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Politik och religion är en viktig och omdebatterad fråga i Mellanöstern. Under två dagar möttes politiska och religiösa ledare ifrån Egypten, Syrien, Libanon, Jordanien och Palestina för att diskutera relationen mellan politik och religion i Istanbul. Vad alla instämde i var vikten av dialog, vilket också var huvudtemat för Palmecentrets generalsekreterare Jens Orbacks inledningsanförande.

Kanske just på grund av olikheterna i perspektiv växte en gemensam bild fram av vikten att fortsätta dessa möten mellan kristna och muslimska ledare från olika länder. Konferensen utgjorde startskottet för en fortsatt satsning ifrån Palmecentret och Centerpartiets Internationella Stiftelse vad gäller religionsdialogsmöten i mellanöstern. Målet är att öka medvetenhet och kunskap såväl som förståelse för den samverkan som finns mellan politik och religion. Och att försöka se religionen som en konstruktiv väg framåt i konstrast mot den svartmålning som finns av religion idag.

Öppningsanförande till Religionsdialogskonferens i Istanbul

– Jens Orback, generalsekreterare Palmecenter

The Jewish author Amoz Oz in one of his books said “No man is an island”. Looking at the peninsula with the blue mosque here in Istanbul, I have been thinking of Oz words and of the peninsula, the “half island” which is stretching itself out in the Bosporus and the Mediterranean but at the same time is stacked to its roots, its mother continent. Just like you and me, stretching for something new but always connected to the past, our traditions, values and roots.

Dear Participants, dear friends,
When describing the relationship between religion and the state everyone can have their own understanding according to their own interpretation, tradition and opinion.

One of the aims of this conference is to share this view with someone else and thereby make it possible to be part of a new perspective. Looking at someone else’s perspective – or even better – stand in someone else’s shoes or live someone else’s life for a moment. My experience tells me that the reality and also the truth are best described when seen from different perspectives. That might challenge our very own perspective or opinion an open mind and an open dialogue can make it possible.

For some of us religion plays a huge role in everything we and the society is involved in, for others it is a private matter.

In Sweden the church is divided from the state (the great majority of Swedes are not actively Christians) The church however is active when it comes to developing the society both in Sweden and abroad. Not the least when it comes to human rights and caring for those in needs.

Sweden and the Palmecenter have a long experience of engagement in the Middle East. Both when it comes to development of the civil society, political party support and conflict management. The Palmecenter offers people tools to form their society and thereby their own lives. Not the least in Palestine, where we are active in supporting education, training of youth, strengthening the role of woman as well as supporting cultural events, political initiatives and dialogue.

Religion and politics are part of people’s life all over the world and not the least in the Middle East. Religion and politics are powerful tools in building a society.  When we look back in history we can see that these tools not only have been used in a positive way. Talking about conflicts, religion is therefore an important part of the solution if we look ahead.  Allow me to elaborate on the world dialogue which is the central issue of this conference.

What is the opposite of dialogue? – Monologue? Silence? Conflict?

Let me point out some of the steps mentioned by professor Gregory Stanton at the Genocide Watch leading to serious conflicts (even genocide) and let us think: “If there would have been a fruitful dialogue in between”.

Phase 1 A division between us and them.
Phase 2  Dehumanization phase – one is less than the other.
Phase 3 Polarization phase – The pure from the impure – the moderates are separated from the orthodox or extremists.
Phase 4 Conflict phase – the ones we are fighting or hearting are not real humans.

Maybe we have under estimated religion and religious dialogues as means for conflict resolutions.

The aim of this conference is to share views and experience of religion and politics and maybe also some common solutions on how they work together.

I would like to thank Rev. Mitri Raheb at the International Center of Bethlehem for all their work in preparing our meeting. I also want to thank Lennart Karlsson from Center party Foundation that together with The Palmecenter and specially Johan Hassel has been working with this cross party borders project. We are first of all democrats then we are divided in different ideologies. Our Swedish reference group has contributed from the very beginning leading us there.  Finally thank you all for attending – let the conference and dialogue begin.

JENS ORBACK
General Secretary, The Olof Palme International Center

Publiceringsdatum: 2008-12-19

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