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‘Religions Denounce Terrorism’ mentions need to reaffirm peace
By: Seda Aral
ISTANBUL, Turkey: In “Religions Denounce Terrorism,” a conference held in Istanbul, Jewish, Christian and Muslim participants from various countries stressed that to achieve world peace, all religions must join forces.
“Religions Denounce Terrorism,” held by the Science Research Foundation (SRF), pointed out that religions of the world need to reaffirm the peace, tolerance, and excellent morality inherent in them all. On Monday, June 23, following a dinner served in the historic Ottoman mansion of Sepetciler Kasrı, participants from various countries and of all faiths—Jewish, Christian and Muslim—watched a short documentary film on terrorism prepared by the Science Research Foundation, the SRF.
The Ottoman Vision for World Peace
In the opening speech of the conference, SRF Chairman Tarkan Yavas stated that Turkey, as heir to the Ottoman Empire that conveyed peace, tolerance and civilization to the entire globe, now has a significant potential to contribute to peace in the Middle East and indeed, the world.
In his speech, Mr. Yavas stressed that the only feasible way to prevent radical movements from nurturing or carrying out terrorism under the guise of religion is by embracing true religion and communicating its tenets and eternal message. To this end, Yavas stated that the SRF is expending an all-out effort, adding that the Foundation strongly hopes that the 21st century will witness the “Peace Among Civilizations,” rather than a “Clash of Civilizations.”
Altug Berker, Chairman of the Foundation for Protecting National Values, talked about the common moral values of all religions.
Muslims Have Suffered the Most from Terrorism
Mr. Yalçıntaş, AKP’s Istanbul Deputy, said that Istanbul is a city holy to all religions, none of which can be linked to terrorism. In his speech, former Minister of Culture Agah Oktay Güner hoped that this conference organized by the Science Research Foundation would be a means to put an end to bloodshed in Palestine.
Professor Hayrani Altuntaş, of Ankara University’s Faculty of Theology, stressed that Islam is above all a religion of peace, supporting his views with various verses of the Qur’an.
Ravıl Gaynutdin, Mufti of the Russian Federation, explained that throughout history, Muslims have always stood firmly against terrorism, adding that in fact, it’s the followers of Islam who suffered from terrorism the most. Throughout history, he added, mass murderers have carried out their crimes under the guise—and in the name—of religion; and that all religions must join forces against terrorism and the mistaken beliefs that allow and encourage it.
Terrorism in the Name of Judaism is Unacceptable
Rabbi David Seidenberg of California gave affirmations of brotherhood and peace based on the Old Testament, which, he added, is firmly against war and violence of any kind.
In a speech tracing the historic roots of terrorism, Rabbi Yehoshua Engelman from Jerusalem said, “In order to eliminate terrorism, first we need a true understanding of the message that God, in His holy books, conveys to humanity.”
Rabbi Alexander Lakshin, representative of Russian Federation’s Chief Rabbi, said that Jews consider Islam and Christianity alike, inasmuch as both hold legitimate beliefs that draw non-Jews nearer to God.
The Bible Gives Terrorism No Leeway
Igor Vyzanov, Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, said that all those who engage in terrorist activities in the name of their religion actually damage the tenets of the very religions they profess to follow.
Nikola Petkov, representative of Bulgarian Union of Orthodox Churches, expressed his great pleasure at seeing such collaborative efforts among these three religions’ members.
In short speeches, Mr. Marovitch, Vatican Istanbul representative; Turgay Üçal, representative of the Turkish Presbyterian Church; as well as members of other minority communities, all expressed their deep satisfaction with the decisions taken by this conference.
Participants from All Over the World
Representatives of all three religions, from Turkey as well as other countries, attended the Conference, including Adjey Steskevish of the Russian Catholic Church; Rabbi Alexander Lakshin, representing the Russian Jewish community; Altuğ Berker, Chairman of the Foundation for Protection of National Values; Behnan Konutgan, representing the Bible Society; Cemal Uşşak, Vice President of the Journalists and Writers Foundation; Rabbi David Seidenberg from California; Georges Marovitch, Vatican Istanbul representative; Hayrani Altıntaş of Ankara University’s Faculty of Theology; Igor Vyzhanov of the Russian Catholic Church, Mark Jenkham, representing the British Anglican Church; AKP Deputy Nevzat Yalçıntaş; Nikola Petkov, representing the Bulgarian Orthodox Church; Ravıl Gaynutdin, Mufti of the Russian Federation; Sabine Falsal of the German Evangelical Church; Sahak Masalyan, Deputy Patriach of the Armenian Church; Samuel Akdemir, the Head of the Ancient Syriac Orthodox Community; Turgay Üçal, representing the Turkish Presbyterian Church; and Rabbi Yehoshua Engelman of Jerusalem.
Those sending messages to the Conference included:
Middle East expert Daniel Pipes from the US Institute of Peace; Ignas Cardinal Musa Davut, Chairman of the Vatican Eastern Churches Council; Jerald Whitehouse, Director of the Global Center for Adventist-Muslim Relations; Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem; New York’s Edward Cardinal Egan; Fuat Yasin, the Palestinian Ambassador to Ankara; David Sultan, Israeli Ambassador to Turkey; Recai Kutan, Vice President of the Saadet Party; Ali Talip Özdemir, ANAP Party Leader; Mehmet Aydın, Minister of the Department of Religious Affairs; Minister Ali Babacan; Ali Bardakoğlu, Religious Affairs Directorate Head; Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım; AKP deputies Nusret Bayraktar and Mehmet Elkatmış; and the representatives of Divine religions from a number of other countries.
For further information on the SRF’s activities, see the Foundation’s website at www.srf-tr.org