Minister for Justice HE Hassan al-Ghanem presenting the inaugural Dicid award to Mohamed al-Samak.
By Ramesh Mathew/Staff Reporter
Qatar Minister of Justice HE Hassan bin al-Ghanem said the country is committed to strengthen mutual trust and understanding among people of different faiths, culture, traditions and ethnicity and the country’s relentless efforts to promote religious tolerance and universal brotherhood among diverse religious groups is reflected at the highest levels through the successive holding of inter-faith dialogues.
HE Ghanem was speaking while inaugurating the decennial celebrations of the Inter-Faith Dialogue, hosted by the Doha International Center for Inter-faith Dialogue (Dicid) at Doha Ritz Carlton Hotel yesterday.
While underlining the importance of inter-faith dialogue in today’s complex world, particularly in multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic societies, the law minister said peaceful co-existence is possible only through better understanding of religious traditions, customs and teachings.
Elaborating on efforts made by Qatar the minister said more than 100 nationalities of different faiths lived peacefully in the country. He said the country’s leadership has demonstrated its desire to respect the religious sentiments of its expatriate groups.
The country has worked out a draft to punish those lampooning religion through electronic media and efforts are underway to treat the said draft as a basic framework for a common model law for all Arab countries on the basis of discussions held at the 28th meeting of Arab law ministers.
In the opening session which was chaired by advisory board member of the Dicid Ayesha al-Mannai, deputy president of Political Council for Inter-religious Dialogue at the Vatican, monsignor Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Alliance of Civilisations, Nasr Abdelaziz al-Nasr, general secretary of the International Islamic Scholars Union (Qatar) Ali M A A) l-Quradaghi, executive director of the Latin American Jewish Congress (Argentina) Claudio Gregorio Epelman and Dicid chairman Prof Ibrahim al-Naimi also spoke.
While thanking HH the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani for patronising the inter-faith dialogue, al-Nasr said one of the main priorities of his alliance is to diffuse tensions stemming from cultural differences and also to bridge the gap between identities, beliefs and traditions.
Monsignor Guixot recalled that the Vatican’s commitment to hold and participate in inter-faith dialogues was demonstrated on several occasions in the past and over the last two months when the previous Pope Benedict the 16th and the new leader Pope Francis held special gatherings of representatives of different faiths. “While the last pope met the followers of other religions on February 27, soon after he stepped down Pope Francis had meetings with the faithful of other religious groups soon immediately after his installation on May 19,” he said.
South American Jewish leader Epelman said he has been a participant at the dialogues for many years now and he shared the concerns and apprehensions of the participants of the other faiths regarding universal brotherhood, tolerance and mutual co-existence.
At the opening session, the organisers honoured the first winner of the Doha World Award of Interfaith Dialogue, Dr Mohamed al-Samak.
The award carries a citation and $100,000. The Lebanese national was honoured for his contribution to promoting inter-religious dialogue through a host of community oriented projects.
One of the main highlights of the opening session was a short film on the contribution of the Dicid, recalling initiatives by the centre over the last decade since the first dialogue in 2004.
BELOW: The speakers at the opening session of the 10th Inter-faith Dialogue hosted by the Doha International Center for Inter-faith Dialogue (Dicid) yesterday. (From left): Prof Ibrahim al-Naimi, Monsignor Guixot, Al-Quradaghi, Abdelaziz al-Nasr, Ayesha al-Mannai and Gregorio Epelman. Pictures Shaji Kayamkulam.