Category Archives: TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY

Amnesty International: After Christchurch, how to beat Islamophobia and hate

… . HUMAN RIGHTS … .

An article by Osama Bhutta, Communications Director of Amnesty International

Racists and bigots believe that diverse societies don’t work. Frustrated that their howling at the moon wasn’t enough, they’re now picking up weapons in an attempt to prove themselves right. We can’t keep expressing shock and then moving on until the next outrage. We watched in astonished horror last year when a Nazi entered a US synagogue and shot dead 11 worshippers. And yet after the initial alarm, the world carried on like before.

These haters are destabilising our societies and concerted action needs to be taken before things get even worse.

To be clear, this isn’t just about western societies. Many Muslims see Christchurch as a small part of a global rising tide of Islamophobia perpetrated by insecure majorities. Let’s take a whistle-stop world tour from east to west.

In Myanmar, decades of hate speech and persecution culminated in 2017 with over 700,000 predominantly Muslim Rohingya having to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh after a vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing. The implicated military in Myanmar has been given plenty of diplomatic cover by China, whose authorities are currently holding up to 1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups   in euphemistically titled “transformation-through-education” camps in Xinjiang. It’s one of the stories of our age, subjugation on an epic scale.

India’s historic multi-faith character has taken a hit under the leadership of Narendra Modi, a man who was chief minister during the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Muslims. His brand of Hindu nationalism has led to divisiveness rather than unity, leading to growing phenomena such as “cow-related violence”.

Many politicians across Europe have been gaining ground by peddling anti-Muslim messages. France’s Marine Le Pen compared Muslims spilling onto pavements from packed mosques after Friday prayers to Nazi occupiers. A key message of the Brexit campaign was the “threat” of Turkey joining the EU. Arch-Brexiteer Nigel Farage once accused British Muslims of having “split loyalties”.

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Question(s) related to this article:

What is the state of human rights in the world today?

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The biggest beneficiary of ballot box Islamophobia though is Donald Trump with his campaign promise of a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”. He said that this ban would stay in place until the country’s representatives “can figure out what the hell is going on”. Presumably, despite all his intelligence, he’s still not got a grasp of it. Trump arrived on the back of a generation of Islamophobia which went hand-in-hand with the controversial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which let us not forget, resulted in the still barely acknowledged deaths of hundreds of thousands of Muslims.

When the global picture is this grim, it’s little wonder that many Muslims feel embattled. Especially when they are also being told that despite these tragic numbers, they are actually the aggressors.

This is not, however, a religious conflict. The millions of Muslims who have lost their lives, been put in detention, or repressed in other multifaceted ways, have not been treated this way as part of a religious war. These are not the new crusades. The perpetrators are too diverse and too disparate for this to be case. So are the victims. Christians are also repressed in China, Pakistan and Indonesia. Christian and Muslim Palestinians face violence and discrimination every day in the context of Israel’s occupation of their territory. France and Germany reported disturbingly sharp rises in anti-Semitism last year; who can forget the distressing images of swastikas daubed across graves in Jewish cemeteries in Herrlisheim and Quatzenheim in eastern France? In light of the evidence,  a ‘War on Islam’ thesis doesn’t add up.

This is about how nation states treat their minorities. In this respect, Muslim-majority states are also often found wanting. Infamously there are no churches in Saudi Arabia. Given these circumstances, it was no surprise to see Saudi Arabia’s crown prince giving endorsement  to China’s treatment of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

Harmony isn’t going to be achieved if only we had more interfaith dialogue and more mosque open days. Tackling this threat effectively requires a radical rethink about how we talk about freedom, equality and respect for all.

The strength of a nation lies in how well you treat all your people. It’s a mark of strength when you celebrate everyone who lives alongside you. We move forward when everyone has the freedom to live their lives as they wish, to contribute to their society as they see fit, and to be the people they want to be.

I grew up in Scotland and am proud of my nationality and my faith. We used to say that it takes many different coloured threads to make tartan, just as it takes many different types of people to make Scotland.  Every culture around the world must find their language to bring people together, rather than to drive them apart. In 1945, the Nazis were defeated through war. This time, we’ll beat the haters through the force of our love, compassion and shared humanity.

United Nations: ‘Global clarion call’ for youth to shape efforts to forge peace in the most dangerous combat zones

. . FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION . .

