Religious leaders can raise awareness about extremism
US Ambassador James Moriarty yesterday said religious and community leaders have ability to raise public awareness against communal violence, religious extremism, corruption and weak governance that have shaken the countries around the world, including in Asia.
"Promoting development, democracy, social harmony, mutual co-existence, and tolerance for diversity are urgent tasks for all nations… Where these values are not upheld, people suffer," he said at the opening session of a four-day regional conference on 'The Role of Religious Leaders and Community Leaders in Advancing Development in Asia'.
State Minister for Religious Affairs Md Shajahan Miah, Ari Alexander of USAID, Washington, Kamal Ahmed, acting Secretary to the Religious Affairs Ministry, Hasan Majumdar, country representative, the Asia Foundation, and Shamim Mohammad Afzal, director general of the Islamic Foundation, spoke at the opening session at Hotel Radisson in the city.
Around 70 religious and community leaders from 14 countries in Asia are taking part in the conference. The countries include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Tajikistan.
The conference, co-hosted by the Asia Foundation, aims to facilitate dialogue and exchange of experiences among religious and traditional leaders of multiple faiths, political actors, and development practitioners.
Describing Bangladesh as a pioneer among Asian nations in engaging social and religious leaders in the national development, Moriarty said the regional conference in Dhaka is part of President Obama's commitment to advancing democracy and development through global engagement.
"America values the important role of social leaders. We are committed to supporting your efforts to create a better world for future generations," he told the conference.