Addressing the first Asian Cultural Dialogue Conference, which began here in the Iranian capital on Saturday, Muhammad Mishkat al-Din, deputy chancellor of Dhaka Eastern University, referred to verse 13 of Surah al-Hujurat: “People, We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you might know one another. The noblest of you before Allah is the most righteous of you. Allah is the Knower, the Aware,” and said it has been God’s intention to create differences among people in the form of nations and tribes.
“Therefore, cultural differences and other differences among peoples should not be questioned,” he said.
The Bangladeshi scholar also stressed the importance of dialogue and described Iran as a pioneering country in organizing dialogue in the field of religion.
Referring to the anti-Islam propaganda in the world, especially in the West, and attempts to portray Muslims as terrorists, Mishkat al-Din said such conferences and dialogues help to convey the true message of Islam, which is one of peace and coexistence.
Also addressing the opening ceremony of the conference was Abuzar Ebrahimi Torkaman, head of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization (ICRO), who referred to the contemporary world’s challenges and conflicts and said the most important means for bringing people together today is culture and dialogue.
He also said that Asia, which has always been an origin of cultures, religions and philosophical schools, can again be a place for turning cultural diversities into opportunities for cooperation and convergence.
Another speaker, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, described Asia as cradle of cultures, civilizations and ideologies that has, unfortunately, become a place of many conflicts and crises.
He underlined the need for cultural dialogue but added that it should not be founded upon a power-based paradigm.
The first Conference of Asian Cultural Dialogue, which was launched in Tehran on Saturday, will run until January 15 in Mashhad, capital of Khorasan Razavi Province, and Babolsar in Mazandaran province.
It has been organized by ICRO in cooperation with University of Tehran, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, University of Mazandaran in Babolsar, as well as the inter-governmental organizations – the Asia Cooperation Dialogue and Asian Parliamentary Assembly.
Some 70 cultural and academic dignitaries from 20 Asian countries are attending the conference.