Committe for Responsible Foreign Policy – The Impact of War on Religious Freedom

Committe for Responsible Foreign Policy – The Impact of War on Religious Freedom



point I want to thank you all for being here I want to thank George and Smitty for holding this event obviously is a very important issue and the gist persecution and the threats to religious liberty are spreading throughout the world and are very important for us to confront obviously some of this situation comes from oppressive governments some of it comes from conflicts within society among different groups discriminating particularly against minority faiths but also we see the impact of war has on religious communities from scene where even in cases where we pursued regime change against oppressive governments where that has destabilized countries and where some faith communities have ended up that even greater risk than before some been displaced from their their homes some become seeing their populations shrink so we're going to talk about a lot of these different issues today and hopefully will consider some solutions and we'll come away with a better understanding of what leads to some of these threats to religious liberty and and greater understanding of different faith communities throughout our world today's keynote speaker is former senator Rick Santorum who has been active on the religious liberty front throughout his career he served in the house from the state of Pennsylvania and then served two terms in the United States Senate was where religious issues and life issues and national security were major focuses of his Senate career he twice sought the Republican presidential nomination and in 2012 was winner of the Iowa caucuses and the runner-up to Mitt Romney the eventual nominee without further ado I'd like to introduce the senator have him come talk to us this morning thank you good morning good morning you guys get fired up there's a great panel afterward and we want you to drill with a lot of great questions I am here to welcome you but to give you a couple of things to think about at least from my perspective when dealing with this issue as you just heard I was a member of Congress for 16 years four years in the house twelve years in the Senate and ran for president twice and one of the one of the things having sort of dabbled in out both areas both you know beating Congress and running for president and thinking about the role of the executive one of the things that that troubles me the most when I think about this issue of religious liberty and of the issue of the impact of war on on religious religious freedom around the world I think about the the role of the president and the role of Congress and as a member of Congress I was very active on the issue of religious liberty was just mentioned but I started a working group a bipartisan bicameral group on the issue of religious liberty and the reason I did it's not because I was thinking about running for president I wanted to brandish my credentials on that but it was because what I saw in Congress was a Congress that was wholly in attendance to those issues you had and you probably still have today a handful of members I suspect Chris Smith you probably all know Christmas because Christmas has been doing this for a long time but very frank wolf did it in the day when I was there but you can probably mention two or three other members of Congress who seem to focus or care at all about this issue why well because it's not an election issue it doesn't get anybody excited back home when you talk about this issue from an international coordinate that may increasingly so religious liberty is an issue that is important here in the you and we're seeing some serious conversation about it but even today when this issue is a hot-button issue here in the United States he's not hot-button issue in in congressional districts and Senate races around the country and as a result people are driven by their own fortunes to pay attention to issues that matter to their constituents and that's where they tend to focus a lot of their time and energy the problem with that is that we leave this issue primarily to the executive and it's all depends on whether the executive is engaged in this issue or not as to whether you're going to have any kind of movement on this front I mean we had a president then set up a you know the International Commission on religious liberty put a religious you know religious liberty ambassador we have senator of the sec former senator governor Brownback in that position so for President Bush this was an important issue for him but subsequent presidents not so much and and if you don't have some mainstay in Congress to keep this issue alive it's more than a half a dozen members then this issue is never going to be a central issue of importance for the American government you can't just have no offense to the state's department can't just have state department bureaucrats be the face of religious liberty or even a commission being the face of religious it has to be people who have electoral and political power because that's what that's what got other foreign governments reacted and so one of the reasons I set up the Commission on religious liberty was to actually engage a broader group of membership a bipartisan group of membership and bicameral group we actually had House Senate liberal conservative Democrat Republicans engaged in this issue we would meet on a regular basis with a variety of different religious groups and and NGOs who would come to our meetings and inform members of Congress we really worked hard try to get members of Congress to come and listen to what was going on the world because again you think because you're involved in this area that everybody knows what's going on and I can tell you most members of Congress have no idea what's going on they just don't because it's not it's not a salient issue for their constituents and so it's not a salient issue for them just some with the audit the odd case that you may care about it and see it pay attention so the point I'm trying to make is that on a variety of different fronts the Congress has ceded its authority to the president the Congress has a role to play in this issue just like it has a role to play in foreign policy when it comes to our engaging and come in in wars around them around the world Congress has a role play a constitutional role in that case but also a moral role when it comes to the issue of religious liberty but they don't and here's and you say okay well how do you change that how do you how do you get Congress to want to step up because of what I've seen as someone who ran for president I see Congress increasingly divided and as a result ineffective and as a result narrowing continuing to narrow the scope of what they do because they can't do anything else and so you said well that leads to a lot of frustration and a lot of acrimony but here's the picture that I would make to members of Congress on this issue and I do so from the experience that I had on the Commission on the of the working group that I put together I can't think of anything I did as a member of Congress within the international realm and and every member of Congress has some interest in what's going on outside of their congressional district or their state and outside the country it varies from member to member but they have some interests otherwise they wouldn't be in Congress and so how do you spark their interest how do you get them to engage in this issue and and the what I found was is that I don't know of any other area in which I worked in which a letter from me or a phone call for me or something correctly that I did engaging with a foreign government on an issue then I felt more powerful as a little member of the Senate or member of the house than in doing that foreign governments don't like to get calls from members of Congress or senators about a problem in their country they don't and they react to it now they may react various different ways but they react and so what I what what I what you can appeal to is their sense of importance because you really do have an opportunity and this is what you know Chris Smith has learned and Frank wolf for those are the two guys that you know eliot engel I know has gotten involved with these things on the other side is that you have a tremendous amount of cash a as an elected official in this country when you engage with a foreign