21 May 2018, GENEVA – On the occasion of the 2018 World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, commemorated annually on 21 May, the Chairman of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, H. E. Dr. Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim reiterates the importance of embracing cultural diversity and acknowledging the common heritage of humanity.

The 2018 World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is an important occasion to celebrate the Earth’s common cultural heritage. Cultural diversity has been a force for social progress and development since time immemorial. All peoples regardless of religions, creeds, value-system and cultural origins belong to humankind.

“Cultural diversity remains the greatest strength of humanity,” said the Geneva Centre’s Chairman.

In this regard, Dr. Al Qassim highlighted the need to address ominous threats and divisive narratives descending on modern societies. The rise of violent extremism, militant forms of nationalism and populism represents a threat to multicultural societies, human well-being as well as world peace and stability.

Exclusion and marginalization of people as witnessed in several countries – he noted - fuel xenophobia, bigotry and racism. Proliferation of crises and conflict have the potential to divide societies and to foster hatred, intolerance and animosity between peoples regardless of cultural and religious origins.

The rise of hatred, bigotry and the fear of the Other as witnessed in major regions of the world contributes to an atmosphere of social exclusion, division and rejection. It paves the way for the destruction of multicultural societies and targets people irrespective of cultural and religious origin.

“Differences related to cultures and to religions are presented as obstacles and as being damaging to modern societies. This explains the rise of social exclusion, which leaves the impression that cultural diversity is a threat, and not a source of richness for societies. We must address divisive narratives and nationalistic tensions, which impede the celebration of cultural diversity,” the Geneva Centre’s Chairman said.  

To overcome this ominous context, Dr. Al Qassim reiterated the importance of fostering dialogue and intercultural exchanges between people of different cultural and religious backgrounds. Points of commonality and areas of convergence – he remarked - must be found to identify areas of mutual understanding among people of different religions, creeds, value systems and cultural origins.

“The veils of ignorance and prejudice which have descended on modern societies can be addressed through dialogue between and within societies, civilizations and cultures. Harmonious relationships between peoples start with cultural interaction and cultural empathy. We must create synergies between people through the promotion of cultural, social and economic events uniting people irrespective of cultural origin.

“Global decision-makers have an important role to play to find appropriate ways to denounce and bring an end to, practices that hinder the celebration of cultural diversity, People of good will from different layers of society should work towards a world society that is reconciled with cultural diversity, so that the latter is not feared but embraced and celebrated,” concluded the Geneva Centre’s Chairman in his statement.

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