An article from UN News

The First International Symposium on Youth Participation  in Peace Processes concluded on Wednesday in Helsinki, Finland, with a global policy paper, according to reports, that aims to integrate their efforts, interventions and contributions towards sustaining the search for peaceful solutions to conflict.


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In her keynote address, General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa highlighted Youth, Peace and Security as one of her seven priorities.

She called young people “agents of change” and outlined examples in which they have helped foster inter-communal dialogue, such as in Kenya, and consolidate peace, such as in Sierra Leone, Liberia and other countries.

Ms. Espinosa also addressed the importance of gender equality, decent work and the support for young migrants and refugees. 

The General Assembly President concluded by underscoring that the world must improve youth participation in national and international decision-making and encouraged Member States to embrace young people in their delegations and to work closely with the Office of the Secretary-General’s  Youth Envoy,  Jayathma Wickramanayake.

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Question for this article

Youth initiatives for a culture of peace, How can we ensure they get the attention and funding they deserve?

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

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With over half of the world’s population under-30 and an estimated 600 million youth living in fragile and conflict-affected States, it is apparent that young people must engage in conflict prevention and mediation processes – a domain where they are often marginalized. 

“Young people account for a considerable share of people living in the developing world and in conflict areas but they are often left outside of the scope of all decision-making in society, including peace processes”, said Timo Soini, Foreign Minister for Finland, one of the governments co-hosting the event.

For her part, the Youth Envoy called the Symposium “the global clarion call for a collective response in bringing voice and credibility to young people on the frontlines actively leading efforts to shape peace processes”.

Considering their sheer numbers and vital force, young people are key participants in development, democracy, peace-sustaining initiatives and peacebuilding interventions. As such, they must be empowered as decision makers to actively and meaningfully contribute to peace processes that affect their lives, according to the UN Envoy’s office.

“Young people are bridges”, said youth participant Leonardo Parraga. “They play a key role in connecting local actors like civil society organizations, with decision-making actors that have a seat inside the room”.

At the two-day Symposium ending on Wednesday, inter-generational participants exchanged views and best practices on involving young people in both formal and informal peace processes. Youth attendees, moderated, facilitated and acted as rapporteurs throughout all plenary discussions and working groups.

Noting “progress in advancing the Youth, Peace and Security agenda” Ms. Wickramanayake asserted:  “We cannot stop now”.

The event was co-hosted by the Governments of Finland, Qatar, and Colombia, and co-organized by the office of the UN’s Youth Envoy and Search For Common Ground in partnership with the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, UN Population Fund, UN Development Programme and the United Network of Young Peacebuilders.

Milan, Italy: Anti-racism protesters denounce Italy’s right-wing government

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An article from Deutsche Welle (reprinted by permission)

Tens of thousands of people took to Milan’s streets on Saturday to protest against what they said are racist policies promoted by the national government.

The demonstrators played bongo drums and trumpets as they gathered in front of the Duomo under the slogan “Prima le persone” (people first).

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Question for this article

The refugee crisis, Who is responsible?

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The phrase plays on the “Prima gli Italiani” (Italians first) slogan used by Italy’s anti-immigrant interior minister, Matteo Salvini.

The rally was a “powerful political testimonial that Italy is not just the country that it is currently being described as,” said Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala.

Milan’s social issues councilor, Pierfrancesco Majorino, claimed on Twitter that 200,000 people had shown up for the protest.
“Salvini, count us,” he said.

CGIL labor union chief Maurizio Landini said the populist governing coalition in Rome “is promoting the wrong policies, and is not fighting the inequalities.”

Salvini’s right-wing League party entered into government with the populist Five Star Movement in 2018.

Since then, Italy has repeatedly refused to allow humanitarian ships that save migrants in the Mediterranean Sea to dock at its ports.

Fourth edition of living together in Togo

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article from Elite d’Afrique

The Association for the Culture of Peace and Sustainable Development, “The Pacific”, organized on Saturday, March 2nd in Lomé, the 4th edition of the “Pacific Forum” which aims to “raise awareness among Togolese religious communities on the theme of living together “.

This edition has the theme “Living together in a plural community: complementarities and responsibilities”. It allowed the association to raise consciousness of the participants, including ambassadors Islamologists, academics, Muslim and Christian faithful on the themes of solidarity, cohesion, fraternity that are important elements in the building of a nation.

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(Click here for the original French version of this article)

Question related to this article:
 
How can different faiths work together for understanding and harmony?