government on an issue like this and so I just if you if you say well what what's my how am I going to get people involved and the answer is you can make a difference and in the world today at the Congress where everyone is feeling like they can't make a difference because nothing happens and there's just constant bickering and fighting finding a little place where you can make a difference and you can make a mark can be a very attractive thing so my encouragement for you is to activate the Congress I mean members of Congress I talked to a lot of them I'm not there anymore but I still want Iraq with a lot of members and there is a high high degree of frustration a huge degree of frustration and so what what you can do is give them an outlet of where they can make a difference and and and not just a life of maybe a particular person that you might be calling about religious liberty issue but on a broader issue and and you know engage in in something that you can use the power of your office as a lever to make to get things to get things done so and it is consonant with the idea that and I would approach it this way that the Congress has ceded too much to the press and whether you're a conservative as I am we've looked at what Barack Obama did and saw when I saw a rampant abuse of the office of President and now liberals looking to president Trump and saying rampant abuse of executive orders and and things and both are true and yet Congress sits and does nothing whether it's on on the issue of war or whether it's the issue of health care regulator that Congress has just become paralyzed and and so the argument I was saying is that Congress needs to stop the the the devaluation of your own office because that's ultimately what's happening here members of Congress are becoming increasingly irrelevant in this town because they can't cooperate and unless you cooperate in a legislature you become powerless and that power then seems to the executive because things are going to happen whether what do you like or not they're going to happen and so it really is an appealing and I you can make the appeal easier now to to to Democrats than Republicans four years ago you didn't make the appeal and Republicans user the Democrats because of who the president so you go to a Democrat right now and saying you know you guys you know by with the way you're behaving you're just giving pop more power to the president begin to assert yourself and the area that you can start and show that you can actually move the administration and you can let me sure you can isn't this in the area of religious level and and directly engage in interacting with with with other countries and you don't need the State Department or the White House permission to do it you can just do it members of Congress can just do these things and and and really have a profound impact so that's my my message today is Congress stop destroying the constitutional power that the Constitution gave you on a variety of different fronts stop minimizing that power start using that power to a great degree in a great place is this issue of religious liberty thank you all very much [Applause] thank you senator we're gonna take off how the panel discussions our next discussion is going to be on the topic of the impact of religious liberty and cultural heritage dr. Peter Petkov is going to be our moderator it's a senior law lecturer at the Brinell law school and I think it will be a exciting discussion so I'm gonna leave it up to to Peter now thank you thank you very much good morning ladies and gentlemen can you hear me yeah well I'm honored and humbled sir to be chairing this roundtable on religious cultural heritage because it's also a reunion of old friends and colleagues and what we all share in common is something which could only be described as an obsession in studying exploring and debating the different forms and tools and approaches to the protection of religious cultural heritage tangible and intangible but particularly religious sacred faces and how these different approaches to religious cultural heritage in different contexts internationally as well as nationally in many ways serve as a gateway to developing civic spaces civic countries legal cultures and how having to pay and attention to search approaches is important during times of war as it is the times when we leave peaceful coexistence this ministerial has already hosted at least four panels on sacred places and that protection and times of war what we hope that this roundtable conversation is going to achieve is to look not only on policies and good practices in dealing with protection of religious cultural heritage in armed conflicts but go beyond there and argue and discuss why it is equally important and perhaps more important to develop long terms reflective rather than reactive and very committed policies internationally as well as nationally for the protection of religious cultural heritage through prevention through developing civic spaces through developing economic and financial incentives and interdependence between different stakeholders between states and and private parties between religious and non-religious actors in order to in some way prevent what ultimately military hostilities represent which is the break up within the genetic makeup of this civic spaces and we're going to explore different models different approaches different case studies have shared as well as contested religious cultural heritage sites and how do we deal with the challenges and the opportunities they represent so this roundtable is not going to focus only on how do we stop destruction of sacred sites but also how the sacred sites created a robust civic spaces which make hostilities less likely so we have a stellar panel with us of experts in culture preservation UNESCO chairs former Alamo Terence from Turkey from commissioners of the u.s. Commission of International Religious Freedom and we all bring different perspectives different experiences in different perspectives of some topics I had already flagged so where do we where do we go from here so obviously the big question for all of us all most of us be why does cultural heritage matter is it the archaeological value is its monetary value is it the educational value why do we order so much about cultural heritage and particularly religious cultural heritage nobody cared about this 10 or 20 years ago UNESCO started to think about cultural heritage of religious significance only a few a few years ago and now all the sudden cultural heritage almost dominates the agenda of this ministerial so why does religious cultural heritage too random it is actually quite basic it's part of our presence on this planet we have identities and part of our very strong guy – these are fake identities so religious cultural heritage of any age it is kind of proof of our exact existence on this planet and the question is whether or not we want to save this for future generations remember baloney you have acted as a UNESCO for a number of years and you have in many ways witnessed the emergence of these new discourse within the UNESCO system which focuses some cultural heritage and cultural property of religious significance which was fairly normal an unusual perspective which in has conducted the original default position was that Ian asked doesn't a religion why do you think this changed it changed it because there has been a greatest interest in all multilateral institution and in public opinion due to a change in our basic culture for a long while between the 60 and the seventies many many idea that religions are something fading away day after day year after year that science or other type of issues would have dominated the public arena and no Vanessa suddenly to the beginning of the hate is the things change the people's friend sociologist called the lollipop did you see that in 1970 there was a turn in the tendons and what her experience now is a sort of a religious climate change we have a religious global warming we have a religious pollution and all this is made of religion burning you should burning for little violent minorities but also great quiet and spiritual majority inside the religious family and those are for the public opinion and so in this way even being done in a very alliterated way the topic of religious heritage has become a new one and which brings the next question which I would address all speakers if indeed one of the reasons we are