Spiritual leaders came together at an international conference with the theme “From Terror to Universal Ethics: Religions and Peace,” which was organized in Moscow’s “Koloniy Zal” (Hall with Columns) on June 7-8, 2005, and included more than 200 attendees.
In the past, people thought that an understanding of ethics with no reference to religion would save the world. If we weaken the sacred power, we make it fall into dangerous hands. An idea may easily be attributed to sacredness and this could turn into an ideology if there is no religious belief. All theories on terrorism stem from this.
Mustafa Cagrici, Mufti of Istanbul
The two-day conference, organized by JWF’s Dialogue Eurasia Platform and the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, considered interfaith and intercultural coexistence as well as issues of terrorism and who represents a given faith.
During the opening ceremony, Turkish singer Mahsun Kirmizigul performed the song “The Song of Religions,” and dozens of children, dressed in white, came onstage with scarves of various colors that represented religious diversity. After this performance, fourteen spiritual leaders offered prayers and words of hope, and an olive tree was planted in a glass globe onstage, filled with soil taken from different parts of the world. The children then watered the tree, symbolizing the commitment of various faiths toward fostering world peace and presenting an alternate thesis to Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” theory.
The following leaders and representatives took part in the ceremony:
- Mark Yegoryevskiy, representative of Alexi II, Patriarch of the Russian-Orthodox Church
- Emmanuel Adamakis, Metropolitan of France
- Priest Sahak Mashalyan, representative of the Turkish Armenian Patriarch
- The assistant of Ravil Gaynutdin, mufti of the Muslims in Russia
- Prof. Mustafa Cagrici, mufti of Istanbul
- Ishak Haleva, Chief Rabbi of Turkish Jews
- Yusuf Cetin, Metropolitan of the Syrian Ancient Community
- Yusuf Sag, Vice Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Community
- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the India-based Art of Living Foundation
- Byung Do Min, Buddhist priest from South Korea
- Tizen Giok Sang, Buddhist priest and representative of the Dalai Lama
- Bingkil Irawan, representative of the Confucius Community of Indonesia
- Jadi Nugroho Damaris, leader of the Protestant Community in Indonesia
Some of the conference attendees from Turkey included the following academics, writers, and political leaders:
- Ilber Ortayli, Prof. Dr., Gazi University
- Kenan Gursoy, Prof. Dr., Galatasaray University
- Ali Yasar Saribay, Prof. Dr., Uludag University
- Suleyman Seyfi Ogun, Prof. Dr., Uludag University
- Avni Ozgurel, Journalist
- Cuneyt Ulsever, Journalist
- Dogu Ergil, Prof. Dr.
- Serif Ali Tekalan, Prof. Dr., Fatih University
- Huseyin Gulerce, Journalist
- Deniz Ulku Aribogan, Assc. Prof. Dr., Bilgi University
- Nevval Sevindi, Journalist
- Ali Bulac, Journalist
- Umit Meric, Prof. Dr., Emeritus Lecturer
- Gunduz Aktan, Former Ambassador
- Mehmet Saglam, Former Minister of National Education
- Mithat Melen, Prof. Dr., Istanbul University
- Niyazi Oktem, Prof. Dr., Bilgi University
- Omer Faruk Harman, Prof. Dr., Marmara University