Representatives of religious communities signed on 27 September, 2016, at the House of Estates a common declaration promoting peace in society. The event was jointly organized by the Ministry of Interior and the National Forum for Cooperation of Religions in Finland (CORE).
In their statement the communities representing the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths, want to show that different religious communities can live together in peace. The signatories of the declaration want to act in their own communities against violence and hate speech and promote peace in society.
See below the English translation of the declaration, which is also available in Finnish, Swedish and Arabic.
Increased cultural pluralism is enriching and challenging Finnish society in a new way. There have been many cultures and religions in Finland, but different religions and beliefs have now become more visible in our everyday lives. The location of Finland between the east and the west is our strength. Peaceful and constructive interaction among different religions, cultures and population groups is a central issue of our time.
Religions have an important role to play in maintaining and promoting social cohesion. Our freedom of religion principle, now nearly a century old, emphasizes equality, mutual respect and collaboration. This is a good basis for dialogue between religions and beliefs, and it guarantees everyone the freedom to practise their own religion.
We want to set an example and repudiate the mounting antagonism and hate speech in our country. We want to show that different religious communities can live together peacefully. But to dispel distrust, it is not enough to be just tolerant. It is important to make sure that no individual or community is shut out, and no individual or community should isolate themselves either. To stay a prosperous and successful nation, Finland needs the contribution of all its inhabitants.
Teaching religion and religious literacy are more important than ever before. A lack of knowledge can lead to misuse of religions both within and outside the religious communities. At its best, instruction in one's own religion prevents extremism, reinforces a healthy sense of identity and improves understanding of other religions.
Religions are an inherent part of daily life. A healthy religious identity does not contribute to radicalisation; it is a defence against it. Only views that are openly expressed can be publicly debated and critically analysed. Religions are an asset to society, not a threat.
The best thing we can do to preserve peace is to interact and be kind to one another in our everyday lives. In this way we feel that we are part of society and we can work together to help build this country. We can create trust by interacting and respecting one another. To this end, we will engage to help build greater cohesion in Finnish society.
We will all work in our respective communities for peace and co-operation. We will fight against hate speech and violence. We shall do our best to make newcomers feel welcome, and we shall help build a society where different ethnic backgrounds and cultures are seen as an asset. We engage to promote interaction that enables people from different religious backgrounds to get to know each other.
We, signatories to this declaration, pledge to promote peace in society and mutual respect and dialogue between people and religions.