Bahai News - Religious Leaders Start Signing Peace Declaration
Religious Leaders Start Signing Peace Declaration
August 30, 2000 6:53 pm EST
By Daniel Bases
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Religious leaders began signing on Wednesday a
declaration committing themselves to global peace, declaring all
religions equal and recognizing equality between women and men.
document, titled, "Commitment to Global Peace," condemns all violence
committed in the name of religion and is to be signed by the 1,000
envoys before they end their four-day meeting on Thursday.
conference alternated between the United Nations and the Waldorf-Astoria
hotel where the closing ceremony will be held. It commits delegates to
taking an active role in reducing war and poverty and making
environmental protection a priority.
The gathering of muftis, swamis,
rabbis, prophets, monsignors, patriarchs, sheiks and chieftains, many
wearing gloriously colorful vestments from their respective faiths, was
often overshadowed by the absence of the Dalai Lama, the 1989 Nobel
peace laureate, whose presence in the United Nations was opposed by
China because of his call for an autonomous Tibet.
The Dalai Lama, a
Tibetan Buddhist leader, turned down an invitation by summit organizers
to attend the last two days of the conference outside the United Nations
and sent eight monks instead who were allowed to speak.
the Dalai Lama's official message to the "Millennium World Peace Summit"
late on Tuesday after being excluded from events due to pressure from
"The different faiths need to develop mutual respect for and
understanding of each others belief and values. There can be no peace as
long as there is grinding poverty, social injustice, inequality,
oppression, environmental degradation and as long as the weak and small
continue to be trodden by the mighty and powerful," said the message
read by So Drikung Chetsang Rinpoche.
At the United Nations, Mustafa
Ceric, the Grand Mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina, told a news conference
on Wednesday he was disappointed the Dalai Lama could not attend.
"While religion should not dictate politics, neither should politics
dictate faith," he said. "We have a very sorry experience from the
Communist period, as well as the most recent past, where politics has
Ceric was referring to a 1992-1995 war in
Bosnia that led to the province being divided among ethnic and religious
Earlier media mogul Ted Turner, whose Better World Fund
underwrote much of the meeting's expenses, received an enthusiastic
response despite his often irreverent remarks.
"What disturbed me is
that my religious Christian sect was very intolerant," he said. "We
thought that we were the only ones going to heaven."
confused the devil out of me because I said heaven is going to be a
might empty place with nobody else there. So I was pretty confused and
turned off by it," Turner said."
The sessions attempted to mirror
next week's Millennium General Assembly meeting of political leaders,
covering conflicts in Africa, the Balkans, Russia and Central Asia,
poverty and the environment, among others.
Speakers and participants
noted the dearth of female religious leaders at the event even though
one of the points highlighted in the declaration was that "men and women
are equal partners in all aspects of life and children are the hope of
"It's a big issue, but we wanted religious leaders and
very few women are in the leadership hierarchy," said Dena Merriam, vice
chair of the event's executive committee.
Attacks on women and the
disproportionate suffering they endure as a result of violent conflicts
and poverty were highlighted by several speakers.
traditionally been man's work. Even at this summit, the majority of
people up here speaking have been the male of the species," said Betty
Williams, a Roman Catholic from Northern Ireland who shared the Nobel
Peace Prize in 1976.
"We women say 'we love you men, we really love
you, but we say to you move over', and if we take the world and we make
it any worse than you have, then we will give it back," she said.
©Copyright 2000, Reuters
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