(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Extremist ideology, and violence associated with it, represents one of the most serious challenges of our time and there is a need for eternal vigilance against all forms of terrorist action, whatever be their professed aims and purposes, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa stated yesterday(12).
Addressing the Global Interfaith Forum held at the University of Bologna, Italy, as a Keynote Speaker, Prime Minister Rajapaksa said the 20th anniversary of 9/11 was a fitting occasion to strengthen the global commitment to enhance vigilance against all forms of terrorism. “It is appropriate to recall the tragic events of 9/11, exactly twenty years ago, and to share our deep sense of grief with the families of victims of this outrage and, indeed, with all humankind,” the Prime Minister told the gathering.
He also noted the need for international cooperation to defeat the pandemic. “While it may be legitimate for countries to close their borders temporarily to contain the virus, isolation is not the answer. The grave health crisis serves to underline the bonds which unite us all: COVID-19 makes no distinction among religions, nationalities and civilizations. It strikes a deadly blow at all humanity. In order to survive the pandemic and resume our lives once more, international cooperation needs to be strengthened.”
“Vaccines and other protection, made possible by modern medicine, must be available across the globe, with firm arrangements in place for less affluent nations to be assisted by international organizations and by countries with stronger economies. It is a battle that has to be won, not by some, but by all,” he stressed.
Referring to Sri Lanka and the region, the Premier said: “A prominent feature of our region is ethnic, religious and cultural diversity. Our countries are home to people from diverse ethnic backgrounds, professing different religions and nurtured by an array of cultures. And yet, rising above these differences, we have responded to the challenge of building a sense of mature nationhood, uniting all the different communities. Our future as one nation depends very much on this idea of unity and solidarity which is absolutely essential to achieve our economic, political and social goals.”
He said that it was important to inculcate attitudes on peace and religious harmony via education. “Young minds are impressionable, and it is during the childhood years that there is the greatest chance to develop the right attitudes and values.
While there are, clearly, differences embedded in the substance of different religions, there is also a core of beliefs common to all major religions.”
“It is the duty of policy makers and educationists, through the curriculum and methods of teaching in our schools and universities, to emphasize what all religions share in common, the areas of consensus rather than the points reflecting differences. Youth in our educational institutions have the unique opportunity to build bridges rather than walls and to forge friendships which last through life,” he added.