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    ICESCO co-organizes “The Sacred between Moral Values and Freedom of Expression” Forum in Europe

    9 March 2023

    The Belgian capital Brussels hosted “The Sacred between Moral Values and Freedom of Expression in Europe” Forum, which was co-organized by the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) and the European Development and Research Academy (EDARA) on March 8, 2023. The forum was attended by the Belgian Minister of Welfare and a representative of the European Commission and saw the participation of various European parliamentary groups, a host of researchers in think tanks, and leaders of civil society organizations, as well as several educational experts and leaders of religious groups in Europe.

    The forum was an opportunity to discuss means for addressing hostility against religious beliefs in Europe, particularly after the Quran burning incidents.

    In his opening remarks, Ambassador Khalid Fathalrahman, Head of ICESCO’s Center for Civilizational Dialogue, explained that peace and fraternity are deeply enshrined in the Holy Quran which people must thoroughly understand before developing any attitudes towards it. He also reviewed ICESCO’s endeavors to promote civilizational dialogue, harmonious coexistence and peace in light of its vision and strategic orientations.

    For his part, Dr. Brahim Laytouss, EDARA Director, discussed the motives behind the violation of the sacred in Europe and the means for the effective prevention thereof.

    Mr. Mohamed Hedi Shili, Director of ICESCO’s Legal Affairs and International Standards Department, presented a paper reviewing the range of protections that sacred objects and sites receive under international law, emphasizing that the European legislation places limits on freedom of expression so as not to infringe on other rights.

    At the close of the forum, a statement was released highlighting the importance of promoting interfaith dialogue, safeguarding religious beliefs, and countering any threats to social peace. A signing ceremony was also held for a partnership agreement between ICESCO and EDARA aimed at fostering civilizational dialogue.

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