29 June 2018, GENEVA: On 25 June 2018, the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue organized a World Conference on the theme of “Religions, Creeds and Value Systems: Joining Forces to Enhance Equal Citizenship Rights” at the United Nations Office at Geneva in collaboration with the International Catholic Migration Commission, the World Council of Churches, the Arab Thought Forum, the World Council of Religious Leaders, Bridges to Common Ground and the European Centre for Peace and Development.
The World Conference - held under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan - was addressed by more than 35 world-renowned religious, political and lay leaders from the major regions of the world.
Dr Farhan Nizami, Director of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, discussed in his statement some of the underlying ideas behind religious beliefs and citizenship, highlighting the disconnects between religious sentiments and the expectations of mundane citizenship.
He emphasized the issue of belonging in relation to equality of citizenship rights, pointing out the importance of belonging based on belief, rather than belonging taking over belief.
In this regard, he remarked that “What is however a problem is belonging, because sometimes belief can lead to rather divisive belonging, whereas when belonging is based on belief it can be sustainable, durable and withstand challenges. But sometimes when belonging takes over belief it can be divisive and tribal. I would suggest that some of these nationalist, chauvinistic and xenophobic trends we see are sometimes belonging taking over belief.”
Dr Nizami also added that believers, regardless of their religion, were required to demonstrate that their beliefs were “adaptable to universal rights.” However, there exists a wide gap between the political ideal of equality and the religious ideal of equality of God.
“Within religions, the emphasis is not so much on rights but on obligations. In this religious perspective, rights emerge from people learning to live their obligations to their human and natural environments,” the Director of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies said in his statement.
About the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue
The Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, an organization with special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, is a think tank dedicated to the promotion of human rights through cross-cultural, religious and civilizational dialogue between the Global North and Global South, and through training of the upcoming generations of stakeholders in the Arab region. Its aim is to act as a platform for dialogue between a variety of stakeholders involved in the promotion and protection of human rights.
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