France Bans Full Face Veil

April 11, 2011 by
France has banned the full-face veil and already protests are breaking out across the country, which has the largest Muslim population in Europe.

The law, which makes wearing a full-face veil – or niqab – in public illegal and punishable with a fine, was approved last year and came into effect today.

Wearing a face veil in public is now punishable with a €150 fine, but it is not yet clear how the law will be enforced.

The law forbids clothing intended to hide the face being worn in public spaces such as streets, markets, private business, government buildings and public transportation.

The ban will also apply to Muslims visiting the country.

Protests across France as veil ban begins

France has a Muslim population of six million and with tensions already running high today’s move has been seen by some as adding fuel to the anti-immigration fire.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has been accused of stigmatising Islam to win back votes from the far right, which is gaining popularity.

Defending the ban, the French government claims that wearing the veil is a symbol of male oppression.

It has been estimated by the French government that only 2,000 women wear the full-face veil. However, rights groups argue that Sarkozy is targeting a vulnerable group.

In one of the first public protests, Kenza Drider, 32, today set out in full face veil to take part in television programme about the ban.

“This law infringes my European rights, I cannot but defend them, that is to say my freedom to come and go and my religious freedom,” she said.

On Saturday police arrested 59 people, 19 of them veiled, who turned up for a banned protest in Paris.

An outspoken opponent of the ban, Muslim property dealer Rachid Nekkaz has set aside a fund of over €2 million to help women fight the ban.

A demonstration is set to take place outside the Notre Dame cathedral in central Paris.

read more:

World Fellowship of Inter-Religious Councils (WFIRC):

February 16, 2011 by

World Fellowship of Inter-Religious Councils (WFIRC): February 10.2011

Our Tenth Assembly was held in the Franciscan Centre for Peace in Karukutty, Kerala, India, from the 9th to the 12th of December, 2010. 

WFIRC 2010 Declaration

 The pilgrims who had participated in the WFIRC Assembly 2010 from 9th to 12th December, at the Franciscan Centre, Karukutty, Ernakulam District, Kerala, India, here together endorse and sign the following declaration. As fellow pilgrims belonging to the global inter religious and dialogue movement we reaffirm our togetherness as a community working for the enhancement of peace, harmony and justice. We recognize that in the present day world our fellow pilgrims belonging to communities of Dalits, outcastes and tribes face inequality, injustice and violation of their rights. Similarly women and children are being marginalized. Our youth grow up without proper direction and value basis. The market culture has reduced the value of human life and put money as the basis of all. We exploit our mother earth and in the name of development we destroy our bio-diversity and ecological balance. As an inter-religious community we are challenged by these and other issues related to these concerns. Three days of deliberations have given us new insights and the power to go forward in unity to confront these issues. We commit ourselves – To build awareness among ourselves and the religious communities we belong, about the above mentioned concerns. – To condemn the religious practices that legitimize all practices of marginalization. – To engage ourselves in actions of solidarity with the Dalits, outcastes, tribals, women and children. – To promote activities which will enhance the protection of bio-diversity, ecological balance and resource conservation. – To accompany our young generation through education and life examples so that a value based new generation will emerge. – To bring reforms in our society and religious groups accordingly We urge the central Government and the state governments to take cognizance of the above mentioned concerns and use the government machineries to implement necessary actions. We commit ourselves and our communities to all actions which will enhance the life of our fellow pilgrims and the whole of creation so that all of us together can say “Loka samasta sukhino bhavanthu”.

We hope to hold our next Assembly in December 2012 –next year. Your suggestions and proposals are welcome

Fr.Albert Nambiaparambil cmi, Secretary Genral, WFIRC, Upasana, THODUPUSHA-685 584, Kerala, India. Tel.m.9446131173 ` e/

Pope to host interfaith Prayers for Peace

January 8, 2011 by

Pope benedict XVI is to onvite Christian leaders and leaders of other faiths to Assisi to pray for peace. This will take place in Assisi, the birth place of St Francis on October 25th on the 25th anniversary of a similar gathering convened by Pope John Paul II

bombing at the Church of Saints Mark and Peter in Alexandria Condemned

January 7, 2011 by

Published date*: 4th January 2011

Official Statement of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom
regarding the New Year’s Eve at the Church of Saints Mark and Peter in

We are deeply saddened and disturbed that once again, days of joy and
celebration have been turned into a time of mourning and weeping. Our
immediate thoughts and prayers are with all those who were affected by
the bombing at the Church of Saints Mark and Peter in Alexandria:
those who have lost their lives, their families, those who were
injured, members of that parish, Christian communities in general, and
Christians throughout the land of Egypt.