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The work took place in two panels namely “the contribution of foreign communities to the development of the host country” developed by the ambassadors of Niger and Senegal in Togo, Mrs. Sidibé Fadjimata Maman and Ms. Binéta Samba Ba respectively and “Hosts and foreigners : responsibilities in Islam” developed by the vice president of the Muslim Union of Togo (UMT), El Hadj, Sanni Karimou, Mr. Tchagbélé Ahasse, assistant professor at Kara University and by Mr. Diouf Alioune, lslamologue, communicator and historian.

“The organization of the fora aims to create a climate of harmony between the foreign communities living in Togo and the Togolese. This explains the holding of this high-level meeting, which brings together ambassadors, Islamists and academics around the themes of living together and mutual acceptance between communities, customs and religions,” said the president of the association, EI Hadj Moitapari Kouko.

The president of the association “The Pacific” recalled that last year his association organized a forum inside the country (Tchamba) and that he thinks to repeat this experience. The fora are organized in the interior of the country in order to bring the populations of these cities to accept each other, to love each other, to live together in solidarity and peace, he said.

Founded in 2015, “The Pacific” publishes a magazine focused on understanding the values ​​and main principles of the Muslim religion. It raises awareness about the coexistence of beliefs and religions as well as customs and populations.
 

Mohamed Sahnoun, 1931-2018: Advisor for Culture of Peace

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An obituary from Initiatives of Change International

September 24, 2018. It is with immense sadness that we announce that Ambassador Mohamed Sahnoun, former President of Initiatives of Change International, died on 20 September 2018.
Mohamed Sahnoun was chosen by two UN Secretary-Generals as their Special Representative in some of Africa’s most intractable conflicts. They knew him as a man with a remarkable ability to persuade warring factions to meet and talk.


Photo from Early History of the Culture of Peace

FThis was partly a product of his wide experience as a diplomat. He had been Deputy Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Unity and of the Arab League. He had served as Algeria’s Ambassador to Germany, France, the USA and Morocco.

But even more, it was a product of his approach to life. As a young man, during Algeria’s struggle for independence from France, he had been arrested by the French authorities and severely tortured. Yet as a diplomat he established warm relations with French leaders. As he said later, ‘My passion is to save endangered populations from the extreme insecurity of war, famine, drought and disaster,’ and he sought to enlist all who could help in that task.

His approach did much to resolve the tensions arising from the process of decolonisation across the African continent. His help was sought in situations large and small. His most satisfying task, he said, was mediating the transition of South-West Africa into the new country of Namibia. But he also dealt with innumerable places where towns and villages, divided by colonial straight-line borders, had to be adjusted. Sahnoun was often the person who mediated a solution.

UN Secretary-General Boutros Ghali chose him as his Special Representative to Somalia in 1993, when the country had erupted into severe conflict. Sahnoun reached out to all sides, and a basis for resolving the conflict was emerging. Then Boutros Ghali told him that the USA intended to intervene militarily. Sahnoun protested vehemently and, when told that the decision had been made, resigned. The US intervention was a disaster.

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Questions for this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

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Sahnoun was always searching for more effective ways to bring peace. He supported the UNDP initiatives for ‘human security’, which focused on meeting the basic needs of citizens and thereby overcoming insecurity. He advised UNESCO on its Culture of Peace programme and advised Kofi Annan on environmental and development issues. He was a member of the Brundtland Commission.

He served as co-chair of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, which developed the concept of Responsibility to Protect. ‘Mohamed had an extraordinary capacity to bring people together and bind wounds,’ wrote his co-chair, former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans. ‘He played an indispensable role in searching out the common ground between North and South which made possible the birth of Responsibility to Protect. We will particularly remember his delightful capacity to defuse tensions, usually with African parables involving lions, monkeys, crocodiles, scorpions or all of the above.’

In 2008, together with Cornelio Sommaruga, former President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, he launched the Caux Forum for Human Security. As he said in an interview with the Huffington Post, ‘The idea came from my sense of the deep insecurity in today’s world. Insecurity is born of fear. We must look to the root causes of that fear, and address it with far more energy and cohesion.’

He chose the IofC centre in Switzerland, Caux, as the venue because ‘it is a place where interreligious dialogue is deeply established. I had heard about Caux and Moral Re-Armament (the previous name of Initiatives of Change) from friends over many years. Caux was a safe place where people could build trust in one another.’

