Local Faith-based Leaders, MPs, Legal Fraternity Attend ILRS
The International Law and Religion Symposium ( ILRS) was held for the first time at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva on Friday. It was hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints in Utah via Zoom.
Usually held in the month of October, this symposium was delayed due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The symposium annually brings judges, lawyers, policy advisers, Government officials, faith-based leaders, academics and many others together to share their insights and perspectives on freedom of religion and belief for everyone globally.
On Friday, local leaders of the faith communities, the legal fraternity and the Members of Parliament gathered to discuss the important principles of human dignity, religion and freedom.
The Attorney- General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum was among the invited delegates.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the state was neutral when it came to religion.
He said people had different views and approach on religion.
“We should use religion to make friends. We all have so many similarities on values like love, caring for our neighbours,” he said. He said this symposium was to bring people together in the spirit of respect for diversity and personal choice, but also with a desire to find common ground.
Bringing sessions online
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints public affairs officer, Sulueti Kama, said delegates from around the world went to Brigham Young University ( BYU) International Centre for Law & Religion in Provo, Utah, to attend one of the world’s most significant annual gatherings of experts in law and religion.
“This is attended normally each October,” she said.
She said delegates could not travel to BYU in Utah to attend, due to the pandemic this year so the organisers were bringing the event through posting the sessions online.
“As a faith community, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints teaches that all people are children of God, and therefore brothers and sisters. We all deserve the opportunity to live peacefully and well, with the freedom to believe, and to live according to our beliefs, in peace and with respect for each other.”
Opportunity for people to know about this globally
University Chancellor of Fiji Acting ViceProfessor, Shaista
Shameem, who gave the keynote address, said this was a wonderful opportunity for people from all over the world to know about this. “With COVID-19, people keep questioning about religion. For many people, because they cannot find the explanation for the virus, religion is the only explanation they give, as this is such a devastated disease where people are dying,” she said.
She said freedom was not only personal to human beings, but it was also protected by the State through the Constitution of Fiji. “I have promoted that there should be a symposium in Fiji where all the different denominations get together and talk about freedom and religion and what it means to them and what the limitations are,” she said.