The session was addressed by a range of senior faith leaders, including Prof.Dr. Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and the President of the Muslim Council of Elders; Her Holiness Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, Hindu Spiritual Leader; His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel, Metropolitan of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of France; Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland; Bhai Sahib Bhai Dr. Mohinder Singh, OBE KSG, Chairman of the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha and the Reverend Keishi Miyamoto, the Leader of Myochikai.
The session was first addressed by Hindu Spiritual leader, Her Holiness Mata Amritanandamayi Devi. Her Holiness, in addressing the gathered assembly, argued that faith communities have a responsibility to those victims of online child sexual abuse to teach values related to sexual conduct, and through religious and moral leadership, cultivate a better example for the world to follow.
Reverend Keishi Miyamoto then addressed the conference, and highlighted the overarching role which religion plays in the formation of the moral fabric of society, and noted that in spite of the growth of science and technology, and their continued usefulness in our daily lives, these do not provide the ethical leadership required that enables us to answer complex questions which we face as human beings. He underlined the role which religions of all creeds play in coming to solve the issue of online child exploitation, and looked forward to the conference offering solutions for a better world.
Bhai Sahib Bhai Dr. Mohinder Singh discussed the role religion had to play in shaping the values and qualities of all of humans, and how through religious work within communities, faiths have the ability to shape social perceptions and change lives. He argued that this directly applied to online child abuse through the education of adults in regards to online sexual abuse. He stated that religions impart values of virtue and offer immense wisdom, and through the respect and use of those, interfaith groups could come together to end child sexual abuse.
Rabbi Michael Schudrich noted the dangers and opportunities of the internet by comparing it with the Jewish religious ceremony of Havdalah, which is held at the end of Shabbat, when a candle is lit ahead of the upcoming week. Fire, Rabbi Schudrich told the conference, is both a highly creative and an immensely destructive force, and so the candle of Havdalah represents such a duality for the upcoming week. In a similar fashion, he argued, the internet also possesses these qualities of light and darkness, and faith communities not only have to recognise that in their interactions with the internet, but also have to inform others regarding such dangers.
His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel highlighted that the problems of online sexual exploitation of children are ones which have to be tackled through working with families. He noted that religious communities across the world are in unique positions to be able to help and educate families on spotting the signs of danger, and in helping their children to overcome these issues. He concluded by expressing his anticipation of the outcomes of the conference in being able to tackle this issue.
The final session of the conference was addressed by Prof.Dr. Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, who commented on Islam’s legacy of caring for and protecting the rights of children. He noted events from the life of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), and from examples of Sharia Law, of how children are nurtured and cared for. He concluded the 2018 Interfaith Alliance Conference by thanking all the attendees, the organisers, and His Excellency Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his patronage of the event.
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