Ukraine parliament speaker wants to see better interfaith ties


(JTA) — The speaker of Ukraine’s Parliament said he would support legislation to foster improved interfaith relations in the country.

Volodymyr Lytvyn told a group of top Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Buddhist religious leaders and cultural leaders visiting the parliament, or Supreme Council of Ukraine, on April 26 that “I don’t want to see a situation where certain religious groups turn into political parties, since politicians can exploit a pervasive ‘with us or against us’ mentality."

The visit was part of the Global Winds of Change: Religions’ Role in Today’s World & the Challenges in Democracies and Secular Societies conference sponsored by the Kiev Interfaith Forum, and supported by the Ukrainian Jewish Committee and the Institute of Human Rights and Prevention of Extremism and Xenophobia.

Oleksandr Feldman, a parliament member and president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, hosted conference sessions at the Intercontinental Hotel and the parliament.

"Today, perhaps more than ever before, organized religion is facing major challenges in understanding its place in shaping the course of international events," Feldman said. "This faith-inclusive conference helps enable us to better understand global conditions and forces at work with the aim of fostering unified responses by the religious community with an eye toward what the future may hold.”

The program included a panel discussion featuring international hip-hop artist Shyne, known for successfully pursuing a career in music while embracing the lifestyle of an haredi Orthodox Jew.

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