Development, culture and dialogue

Development, culture and dialogue

By Fr. Rif'at Bader

Over a three-day period, the Forum for Development Culture and Dialogue held a conference titled, "Towards Strengthening the Foundations of Understanding among People of Religions and Cultures" which was presided over by Pastor Riad Jarjour, the former secretary general of the Middle East Council of Churches.

The conference was held in cooperation with the Danish Dana Michaene Foundation and the Iraqi Hope Association. It was attended by delegations from Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Denmark.

The conference dealt with the challenges facing common living, civil peace, the role of women in confronting challenges and building civil peace, citizenship and social cohesion, the religious status in the Arab world, religious diversity, the dangers of violent extremism, mutual respect, and acceptance of others. Discussions also focused on means to conduct practical and effective dialogue in a turbulent world. A discussion of local testimonies relevant to common living was presented by Director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media Fr. Rif'at Bader along with Ms. Iman Hindawi, of the Peace Generation Foundation, which shed light on Jordan's experience in dialogue and common living.

The participants in the conference elucidated on the crises taking place in the Orient, particularly with regards to the spread of violence. Among the impressive addresses delivered was the one by the activist in the field of dialogue, Mohammad Al-Sammak. He said in part: "We have eradicated several thorns in the past. Some countries have celebrated the end of a dark and unfair era, yet the prime need is to all the thorns that have stuck to our region and regrettably multiplied. The solution lies in ensuring respect for human dignity in the first place whereby full citizenship is the key to moving forward on the path of human and community development."

Among the other impressive addresses was the one by renowned thinker Antoine Massara who said that "there is nothing as moderate Islam and radical Islam. There is one Islam. There are hypocrites on the other side who claim to have understood religion correctly."

Our region has witnessed several conferences, seminars and workshops funded by foreign institutions, which focused on how to find our way in the future and how to break the cycle of "the present which is experiencing crises and to proceed to the unknown future," according to the address made by the Sudanese ambassador to Jordan.

I think we need to conduct reconstruction. This construction involves companies, partners, contractors and donor countries. But the most important and difficult construction is rebuilding trust, namely the confidence of our communities in themselves, and the confidence of the people who follow religions in supporting each other, as well as conducting development projects that enhance the confidence of citizens in a brighter future.

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