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First Session of Inter-religious Working Group for the Protection of Rights of Believers from Discrimination and Xenophobia Takes Place

First Session of Inter-religious Working Group for the Protection of Rights of Believers from Discrimination and Xenophobia Takes Place
Version for print
1 November 2021 year 12:27

The first session of the Inter-religious Group for the Protection of Rights and Believers fr om Discrimination and Xenophobia of the Council for Inter-action with Religious Associations under the Russian President took place on 29th October 2021. The event took place at the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI.

The session was attended by the secretary for inter-Christian relations at the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate hieromonk Stephan (Igumnov), who is the director of the Inter-religious Group; assistant at the Russian Presidential Administration for internal affairs and secretary of the Council for Inter-action with Religious Associations under the Russian President A. V. Tretyakov; representative of the Russian and Novo-Nakhchevan diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church priest Gevorg Vardanyan; head of the administration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Russia V. S. Weber; advisor to the mufti for international affairs of the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims in Tatarstan and iman-muhtasib of the city of Nizhnekamska and its region Salikh hazrat Ibragimov; mufti of the Spiritual Congress of Russia’s Muslims Albir hazrat Krganov; chief bishop of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians (Pentecostals) Sergei Ryakhovsky; pastor of the Church of Seventh Day Adventists I. I. Kirenko; and president of the Christian World Union for the Preservation of Traditional Christian Values A. A. Cherkezov.

Also invited to participate in the session were: the head of the Department for Inter-action with Religious Associations at the Russian Presidential Administration for Internal Affairs Ye. V. Yeremin; acting rector of the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI V. I. Shevchenko; deputy director for relations with federal subjects, parliament and public associations of the Russian foreign ministry V. S. Avdeyev; director of the Department for State Youth Policy at the Russian ministry of science and higher education D. V. Ashirov; director of Helping Hand charity foundation P. G. Aproyan; advisor to the chief bishop of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians (Pentecostals) for inter-action with state structures R. A. Bunin; chairman of the Arab diaspora regional public organization Hassan Faez Nasrallah; director of the Department for Internal Relations under the Spiritual Congress of Russia’s Muslims V. S. Neledva, assistant at the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate D. E. Arakelyan and other people.

The session was attended my members of delegations on behalf of the state authorities, educational establishments and religious bodies from Syria who had come to Moscow to take part in the seventh international Religion and Peace forum. The Syrian delegation was headed by education minister Darem Tabaa. The delegation comprised of: the bishop of Safita Dimitrios, auxiliary of the Akkar metropolia of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch; bishop Armash Nalbandyan, head of the diocese of Damascus under the Armenian Apostolic Church; head of the directorate of religious affairs in the city of Tartus Abudullah As-Sayed; head of the office of the first lady of Syria Dana Bashkur; rector of the University of Damascus Muhammed Yassar Abdin; director of the Syrian cultural centre Hala al Dakkak, director of the Charity Association of Syria Ruba Mirza and other people.

The session was moderated by hieromonk Stephan (Igumnov), who greeted the participants on behalf of His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill and the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate the metropolitan of Volokolamsk Hilarion. He reminded participants of the working group of the aid given to Syria under the Council for Inter-action with Religious Associations under the Russian President, which from 2017 has implemented a number of projects for Syria, including the sending of humanitarian food parcels and the reconstruction of schools for 1200 students in the Barza area of Damascus. The working group’s success has shown that Christians Muslims can work side by side in solving complex humanitarian tasks. Hence the decision taken in July 2021 to broaden the scope of the work of this structure and its renaming as the Inter-religious Working Group for the Protection of the Rights of Believers from Discrimination and Xenophobia. Father Stephan especially highlighted the initiatives taken by His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill in implementing the group’s projects.

The role of the key partner on the Syrian side – the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch – was also noted. Father Stephan asked the bishop of Safita Dimitrios to convey on behalf of the working group words of greetings and gratitude to His Beatitude the Patriarch of Great Antioch and All the East John X.

A. V. Tretyakov read out greetings addressed to the session’s participants from the head of the Russian Presidential Administration A. E. Vaino, who noted the value of cooperation between representatives of various religions; he was also the first to give a presentation according to the working group’s schedule. In particular, he spoke about preparations for the World Conference in Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Dialogue which is planned to take place in May 2022 in St. Petersburg and also of the events in connection with it. A. V. Tretyakov emphasized the importance of strengthening cooperation between institutes of learning and youth associations, including in the context of preparations for the aforementioned World Conference.

Then the participants were greeted by the acting rector of MEPhI V. I Shevchenko, who emphasized the importance of the teaching of theology in the cause of promoting interreligious peace and counteracting extremism. He noted in particular the work of department of theology at the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI headed by the chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate the metropolitan of Volokolamsk Hilarion.

The Syrian education minister Darem Tabaa expressed his gratitude to the organizers of the session and spoke of the plans of the Syrian ministry of education to develop further scholarly cooperation with Russian institutes of learning. In his speech he thanked His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill for successfully organizing the working group’s humanitarian projects in Syria, in particular for restoring in 2019 the schools in the Barza area of Damascus. The education minister stated that this school had become a symbol of cooperation between Russia and Syria and the place wh ere agreements had been made between the Syrian ministry of education and their Russian counterparts. Moreover, Mr. Tabaa highlighted the unique nature of the experience of the working group for the protection of the rights of believers from discrimination and xenophobia which had been able to combine the efforts of the two religions of Christianity and Islam and direct them in building up a “better future.”

In his presentation Ye. V. Yeremin highlighted the importance of the World Conference for Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Dialogue in the cause of promoting ethnic and religious peace and cooperation between peoples, as well as the role of the Inter-religious working group in its preparation. Later, the participants of the session discussed practical problems concerning the further development of the working groups activities. It was noted that its experience was needed not only in Syria but also in other regions of the world. Among its plans for the foreseeable future are the rendering of aid to Christians in Africa and the development of humanitarian projects for on the African continent.

DECR Communication Service/Patriarchia.ru

Version: Russian

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