In the occasion of the International Day for Tolerance, Althulath Cultural Forum held on November 18, a seminar entitled “Society and the Need for Religious Tolerance”. The lecture was attended by a group of intellectuals, journalists and writers and delivered by Dr. Adel Mohammed al Omari.
At the beginning of the seminar, the moderator Abdul Bari al Dakhil talked about the need for religious tolerance in the society, especially in light of sectarian conflicts that dominate Arab society. He cited by Koranic verses which emphasizes on the importance of religious tolerance, referring to the experiences of other societies that benefited from diversity to enhance coexistence.
Dr. Adel al Omari talked about the impacts of religious militancy on the society, stressing that recent attack on aldalwah is a result of sectarian extremism. He stressed on the importance of spreading tolerance culture in the society and criminalizing sectarian thoughts. Al Omari pointed in his speech to the civil societies in the West and East which achieved development because of recognizing and applying tolerance in their life.
Al Omari said that “environment in which individuals are born determines their religious affiliation and beliefs”. He added that “tolerance should not be limited to words and sermons but it must be acts in order to achieve its aims.”
Al Omari reviewed the development of tolerance intellectually and religiously, he also talked about the problematic of this concept in local societies, explaining that misinterpreting Islamic texts and twisting them to serve sectarian goals created hatred among people. He added that ijtihaad verdicts created contradiction between original texts and the main purpose.
Al Omari said that “people in our society think that tolerance means forgiveness but the truth is that tolerance means to recognize that each individual has the right exercise their beliefs freely”.
He explained that using policy to justify conflict between sects contributed in spreading violence, stressing that sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shia is a political one, and radicalism among Sunni led to the existence of radicalism among Shia and vice versa.
Al Omari added that politicization of religion, overlooking rejecting sectarian thought and the lack of religious freedom caused hatred among people. He demanded Saudi intellectuals to enact law criminalizes sectarianism, combating misconceptions, practice religious criticism and the reject religious discourse that fuels hatred.
Al Omari criticized curriculum which contributes in spreading violence in the society through evoking issues from the past, calling official authorities to impose censorship on books that abuse any component of the state, and eliminate incitement speeches that stir hatred among citizens.
He stressed on the importance of promoting tolerance in various national institutions, demanding to provide national mechanisms aims to promote religious tolerance in the society including giving the opportunity for various sects to introduce themselves. He said that “stereotype is one of the reasons which led to the absence of tolerance in our society.”
Attendance confirmed that incitement calls are the main cause of prevailing religious extremism in the society. They demand for intellectual reform which can’t be done unless through political one, stressing that policy without thought will lead to the fail of tolerance initiatives.
Salwa al Saif criticized the attitude of a religion teacher, who tears a book of a student in the first grade because it contains an image of a Shia scholar, which has raised many questions in the student mind.
Dr. Tawfiq al Saif talked about the relationship between religious freedom and tolerance where he said that “tolerance means to believe that others have the right to exercise their beliefs as you have the same right.”