now more interested in religion or heritage than ever before is it really a genuine commitment that this is a very important part of our culture and genetic makeup of is the preventative concern that religious heritage is important because religion is one of the reasons people end up burning each other's houses and therefore we need to know wonder stand protect control religious cultural heritage to prevent that from happening if I may I think we live in an age where spectacles matter spectacles matters for violent extremists to prove that they have gained ground and the best way to prove that is often genocide of destruction not only of religious minorities but also their sacred heritage but also on the state side or on the intergovernmental organizations there is also a need to demonstrate responsive responsiveness and accountability by protecting those sites so in this new age of global transnational combat and more religious sites and particularly religious heritage sites and become really the focus of not only conflict but also haven't become a key signified in key spectacle of the deliberation over war conflict values and different policy positions so interesting you know as you mentioned there was a time you know first of all aboard second world war where the focus was on maybe protecting religious sites from destruction but I think now we are in a different era where yes there's still that debate going on but more importantly now religious science are not black holes to be excluded from war but they have become the science par excellence where integration around conflicts groans okay so it doesn't disconnect I would say that it's helpful for us to think about how to frame that the questions you're asking – because for all of us around the table are not sure for many in the room I think history is important and for anyone who respects and reads and appreciates history the attention to the preservation and protection of religious and cultural heritage society is really nothing new it's just that the international community and the various stakeholders that comprise the protection regimes have come relatively late to the issue but for anyone who comes from a tradition where those sites matter the protection and/or the destruction of them is something that resonates very personally and that's why I would go back in particular to tubas initial comments I think why this issue resonates so much is because we're talking about an ontological question I mean these sites cultural and religious are about our ontology they give meaning to our very being and the sites themselves are expressions of them and there are places where we express our our being individually and as part of communities and the protection and respect for those sites is part of our human dignity or the disrespect for that or the loss of activity and the destruction of those sites through both violent and nonviolent means is also a way to erase as you said to our existence the fact that we once were both individually and as communities and I think you know the destruction of their sites and we've spent a week talking about the links between religious freedom and atrocities and how violations of freedom of conscious belief and religion are harbingers of of atrocities crimes against humanity genocide war crimes sites are a piece of a core component of that so you know the destruction of sites oftentimes comprises what I call before memory side the erasure of any physical evidence that allows people themselves to remember and pass on intergenerationally that they once were and also to have acknowledgement from the rest of humanity and therefore provide the same acknowledgement that they once were so I think there are deeply personal but also very sort of long-term historical way of thinking about of course history is very important the trouble is that we we very often three-dollar history is different which makes it very hard to pitch or to project a common sense of public history and and this reflects in many ways the way share tour contestants holy sites are approached by stakeholders by communities which would like to change challenge the status quo but also by States which have in many ways to maintain an equilibrium peaceful coexistence many of the speakers in this panel have done great work on the phenomenon of sheds as well as contestant sites and what I would like to ask somewhere else figures is to reflect in what ways sheds and contestants sacred sites in somewhere microcosm which helps us to identify overarching problems which could in many ways inform more robust market irin domestic as well as foreign policy by identifying problems as well as opportunities and feeds in there's problems and opportunities in formats actionable bonus points Karen okay good morning and I'm sorry if my voice is a little bit rough today but have a cold so I want to take Peter's comment a little back before we start talking about the issue of how do we deal with it I want to think about a little bit on the importance of shared sacred sites many of you might not even know that there are actually across the middle Iranian for example hundreds of shared sites were Jews Muslims and Christians in groups of two or the two religions or the three together spend time in common rituals common prayer together in a shrine in a synagogue in a different place this is extraordinary if we think of the amount of profound belief and emotion that goes into a house of worship a space that we think of as a religious space think about it as a shared space where three different or two different religions navigating the space and find all kinds of choreographies for sharing the space it I find this an extraordinary situation and why is it extraordinary we need to understand why it's so important before we can even say I think this is what we should do about it first of all I think then idea that the three different religions and that these spaces are hard for their accommodation for them coming together for their negotiating their other lives in a particular space is extraordinary they serve as demonstration effect to the world that the three religions can get along and that I think it's very powerful they are as Elizabeth mentioned already they are such important markers of historical memory and I'm not just talking about historical memory that is you know about one religion it's a historical memory that connects us from the time of Abraham on on the concept of hospitality on the concept of being together so this historical memory is today still important and creates our narratives it creates for example in my work the narrative of ultimate cosmopolitan is not living together as different groups it is also these phases as a sociologist I think of them as small spaces of contention also when people come together and talk about every date forms of resistance because they are situated increasingly in govern in countries with governments that are pushing for homogenous ation simplification religious nationalism so when these groups meet they become a source of of a different form of prior protest of enlightenment so they have multiple functions and as such and also let's not forget the economic function because any moment you have a pilgrimage you have people who come and the area of the pilgrimage becomes more vital there is economic activity so in place nourishes so even all these I think reasons these places are so important for us to keep on using as demonstration cases but also as places where we have a history of coexistence and that we can further enshrine it further strengthen it and made it possible to to serve to live together so it's an example of tolerance and I think that's what today so I would say let's start with what is important and then think about what provide the flip side of I always thank you and sharing it other times within the framework of conflict I just presented could be actually a mark of state domination it can be an enforced sharing and you know I'll give you a couple of examples from the Turkish context where the Turkish state is an equal opportunity persecuted of you know pretty much all minority groups across the board for example there was some good news coming up good quote-unquote news coming out of Turkey in late 2018 or 2019 the first church to be a built from scratch was announced by the Turkish government it was going to be a Syriac Christian Church so that's news to be celebrated like me because when we take a