IGE President Emeritus Chris Seiple gives opening remarks at the seminar.
IGE and Uzbekistan Embassy Hold Seminar on Religious Freedom and Security
On November 2nd, the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) and the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Washington, DC, held a seminar on “Policy Prospects on the Intersection between Religious Freedom and Security.” The seminar featured presentations from Dr. Muzaffar Kamilov, advisor to the President of Uzbekistan, and Mr. Akmal Saidov, first deputy speaker of the parliament and director of the National Human Rights Center. Dr. Kamilov and Mr. Saidov talked about recent developments in Uzbekistan’s religious freedom efforts including the repatriation and reintegration of over 500 Uzbek citizens from conflict areas in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. He also outlined plans to establish an ombudsman office for religious issues.
IGE president emeritus Chris Seiple shared about a strategic religious freedom plan moving forward consisting of the following components:
- The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Multi-Faith Neighbors Network and Uzbekistan’s Committee for Religious Affairs to bring pastors, imams, and rabbis from both countries together for relationship building and collaborative community service projects. The seminar opened with the signing of this MOU.
- A delegation will visit Uzbekistan next January to conduct an independent assessment of religious freedom. The delegation’s members include Chris Seiple, IGE board chair and IRF Secretariat president Nadine Maenza, IGE senior fellow and LYNC president Wade Kusack, University of Pittsburgh professor Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili, and Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers executive director Mohamed Elsanousi. The delegation will be able to go wherever they wish and meet with whom they choose.
- A second Dialogue of Declarations will be convened next year and commence with a new MOU between IGE and the Uzbekistan government.
IGE board chair Nadine Maenza also offered reflections on the religious freedom progress she had witnessed in Uzbekistan during her tenure as chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom and hopes on further building upon this momentum.
Multi-Faith Neighbors Network executive director Micah Fries and Uzbekistan’s Committee of Religious Affairs chairman Sodikjon Toshboyev sign a Memorandum of Understanding for relationship-building and collaborative community service projects between pastors, imams, and rabbis from the U.S. and Uzbekistan.