|Astana is a guide of spiritual harmony in the world|
Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament, Head of the Secretariat of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions Kairat Mami:
“Firm adherence to the secular principles of the state is a solid guarantee for stable development of our society”.
The meaning of these words is profound. By the statement and the words “Religion is the realm of the human mind and morality”, the President emphasized that in any era, in any society, religion should be involved in education of soul, and in the problems of morality.
The modern world practice shows that where religion is politicized, and in secular states, and in the countries where state ideology is based on religion, certain problems arise. Therefore, we believe the spiritual perfection of a person is the main purpose of religion. On the eve of the fourth Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, which will be held in Astana in the end of this month, we will share with a number of our thoughts.
More than 7 billion people live on Earth. Their separation by language, customs and other common features into nations, according to the beliefs and convictions in religions is a natural phenomenon, shaped by centuries since the appearance of humanity.
For people on the planet brutal wars, which were the main danger of the century sunk into oblivion by the end of the 20th century, new trials and challenges, such as religious and inter-civilization conflicts appeared on the arena.
Some of the terrorist and extremist organizations, scoffing at sacred religious values drive a wedge between civilizations and religions. It is clear, when the lack of mutual understanding and respect for religious values and sacred concepts for each people will reach the boiling point, there is a danger of bloodshed. The peoples of earth witness that such concerns gradually cover Europe, Far East, Great Britain, Africa, South Asia and other countries and territories. On 11 September 2001 a monstrous act of terrorism was committed. This event showed that the confrontation of interests and views will bring terrible calamity to the future of humanity. At this crucial moment in the human history, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev convened the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, bringing together religious leaders under one roof.
At this summit, the Kazakh people who put forward this initiative, called on the countries and peoples of the world to preserve peace on Earth – a common cradle of mankind – called on the religious groups to achieve co-operation, mutual harmony and understanding.
It was openly stated that attaching the religious tone to the terrorist activities was the efforts of provocateurs, since no religion supports terrorism, that linking of terrorism to any religion is harmful to millions of people professing that religion.
(Later, Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani expressed his opinion on this difficult period: “After the attack of the World Trade Centre in the U.S. in September 2001 the term ‘Islamic terrorism’ spread in the world. Then we, the Heads of the Arab peoples, were silent. At this crucial moment, head of the Kazakh people, Nursultan Nazarbayev, said: “This is slander, I am categorically against the use of the terms ‘Islamic extremism’ and ‘Islamic terrorism’. The World Wars never begun with Islam. It is time to defend Islam from the various false accusations”. Only after that, the others, emboldened, began to express their opinion).
After that, the European countries with developed democracy and the U.S. also began to openly speak and write that it is wrong to groundlessly label any religion accusing it.
It is essential that through this Congress initiated by the President of the Kazakh state, the leaders of the world traditional religions, existing before independently from each other, for the first time gathered under one roof, sitting side by side, pledged to jointly fight the common threat, a dialogue based on mutual trust, harmony, unity and peace was established among them.
They stated that extremism, terrorism, violence and other kind of malefaction hiding behind religion have no relation to religion.
At that time, the forum participants unanimously voted for holding the Congress on a regular basis and decided to create its working body – the Secretariat of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.
Kazakhstan, which gave an impetus to the union, was recognized by the whole world as a state that reached true social and religious harmony and unity.
No religion in the world calls for violence, war, injustice and immorality. The position of religion is peace, justice, purity, patience and respect for all living created by the Maker. All of them follow the rule “You did not give life to anyone, and you have no right to take someone’s life”.
However, despite this, linking of the world wars, terrorism, destruction, trafficking in human beings, weapons and drugs with the name of any religion, as well as the deliberate opposition of one religion to another, did not stop.
So, today we must learn to discern and expose the true nature of acts of aggression and violence, which are masked by the doctrines of pseudo-religious nature to make their evil thoughts come true.