look at it it involved and forced sharing because the Turkish state allocated a plant that it seized back in the 1950s from the Latin Catholic community and allocated that land to the Syriac community for them to build their first mosque from scratch in Istanbul and in which context in the immediate aftermath of the news that Turkey was planning a cross-border operation into northeastern Syria and there was an outcry first and foremost by the Syrian Christians in the region but also from other minority religions in the region saying that a Turkish cross-border operation would be basically the end of those minority community so the turkey States diplomatic response was to allocate a Latin Catholics energy to be used as the site for a future Syria Christian Church in fact throughout this process the enforced sharing led to conflict between two extremely vulnerable Christian communities in Turkey as a Catholic priest took the Syriac Christian community to court or that far enforced sharing and ultimately Pope Francis intervened to resolve the conflict and now the cemetery will be preserved a Catholic chapel there will be restored for them on that plot there will be a Syria Christian Church so shipping at times could also be a symptom of a more sinister state plot that not only involves a certain historical regime toward minorities but also it could also be a cover-up for kind of cross-border military operations as an attempt to whitewash it so it's a very complex picture I don't want to be the pessimist in the room but I love you know taking a look at it and know that we have to actually from below places that started historically the state is important an important actor but Elizabeth yeah even if I'm a late word a doctor of historical pessimism and that because I think there is something that we must remember we are not speaking about innocent lands in a world of wars we are speaking about holes the people that destroy the cathedral of reims orbit is famous in a sacred place very it's basically in this is part of propaganda if you don't want to go back to those years the second the history of the great religious family has been history of destruction and the process of civil symbols of the author and so what we have always remembered that when we speak about other nests and religious a difference we're speaking in a realm in which there is a great sense of possibility of the Bible under commentary who why the waters that are certain people down and what the waters were down doesn't go up and this is because the year but responsibility and the other lap that the separation of the two things said it is the real freedom and responsibility and so when we speak about sacred place we have wanted to remember that there is a part that you may call a negotiation that you may call wisdom that you may course save dirt that requires that the comprehension of what is at stake in fact and this level I think that more careful use of language could be proper like one of those who had a certain suspicion against the word in cultural heritage because the Heritage's give that somebody died and mostly when you speak originally there is no kind of digital that is a patrimony the Jesus spiritual capital the tears leaving something pretty with the periodontal article as self as be said and so the problem is not like Dhamma bytes what we're going to leave of the libido generation let few buildings here nothing of course the cares of the buildings here but football morning and can be in a sense of peace for me it's important to mention of for that we make this panel because of the choice between horses and more than peace beyond the shared spaces I don't I want to be an optimist but I also think that it's important to recognize the challenges and I think one of the issues are the features that's most important about whether or not shared spaces actually become spaces resolution integration and ultimately peace or in the opposite depends on the origins of sharing and I think there are two ways we can think about the origins of sharing one is sites that are shared science because of the effects of violence war so sites where there was a previous you know religious or cultural monument and those who came destroyed it purposely – you know humiliate and eliminate so homogenized or via non nonviolent means of appropriation annex procreation and I think that is a particularly insidious way of producing a modernization or forced sharing and then there are sites that are shared sites because they were deliberately deliberately constructed that way and I think you know whether we're thinking about religious sites or whether we can call secular sites of national monuments which are thoughtfully constructed as ways of integrating and including and therefore can be sources for respecting pluralism and so I think that how under what circumstance and who created the origin moment of sharing becomes especially important for the role of the state and civil society actors in addressing the Sherrod Ness as a possibility for for resolution of deep wounds and for recognition of the importance and the vitality that's generated by pluralism or exactly the opposite for the continuation of those you know deep traumas and the impossibility of those spaces being shared and in fact they then become symbolic of ongoing efforts to eliminate one more others actually perfect point and I wanted to talk about the resolution of deep moisture in I am kind of in the spectrum of pessimism to optimism I started my hair career in terms of just cultural heritage from the side of pessimism and we had been working on contested converted religious sites which actually within themselves not only carry the memory of our human existence on this planet but also the memory of some of the most violent conflicts that had happens between different communities so as a heritage specialist you have to understand that these monuments are testimony to multiple different facts of life yes at a certain point they may have been emblems of coexistence certain other points they may have been the kind of most significance reminders of violent conflicts within this whole spectrum trajectory that is their own sacred sites what we do so that we make sure they contribute to peace in the future and not violence and this is where as heritage specialists we have a lot to learn because part of my I think that the discipline of heritage studies started with the concept of preserving physical remains which i think is very important understand me wrong I fully respect all the professionals in the field who do to vary my network to do this but at the same time we have to come to the realization that these physical things are not merely physical for many people for most people that they're actually emotionally charged to that end what would do with them how do we tell the story of them how do we work on preserving conserving restoring band is a very tricky issue and only that to promote peace and kind of use them as a way of resolve deep wounds a way of using them as sanctuaries where we can actually come to terms with past violence and go beyond us there are a couple of things we need to do and it requires a very large cooperation it has to have the communities themselves but by community we have at again a complex issue in that in most cases you have to include all community communities that have been either the perpetrators all the victims of you have to include religious leaders you have to include secular institutions like heritage regimes in certain times local governance States and instrument interstate actors so it becomes a very very very complicated issue and to the best of my knowledge we haven't got kind of like a very beautiful stellar example that I can tell you but we're on the way um two things we need to learn along the way it is one of them we need to negotiate and even negotiation we need to compromise so negotiation is the good part compromises the bad part but the good news is that the longer the processes the more actors gets involved and you can use that process of interaction into a larger peace building mechanism and in fact very novel the whole approach to cultural property protection and the UNESCO initiative book property of religious significance for the first time Flags this importance and interdependence between the role of the states under international law and new role of the stakeholders the communities which make this cultural property site