This was a time when Christians went as families to pray in the safety
of the house of God. Men, women, children and the elderly gathered
together in prayer for a happy and peaceful new year. Instead, they
became the innocent victims of a most horrific, callus and cowardly
act of terror and violence.

As a Church that has lost millions to martyrdom throughout the
centuries we understand that dying for one’s Faith is a blessing and a
privilege; we also recognise the necessity of carrying our cross. At
the same time however, we believe life and liberty to be gifts from
God which we must honour and value. Advocating for these values,
whether for our own brethren or for strangers, is a matter of
Christian responsibility.

We are concerned that incidents of violence and terror against
Christians in Egypt are increasingly spiralling out of control. They
continue to go unchecked and unresolved, and their perpetrators are
not brought to justice. This passiveness has sent out the message that
Christians in Egypt are an easy and legitimate target. Today’s event
demonstrates this and puts matters on a wholly new level.

We therefore agree with the address
given by His Excellency President Mubarak in which he states that ‘a
red line has been crossed.’ This is indeed a turning point in
Egypt’s history. These are no longer sectarian scuffles or attacks
on Christian Churches and communities, but are premeditated acts of
terrorism and violence that are unprecedented in Egypt. A very
different solution is now needed to deal with a very different kind of

We pray for the peace of all, Christians and Muslims alike, and that
every Egyptian may enjoy freedom and security to live and practise
Faith without fear of violence or terror; protected by the various
arms of the nation state they call home.

Bishop Angaelos

General Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Church, United Kingdom and
Scholar-Consultant to the Christian Muslim Forum

The Archbishop of Canterbury made this statement: The new year’s eve
attack on Christians in Alexandria is yet another dreadful reminder of
the pressure of Christian minorities are under in the Middle East,
echoing the atrocities we have seen in recent weeks. The Coptic
community and other Christian groups in Egypt can be sure of our deep
sorrow at this terrible event and our continuing prayers and support
for them. We know the long and honourable history of co-existence of
Christians and Muslims in Egypt and are confident that the
overwhelming majority of Egyptian people will join in condemning this
and similar acts.

We ask all Christians and Muslims to pray for peace in Egypt, and
elsewhere, to build good inter faith relations in your churches,
masjids (mosques) and neighbourhoods and support those who build
bridges and work for peace.

From the Israel Interfaith Association

December 29, 2010 by

I am happy to update that an interview on the Israeli 2nd Channel, done (in Hebrew) on 20 July with Dr. Ohr Margalit who leads IEA project “God’s Holy Mountain” – is finally available on-line:,169902/


Yours, Yehuda


Happy New Year

December 29, 2010 by

May this new year be one in which people of all faith work together for peace, the relief of poverty and the protection of the environment

From Israel Inter-faith Encounter

October 26, 2010 by

From Israel Inter-faith Encounter
It gives me great pleasure to attach here the 2009 Data Sheet that summarizes, in one page, our activities and activity level in 2009. In this way it complements the 2009 Annual Activity Report which was sent in late August (see

Young People call for cuts in military budgets

October 23, 2010 by

(NEW YORK, 4 October 2010) —Young leaders from the world’s great religious
traditions convened in New York on 4 October to deliver a petition signed by
more than 20 million people from 140 countries to H.E. Mr. Sergio de Queiroz
Duarte, United Nations Secretary-General’s High Representative for
Disarmament.  The petition calls on all governments to officially pledge to
cut their military budgets by 10% and re-allocate those funds toward

To read the full text please visit

> Council of Europe exchange on religion and media

September 22, 2010 by

> Council of Europe exchange on religion and media
 News from RELIGIONS for PEACE :

> Council of Europe exchange on religion and media

> On 13 and 14 September the Council of Europe invited representatives of
> religions and the media from across Europe for a conference in the ancient
> city of Ohrid in south eastern Macedonia.

> This was the third so-called Exchange through which the Council seeks to
> involve the religious communities of Europe in its process to promote
> intercultural dialogue on the continent. The two previous exchanges took
> place in Strasbourg in 2008 and 2009 and focused on religion and
> education.
The Macedonian minister of foreign affairs, Mr Antonio Miloshoski, who
holds the rotating presidency of the Council of Europe, focused his opening
statement on the recent threat by a pastor of a marginal Florida based
church to burn the Quran and asked what media mechanisms allowed this
incident to gain worldwide attention.

