«I believe that goverments, diplomats, religious leaders, academia and non-governmental organizations can effectively work together at international, regional and national levels to promote peace and security, tolerance and respect for diversity, religion or belief, and always defending the human dignity and the principle of freedom of religion for all people... Respect for differences begin with acknowledging the rights, dignity and perspectives of everyone in a thoughful manner and then by treating others as one would like to be treated.»

Dr. Liviu Olteanu Secretary General of the AIDLR

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By Liviu Olteanu, PhD, Secretary General of the International Association for the Defense of Religious Liberty

Secretary-General of the AIDLR, talked with H.E. YEMI OSINBAJO, THE VICE-PRESIDENT of the REPUBLIC of NIGERIA, at the ‘Forum for Peace in Muslim Societies’ hosted in the United Arab Emirates

Abu Dhabi (UAE), 9th December 2019

H.E. Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, underlined at the ‘Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies’ what contributes to building tolerance, harmony and peace among religions and people. In recent years, we have witnessed a rise of religious extremism, right-wing populism and ultra-nationalism. A key question was ‘on whom does the responsibility rest to bear the torch of tolerance and illuminate new pathways to a shared future?’ According to the AIDLR Secretary-General, a special responsibility lies with the most influential national, regional, and international society actors: religious leaders, politicians, diplomats, academia, businessmen, and the media. H.E. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, summarized: it rests on leaders, especially religious and political leaders, and others - the elite in our nations and communities. By focusing on ‘the elite’ of our nations, we must agree too, that the great conflict of our time is not between Islam and Christianity, nor between Islam and other religions, but between extremism and human solidarity: between the forces of hate and intolerance and those of empathy and peace. He also emphasized the central place of the principle of ‘empathy’ between people of all religions and nations. This is a thread that runs through our moral traditions and is summed up in the Golden Rule in the words of Jesus Christ where he said, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Jesus Christ goes further to say that “we must love our enemies; we must even pray for our enemies.” This is the notion of self-sacrifice. In other words, all of these is summed up in the general principle that we must treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated; this is embedded in the Abrahamic traditions and other major religions. Dr. Liviu Olteanu, the Secretary-General of the AIDLR congratulated the Nigerian Vice-President for sharing this sage advice. Before parting ways with Yemi Osinbajo, Dr. Olteanu presented the Vice President of Nigeria with the AIDLR journal ‘Ambassadors for Liberty, Hope and Peace’, and ‘the Religious Freedom Calendar 2020’.

Some photos of the event: