About 10 world figures, including former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and some former presidents and heads of European governments, attended a conference in Tehran in mid October 2008 on the relationship between religion and politics, hosted by the Foundation for Dialogue among Civilizations, an organization founded by Mohammad Khatami, Iran’s former president (1997-2005).
The attendance by several world leaders at the two-day conference, entitled “Religion in the Modern World”, which was co-hosted by The Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights, is widely seen as an important step towards broadening of the role of the Foundation for Dialogue among Civilizations.
The conference aimed at easing international tensions and paved the way for enhancing cooperation between the Muslim world and the West. It discussed interactions between religion, globalization, modernity, democracy, peace and justice in three workshops, entitled “extremism and tolerance, “religion, democracy, extremism” and “religion and politics”.
Speaking to Iran’s Labor News Agency, Khatami said: “Rebellion against religion across the world is a backlash of the abuse of the power of religion. Religion has been abused as much as human beings. It should be saved from the clasps of dogmatic fundamentalist and violent power seekers.”
Ireland’s former president Mary Robinson urged a strengthening of “dialogue among political and religious leaders to prevent conflict and tension in the world,” and she also called for “respect towards religious minorities” and warned against “religious extremism, which has become a weapon of mass destruction”.
Watch this video where the Baha’i Faith and the plight of the Baha’i community of Iran are mentioned prominently: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUA01uN31nk