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Interview with Ayatollah Bojnourdi

Ayatollah Bojnourdi, speaking on Kyoto conference

-    What is your general opinion about Kyoto conference? Did it fulfill your expectations?

-     Kyoto conference was of major importance and many significant personalities from about 80 religions attended the event. The committees' sessions were so rewarding. It showed the proximity of religions; I mean heads of religions did not have a hostile view of one another.

-     What were the weaknesses and strengths of Kyoto conference compared to the one in Toledo?

-      Kyoto was much greater than Toledo in scale. In Toledo there were 50 people from 30 countries but in Kyoto there were 1000 people from 100 countries. There was general consensus on all issues in Spain. The declaration which included 8 articles was approved with an overall majority. I also talked on this declaration in Kyoto and asked for it to be approved.
Kyoto declaration consisted of 12 articles which were also approved by majority's vote and took a great deal of effort to be drafted. All in all, the conference was so effective. People from Iran played a significant role in the event and a lady from Iran was chosen for the board of directors.

-     What role do you think the presence of religious personalities from Iran could have in confronting violence against children in Iran?

-     We should work on it. UNICEF should use its office in Iran, and the mass media should do advocacy on the declaration so that confronting violance against children and realizing their rights becomes a popular culture.

-     How can religious leaders help reduce violence against children, especially in Iran?

-      Islam and Shiite concepts have a special focus on children's rights which should be introduced to the society. If people understand that children's rights are mentioned in Islam's laws, many problems will be solved.

-     What has been done in this regard so far?

-     An  M.A. course on children's rights has been initiated in Teacher Training University in Iran. And UNICEF is helping us with methods and regulations practiced in various countries. We can focus on such issues in Islam, make a proper planning and even hold a PhD course on this subject. If children's rights become a specialization it can really help in culture change.
I have a detailed paper on children's rights that will be published and distributed in universities and religious schools. I also intend to give lectures on this issue in public and scientific gatherings.

-     How have religions influenced each other in such gatherings so far, concerning confronting violence against children? What do they learn from each other?

-     Religions learn a lot from each other. Religions with gaps in legislative authority and official verdicts learn from others and it leads to a comprehensive set of regulations like the one we have in Islam. Islam has always severely fought with violence in all its forms, whether physical, moral or legal violence.



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