LAHORE - Leading figures belonging to five religions have unanimously rejected as mere propaganda the assertion that religions are responsible for acts of terrorism in the world.

The participants of a two-day conference on “Religious Pluralism and World Peace”, which concluded on Sunday, recommended holding of dialogue among the followers of all religions to iron out misunderstandings and chalk out a strategy for world peace.

Dr. Rohan Gunaratna, an expert in terrorism from Singapore, Dr. Paul Rohan from University of Jafna, Sri-Lanka, Dr. Adrian Feldmann of Australia, Dr. Andre Wehrli-Allenbach of Switzerland, Dr. David James Bamber and Dr. Cedric Aimal Edwin were among the international speakers at the conference organized by Minhaj University in collaboration with Punjab Higher Education Commission. Scholars of various religions including Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Islam sat together to talk about the present challenges of the world –the main purpose for which the conference was organized.

Reading out declaration in the conference, Minhaj University’s Deputy Chairman Dr. Hussain Mohayyuddin said that no form of terrorism and violence had anything to do with world religions and it must be condemned at all levels. He said misuse of religion and its misunderstanding by general discussions must be stopped, suggesting that it should only be limited to the competent scholars with concept of religious doctrine, beliefs and practices.

The declaration said that a council should be made comprising representatives of all world religions to work with the government in order to implement peace and counterterrorism efforts while religious preachers, writers and scholars from different schools of thought should develop a code of conduct to deal with all forms of condemnable speeches. It also resolved that it must be admitted as supreme factor that the founders of all religions are sacred and revered and their sanctity must be guarded and protected at any cost.

It left a message for the entire world community, particularly for all religions to make a declaration to condemn the oppression of the minorities, Rohingya community in Myanmar (Burma) and to declare crusade against violence enforced for any minority in the name of religion.

The massive gathering at the conference highly lauded and gave standing ovation to this historical declaration and pledged that they all would act as peace agent for the implementation of this declaration by using their platforms in every manner.

Earlier, during a discussion, Dr. Rohan Gunarahna, a known expert in terrorism from Singapore presented his research paper. He said that there were six known civilizations of the world and three of which including Mohenjo-daro, Harappa and Gandhara belonged to Pakistan. This region of the world had already been a centre of peaceful people, he said. “Still today, I’m quite sure that DNA of peace love belongs to this region,” said Mr. Gunarahna.

Arguing on his point that world peace has strong relation with religions , Dr. Gunarahna said that there were a number of factors which could help bring change in this regard.

The first factor, he said, a fair education of religion must be provided to its followers, so that no one could dare to use them for their particular purposes by molding their religious beliefs and thoughts. The second factor is the role of a teacher who could save his students from extreme thoughts, the third factor is the role of the governments which could lead the peoples to a positive direction through economic and social reforms and the fourth and the most important factors are the political parties which could save the societies from possible divisions.

Spiritualism, cultural activities and sports could keep the masses away from such ideas and thoughts which eventually lead them towards committing extreme steps and deeds.  “The prisoners must not be treated with hate,” Mr Gunarahna suggested saying that “plans should be made to bring them to normal life and active role in the society.”

He further said, “Religious scholars must visit prisons to teach the convicts.” Answering a question that how extreme and negative attitude could be controlled in a society, he replied that “Rumi’s literature is the solution of this menace.”

Another speaker Dr Adrian Feldmann said that peace comes with the peace of mind. He stressed upon resolving all those issues that were affecting one’s mind leading him to have extreme thoughts and acts in a society. Dr Naeem Mushtaq said Islam is a religion of love and peace while a true follower of any religion could not commit any act of violence or terrorism .

The speakers in a panel of religions for peace talked about the concept of brotherhood in Islam as well as the concept of peace in Sikhism.