working sites rather than museum sites and I also know that tim has done lots of work one of the most fascinating cultural heritage sites which is also UNESCO site which is a European stumble and she's finishing a great book on I disappear from church to museum to mosque in bacter to mosque again which flags the whole question of how do we navigate this multiple identities not just shared spaces but also spaces which have multiple identities but they need to start by correcting one little thing yes turkish President Erdogan made a public statement that he thought he could open a use of yeah as a mosque but you have to contextualize that statement that that was during an election period and he was actually using aya sofya to see whether or not he could gain votes by that move as it happened our Don had the worst defeat of his political career in that election so that's kind of political move did not serve him well I can tell but the fact that I guess it was used in a political plot like that tell us a lot about the nature of the monuments it was from its first instance it was a Byzantine Imperial monuments to show the power of the Byzantine Emperor so as beautiful as it is as magnificent as it is I Sofia has always been part of this political it is the political spectacle but political ever flow between different actors and in that for monuments like that gives ya that have kind of being at the core of multiple discussions by multiple are actors I believe there is a great role for the international community to the end if it is the monuments of our human heritage we have to make sure that it stays that way and there is no actual golden rule than that I would argue and it's museum fight status at the moment it's kind of like the status quo in Jerusalem that it may not be the perfect solution but it keeps it out of active conflict so I would defend it for 21st century early 21st century to stay in that life but going back to to my question that studio and monastery which is part of the atmosphere museum is apparently projected not to be hard to be an ester site anymore and it will reopen as an operational mosque which means that technically the state could decide that something which is a UNESCO site could no longer be UNESCO site and could be a an operational religious sites does that does that make the UNESCO protection system virtually redundant in contexts like Turkey and any similar context when the state could actually choose to overrides international commitments it does and that's the sad part that we do have international legislation or you know ways of protecting these sites or we think we do but like the human rights regime you may have the European Court of Human Rights as in judgments on you know countries across Europe right and the countries may not be listening to what international forces similarly with the cultural heritage regime international and national again in an area of global cooperation that can go beyond just the traditional players we have to find out ways of cooperating globally to make sure we can do more to protect these sites this is probably a continuation of our dinner conversation the other evening and the example of a year Sofia I think is and it's indicative of another important piece of this discussion I think that we need to recognize that the economics of how sites shared sites are utilized also matters and in particular you know sacred sites or cultural narratives cultural sites often times are commercialized both by States but also by private actors in a way that I think is profoundly degrading and I find both intellectually and as a policy person and personally particularly repugnant and and we had an interesting session yesterday on sacred sites and holy places in the Middle East and one of the things that those who spoke there emphasized is that these are just not stones but these these are spaces of living communities and that they would want these sites to be spaces of living communities rather than simply monuments to dead communities or what has passed and oftentimes the monuments to dead communities then become commercialized as tourist sites etcetera having just come back from Jerusalem and met with many of the heads of churches and Jerusalem they talked about the difference between the languages you said Albert wrote before about the language of you know tourism versus pilgrimage and one is clearly commercial and the other and the other is clearly has a kind of sacred or identity component to it and then in terms of the case of Sophia I think it's also instructive I wouldn't say that idea Sophia is simply it was simply a political monument it was a church in the center of the Orthodox Church and the East for four centuries so it's important to recognize that it was that but also I think I yes Sophia is iconic every James Bond movie you may go to you'll see a backdrop of a year Sophia or every you know and whatever pick your Tom Cruise adventure Mission Impossible movie there's aya Sophia in the background and yet the viewing public now the planetary viewing public has no idea what this place was and so they see it as part of perhaps of contemporary Turkish history or Ottoman history but don't know anything about the previous history and this goes back to what I'm saying about how people the moment of origin of Sheridan as' and how that's discussed and how it's resolved because otherwise shared nests because a form of appropriation and erasure and I think to my your point about maybe we don't have perfect solutions we can only have you know least worse Lucian's and those least worst solutions that become the possibility for you know but more in a positive solution so we have to think incrementally in terms of the timeframe on the commercialization that is at one point now commercialization of sacred sites especially shared sacred sites could also be a relic of an earlier conflict and an imprint of a dominating State you know my academic expertise is on turkeys largest religious minority Muslim minority that's roughly 10% of turkeys population and one of the most sacred sites is the shrine of educate – they're kind of founding patron saints also of the beg – you ordered and in eighteen twenty sixteen when the Ottomans banned the order and basically destroyed both in terms of the religious orders an organization as well as their sacred sites this shrine was handed over to a assumed knee with a disorder and a mosque was built within the complex and that was the sign of domination by the majority sect of a minority community and now that site has been commercialized it is a museum akin to India but then with one fine nuance that you can read in a book a great chapter 2 because if you are now visiting that site if you want to worship at the mosque you don't need a ticket but if you are a follower of the Bektashi or the right urine I mean going to your one of your holiest sites first of all you're not allowed to worship because your ritual Hall your worship Hall has been museum fight unlike the mosque but more importantly you have to buy a ticket so the state you know we reiterate every time you visit this site whether you are a member of the majority or minority whether you can worship or not whether you have to pay or not so in a way it is iconic not as a backdrop to a James Bond movie but its iconic in a way that it it projects a sectarian regime in Turkey so everyone who comes to the site so clearly that you can't do it and I would like to steer the conversation in a direction of some of D averaging things which are Americana which is the role of the states the way the states could choose to steer policies in direction of commercialization of religious Disneyland's or in the direction of control of particular religious associations by promoting or dissuading from shared spaces turkey is one example the cathedral mosque of Cordoba is another example of a municipality choosing to use the UNESCO designation of the cathedral mosque as a heritage site to allow Muslims to enter and share the cathedral with the Catholic Church as a political act how does that create a collision social culture and how does that create conflict so what and any traces another very big question whether our approaches to cultural property and cultural heritage protection is likely to be divided between the extreme approach of China where that where the state owns everything and allows usage or management of religious sites and the other extreme which is US or Israel