Participating at a UN University for Peace and UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) intercultural and interfaith engagement event, World Jewish Congress Representative to the UN in Geneva Dr. Leon Saltiel explained that the WJC believes in interfaith dialogue as a means to fight racism and intolerance, bridge divides, and inspire people.
“The World Jewish Congress supports this conference and other initiatives that aim to promote interreligious dialogue and help build a world based on peace, tolerance, and human rights,” said Saltiel.
The event, which took place on May 9, 2022, in Malaga, Spain, brought together representatives of the Holy See and the Muslim World League as well as other important personalities in order to launch a process of interfaith dialogue under UN auspices for the three monotheistic religions. The event included presentations on Malaga’s history and visits to the city’s Cathedral and Mosque.
The formal session was hosted by Mayor Francisco de la Torre Prados and moderated by Ambassador Federico Villegas, President of the UN Human Rights Council. Presentations were made by Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, Nuncio of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva; Dr. Abdul Aziz Sarhan, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League’s Relief, Care and Development Agency; and Ms. Lubna Qassim, Deputy Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations in Geneva.
In their interventions, the three faith group representatives stressed the importance of interfaith dialogue, respect, andcooperation.
Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN Office in Geneva, said, “In the past we have had enough conflicts born of differences in cultures and religions.” He argued that religions should be a "means to build peace." Dr. Serhan of the Muslim World League cited the Document of Mecca, an objective of which is "to transmit the message of Islam calling for peace throughout the world, to promote dialogue between the followers of religions and cultures, confront hate speech, and renounce violence and terrorism."
The meeting was attended by many prominent dignitaries such as Professor Francisco Rojas Aravena, Rector of the University for Peace; Ambassador Agustín Santos Maraver, Permanent Representative of Spain to the United Nations in New York; and Mr. Enrique Baron Crespo, Chancellor of the University for Peace and former President of the European Parliament (1989–1992).
The next steps will be to begin the implementation of an interfaith action plan, organize joint initiatives and events, and develop awareness of these issues in Geneva and beyond.