Mutual trust, respect needed for harmony

“This important conference and the dynamism I see here is urgently needed to tackle the world’s single most important threat – the attack on interfaith harmony, mutual respect and trust.”

Jul 12, 2019

By Vincent D’Silva
“This important conference and the dynamism I see here is urgently needed to tackle the world’s single most important threat – the attack on interfaith harmony, mutual respect and trust.”

King Abdullah II of Jordan said this at the inaugural International Conference on Cohesive Societies (ICCS) at the Raffles City Convention Centre, June 20.

“Every global challenge in this 21st century demands we resist hatred and exclusion,” said King Abdullah II.

In his keynote address, King Abdullah II said economic growth, peacemaking, protecting the environment, global security, inclusive opportunity — all these critical goals — require that we cooperate, and combine our strengths to our common benefit.

King Abdullah noted that the recent murderous attacks on houses of worship in Christchurch and Sri Lanka and terrorist attacks around the world showed the evil that extremists will do to drive us apart.

He said, “But we must see, clearly, the tremendous power we have, as a united world, to defeat these evils and secure the future our peoples deserve.”

Present for the event was President Halimah Yacob of Singapore who opened the Conference on June 19.

The King pointed out that the vast majority of people on earth are members of a spiritual community, adding that “Each has its own traditions and convictions.”

However, he said that world religions also have something profound in common – the commandment to show compassion and respect for others. He said the fact on all to “love one’s neighbour” is not just an ideal but a golden rule that enables all of us to live side by side, to look beyond ourselves, and to achieve what we can only achieve in common. King Abdullah then cited two Jordanian initiatives, The Amman Message and A Common Word that have inspired positive exchanges worldwide. The first is to seek peace and harmony while the second priority is to take advantage of the tools of the modern world – encourage far-reaching dialogues of mutual respect.

He said, “Now extremists have manipulated today’s global connectivity to plot, recruit, arm and publicise their dark atrocities.

We must do better,” the King said, noting two recent measures on the issue. He said the Aqaba Process, which is a Jordan initiation mooted in 2015, addresses the narrative of hate wherever it is found. “Dialogue between governments, civil society, and the technology sector has been central.

And we are seeing results,” he said. According to King Abdullah, we can all do better when we speak to each other and work collectively. He said solutions are not exclusively the job of governments and big companies. In a very real way, the Internet belongs to its users.

He made it clear that moderate, positive voices need to reclaim this space and redirect the dialogue away from misinformation, insults and fear, and towards understanding and respect. He said, “Young men and women have a vital role in speaking up on social media and social networking sites, and using their talent for innovation to promote mutual understanding and hope.”

He reminded the audience that his priority is to commit for the long term as we face a complex and evolving threat.

“Meeting it demands a holistic approach addressing security and also the issues that extremists exploit,” he said.

“And that means investing in inclusive, sustainable development so that all people — especially the young people — can share in opportunity, fighting the war of ideas to combat divisive ideologies, and then responding to the world’s unprecedented refugee crisis.”

King Abdullah called on all to resolve conflicts, especially the Palestinian-Israeli conflict which has fuelled global discord and radicalism. “We all need lasting peace, meeting the needs of both sides: a viable, independent, sovereign Palestinian state, on the 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, but living side by side with Israel, in peace and security,” he said.

He said we must safeguard Jerusalem, a holy city to billions of people around the world. Jerusalem should be, must be, a unifying city of peace. Concluding his address, King Abdullah said, “People speak these days about the challenges facing multicultural societies.

The truth is we are all part of the one, great, multicultural society that is our world.” Hence, he added, “your work here, together, can help all humanity thrive.” — By Vincent D’Silva

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