In Sahnoun’s view, achieving human security depended on progress in five areas, which he defined as just governance, inclusive economics, intercultural dialogue, environmental sustainability and healing historical wounds. ‘So often the understanding of security has focused purely on physical security,’ he said. ‘But human security is about the very fundamentals of our existence. I place special emphasis on healing wounded memories. In Algeria, Northern Ireland, the Balkans and other places of long pain and violence, the feelings run so deep that a special effort is called for.’

The Caux Forum brought together several hundred people each year, who explored these five concerns jointly. Many initiatives have emerged. In Eastern Europe there is a new emphasis on uncovering and healing the wounds resulting from war and authoritarian rule. And Caux is now doing much to bring the importance of land restoration to international attention.

Sahnoun served as President of Initiatives of Change International for two years [2007-2008], and his insights have helped shape Initiatives of Change programmes throughout the world.

Watch Mohamed Sahnoun’s opening speech  of the 3rd Caux Forum for Human Security in 2010 and an  interview  with him in 2011. 

Pope hopes his Arabian trip will help Islam-Christian relations

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article by Philip Pullella from Thomson Reuters (reprinted by permission)

Pope Francis said on Wednesday [February 6] he hoped his historic trip to the Arabian peninsula will help dispel the notion of an inevitable clash of civilizations between Christianity and Islam.


Photo: Pope Francis leads the weekly general audience at Paul VI hall at the Vatican February 6, 2019. REUTERS/Max Rossi
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Francis returned to Rome on Tuesday from the United Arab Emirates, where in Abu Dhabi he presided at the largest public Mass ever celebrated on the peninsula where Islam was born.

“In an era, like ours, where there is a strong temptation to see a clash between Christian civilization and the Islamic one, and even to consider religions as a source of conflict, we wanted to send another clear and decisive signal that encounter is possible,” he said at his regular general audience.

Francis was referring to a document he signed during the trip with Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar mosque and university, one of the most authoritative theological and educational institutions in Islam.

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Question related to this article:
 
How can different faiths work together for understanding and harmony?

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The pope said the “Document on Human Fraternity” was proof that “it is possible to respect each other and hold dialogue, and that despite differences in culture and traditions, the Christian and Islamic worlds appreciate and protect common values …”

The document, signed on Monday, called on “all concerned to stop using religions to incite hatred, violence, extremism and blind fanaticism, and to refrain from using the name of God to justify acts of murder, exile, terrorism and oppression.”

He invited everyone to read the document, saying it would offer ideas on how individuals can work for tolerance and coexistence.

Ultra-conservative Catholics have been opposed to any dialogue with Islam, with some saying its ultimate goal is to destroy the West.

On the plane returning from Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, a reporter asked Francis about possible negative reaction to the document by Catholics “who accuse you of allowing yourself to be used by Muslims”.

Francis, a progressive who has been in the crosshairs of conservatives since his election in 2013, responded with a joke: “Not only the Muslims. They accuse me of allowing myself to be used by everyone, even journalists. It’s part of the job.”

But he said “from a Catholic point of view, the document had not strayed a millimeter” from teachings on inter-religious dialogue approved by the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council.

“If anyone feels bad, I understand. It is not an everyday thing. But it is a step forward,” he said on the plane.

Pakistan: Interfaith Christmas Celebration

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

Submitted to CPNN by Kiran Iqbal,

ROLE (Rights of Living for Everyone) Organization, the Society for the Promotion of Education and Awareness (SEAP Pakistan), and the AMAAN Development Organization with the collaboration of Action Against Poverty (AAP) and Hafeez Ghee & General Mills Private Limited organized Interfaith Christmas Celebration and Interfaith Prayer and Thanks Giving Award Distribution Ceremony to thank God Almighty and pay tribute to the volunteer services of committed and dedicated CSO Leaders, Journalists and faith based leaders.


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The event featured participation from a wide variety of Muslim & Christian denominations and representatives of Hindu and inclusive religious communities. We came together to give thanks for the blessings we have received throughout the year of 2018 and pray for the 2019. Prayers, sacred writings, reflections and meditation were woven together with a common theme of gratitude from many traditions. The event took place at Pastoral Institute, Naqashband, Multan on 31st December, 2018.

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Question related to this article:
 
How can different faiths work together for understanding and harmony?

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The program started with a recitation from Holy Quran and the Holy Bible along with Bhajan, Naat and Christian hymns.