approaches where the religious sites are managed and imagined through the lens of the recognition of rights of private property with the rest of the world operating with some kind of hybrid models in one or another so the question is what's the role of the state shoots the state always have central and dominant role in the preservation of religious cultural property and all should there be a balance between private and public actors religious and non-religious actors in doing that and what would a coherent robust policy which could articulate good practices of creating such balance could be I have a very hard time with a question that really focuses on your state because my instinct my sociological is my more you know European social democracy incident in that tradition pushes for state intervention yet the contemporary scene that we have states that have been hijacked and dominated by religious nationalists of the list of the Rotarians leaders whether we're talking of Turkey Hungary Russia Israel all these places tells me otherwise because then the agenda of the state is so powerfully you know constructed by a dominant ideology it's very problematic I have always thought the stage and just to actually explain where I come from I have never actually being part of up to now today any discussion that has to do with cultural heritage in ESCO or any kind of policy discussion I am an academic who thinks about how to really put out there knowledge that is helpful to honesty actors perhaps but also to high schools and universities for teaching purposes and creating communities of knowledge that's what I think about I don't think more in terms of these larger institutions but I've always thought that the state has a very important role to play in the protection of science in this a sustaining of historical memory and historical projects in collaboration with civil society actors religious actors it cannot be this thing itself justice thing it has to be aspect that is contested from various angles and then engages in society and in civil society that's my model but here is where I'm completely pessimistic is that I don't see with the contemporary political scene that states are going to be useful at that so that's where I think what we need to do and that's part of the response to also the projects that you were talking about I think that you know we need to produce the joint projects joint projects various in the case of these religious issues religious contenders join projects that tell history from multiple sides that put it together into one you know one document that makes it available more publicly we have an incredible now tool that we have left in a sense to the more negative so there's social media the Internet is being used websites is being used to create conflict and we the actors who could actually put more material out there don't do it in using the tools we have to bring groups together and create positive knowledge the Israelis and Palestinians try to do it in in stock in the Balkans there were joint history high school books that started as a project it stopped so we keep attempting these things and I think what we need to do is a more general framework for doing this they're all of this thing how do we can turn this how do we deal with this new new political situation that we live I don't want the air-drawn state to be part of this even outside of commentators context of Chinese context the real question is how how do we keep the state in and say miles most of the legal tools you can use rely on international responsibilities of state actors immense cultural heritage property protection and this is part of the problem in Kentucky's record most of the religious community is really hate cultural heritage protection because they mistrust the state and they believe that any form of cultural heritage an excuse for the stage stepping in the sovereignty other their side so you ask religious associations in Israel what they want in order to have their right to religious freedom protected they say as long as you recognize all the states recognizes our right to private property we'll be able to exercise our religious freedom which also means that we choose when to invite people names all the sites and when big mouths but it also it also lacks sensitive dynamics which we don't always recognize and acknowledge when we talk about policy we're very quick to jump in to the conclusion that we really need a state to be able to act and implement those policies and very often forget that in places like northern India for example Tibetan Buddhists would find the very idea that their size would be protected by a state or by somebody other than the community themselves to be completely alien and the host offensive so unless we actually start building much more comprehensive narrative of how different forms of negotiating those spaces could look like we would never be able to come up with comprehensive strategies I have a question to ask because when it comes to states and governance scale really matters how do I know because I know Tobias wonderful research at the circular was Armenian Church which demonstrates the importance of scale you know local governance versus central state governance delivering diametrically opposite results so let me put her on the spot she's willing to share that research this was in my career the closest I got to pretty you know for example and I will tell me the whole story so sir peering was is an Armenian Church that was located in a city called the Arab occur in southeastern Turkey and the church was built in the 17th century when there was a significant Armenian population in the region and of course as many of you know Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire and Turkey have suffered unimaginable traumas during the genocide so the population had decreased by 1915 to a very small fraction of what it used to be so here goes at the time when it was functioning it was the largest Armenian Church in the Middle East and it was a very important center for manuscript production so throughout Turkish history unfortunately after 1915 there were multiple times when the lives of religious minorities in the region was endangered so vine by 1918 the church had been into an almost ruined form there were only eight families living in the our Bakr by that time and with the death of the last priest the church was completely left without any community so in 2010 when Turkey was in the way of EU accession so the government was a lot more interested in taking care of religious minorities and shopping that off to the youth and there were also the local elections which meant the pro-kurdish progressive party to control over the municipality in the aggregate and one of the things as part of their new kind of a new way of showing tolerance was that they wanted to have a more inclusive way of interpreting all the religious communities living in Africa and those who are not at that time living in the other culture so the mayor is invited two remaining families who had by then had over moot Istanbul to come back and restore their church now in this example there at that time when the church was being restored there were only a few people of Armenians identity living in the aggregate that could openly say that they were Armenian and worshiping but the community in Istanbul engaged in a global fundraising campaign there were someone successful with the help and financial help of the local governments they were able to actually open the doors of the church for active worship in 2011 and that was a very important point in Turkish history in Turkey is kind of facing back to what happened during the genocide the trauma of 1915 the local mayor invited all the communities the Armenian community arranged all arranged of its virtue so it was a very emotional point it's brought together communities that were not necessarily have been together before I'm talking about the perpetrators of violence in 1915 you know grandkids of the people who actually killed Armenians at Armenian families coming together for the first time under the roof of a restored Church and praying together and crying together I'm trying to build a better future so that those traumas those you know those wounds would not reopen again we were there in 1915 for the Easter the turkey and healthy in Christians Catholics Turkish Muslims and Armenians prayed together it was one of the most beautiful sights one of