Deputy Speaker of Shura Council: Qatar among Most Influential Countries in Interfaith, Inter-Civilization Dialogue

25 September 2023

HE Deputy Speaker of the Shura Council Dr. Hamda bint Hassan Al Sulaiti asserted that the State of Qatar is one of the most influential countries in the world in the field of dialogue and communication among followers of religions and civilizations, which enabled it to achieve internal societal harmony among residents of the state who are hailing from a variety of nationalities, as well as holding conferences of interfaith dialogue and alliance of civilizations that gained popular support.

This came in Her Excellency's remarks on Monday before the conference of councils of OIC Member States that was virtually held to discuss and study ways to prevent recurrent assaults on the Holy Quran.

Her Excellency said the State of Qatar has issued numerous regulations and laws that overtly combat discrimination, hatred and acts that lead to fomenting racial feuds and hosted several conferences and events in interfaith dialogue and alliance of civilizations, in addition to establishing centers and their relevant committees and launched initiatives for global awards.

She outlined that the last two decades remarkably witnessed a growing pace of internal conflicts, as well as religious and ethnic violence in many countries, pointing out that over 50 countries witnessed bloody confrontations that targeted religious and ethnic minorities.

HE Deputy Speaker of the Shura Council called on the international community to strive essentially and diligently to find avenues to criminalize the practices that lead to these criminal acts through enacting international legislation and efficient implementation mechanisms.

Her Excellency regretted over faltered endeavors to issue an international legislation that criminalizes blasphemy and compromising religious symbols due to the discrepancy in attitudes of nations on the trade-off between upholding the value of freedom of expression and individual freedoms and the right to freedom of belief and protection of religious sanctities and symbols.

She recalled that many Islamic countries, governments, and organizations have laid out initiatives and proposals to achieve equilibrium between criminalizing blasphemy, offending religious sanctities and protecting human fundamental freedom.

Her Excellency pointed to the endeavors the Shura Council pursues to present an urgent article to be included in the agenda of the 146th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly held in the Kingdom of Bahrain last March on criminalizing blasphemy.

She called on nations to never give up in keep issuing international laws and legislations that criminalize Islamophobia and infringement of Islamic and religious sanctities and symbols, adding that parliamentarians are vested with the responsibility of protecting Muslims and non-Muslims, as well as preserving religious sanctities and symbols everywhere, particularly in the Islamic communities, as well as strengthening the tools that solidify their unity and cohesion and repudiating everything that poses a threat to them, such as conflicts, disputes and religious and ethnic wars.

HE Dr. Hamda bint Hassan Al Sulaiti urged all parliamentarians to reject blasphemy and offending religious sanctities, in addition to setting regulations and solutions to preclude social media from fomenting feuds or seditions.

She said Muslim parliamentarians can request issuing an international law that overtly criminalizes Islamophobia instead of blasphemy, because some countries are more interested in freedom of expression than freedom of worship and religious conversion, and they are more interested in criminalizing hate speech and racism than the desecration of religious sanctities and symbols.

During her remarks, Her Excellency proposed for the union of councils of member states of OIC to communicate and coordinate among Arab and Islamic parliaments through their legislative councils to issue a joint statement officially directed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations including condemnation and denunciation of the provocative acts perpetrated by extremists in several European countries, represented in burning of the Holy Qur'an and offending Muslims' feelings and values who account for a quarter of the region's population under the pretext of freedom of expression.

In addition, she demanded that the joint statement should include an affirmation that such criminal acts feed hate speech and entirely contravene all international laws and norms, as well as human rights by calling on the Secretary-General of the United Nations to strive for issuing an international law through UN professional organs that overtly criminalizes any action, words or behavior that would potentially foment hatred, Islamophobia or discrimination against any specific religious sect, or offending any sacred religious symbol through opinion or expression under the pretext of freedom of speech.

Within her proposals, Her Excellency called for forming an Arabic and Islamic parliamentary delegation to carry out visits to the parliaments of European countries to explain the extent of popular resentment in the Islamic countries that provokes hatred and violent acts which all nations strive to refrain from, and always seek to extend bridges of communications among communities.

In the same context, and within the framework of cooperation proposals with religious organizations and institutions worldwide, Her Excellency called for directing an appeal to the International Union of Muslim Scholars and the World Council of Churches (WCC), as well as interfaith and anticivilization dialogue centers in the Islamic countries to take essential measures that prevent the occurrence of such provocative acts, in addition to co-opting a joint Islamic and Arab delegation from many countries to meet entities and personalities that have religious influence worldwide to explain the extent of resentment among the Islamic peoples over such acts.