In the era of globalization, any threat is much bigger than the sphere of influence of one country, one religious leader, one head of a separate state. If the source of threat is deliberately organized from the outside, no state can destroy it by the roots. In such cases Kazakhs say: “You will not hear the voice of one, you will not see the dust behind the lone traveller”. In this situation, only the reliable, deeply convinced people, in whose honesty no one doubts, who are followed by the people of the world, can instil confidence in own words, can make admit the truth.
The Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, which united under one roof such authoritative, sincerely convinced people, is exactly such an institution designed to achieve global peace.
Therefore, the President in his statement to religious leaders said:
“Spiritual leaders – clergies of various faiths were and still remain the patrons of higher moral values at all times. That is why in these difficult times the religious leaders are entrusted with a special hope. Today, more than ever there is a demand for moral and humanistic imperatives of religion.
It is you, the religious leaders, can become guides of revival of spirituality – the main condition for the harmonious development of the world. In this fact we see the high destination of our Congress”.
In the era of globalization, where the phenomena occurring at one end of the globe have a direct impact on the life of the country at the other end of the world, any threat to human life ceased to be a problem only in that country. Therefore, Kazakhstan from the moment of gaining its independence was not limited only to the decision of its external and internal problems, did not adhere to the position of a casual observer for the injustices happening in the world, but actively participated in solving world problems.
At the first Congress Kazakhstan raised the problem of the prohibition of terrorism, extremism and unjust wars and non-discrimination of religion, on the second Congress in 2006, in difficult times, when the situation sharply deteriorated in the Middle East, there was a war in Iraq, the world religious leaders, gathered in Astana, called on the countries to remain on the path of dialogue and take measures to strengthen culture of peace and harmony. This is a manifestation of the position of defining universal human problems.
But the third Congress drew public attention to the terrorist attacks of an unprecedented scale that occurred in various parts of the world, to the more exacerbated situation in Afghanistan, where extremists again “raise their heads” that threaten stability of the region, as well as to the trafficking in drugs produced in this country around the world.
At this summit, the President of Kazakhstan proposed a new model of the world:
First, it is a fair economic model. It should be based on fair and impartial global financial and monetary system, where there is no place for deception and squander. Where wealth produced by the mankind will be forwarded to the creation and progress of each person, his spiritual growth and improvement.
Second, this is a fair political model of relations between states. The interests of the world, rather than of individual countries should be the focus here. The updated system of international relations should not be divided into large and small countries, into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ people. This new world should become the world of universal trust and respect, partnership and dialogue.
Third, this is a new approach to global security. Decisive steps to develop new forms of international cooperation, which can stabilize the situation on the planet, make it safe, are required. More efficient mechanisms for combating terrorism and drug trafficking are needed. It is especially important to bring together all mankind in the global movement toward a nuclear-free world.
Year by year, attention and credibility to the Congress of World and Traditional Religions is increasing. The Congress took upon itself the mission to analyse major problems, discuss the issues of common concern, and instil in people such eternal values as kindness, charity, humanity, positive impact on the current political situation, friendship between people. For example, in 2003 the first Congress was attended by representatives of 17 religious organizations from 13 countries, in 2006 the second Congress was attended by 29 religious delegations from 26 countries. In 2009 at the third Congress 77 delegations from 35 countries worldwide met. And this year there will be no less representatives. Of course, Kazakhstan did not stay away from religious summits held in other countries at various levels and on different topics. Generally, there will be no harm from a number of similar structures promoting peace throughout the world. Each of them has its own peculiarities, differences in the subjects raised. However, according to experts, none of the initiators could unite the famous leaders of world and traditional religions in such a composition, as Kazakhstan.
This demonstrates the confidence of religious leaders in performance of the Kazakhstan Summit, compliance of the words with the deeds. So today in the international arena the Congress is characterized by its efficacy, making a special contribution to the process of dialogue between civilizations. Our main goal is to reduce unnecessary negative effects to society through religion, based on the opinions of influential and respected people.