the most beautiful and effective registration processes that I've ever witnessed in terms of building peace in that region that was the first time like university students lay people who would come to the church and we'll just hang out and talk to others and some of them would witness what the other families had been going through some of them would confess to the crimes that their great great grandfather's had committed this is a data set point of reconciliation coming to terms of the pain of the past now the reason why it is not anymore the most important and amazing and beautiful project of registration is that in September 2015 right after the general elections in Turkey there was a an armed conflict between the Turkish Turkish military and the locals our turkish armed forces that lasted for about six months and the whole old city was kind of ruined in a very terrible way and I have a slide and you can see in the slide that it's almost like a it was a very painful instruction and the church kind of remained beyond access to not only to Armenian community but heritage specialists anybody who wanted to go and investigate for about three years the negotiations to rebuild that again are just getting started but on the different ways now the Turkish government wants to be a leading force in in the restoration which is very different in 2011 the community had decided that they did not want to any financial help from the Turkish government they wanted to be in charge of the restoration and in charge of charge of the faith of the church now this Turkish government wants to be the leading force in doing this restoration process I'm still watching it I'm not as optimistic as I was in 2000 in the east of 2015 but nevertheless we have to figure a figure out what are the variables what are the best practices that we can replicate in the future and what are the things that we should avoid and also we have to have very solemn conscience that conflict is somewhat inevitable it may come it may go away what do we do to make sure we live in peace as long as we can and that were to be – after that – this reflection also reminds us the question about talks what are those indeed in the emerging discourses about religious conference property protection using trans transitional justice for mediation such as the one you already outlined he's seen as well there are plenty of declarations soft law instruments such as the common ground project and the protection of homicides the declaration of the Knights of Malta for the protection of sacred places in the Mediterranean and then there's there appears to be an emerging consensus that we cannot make much sense or use very effectively the vast plethora of international law tools with teeth which never works but we could perhaps connect them in a much more informal and more comprehensible way through these soft loads through declarations through to it's through guidelines which may help policy makers on the ground to make more sense of water they already have and it also raises the questions how do we avoid duplication that's all these organizations do pretty much the same check replicating the safety the other day we had another session on that cultural property protection and one of the speaker's was praising the great two months of the plan of action proposing a list of protected sites only to be reminded that this this approach existed since the first world war and there is a broad international consensus that it was highly accessible so why do we need to go in the direction of things which have failed and we know that they don't work so what other directions do we take who participate in this conversations is this a policymakers conversation of wasted three theaters Ages of religious stakeholders heritage experts and lawyers and policy makers I know that I can has been part of the very important international terrorist partnership pretty good religion or belief do you think that this kind of format international parliamentarians in the MENA region Libya beyond heritage experts and lawyers may be a model which we should seek to replicate in relation to religious cultural property so very quickly let me address that because I think as you know I brought the issue of scale local governments matter a lot bringing local stakeholders matters about at the same time on the other end of the scale it's very important to bring in these international instruments they can be you know as complete as European Court of Human Rights or the United Nations or they can be as nimble and as informal as the international panel of parliamentarians for freedom of religion or belief IP before founding in steering committee members now in that experience of ours the reason we chose not to give intergovernmental or international formal organization but the more Network interested more in a salt approach to solving approach was that there are different levels to engage one of the key perpetrators of violence and atrocities that is the state in a nation state and our approach was for example bringing legislators from around the world across the political spectrum and from different faiths they work together what you might call is part of an attempt in some respects to shame and in other aspects in other cases to basically commend and one of the key tools we had and this might come to you you know as a very weak very soft tool was our Letcher County we asked members of our network to write letters to heads of states to ambassadors of that state serving in their countries on key religious freedom issues it could be the imprisonment of America and in our experience this set a disproportionate impact compared to some of the more harder such as for example a conviction by because this kind of shaming and you know you can imagine what happens when 50 ambassadors of a persecuting state perceives letters from lawmakers when the head of state of that country receives lawmakers from around the world from Brazil to Australia from Norway to South Africa they do pay attention it might not be genuine attention it might not be a general transformational thinking but it could simply be a response to avoid that kind of global kind of Shaving and a global moral major so I think that that could be one of the ways in which we can complement I'm not offering this as the tool I think what we need here is a complementarity across different levels different scales but again going back to sort of URIs case what I learned the most from that case is local matters profusely even in cases which are which happen to be extremely transnational and globally connected if you can bring in the mayor city councilor the local stakeholders it provides a protection no military can no militia because a circular goes when you had a pro-kurdish mayor who has a strong rapport with the local Kurdish Muslims many of whom are descendants of genocide perpetrators that provided that Church the strongest protection it has every witness in a session because the the average man on the street the average woman on the street there no matter how humble he or she comes from was one of the protectors of the church as an a as I couldn't and that was as important as a UN peacekeeping force Elizabeth yeah I think it's fair to say that we're at a point where we have some of the most extensive and comprehensive legal regimes which have been developed and which are you probably know more than anyone on this panel about legal regimes for regulating protecting cultural and religious heritage but I think the real question and states are part signatories to some of those those conventions and I think the real problem becomes all of our states are involved the question of enforcement and this takes me in some ways back to the commercialization bees because although we've spoken a lot about protection of sites we have spoken less I think about the just deconstruction of sites and then the black mark looting and black marketing of of Antiquities and of artifacts so the failure to enforce use enforcement mechanisms to penalize those who participate in that looting and black marketing and trafficking I think is one of the failures of states collectively and individually and we all know that institutions and individuals respond to their pocketbook being affected and so without implementation mechanisms that impose very very serious fines and also associating penalties including imprisonment for trafficking in these artifacts I think we're going to