Twenty years have passed since Qatar launched the first interfaith dialogue, in one of the civilised initiatives which supports efforts aimed at promoting peace and consolidating the foundations of co-operation among civilisations, cultures and religions for a better future for human society.
Over the past years — specifically since the first Interfaith Dialogue Conference, which was held in April 2003, Doha's conferences interacted with various issues and topics that emerged on the global scene and posed a threat to peace and stability in local communities and the global community as a whole.
The conferences also discussed frameworks for co-operation between followers of religions to serve the individual regardless of their religion, race, gender or colour, as well as building relationships and bonds between them, and enhancing understanding and knowledge of the other to achieve the foundations of global co-existence.
According to the description of their organisers, these conferences represent intellectual and consultative forums between thinkers and a selected group of religious scholars, academics and heads of interfaith dialogue from around the globe, giving those interested in the issue of interfaith dialogue between cultures an opportunity to address issues of interest to societies, as well as consult on the challenges that prevent peaceful co-existence among multiple religions and cultures, in order to spread the culture of peace among the humanity.
Through these conferences, the Doha International Centere for Interfaith Dialogue (DICID) seeks to bring together the points of views between different parties.
In a statement, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of DICID (the centre concerned with organising these conferences) Dr Ibrahim al-Nuaimi told Qatar News Agency (QNA) that the Doha Conferences for Interfaith Dialogue was launched at a time when the world was in dire need of dialogue, adding that based on its belief in the importance of speech and necessity of dialogue — regardless of the dispute, Qatar recognised its duty in this field; to promote understanding, achieve co-existence, and build links between followers of religions.
The Doha Conferences for Interfaith Dialogue interacted with several topics and issues of interest to followers of religions and humanity in general, succeeding in establishing its position internationally, considering the approach the country has taken in scientific dialogue between religious leaders, researchers, specialists and those interested in this issue from around the globe.
The first Interfaith Dialogue in Doha was basically a seminar held under the title 'Building Bridges'.
During his opening speech of the seminar, His Highness the Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani described the event as a meeting that seeks peace and restoring the spirit of the supreme values and principles of Islam and Christianity alike, with the belief in monotheism, and calls for fraternity, equality, tolerance, moderation and renunciation of violence, as well as respect for human rights, preservation of human dignity and protection of its life and property.
In May of 2004, the second meeting came under the title 'Freedom of Religion', and it was a real indication of Qatar's direction towards sustaining and sponsoring interfaith dialogue, after receiving enthusiasm and support for this step, which was commended by global religious leaders and prestigious international institutions.
The conferences that addressed multiple issues followed, including topics like the role of religions in building human civilisation as well as raising generations, spiritual values and world peace, religious values between peace and respect for life, human solidarity, successful experiences in dialogue, religious and human rights, spiritual and intellectual security in light of religious teachings, and other issues.
The 14th Doha Interfaith Dialogue Conference, which will kick off today under the title 'Religions and Hate Speech Practice and Scriptures', aims at reaffirming the importance and depth of topics addressed in these conferences, and discussing issues that affect the values and principles of co-existence, disturb societal peace and threaten global security.
The dialogue process in Qatar has witnessed an important shift with the launch of the Doha International Centre for Interfaith Dialogue, to begin its mission in supervising and organising the Doha conferences, starting from the 6th conference, which was held in May 2008, in order to become a pioneering institution concerned with interreligious and intercultural dialogue, in addition to capacity-building in the field of dialogue and culture of peace.
To support institutional and personal efforts and initiatives to promote dialogue and build sustainable peace in multi-religious and multicultural societies, the centre had launched the Doha International Award for Interfaith Dialogue in 2013, which is considered a unique initiative of its kind in this field at the level of the Arab world, and is supervised by a specialised committee of trustees who select the award's topic, depending on the topic of the annual conference.