It is impossible to create a single religious space. No matter what religion we profess, what nation and society we belong to, we must live according to the principle of mutual respect and tolerance. Undoubtedly, it is good that young people tend to faith, religion, and pure sinless life. But some of them are wrong due to the lack of knowledge they give loose to fanaticism and even become the victims and tools in the hands of terrorists. In this situation, great responsibility rests on the religious leaders who can instil the true values of their religion in young people, can help the youth understand true and false belief in order that young people were not in the ranks of the astray.
At that, if the State at its level cannot solve the problems of contemporary education, employment, human rights protection among youth, it can also become a factor exacerbating the social situation. In this respect, Kazakhstan holds its youth policy comprehensively and systematically. For example, as a result of adoption of the “Balapan” Programme the number of preschool institutions increased. By 2020, across the country this programme is planned to be implemented for 100%. The secondary education also undergoes the reforms; a single vertical of state quality control is introduced. Human capital became a key factor in the development of innovative economy and knowledge.
In our country credit financing of science and knowledge areas is a policy aimed at ensuring social protection of students. The state allocates large funds to finance education on an annual basis. The International University was established in Astana. Prestigious universities of the world are partners of this new institution.
Thousands of students are annually sent abroad for training in the best world universities. All this is done in order to improve the quality of human capital, so that young people were adapted to a new life, new technologies, and new social relations and aimed at innovative searches.
Yet, there are evil forces in the world that want to use youth as a tool of aggression and violence. Poisoning the minds of young people, who are still unable to distinguish good from bad, who have no set worldview, with dangerous ideas, luring with money, they are pushing youth to such criminal acts as terrorism, bringing threat to all humanity. In the era of globalization, it is no longer the matter of one state to save the future from the world threats by youth. This is the meaning and importance of raising the topic “Religion and Youth” at the upcoming Congress of religious leaders.
This subject is determined in accordance with the proposals made by the participants of the third Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. This side event will update the issues concerning value orientations and the needs of today’s youth, the rights of young people in the context of universal moral values, moral choice in the light of contemporary social preferences among young people, attitude and participation of young people in new religious movements, the role of religion in shaping and development of spiritual and moral culture of youth in search of causes and conditions of crime and suicide among young people in order to combat and eradicate them, etc.
Religion and Woman
Four side events are planned at the fourth Congress, and the fact that one of them is devoted to the subject “Religion and Woman: Spiritual Values and Modern Challenges” is not accidental.
The main reason for raising this problem, which is a substantial feature of this forum, is that a woman-mother and her rights represent a common human issue. However, no religion supports limiting the rights of women, violence against them. Hence, it is possible to vouch for a decent future for mankind, through improved knowledge, spiritual and religious knowledge, increasing the intellectual level and education of women, bringing new inhabitants of earth into the world and bringing them up from the cradle.
Today, there are almost no areas where women work. However, the protection of their rights is not so clear. A concern of international organizations is the spread of domestic and sexual violence, despite the slogan proclaiming that “Women and Men Have Equal Rights”.
If not mentioning the use of women in drug trafficking, in the role of victim for terrorist purposes, we still have the trafficking in women and girls and other violence against women. Recruiters-terrorists may use a difficult social status of women; there are those among women who due to the lack knowledge are poisoned by blind faith.
So, the issues of women’s occupational safety, termination of sexual violence against women, reduction of labour hours for women, retirement age and the issue of the opportunities for women to increase their knowledge are on the world agenda.
Here we can give an example of state gender policy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, based on national and international experience of gender equality, taking into account the civilizational, religious and cultural peculiarities of the international community.
The direction aimed at organizing the life of our women, based on succession, pragmatism, principles of equality and religious tolerance, gives a moral right to easily raise the problems of women during the Congress of religious leaders.
However, our achievements in protecting the rights of women, families and children are recognized globally. An argument could be that our country ranks 41st among 134 countries, leaving behind 14 countries of the EU, according to the report of the World Economic Forum “Global Gender Differences – 2010”.
