VIENNA, 7 May 2013 - Dialogue between religious communities and their leaders is essential for promoting religious freedom and combating intolerance and discrimination, stressed participants of a roundtable meeting in Vienna today.
The event was organized by the OSCE 2013 Ukrainian Chairmanship, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the European Council of Religious Leaders.
“The OSCE participating States have recognized the important role of inter-religious dialogue in promoting freedom of religion or belief and fostering mutual respect and understanding in the OSCE area. The Ukrainian Chairmanship is paying special attention to the respect of this fundamental freedom,” emphasized Ukrainian Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, the Chairperson of the OSCE Permanent Council in his welcoming address to the participants.
Floriane Hohenberg, the Head of ODIHR’s Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Department, said that religious leaders should show solidarity with members of other religious communities when hate crimes occur. "Together, they can send a message to the perpetrators: we recognize and value the religious diversity of our community, and we will not stand for violence against people or property because of their religion or belief."
Reverend Thomas Wipf, the Moderator of the European Council of Religious Leaders stressed that while not everyone holds the same religious beliefs, “living together in peace requires recognition of one another's human dignity, and the freedom which flows from that”.
“It is our obligation as religious leaders, to stand together against threats to the full enjoyment of religious freedom when these arise, and to speak out against those threats whether from within or beyond our communities," he said.