Inter-faith dialogue a prominent tool to erase conflicts: Ansari

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New Delhi, Feb 19 (ANI): Vice President Hamid Ansari on Saturday said inter-faith dialogue has emerged as a prominent civil society initiative between nations and groups in the post-Cold War world, amidst the "Clash of Civilisations" debate and the raging ethnic and religious conflicts in various parts of the globe.

Delivering the inaugural address at a conference on "An International Dialogue between Islam and Oriental Religions" here, Ansari said the "The Alliance of Civilizations" initiative under United Nations auspices connects people and organizations devoted to promoting dialogue among political, religious, media and civil society leaders, particularly between Muslim and Western societies.

"Dialogues and discussions between adherents of different faiths have always taken place and are not a modern day novelty. Occasionally, they have been state-induced; more often, they emanated from individual or group initiatives," he said.

Other such dialogue frameworks include the Cordoba Initiative on improving Muslim-West relations, the Madrid Dialogue Conference that was a Saudi-Spanish effort, the Assisi interfaith work of the late Pope John Paul II and the Common Word initiative of Muslim scholars, he said.

"The normal business of living brought them together from time to time in the past and does so today. Such social intercourse may include religious dialogue but is not necessarily synonymous with it," Ansari said.

"The frequency and intensity of this interaction varied with time and place. Despite the abridgement of distances due to modernisation, urbanisation and globalisation, the disappearance of traditional channels and modes of communication have impacted adversely on this interaction," he added.

In his address Ansari emphasised on the need to go beyond tolerance; the imperative for religious concord in a framework of equality is evident and compelling and said this would be achieved only through a sustained, candid and uninterrupted dialogue without a syndrome of superiority or inferiority and with the objective of locating common values conducive to the maintenance of ethical standards essential for social harmony and furtherance of common objectives.

"The frequency and intensity of this interaction varied with time and place. Despite the abridgement of distances due to modernisation, urbanisation and globalisation, the disappearance of traditional channels and modes of communication have impacted adversely on this interaction," Ansari said.

The process of locating the values would bring forth other commonalities.

Ansari said experience over time of shared public space and national common resources in everyday interaction, and mechanisms that blur boundaries through management of differences, would assist the process. (ANI)

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