Towards an effective collaboration between political and religious authorities

Photo credit: IPU

From 13 to 15 June, the Inter-Parliamentary Union held a conference on 'Interfaith Dialogue, working together for our common future'.  Hosted in Marrakesh, Morocco by the Parliament of the Kingdom of Morocco in cooperation with Religions for Peace, it was a global event with more than 800 delegates from all over the world, representing their parliaments, religious communities and civil society.

I was honoured to represent Globethics and speak about "working together for the promotion of the rule of law". I shared three remarks about the ethical framework of this collaboration and three priority areas for common engagement.

Remark 1: In the current uncertain times, more people feel insecure and express mistrust in authorities, including political and religious ones. Therefore, there is a need to rebuild trust, not by preaching or manipulating public opinion, but by walking the talk, as ethical leaders.
Remark 2: Both politics and religions are often entrenched in power dynamics and struggles. Politicians compete for power; religious authorities compete for the 'truth'. However, both are entitled to work for the common good and the dignity of all. Therefore, integrity is a must, with accountability, to ensure that the power in their hands is used for service and not for domination.
Remark 3: Working for the rule of law is necessary yet insufficient. The claim for justice has to go in parallel with the work for inclusivity and sustainability. In many cases, the future of the world and people is being put at risk by decisions that can pretend to be in compliance with the law. Ethical leadership is the answer.

With trust, integrity, inclusivity, and sustainability being put forward, I recommended to the Inter-Parliamentary Union three priority areas for collaboration with religious authorities:

Priority 1: Religious literacy, from education about religious pluralism in schools to training for professionals in politics, religion, and civil society. While the State has to be neutral, societies are plural and should be inclusive. Religious literacy is the way to ensure that ignorance, and not otherness, is the enemy.
Priority 2: The right to fight against the still widely-spread legal and religious discrimination against women, both in family law and in more subtle and implicit areas.
Priority 3: The guarantee of minority rights, especially for the most vulnerable, ensuring the inviolability of human consciousness, preventing any condemnation of people based on their beliefs. Banishing blasphemy laws should be a top priority to ensure inclusive societies and security for all.

Finally, I am glad to see, in the final statement of the conference, my proposal adopted to "establish an institutional mechanism within the IPU, in collaboration with representatives of religions and civil society, to build on the outcomes of this conference, and examine good practices, monitor progress and formulate proposals in this area".

Fadi Daou
Globethics Executive Director

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