continue to fall short and I think that's where again the private sector comes in because you know we've been speaking about you know regimes that are either authoritarian or quasi democratic but you know democracies have to do some heavy lifting and we all know that in democracies elected officials are very much connected to private sector interests and so those private sector interests need to be held accountable rather sector actors who participate in either the commercialization positive well I don't know if there's a positive way commercialization in a transparent way or commercialization and an illegal way by trafficking and the these artifacts and then also just one footnote to carrying your point about social media I think the media as well has to be integrated more effectively into these conversations and enforcement mechanisms because ultimately the media either you know shapes and covers in in in an informative way or covers in an occluding way in this alien sense of the word how these processes work and you know the the huge media coverage of the atrocities the violence against the mosques in Christchurch New Zealand and the media coverage of the collapse of Notre Dame they were interesting for the way in which they treated the question of religion and sacredness of sites and I think again the media has needs to be integrated more deliberately and systematically into the way in which people understand the importance of these sites but also the issue of trafficking looted artifacts about this anything to add something to us maybe what not to mention at the discussion on the state side because what was the point of is very relevant when we speak about cultural religious parfum oni and Heritage's is to be aware of the fact that were speaking about tangible physical objects and also at the same time of contents what – were saying about air Sophia is in this sense that there is an exhibition of power that must be appreciated not to be moralistic against or in favor of I just taste what is the proper grammar of the object in there are an aspect of culture age that even more cows and intangible it does had come to come back to the title of our panel the impact of work in North Iraq and Syria war and destroyed the capacity of monasteries most mostly another institution to protect manuscripts and what happened there is that a good number of academic institution and university has done the worse and the best at the same time so they came and said well don't worry we can digitize it so the digitize a good number of manuscripts of the Syrian country body now this patrimony is available in Paris in Oxford Harvard Princeton Berkeley and the people there has been deprived for the ownership and the value of what the head of the meaning of this things in their place for good reasons for an act of insane compassion and this is that when it doesn't seems that the complication is very great end to a certain extent we can discuss a couple of hours for being twisted excited state even the worse state and the legal tradition is a way of protecting things also beyond the moral quality of those were in power in a certain in a certain moment and on this issue of content I think there is something to reflect on because we can use even the category of protection or live a good action of protection and create counter-effect and rebound aside can be very dangerous and so being myself part of an academic community have nothing to do with the UNESCO sites and charities or as a participant be citizen I could put a different approach and I myself am a church historian working excited with their in their topic and specialist ik gothic it may be one of the things that has to be very clear is that we want to have an effective protection of this we have to protect the object and the content the language and the grammar the preservation of the physical resistance sustainability of their site and those of the capacity to understand it for its proper meaning because what I wanted to leave some for Italian politician I remember them sooner or later some tourists will come back in the Cathedral Square of Milan illusion of the cold Madonna over the fear of the things it is a girl dressed by that is one of her a luxury brand that is just a very baroque things on this this means that we have to think not only to protect the site exist but also to create sites that are sacred not because of the fact that is there but the content is part of this sacred place if you go to Facebook or the effort of Akash has created a profile for the scriptorium Syria coup that is something that we launched enter together when I had the chance to discover in one of his houses in North Iraq it managed with its ferocity rate is very famous is the part of 509 this is the only surviving manuscript of the Syriac liturgical canonical that apparently was lost in 7042 but simply because since 7042 with the monks its are wise persons denied it well the manuscript and told the story that was murdered by somebody persecuting at the monastery and now this is going to this place and it is interesting to know that the position of the Holy See on the scriptorium Syria corner is very cold because they say you are building a target in the next few centuries in the last few centuries this will be also a target or a place of protection and to speak about protection in warm is also the possibility to create that and to do this and yesterday I was saying to one of the people there depart for states and cultural heritage in North Rock there is also a matter of restitution of cultural heritage we have the libraries in Great Britain in France full of men's food comes from the Middle East sometimes the 19th century robbery has been physically taken away from there nowadays it's much more a matter of digital robbery but is also of the same and the interior of the Syriac is hoping it is very naive in this baby but it's a good way truth next time is open later Sebastopol lounge they get restitute to the syrian church at least in digital form the patrimony stole is in order to recreate a critical mass that will be very intangible because it will be on a cloud in Iceland or whatever where but could be very intangible but very proper at this point this will be also a good way for us to remember how things may they work to make another assembly far from Christianity when a professor to Chi was a famous Italian that tippet ologist of the forties has taken pictures of the bamboo collect should have put these texts that be burdened with the Cultural Revolution in so the whole way for Chinese where that says this patrimony is to have two copies of this and of course Italy let's give it back copy very quickly and properly but this is also a way to recreate not simply a static static defense but also a dynamic exchange and your reflection also indicates the important interdependence which was emerging throughout the whole conversation between financing streams the national sustainability and religious cultural property and religious cultural heritage theme which for some reason is escaping the public discourses at least at the policy level reaches the discourses there are focus primarily on the protection of cultural sites from bombing and destruction mapping cultural sites where they are digitally through satellite imaging and there is a very little energy and commitment to actually studying the few case studies which are about economic and national interdependence between different and potentially rival religious communities such as the monasteries in Kosovo which produce wine would buy the grapes from Albanian Muslims of sustainable farming in Georgia and so forth we have done very little to actually study more closely how this shared and contestant forms of religious coexistence also develop not just Civic spaces but economic international opportunities which also grow the communities to learn from each other and dependent on each other rather than being crossed out because one one community is more prosperous than the other so a lot more to discuss but like awkward things this beautiful conversation has to come to an end thank you for all the speakers who shared with us their reflections on new approaches and existing approaches to cover religious cultural heritage preservation and the ways forward let's thank you Dan and lists and feel free to stay around and continue these conversations informally [Applause] you

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