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UNESCO to host two conferences on religious tolerance in May

UNESCO to host two conferences on religious tolerance in May

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is hosting two meetings this month dealing with the issues of religious coexistence, the first on Buddhist-Muslim relations and the second on the battle against anti-Semitism.

About 20 religious leaders and experts on religion from several countries will gather at UNESCO headquarters in Paris from 5 to 7 May to take part in a Buddhist-Muslim Dialogue, the first to be held under the aegis of a UN agency, on the theme “Global Ethic and Good Governance.”

The meeting, organized by two UN-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – the Museum of World Religions and the Global Family for Love and Peace – and by the UNESCO Chair for Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue based in Jerusalem, is part of the agency’s Interreligious Dialogue Programme. It will look at the relationship between Islam and Buddhism worldwide and especially in Southeast Asia.

The dialogue will analyze those elements that unite Muslims and Buddhists, especially in Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. Shared values and practices that help to prevent or resolve conflict will be highlighted.

Then, from 12 to 14 May, senior UN officials, religious leaders, government ministers and experts will gather at UNESCO for the second international conference on “Educating for Tolerance: the Case of Resurgent Antisemitism,” organized by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in cooperation with the UN body.

UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello, Israel’s Minister for Diaspora Affairs Natan Sharansky, French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Rabbi Marvin Hier, Dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, are scheduled to address the opening session.

The first conference on “Educating for Tolerance: the Case of Resurgent Antisemitism,” was held in June 1992 at UNESCO headquarters. Three conferences were subsequently organized by the Wiesenthal Centre under UNESCO auspices: “From Xenophobia to Tolerance: Jews and Muslims in Europe and Beyond” in 1995 in Paris; “Migrantophobia, Caucasophobia and Anti-Semitism in 1996 in Moscow and “Kosovo in the Mirror of Auschwitz” in 1997 in Vienna.