> To read the full text please visit

Cut Arms Spending

September 1, 2010 by

News from RELIGIONS for PEACE : Arms Down! – Religions for Peace Youth Campaign for Shared Security The Global Youth Network of Religions for Peace is advancing a United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution that asks member states to cut military spending by 10% and redirect those funds toward achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This reflects an important and necessary progression from existing UNGA resolutions on ‘disarmament and development’ that are less specific in their demands. The resolution is the political counterpart to a petition being circulated via the Religions for Peace Global Youth Network and their Arms Down! Campaign for Shared Security. Like the resolution, the petition calls on governments to reduce their military spending and re-allocate those funds toward development-related spending. Over four point seven million people have signed the petition, indicating its success as a tool for grassroots mobilisation and outreach. To read the full text please visit

Death of Raimon Panikkar – Interfaith Hero

August 27, 2010 by

Raimon Panikkar was born on November 3rd 1918, his father a Hindu and his mother a Catalan Catholic. Thus, from his early childhood he was able to adopt, cultivate and speak of traditions within which he had always felt perfectly at home. He was ordained into the priesthood in1946 and in the same year he got Ph. D. in Philosophy and in 1958 in Science at the University of Madrid and in 1961 in Theology at the Lateran University in Rome. He lived in India, in Rome (where he was a “libero docente” at the University La Sapienza) and in the United States. Panikkar was visiting professor at Harvard University and from 1966 to 1987 he divided his time teaching in USA every Spring Semester and doing his research in India. From 1971 to 1987 he held the chair of Comparative Religious Philosophy at the University of California in Santa Barbara, and in 1987 he returned to Catalonia, Spain, where he lived until his death. When investing Panikkar as Doctor Honoris Causa at the University of Girona, Spain, Dr. Josep-Maria Terricabras said, “Without a doubt Raimon Panikkar is the most internationally renowned catalan thinker alive today. His life and works testify to the huge thematic, geographic and linguistic scope of his thought.”

Panikkar was unusually prolific. He has published around fifty books, mainly in Catalan, Castilian, Italian and English, translated into French, German, Chinese, Portuguese, Czechoslovakian, Dutch and Tamil. For his part over the course of ten years he translated an anthology of a thousand pages of texts from the Vedas.

Apart from this immense academic activity Panikkar was president of the “Pipal Tree” (Bangalore). He was the founder and director of the “Center for Cross-Cultural Religious Studies” (Santa Barbara, California) and of “Vivarium, Centre d’Estudis Intercultural” (Tavertet, Catalogna).

The International Interfaith Centre and the World Congress of Faiths joins with many others in expressing sympathy for those who have been bereaved and deep appreciation of Raimon Panikkar’s life and work

President Obama Defends Religious Freedom

August 15, 2010 by

President Obama at a Muslim Iftar dinner at the White House  staunchly defended controversial plans to build a mosque near Ground Zero in New York.

Opponents have protested against the construction of an Islamic cultural centre and mosque several hundred feet away from the site of the Twin Towers.

Mr Obama acknowledged “sensitivities” surround the 9/11 site, but said Muslims have the same right to practise their religion “as anyone else”.”Our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable,” Mr Obama said.

“We must all recognise and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of lower Manhattan, Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground. But let me be clear, as a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practise their religion as anyone else in this country.

“That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community centre on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are.”

Al-Qaeda’s cause is not Islam,” he said, “it is a gross distortion of Islam”.

Since a New York developer announced plans to build a 13-storey Islamic community centre and mosque about two blocks from the former World Trade Center site, prominent Republican politicians and a host of conservative pundits have attacked the project. Some relatives of people killed in the terror attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 are also opposed to the plan.

 In voicing his support for the right to build the centre, Mr Obama joins New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had been the only prominent politician to endorse it.

Call for an Olympic Ceasefire

August 9, 2010 by


Call for an Olympic Ceasefire
Mainstreaming the
Sustainability Message –
Linking the London 2012 Olympic Truce
to the World Summit on Sustainable
Development through Responsible Tourism
Gordon Sillence
Janela Aberta 21 –
Education for Sustainable Development Centre

• The Value System of Sustainable Development
• NetWorking towards a London Olympic Truce – Partnership, Vision
and Work Progamme
• The 60 Day Olympic Peace Dividend as a Motor of Sustainable
Tourism Development to Counter the Negative Impacts of
• 2012 60 Day World Travel and Tourism Global Awareness
Programme tied to Olympic Media Coverage
• Inner Peace- Global Peace London 2012 – Olympic Rings of Light
Meditation Marathon
• Political Transparency in the Spotlight of a Responsible Media
• Every nation makes a Participant`s Truce Pledge

Faith institutions find responsible investment an uphill struggle

July 26, 2010 by
New research carried out by the International Interfaith Investment Group 3iG, along with ESADE business school in Spain and Vlerick Leuven Gent management School in Belgium in  shows that religious institutions find it difficult to invest responsibly whilst maintaining a strategy that fits in with their beliefs. 