In the beginning, Marcus Younas gave an introduction of the program, giving thanks to the blessings of God Almighty. Then, the speakers gave their view point on the topic “How Celebrating Religious Festivals Together can promote Interfaith Harmony and National Solidarity”.

Professor Abdul Majid Wattoo, Yasmin Khakwani, Karamat Jameel, Sarfraz Clement, Abdul Hanan Haidri, Ghazal Ghazi, Naeem Iqbal Naeem, Makhdoom Tariq Abbas Shamsi, Allama Syed Mujahid Abbas Gardezi, Muhammad Amir Mehmood Naqashbandi and Rev. Fr. Dr. Jamshed Albert Gill O.P. (Director, Pastoral Institute, Multan) talked on this occasion highlighting the common values and traditions of various faiths with logics of how celebrating religious festivals together can promoted interfaith harmony and national solidarity. They appreciated the initiative of host organizations also for awards to be given for the services rendered by religious and civil society leaders for the promotion of interfaith harmony, peacebuilding and tolerance among the people of various faiths of Pakistan.

Lastly, Ms. Kiran Iqbal (CEO, ROLE Organization, Multan) thanked all for their participation and shared that our joint work can be strengthened only if we support each other by bridging the gaps and joining hands together for peace, harmony and solidarity.

Fifty Awards were given to pay tribute to the volunteer services of committed and dedicated CSO Leaders, Journalists and faith based leaders. The event ended with Cake cutting for Christmas and New Year 2019 along with dinner for all.  

Pakistan: 500 Muslim Leaders Sign Islamabad Declaration

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An article from Zenit

“The Declaration of Islamabad is a step in the right direction. We need to develop it to improve the image of the country: this is the way forward: government and opposition must work together to legislate on good policies, while civil society, religious communities and all citizens must work together for the social, civil and cultural progress of our country.”

These were the words of Fr. Bonnie Mendes, a Pakistani Catholic priest of Faisalabad, former regional coordinator of Caritas Asia, reported January 8, 2019, by Fides News Agency. He commented on the publication of the “Islamabad Declaration”, in which over 500 Muslim religious leaders publicly condemn terrorism, violence committed in the name of religion and fatwa (sacred edicts) widespread by radical ulemas.

The declaration was signed in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, during a gathering organized by the Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC). The initiative, according to observers, represents a turning point especially in the attitude towards religious minorities and Islamic sects the “Ahmadi”. In fact, the Declaration recognizes that Pakistan is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, and notes that “it is the responsibility of the government to ensure the protection of the life of non-Muslim citizens in Pakistan”.

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Question for this article

Islamic extremism, how should it be opposed?

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Among the main contents, the murders committed “under the pretext of religious belief” are condemned, observing that this “is contrary to the teachings of Islam” and states that “no Islamic sect must be declared unfaithful”, noting that all citizens, whatever their religion or sect, “have the constitutional right to live in the country following their cultural and religious principles”. Continuing in establishing the principles of religious freedom, the text establishes the right for religious groups to organize themselves autonomously and asks civil authorities to ban “any material (books, pamphlets, audio) that incites religious hatred” and to punish anyone that threatens “the sacred places of non-Muslims”, implementing “the national action plan against extremism”.

The religious proclaim 2019 as a “Year to annihilate terrorism, extremism and sectarian violence from Pakistan”, reiterating that “non-Muslim citizens must enjoy the same rights as everyone else”.

Sabir Michael, an activist for human rights and minority rights, told Fides: “We appreciate and acknowledge the efforts of the Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) to stop extremism and contribute to tolerance, peace, justice, and equality in society. It is necessary to promote and spread this message to the communities. In the past, solemn declarations such as this, are not very successful, now the government and religious communities must work together in this direction: let us not lose hope for the good of the country”.

Italy: Mayors of Florence, Palermo and Naples “Rebelled” against a Tough Anti-Immigrant Law

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An article from The Koz Week

The mayors of the three major Italian cities refuse to submit to controversial anti-immigrant law, passed at the initiative of the interior Minister Matteo Salvini, considering it unconstitutional.



Leoluca Orlando, mayor of Palermo

Salvini on Thursday demanded the resignations of the mayors of Florence, Palermo and Naples, the latter strengthened the scandal, is also offering to host migrants in distress at sea, which Italy rejected.

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Question for this article

The refugee crisis, Who is responsible?

