Inaugurated by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev Wednesday, more than 400 academics, clerics and leaders from 60 nations have gathered for the two-day meet to deliberate on the prospects of peaceful coexistence among the world's religions. This meet will also discuss aspects related to terrorism.
"Politicians, public figures, scientists, the mass media and the global community should demonstrate greater moral and spiritual strength and genuine solidarity in pursuing just solutions to the economic, financial, social and environmental problems plaguing the globalised world," said an appeal issued by the third Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.
Inaugurating the Congress, President Nazarbayev said over the past six years it (the Congress) had played a significant role in promoting harmony and removing distrust among the world's religions.
"There is much that has been achieved. There is much more that needs to be done. It is up to us and the sincerity we display," the president said.
According to Mehdi Mustafavi, the advisor to the Iranian president, "religious leaders should pay more attention to resolving the world's problems. This is because people believe religious leaders more (than politicians)."
Noting that there was "much commonality" between religions; Shlomo Amar, Israel's Sephardic chief rabbi said: "It lies in out hands to try and understand what creates differences between religions and to try and reduce these to the extent possible."
Israel's Sephardic chief rabbi Shlomo Amar, Israel's said: "there is much commonality between religions. It lies in out hands to try and understand what creates differences between religions and to try and reduce these to the extent possible."
According to Abdullah bin Abdul Mohsin, Al-Turki, the secretary general of the Muslim World League, the goal of religious leaders should be to protect religious institutions 'and preserve them from falling prey or (becoming) tools in the hands of unscrupulous people.
Orthodox Church leader Metropolitan Emmannuel of Constantinople said the Congress "provides a golden opportunity to tell the whole world that we are prepared to accept our responsibilities and help in the resolution of critical issues."
The idea of the Congress was first conceived by the President of Kazakhstan, who felt that the dialogue between the leaders of world and traditional religions formed on common aspects and exact information on each other opens wide prospects for mutual cooperation and contributes to overcoming such negative manifestations of our time as violence, fanaticism, extremism and terrorism.
Earlier the organizers of similar events were only representatives of leading religions and denominations. Among other similar events aimed at establishing interdenominational dialogue were the meetings of representatives of world religions and denominations held in Italian city Assisi in October 1986 and January 2002.
The first congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions was held on the initiative of the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev in 2003, it had Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jew, Hindu and Tao leaders' adopting a declaration stating that "extremism, terrorism and other forms of violence in the name of religion... are threats to human life and should be rejected". The second congress was also held in Astana in 2006.
According to Azerbaijan Press Agency nearly 400 representatives of more than 60 countries are attending the third congress.
This time, being held at a unique pyramid-shaped building here, the conference is a bold reminder to the world that people of different faiths and ethnic backgrounds can and should live together in peace.