I consider the theme of the Biennale, focusing on spirituality which is expressed in the outstanding literary works, is very timely.
The world is facing enormously serious challenges and a precarious situation due to continuing moral, cultural, economic and social crisis in many nations.
Current unfair world order stems from an inhumane, international policy that doesn't respect the values of justice and equality nor the international law.
International community strives to protect best national traditions and spiritual heritage from uncontrolled globalization and destructive neoliberal ideology. In turn, advancing common human values, will allow us for building shared, just societies.
For many decades cultural and moral values in modern world were inhibited – as a continued reaction to the repression of free will by Medieval Church, and people just started realizing we have been living in an “upside down world”. Kazakh famous poet and public figure Olzhas Suleimenov, who is present at this important event, had expressed a message on coexistence of the Great Steppe and Great Rus and beyond – of different cultures, in his “Az-i-Ia” (1975), and was accused by the Communist party of "national chauvinism". He was charged for "glorifying feudal nomadic culture”, but recently Kazakhstan has celebrated 550-anniversary of Kazakh Khanate, reviving its rich “cultural code” of nomadic civilization. Similarly, as we witness unprecedented information terror attacks against noble, pure and peaceful religion of Islam, only few people know that up to 90% of victims of the terrorism are in a Muslim world, and only 3 to 5 % of all terror acts and plots were committed by Muslims in the United States during last four decades.
Kazakh people suffered enormously during the Soviet collectivization and famine of 1930-33 and Stalin’s repressions. More than a third of all Kazakhs, including intelligentsia, perished. In spite the cultural chauvinism, Kazakh people had preserved genuine openness and tolerance and we praise the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022), declared by the United Nations by initiative of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Mr Suleimenov played a key role).
In this context, ISESCO’s position is consistent: this relation between dialogue, security, peace and comprehensive sustainable development is more obvious than ever before. For no prosperous life, no developed international relations and no global peace, security and stability would be possible unless dialogue, concord, understanding, coexistence and tolerance prevail among peoples and nations.
We note with satisfaction that part of the Biennale is a scientific conference by the theme “Central Asia – Arabic world: the mutual links of history and culture”. As intellectuals, politicians, religious and public leaders are seeking right solutions for building just societies with good governance it is a good excuse to take a look on civilizational, cultural treasures of our great ancestors. Relying on the wisdom of Al-Farabi, Al-Ghazzali, Yusuf Balasaguni, Ibn Rushd, Ibn Khaldun, Ibn Sina, Omar Khayyam, and many other great philosophers, poets and scientists from our common Islamic and Turkic world will allow international community to move to a more humanistic future. I would like to highlight just one example: the great legacy of al-Farabi includes the concepts of virtuous society (al-ijtima’ al-fadil), virtuous city (al-madina al-fadila) and happiness (sa’ada). He stressed that cooperation between people is a prerequisite for gaining happiness, while “the virtuous world (al-ma’mura al-fadila) will only occur when all constituent nations collaborate to achieve happiness.
Peoples of Central Asia are connected to Islam by their historical roots and their big contributions to Islamic culture. At present, there are Islamic sentiments and feelings in this region, and we at ISESCO stand by the revival and promotion of the true knowledge of Islamic teachings and achievements. as we all know that Islam is a solution to the world’s malaise, not a problem.
Let me reiterate, that Intercultural Dialogue should be at the forefront of the new paths of human security, peace and development – as it successfully promotes peoples’ wellbeing based on mutual respect, honesty and dignity.
Thanking you for your attention I wish to the organizers and participants most fruitful discussions of the International Biennale 2017.
Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri