Interfaith-Intergenerational Dialogue for Long Term Commitment to End Violence Against Children

Joint participation in the first of a series of interfaith and inter-generational dialogues promoting religious awareness to end violence against children.

28 May 2018
Interfaith Dialogue
UNICEF Egypt/2017

Cairo-March 29, 2017. Researchers, scholars and students from Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, met today with religious leaders from Al-Azhar University, the Coptic Orthodox Church and representatives from Bayt Al Aila (meaning Family House) for participation in the first of a series of interfaith and inter-generational dialogues promoting religious awareness to end violence against children.
This event marks a new phase of the partnership following successful joint efforts between the International Islamic Center for Population Studies and Research of Al-Azhar University and the Coptic Orthodox Church with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) last year, to issue the joint publication entitled "Peace, Love and Tolerance: Basic Messages from Islam and Christianity to Protect Children from Violence and Harmful Practices".
“Violence against children in all its forms, as well as discrimination and differential treatment is refused in Islam. Al Azhar Al Sharif and its University work on addressing invalid and erroneous fatwa (religious rulings) that are falsely presented by those who are not qualified and lack correct information to do so. Our cooperation with UNICEF and the Coptic Church is an important initiative to spread correct concepts and avail a reference for religious advice on all what relates to the child,” said Professor Dr. Gamal Abou El–Serour, Director of the International Islamic Centre for Population Studies and Research (IICPSR), Al Azhar University.
The joint publication “Peace, Love and Tolerance” is the first of its kind to introduce a common Islamic and Christian perspective on protecting children from all forms of violence and harmful practices, and provides guidance to parents, caregivers, teachers and religious leaders on religious discourse in all matters relating to children.
For his part, Dr. Hani Riad, Executive Director, Bishopric of Public, Ecumenical and Social Services (BLESS), Coptic Orthodox Church said, “The Coptic Church always calls for protecting and caring for the child. We are thus proud of our collaboration with UNICEF, Al Azhar Al Sharif and the Ministry of Endowment for more than four years now for ending violence against children, and the collaboration continues with today’s dialogue that focuses on forced and early marriage as well as domestic violence. We hope these interfaith dialogues continue to take place and address more topics that affect children.”
This dialogue comes as a strategic approach for the dissemination of key messages presented in the joint publication. The series of dialogues will provide a platform for discussion among religious leaders, scholars and students views on opportunities and challenges that are found on ground, and in turn scale up the scope of cooperation towards ending violence against children.
"We in UNICEF believe in the pivotal and influential role of religious leaders in promoting social cohesion, building peace and tolerance," said Bruno Maes, UNICEF Representative in Egypt. "We are proud of our longstanding fruitful relationship with both Al-Azhar and the Coptic Orthodox Church. We also are pleased to be part of these enormous efforts to correct misconceptions and to address harmful cultural norms, especially those affecting the child. "
In addition to the series of interfaith-intergenerational dialogues on children's issues, the Religious Leaders Initiative is working through building the capacity of 1000 religious leaders- as a first stage- to develop their communication approach in addressing misconceptions and misinterpretations of texts with emphasis on care duties among families, communities and social services. Ending Violence Against Children is also tackled through various media channels.
The day also witnessed the participation of UNICEF Executive Board Members keeping abreast of this important partnership and dialogues taking place during their visit to Egypt.
The International Islamic Center for Population Studies and Research of Al-Azhar University and the Bishopric of Public, Ecumenical and Social Services (BLESS) together with UNICEF, are currently discussing means of extending their partnership to include other priority issues such as early childhood development, building on what has been achieved on ending violence against children.

Note to Editors
The publications address 11 forms of violence and harmful practices faced by children in Egypt, the region and around the world. It covers child and forced marriage; female genital mutilation/cutting; discrimination among children; child labour; sexual abuse of children; absence of family care and homelessness; domestic violence against children; violence in schools and education institutions; children in armed conflicts; trafficking of children; and violence against children on television and the internet.

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