Damascus, November 14, Interfax – Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Syrian Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddin have reached an agreement to meet in Damascus on Sunday to discuss the fight against extremism by religious education and strengthening morals.
“Syria is a country where Orthodox people and Muslims live in peace and where the level of tolerance in society is high,” where religious conflicts are non-existent and the state respects the rights of religious minorities, Patriarch Kirill said.
“I am now alarmed by what is going on in the Middle East and Northern Africa. We are very concerned about the persecution of Christians in the countries where such radical changes have occurred. In light of these events, I would like to reiterate the peaceful and calm co-existence of religions in Syria. It is, no doubt, an achievement of your country, your society, an achievement of both Muslims and Orthodox Christians,” the Patriarch stressed.
He said he was confident that the development of relations between the Muslims of Syria and Russia and the dialogue between Muslims and Orthodox Christians in both countries “can and should be an important factor of religions harmony and peace.”
“Of course, we are all concerned about extremism, which is now linked to religion […] One of the causes of it is the lack of religious education among young people. People do not know their faith very well, they have no intellectual grounds in the perception of religion, and therefore they are easily led by various calls that are not based on the foundations of faith,” Patriarch Kirill said.
The Russian Orthodox Church has spoken in favor of introducing religious lessons in schools because “there is a need to give an authentic knowledge about Orthodox traditions to the Orthodox and knowledge about Muslim traditions to Muslims to avoid any extremist interpretation of religions,” the Patriarch said.
“The second issue faced by Orthodox believers and Muslims is the moral situation of modern people. This issue includes the issue of youth, the issue of marriages, and the issue of personal and family ethics. Orthodox Christians and Muslims have a lot in common here, in defending a lifestyle that enables people to strengthen their morals,” Patriarch Kirill said, adding that this issue is one of the main issues of Orthodox-Muslim dialogue.