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“This law incites crime, and not fighting or prevents it. It violates human rights. There are thousands, tens of thousands of people who have been legally resident here, who pay their taxes, pay pensions, and in a few weeks or months they will become… illegal immigrants,” said the mayor of Palermo Leoluca Orlando.

Tough new anti-immigrant law passed by the Italian Parliament on 28 November, facilitates the expulsion of new arrivals and limit the residence permit in the country, which has become the main gate for migrants crossing the Mediterranean sea.

It also cancels humanitarian residence permits issued to people from risk groups, families or single women with children.

The mayor of Florence Dario Nardella said that his city “will not obey” the law, which “excludes persons seeking asylum, and not repatrierea them, throws them on the street.”

The mayor of Naples Luigi de Magistris promised that part of the law unconstitutional, “such as the right to asylum, nor under any circumstances will be respected.”

He then offered to take the 32 migrants who are blocked at sea after they were rescued by a ship of non-governmental organizations.

Panel on education and peace at UN in Geneva draws faith and secular sectors together

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article from the World Council of Churches

Peace education to promote mutual understanding and cooperation between people involving the religious and secular sectors is needed to counter uncertainty fed by radicalization and xenophobia, says a leading human rights advocate.
“Today I would say peace is in jeopardy once again,” said Idriss Jazairy, executive director of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, a former head of a UN specialized agency and top diplomat for Algeria, speaking in an interview with the World Council of Churches (WCC).


Ambassador Idriss Jazairy, executive director of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue. Photo: Ivars Kupcis/WCC

“We are exposed to a kind of a pincer movement between populism on the one hand and extremism on the other. In those circumstances, we need to see how we can defuse this tension and give the right of way to peace. We have to do this by addressing the problem already at the school level,” he said ahead of the 10 December debate.

The inter-faith bridge-building debate will take place through an interactive dialogue between lay and religious leaders on World Human Rights Day 2018 from 14:00 to 17:00 at the United Nations Office in Geneva in room XXV. WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit will deliver the opening address after introductory remarks by the moderator Ambassador Jazairy of the Geneva Centre.

The panel will build on previous initiatives taken by the Geneva Centre and its partners on the interface between education and equal citizenship rights. The panel will include leaders of the Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu faiths and other experts on peace education.

‘Ignorance that creates fear of the other’

“It is an attempt to remove in children the veil of ignorance which creates the fear of the Other,” said Jazairy, noting that this approach should not be limited to young people, but also applied to adults.

“It is in this way that we feel we can promote diversity,” he said. “What we want is to teach at the school level that there is a convergence in values between world religions and also with secular leadership.”

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Question related to this article:
 
How can different faiths work together for understanding and harmony?

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He said that there is too much emphasis for political reasons in the context of populism and xenophobia that is put on the differences between religions and creeds.

“We want to say first that all the main world religions converge to bring out the same space” in which civilized activity should take place.

“And secondly that religions need not and should not be seen as a problem, but as the beginning on an element of the solution which can be found together with secular leadership,” said Jazairy.

The common space should be used, “as a launching pad for a new, a strong, and powerful idea,” that of “equal and inclusive citizenships rights”.

Jazairy stated that secularity used with identity-driven nationalism can lead to “exclusive secularism and to the doom of society and nations”.

“Secularity added to interaction with all stakeholders as emphasized by the UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) particularly item 17.16 of the SDGS, on the contrary, can deliver a notion of diversity in unity which could be celebrated, and which would be the gateway to peace,” he observed.

The list of speakers:

Monsignor Indunil Janakaratne, Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue;

Professor Anantanand Rambachan, Professor of Religion at St. Olaf College (US);

* Professor Majeda Omar, Associate Professor of Contemporary Western Philosophy at the University of Jordan, former Director of the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies of Jordan;

* Dr. Debbie Weissman, Former President of the International Council of Christians and Jews. Author of “Memoirs of a Hopeful Pessimist: A Life of Activism through Dialogue”;

* Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe, Director of Arigatou International Geneva – Ethics Education for Children;

* Mr. Renato Opertti, Senior Programme Specialist, IBE-UNESCO;

* Ms. Beris Gwynne, Founder and Managing Director of Incitare. Former Australian diplomat and aid official and NGO Executive;

* Mr. Jan-Willem Bult, Head of Children & Youth Media and Chief Editor of WADADA News for Kids.

(Thank you to the Global Campaign for Peace Education for bring this article to our attention.)