“Fighting the influence of the West”: participants of the St. Petersburg International Religious Forum puzzled by common problems
From 13 to 14 September the II International Religious Forum took place in St. Petersburg. The event brought together representatives of various religious confessions from almost 50 countries of the world. During the two days of the forum, its participants managed to discuss a number of important issues and problems. One of them is pressure on believers. The general coordinator of the Islamic Action Front, Lebanon’s Al-Jayd Zuheir, came to Russia aware that inter-ethnic and inter-confessional hostility is not welcome here. At the final press conference, he noted that the first word of Prophet Muhammad was the word “Read”. Al-Jayd also emphasized that sciences, which are actively used in the West, were created not without the help of Muslims. That is why today all information technologies should serve love and dialogue, and not sow false propaganda, which is increasingly observed in the “new world”.
“We certainly need dialogue between all the constituent religions, especially that there is now a big campaign against religions waged by the west. The atheistic west that is spreading a culture of decay. So, we think that the role that Russia plays is a very important role. Especially in supporting religions, and especially his Excellency President Vladimir Putin. With his permission, there are such forums that bring together representatives of other religions. They raise the national spirit and the believing spirit of the Russian people and all those societies that can preserve it. We are in favor of such events that go against decay and strengthen society. That is why I believe that Russian society is a young and strong society. Today Russia, led by President Putin, plays an important role not only at the level of Russia, but also at the level of the whole world, changing international politics, standing up against the unipolar world. I ask the Lord to bless such meetings so that they will be an impetus for meetings all over the world and help us to fight against negative phenomena. Today we notice a new world. After what happened and the war of takferi terror is being waged with the support of the United States against the Arab world, especially Syria. Russia’s intervention in Syria has helped Syria. Syria in its fight against terrorism was able to stand up against this terror. We are now moving to the stage of fighting against the Western project. In the Special Military Operation in Ukraine, we see that this is directed against the entire West and against the anti-religious West, which is causing problems in the world. Now through the resilience of Russia and its allies we see that there is already a multipolar world. We see the strength of the BRICS group rising. Now new countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia are joining it. The West has been working all the time to keep them at odds with each other. And now we see Russia working to unite them and bring them together for the sake of all humanity. We give a mandate to Russia. We give a mandate to all the honest people of the world, be they politicians, universities, religious leaders. We give them a mandate to spread culture and want to integrate with each other. We cannot cancel each other and we must work together for the salvation of all mankind, to give mankind an antidote against the poisons that the West is spreading. With the Almighty’s permission, we believe that such meetings are the right way,” Al-Jayd Zuheir told Al-Jayd.
A representative of another denomination, the Bishop of the Orthodox Church in the Republic of Kazakhstan, Gennady Gogolev, expressed concern about the problem of Western liberalism and the challenges of promoting same-sex relationships. He has first-hand knowledge of how believers around the world face the distortion of traditional values.
“For Kazakhstan, the problems of interreligious interaction are probably common with Russia. Because the two main traditional religions of Russia and Kazakhstan are Orthodox Christianity and Sunni Islam of the Hanafi madhab. In conditions of the beginning of the 21st century, religious people, representatives of Orthodoxy and Islam, in many ways face common challenges. First, it is a challenge, I would say, from such Western ultra-liberalism, when the very value of human nature is questioned. The way God designed humans to be. When there is an aggressive propaganda of transhumanism, when law allows homosexual marriages, when children are brought up from childhood, indoctrinating them that a boy can become a girl at will and a girl can become a boy. Just convincing them of that. I know this very well. I have a large correspondence with parents from Western Europe. Mostly these are people who once emigrated from Kazakhstan. Of course, believers of traditional religions are called upon to confront these terrible challenges. In this sense, we have points of contact with representatives of the theological community of the Islamic mind. Both in Kazakhstan and Russia, events such as today’s, when leaders and theologians of traditional religions come together to work out the forms and principles of joint action, are increasingly frequent. The basic principles of co-operation are that representatives of traditional religions remain deeply committed to their religious tradition. But at the same time it is necessary to know other traditions. To know in order to understand the reasons and motives why believers of a particular religion have chosen it. When we know each other better, we learn to respect each other. Religious leaders in Russia and Kazakhstan have many tasks. It is becoming increasingly difficult to assert their traditional values in light of the information campaign that is being unleashed on children and young people. We need more and more energy. Our priests need more education to work successfully with young people”, – said Gennady Gogolev.
He also noted that now is the time to build a foundation with representatives of the scientific community and with theologians. In addition, it is necessary to protect the information space, and religious figures should set positive examples, especially for the younger generation.