“Today your country faces unprecedented security challenges and it is time for people to come together, to reach across the divide and show a sense of national unity”, Mr. Mladenov said in his opening remarks, urging the assembly for “unity in being Iraqi, unity in standing up to those forces who seek to divide you”.
Reaffirming that “the United Nations will always be with the people of Iraq and support you in building your democratic future”, the UN Envoy pointed out that the World Interfaith Harmony Week is an annual event promoted by the UN that encourages all states to recognize the importance of dialogue among different faiths and religions.
Acknowledging the immense responsibility of religious and political leaders, as well as civil society representatives in fostering tolerance and respect for other beliefs, Mr. Mladenov underscored the particular role Youth play in building and nurturing social cohesion and harmony within religious and cultural diversity. “Your goal as Youth must be more than just peaceful coexistence. It must include respect for human rights and respect for freedom of religion and belief, respect for diversity, as well as the strengthening of efforts to promote inter-religious and intercultural understanding and cooperation”, he told them.
In concluding his remarks SRSG Mladenov expressed hope that this week’s festival will not be a one-time event, and that it will encourage those who are actively involved in its promotion to seize every opportunity to unite faiths and cultures, and to remind all that the common values they hold far outweigh any differences that may exist between them.