Iran's President Mohammad Khatami on Thursday described dialogue among civilizations, particularly dialogue between Islam and Christianity as "very vital, essential and inevitable," IRNA reported from Geneva, Switzerland.
Khatami, in an address to the World Summit on Information Society, said the international community can promote religion to its real status through mutual understanding and liberality.
Fortunately, he added, Muslim and Christian intellectuals, as well as those of other faiths, have taken significant efforts to that effect that all promise hope.
Khatami said today there are challenges against religion that had also existed in the past, stressing however that these challenges have sharp contrasts with those of the past.
The challenges of today, he said, that are posed against religion are different from those of the past in terms of definition and form.
Khatami said those who were against the heavenly faiths in the past advocated their own gods and used the teachings of their own religion against those of new faiths.
He stressed that atheism was not common in the past as it is today, stressing that atheism is a new phenomenon in modern world. "How have the mind of men and their life changed that a new kind of opposition to religion has emerged?," he asked.
Khatami said the communication technology has brought nations closer to each other, stressing however that this has failed to promote peace and affinity among nations, as might have been anticipated.
"Today, people speak of the global village. However, the problem is that residents of this global village are unable to understand each other, and peace and affinity are rare among them," he said.
People of this village, Khatami said, are deaf and dumb, and worse than that, they have hostile thoughts toward each other. "Isn't this catastrophic calamity the manifestation of the Quranic verse that: 'They have forgotten God and God has thus made them forgot themselves'", he said.
"And hasn't this self-alienation led to this deafness and dumbness? Isn't the remedy therefore returning to God and reviving invocations to Him?"
Khatami said it is necessary for men to promote optimism, to consider the dictates of time in setting their goals and to abandon prejudice in all its definitions as what would guarantee the future of religion and piety in world.
"It is only through this that the essence of religion will be safeguarded, and the free soul of mankind will not alienate itself from religion," he said.
Khatami further stressed that there are several reasons that make the dialogue among religions necessary.
The dialogue among religious scholars, he said, can promote man's hopes to save his spiritual life and live a peaceful life with others, can remove misunderstandings and can help the media establish a common language among nations.
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