Society has always been characterized by the plurality of religions. Today, however, there is a new awareness of this diversity and the opportunity it offers to work for global peace. The world is faced with various forms of extremism and violence that feed on unexamined religious narratives. The challenge for world religions today is to formulate counter-narratives against the ideology that underpins terrorism. None other than the world religions are in a position to develop such counter-narratives, which must address the deep sources of hate speech in the name of religion. This is an urgent task and it requires us to face difficult issues such as the role of the world religions in politics and the common responsibility of world religions for peace.
This conference will provide an opportunity for the religions of the world to respond to terrorism and to point the way towards peace, not only peace between the religions but peace between men and women committed to a particular form of religion and the civil and political leaders of society, who could expect the religions to lead the way in the fight against terrorism. Hence, this conference will raise key issues such as the role of ideology in the distortion of religious language, the relationship between religious identity and civil society, the interaction between religious pluralism and social cohesion, and the impact of religious terminology on counter-terrorism.