The State Gender Policy, which is one of the most important parts of the country’s domestic policy, is implemented in accordance with the basic gender laws and the Strategy for gender equality in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2006-2016, approved by the Decree of the President of the State.
In the Strategy, according to the rules of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women gender indicators devoted to Kazakhstan are defined.
Of course, if the speeches about women’s rights proclaimed from the high tribunes are not based on laws, there will be no progress. Kazakhstan can openly declare about the solution of this problem before the world community. For example:
In December 2009 the Law “On State Guarantees of Equal Rights for Women and Men” was adopted;
The same year the Law, aimed at strengthening measures against offenders in the family “On Prevention of Domestic Violence” was adopted;
In 2006-2011 the Concept for Development of Civil Society in the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Law “On State Social Order” were adopted.
Besides, the National Commission and the Association of Business Women of Kazakhstan, together, created a project “Club of Women Politicians”.
These and other laws and specific activities enable the weak half of the society to develop their ideas in any field of labour and business.
This strategy focuses on further development of women entrepreneurship, increasing competitiveness of women in the labour market, achievement of gender balance in the economy.
In our country, much attention is paid to the health of a mother and a child. Support for the family, increasing the credibility of marriage and family relations is a priority of the state policy.
Kazakhstan, in the former post-Soviet space, is the only state where special departments to combat violence against women were established even in the regional departments of internal affairs. Today, many crisis centres help protect the rights of women. Non-governmental organizations play an important role in addressing gender equality issues. Currently, about 25 thousand of non-governmental organizations operate in Kazakhstan, 250 of them deal with problems of women, families and children.
In the era of globalization, addressing of the problems of women-mothers at the global level, harmonization of laws and attitudes is difficult to imagine without a policy of cooperation with international organizations. Signing of a memorandum of cooperation in the field of gender equality, aimed at cooperation in the field of gender and family and demographic policy with the international public fund “Dialogue Eurasia” and the USAID is the evidence to it.
In 2010, the Council on the subject “Promotion of Gender Balance and Women’s Participation in Political and Public Life”, held in Vienna under the Chairmanship of Kazakhstan in the OSCE, was attended by 257 people from 53 countries worldwide.
Given that in the history of the organization for cooperation, this council on the humanitarian dimension was attended by the great number of participants, overseas there is an interest in the policies pursued by our state with regard to women.
From the moment of gaining independence, highlighting the policy of the proper organization of women’s life, at the Congress of Women of Kazakhstan the head of state outlined the prospects for further promotion of gender and family and demographic policy. This means that the proverb “Homeland begins with the family” becomes the position of the state.
If so, then the planned discussion at the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions of the problems: the role of women in family and society; women’s rights in the context of universal spiritual values; responsibility of women for the future of the nation, the planet; the role of women and women’s organizations in the field of intercultural and interreligious harmony (sharing experiences), etc., is not only a substantial feature of this forum, it is also an opportunity to present a favourable policy of Kazakhstan in the organization of life of mothers to the world.
Religion and traditions
Tolerant development of diversity, multi-ethnicity and multi-confessions is a pledge of peace and harmony on the planet. In the era of globalization the attempts to fit the nature of ethnic and cultural diversity, taking shape over the centuries, under the banner of one culture and understanding are strengthening. Therefore, the problems of multicultural existence and dialogue are extremely relevant for modern society.
At the upcoming forum the planned discussion by world and traditional religions of issues of identity and development of peoples, their cultures and religions, the nature and national unity, the ideology of multiculturalism, focusing on the phenomenon of multiculturalism as an aspect of tolerance and development policy, preservation of cultural differences, etc. emphasizes the importance and actuality of the subject.
In many parts of the world an aversion to alien ethnic culture, the perception of it as ‘a relic of antiquity’ is developed, and it is understood as a sign of ‘high culture’ and ‘innovation’. This leads to the fact that in one state where people live peacefully due to the outside influence the risk of separation into groups, violation of the integrity and harmony in the country arises.
