A panel session, entitled “The role of parliaments in building trust and understanding in cultures and communities”, was held as part of the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, which is underway in Baku.
The panel was moderated by Chairman of the Azerbaijan Parliament’s Committee on international and inter-parliamentary relations Samad Seyidov.
He stressed the need for a new approach to the world’s growing problems.
“Xenophobia, islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and human trafficking have become commonplace. Is there something we can do? We need to take a global approach to the issue,” Seyidov noted.
Chairman of Djibouti’s Parliament Muhammad Ali Humad said his country is the junction of African and Arab cultures.
“We have turned into an island of stability. Intercultural dialogue is an indivisible part of our activities. Parliaments can play an irreplaceable role in establishing intercultural dialogue,” he stressed.
Vice-President of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament Radek VondráÄek noted that parliaments take part in establishing intercultural ties.
“For example, the Czech parliament has relations with the Azerbaijani parliament. We should look for values that connect us. We can learn a lot from one another. Freedoms in international relations should be applied equally to everyone. However, I’m not in favor of some traditions being sold to other societies,” he added.
Deputy Speaker of Pakistan’s National Assembly Murtaza Javed Abbasi said that escalation of the disunity between the East and the West, and the intensifying clashes within societies affect the inter-parliamentary relations.
He stressed the need to create a sense of unity among various cultures and peoples.
“MPs from different countries can contribute to the intercultural dialogue firstly by establishing mutual relations. We should make efforts to ensure freedom, tolerance, intercultural and interreligious dialogue”, he added.
Zahida Parveen Manzoor, a member of the UK Parliament, recalled that his country is one of the main investors in Azerbaijan. “We are building bridges among cultures. Parliaments should play a key role in the construction of these bridges. Through dialogue, we can prevent escalation and violence. I am grateful to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev for his speech in the opening ceremony. President Ilham Aliyev seemed to read our thoughts”, she said.
Founder & President of the US-based Ethnic Understanding Foundation Rabbi Marc Schneier stressed that unfortunately, islamophobia is becoming widespread in the US, and attacks on mosques are increasing.
“Jewish representatives of the Congress are most concerned about it. The US president is willing to authorize a ban on Muslim migration. Jewish congressmen mostly oppose to it. The Congress has 45 congressmen,” he added.
Marc Schneier noted that Azerbaijan is a model in the Muslim world, and it is an excellent example of interreligious and interfaith relations.
“I’m promoting these values in the US. Azerbaijan is an exemplary country in this field. We, Americans, try to discover Azerbaijan’s civilization. Azerbaijan, President Ilham Aliyev and your people have become a model for the world in terms of tolerance,” he added.