstan is a memorial day of victims of political repressions, including political prisoners-seculars.
Accordingly, international conferences and interreligious forums openly witness an importance of favorable dialogue and efficient cooperation of religions in solution of relevant issues of modernity, establishment of security principles, mutual respect, equality, priority of moral and ethic principles. Experience of Kazakhstan demonstrates that route of constructive interchange of views and joint efforts of leaders of world and traditional religions encourage crossing barriers that separate people, approach of cultures, successful promotion of ideas of peace and concord.
of the Department of interconfessional cooperation
of the International center of cultures and religions
of Agency of the RK for religious affairs
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