Here religious fanatics, who exploit the concept of national traditions and peculiarities, historical ethnic culture, do their bid. Rejecting the human factor in the religious consciousness, they are amenable to blind fanaticism. Adhering to intolerant judgments “It must be so, and not the other way”, they divide mankind into enemies and friends on the basis of religion, tradition, origin, race, and other features. Those who disagree with them are forced or simply destroyed. The known from the ancient history religious wars and terrorist acts, riots due to racial discrimination and bloodshed battles in an attempt to elevate one noble nation over the other testify that.
At the present time of developed civilization, when the consciousness progressed, and scientific knowledge and achievements began to conquer ignorance, the perception of diversity, not as the controversial structure, but as a decent respect for the gift of the Maker leads to a peaceful life.
Today’s life of united people of Kazakhstan, with a strong spiritual heritage of different ethnic groups and wealth of religious beliefs with established tolerance, religious tolerance, openness to everything new, is a good example for the world. This is evidenced by the creation of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan, which became a new trend in the world practice, which gives an opportunity to solve the problems of intercultural dialogue on a new stage of development of inter-ethnic relations at a high level.
On the political positions and for the sustainable development of the newly established, independent, multi-ethnic, multi-confessional state, the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan was established in accordance with the Decree of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan of 1 March 1995 as an advisory body to the head of state.
Largely due to the activity of the Assembly in Kazakhstan a unique model of interethnic and interreligious harmony, where every citizen, regardless of ethnicity or religion, has and enjoys the fullness of human rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, was formed.
Today, in our country all necessary conditions for the development of cultures, languages and traditions of all ethnic groups are created. Currently, more than 800 of ethno-cultural associations, 28 of them of the national scale, operate in our country.
Newspapers and magazines are available in 15 languages, radio programmes in 8, and TV channels show in 7 different languages. 88 schools, in which education is given completely in the Uzbek, Tajik, Uighur and Ukrainian languages, operate. In 108 schools languages of 22 ethnic groups of Kazakhstan are taught as a separate subject. Besides, 195 specialized language centres were opened, where not only children but adults can learn languages of 30 ethnic groups. In addition to Kazakh and Russian theatres, four national theatres – Uzbek, Uighur, Korean and German – work in the country. Every year, dozens of new books in the languages of ethnic groups of Kazakhstan are published.
The task of the Assembly, in addition to the revival, preservation and development of national cultures, languages and traditions of the people of Kazakhstan, assistance to the state bodies in combating extremism and radicalism in society and attempts aimed at infringement of human and civil rights and freedoms is rendered.
With regard to the role of the organization in politics, nine members of the Mazhilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan are elected by the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan, and they represent the interests of all ethnic groups of the country, give due recognition to all draft laws relating to inter-ethnic relations.
Therefore, Kazakhstan, in contrast to many countries facing the crisis of multiculturalism, having found a new path of development, has a moral right to raise the issues of peace, harmony, mutual understanding and cooperation among the countries, peoples and faiths at the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, and through the forum present to the world its project “Á³ðë³ã³ì³ç æàðàñқàí!” (“We are a team!”).
Peace is impossible without tolerance. Its main principle, having a profound and meaningful sense, is the recognition and acceptance of other civilizations, cultures and religions with their distinctive features and beliefs. Only then, no state will see violation of integrity and accord, intervention in the national and religious affairs of other countries is unacceptable.
Therefore, at the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, the issues of peace, harmony, mutual understanding and cooperation among the countries, peoples and faiths lay in the basis of the position of Kazakhstan considering its duty to convey to the mankind the imperative formed for centuries.
The upcoming Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions again provides an opportunity to bring this truth to the entire global community, and show peaceful policy of the Kazakh people, based on harmony and tolerance, to all countries.
President of the country Nursultan Nazarbayev at the 19th session of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan in his speech said: “Its conduct is the greatest gift of Kazakhstan to building global tolerance as an essential principle of world order in the 21st century”.
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