World Religion, NGO Summits Open Ahead of G8
Representatives of faith groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are gathering in Moscow for two separate summits ahead of the Group of Eight (G8) summit in St. Petersburg later this month.
In an unprecedented conference, 150 religious leaders from 44 countries – 50 of whom head the world’s largest religious communities – were expected to gather Monday for the opening of the World Summit of Religious Leaders, reported the Russian-based news agency ITAR-TASS. Over 200 religious leaders will participate according to RadioFreeEurope. The summit is organized by the Russian Orthodox Church.
“We are going to answer questions of the world that worry people,” said Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad of the Russian Orthodox Church on NTV television on Sunday.
“Religion does not motivate hate, religion does not motivate the murder,” he said, according to ITAR-TASS.
Representatives of Russia’s Muslim and Jewish community agree.
The aide to the chairman of the Central Spiritual Department of Russia’s Muslims, Azar Aliyev, said that the murder of one man is equivalent in Islam to the murder of all people according to the news agency.
Russia’s chief Rabbi Adolf Shayevich said that a “broad circle” of religious leaders will meet to avoid future bloodshed.
Meanwhile, non-government organizations (NGO’s) including human rights delegates from more than 50 countries were also scheduled to begin the two-day Civil Eight 2006 conference in Moscow today. More than 700 people were expected to attend the meeting.
Attendees say they want to send the message to G8 governments that the war against terrorism should not come at the expense of human rights and democracy, according to RadioFreeEurope.
Human rights groups expected to attend the conference include the Moscow Helsinki Group, Memorial, and Amnesty International along with Greenpeace and Charities Aid Foundation.
The countries that make up the Group of Eight (G8) represent two-third of the world’s economy. They consist of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Russia. Heads of government and international officials of the eight countries will meet in St. Petersburg from July 15 to July 17 to discuss global issues such as human rights, environmental problems, ways to fight HIV/AIDS, and global energy security.
Metropolitan Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church concluded:
“Religious values are being forced out of the public life in the whole world, but the weight of the religious factor is increasing at the same time. The task of the summit is to begin a dialogue of authority with religious leaders.”
“It is not accidental that the summit is held before the Group of Eight summit,” he continued.
“We are trying to give our interpretation of questions that will be discussed in St. Petersburg. And probably something positive will come of a collision of these two fluxes.”