Despite the fact that faith institutions are widely considered to be the pioneers of They make up the third largest demographic of investors globally, but it appears that the stock market presents difficulties when it comes to aligning the needs of the faith with a responsible investment strategy.

Katinka van Cranenburgh who carried out the research along with Professor Celine Louche from Vlerick and Professor Daniel Arenas of ESADE, says that religious investors are more driven by the impact they can have on company behaviour or society than by the financial returns. They tend to have a preference for investing in projects or companies that do good, rather than simply adopting “best in class approaches”.

However, this approach is made more difficult by the fact that banks often cannot provide the services required to be consistent with faith

The current investment market is not capable of providing all the tools and services that are required by religious investors” says Louche, “The great majority of religious institutions surveyed said that their religious beliefs are reflected in their investment practices, but 51% say they would invest more if there were reliable tools to do so in accordance with their beliefs.”

The research did conclude a possible solution for this; customised religious investment products.

Arenas says that, “most faith institutions require a less complex investment market so this need could be met by customised religious investment products. Customisation and simplification would attract more religious money into the global responsible investment market, to the benefit of both parties.”

Louche adds, “This kind of research has not been done before as faith institutions are generally quite difficult to speak to – especially when the questions are about money. However, having spoken extensively to focus groups from the institutions and conducted a global survey it is clear that this isa big problem for them. The whole idea of the research was to enter into a more open dialogue with these faith institutions and try to understand the problems they face.”

For a full copy of the report or to arrange an interview, please contact

+34 655 1313 25 or at

URI Voice of Youth

July 26, 2010 by
URI Voice of Youth is now available at
United Religions Initiative
P.O. Box 29242
San Francisco, CA 94129-0242
Tel: +1-415-561-2300 Fax: +1-415-561-2313>

Happy Birthday to the Dalai Lama

July 8, 2010 by

The Dalai Lama has been celebrating his 75th birthday For decades he has given us all hope — setting a generous example of wisdom, non-violence and compassion for a better world.

Now we can return the favour — let’s send the Dalai Lama a birthday tribute from millions of us worldwide! It will be delivered personally to him on a “wall of warm wishes” outside the temple in Dharamsala and broadcast around the region.

Let’s take this moment to honour the Dalai Lama together and make his birthday last as long as we keep signing! — click here to sign the tribute — then forward this alert to everyone so they can do the same:

Elise Boulding, matriarch of the peace studies, dies

July 8, 2010 by

Elise Boulding, 89, a sociologist who was instrumental in establishing peace studies and conflict resolution as an academic discipline, died June 24 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at a nursing home in Needham, Mass.

Dr. Boulding, a Norwegian-born Quaker, taught at the University of Colorado at Boulder before retiring from Dartmouth College in the mid-1980s. AS a movement, she emphasized the role of women and families in creating a less violent world.

“Elise Boulding was to peace studies what Rachel Carson was to conservation and Margaret Mead to anthropology,” Colman McCarthy wrote. “She gave academic legitimacy to the study of pacifism as both a moral force and a practical alternative to violence–all the way from military violence to domestic violence.”

Dr. Boulding raised five children long before she entered academia, and her experience as a mother convinced her that people can be taught to wage peace just as they are taught to wage war.

Much of Dr. Boulding’s scholarly work was grounded in what she called the underside of history–the people and ideas that have been largely overlooked in narratives of the past. She wrote about important, little-heralded contributions by women from the Paleolithic period through modern times. As a counterpoint to studies of past wars and conflicts, she examined peaceful eras and cultures.

In her book, “Cultures of Peace: The Hidden Side of History” (2000), Dr. Boulding said that peace is a daily and dynamic activity rather than a dull, static state. “Pacifism, which literally refers to the making of peace,” she wrote, “is often mistakenly understood as passivism.”

Dr. Boulding said one of her most important tasks was challenging people in workshops held across the country to envision a world in which quarrels are settled wtihout threats or weapons. “We cannot achieve what we cannot imagine,” she wrote.

Her husband died in 1993. Survivors include five children, 16 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Azerbaijan and Conflict Resolution Meeting”

July 8, 2010 by
The Declaration on “Interfaith Dialogue: Azerbaijan and Conflict Resolution Meeting” signed on 18th June 2010 in the House of Lords by Lord Laird and others is available from

Gobind Sadan

July 8, 2010 by

Dear friends of Gobind Sadan, I am very happy to tell you that a new website is now online: Lovingly designed by Guntas Randhawa of Synaptix Systems in Chandigarh, it contains never-before-published stories, photos, and spiritual discourses from Baba Virsa Singh Ji, plus the entire book of “Everyday Miracles in the House of God,” children’s interfaith plays from our weekly interfaith education class, articles about our gardens, and articles I’ve written on the spiritual life from time to time. I’m continuing to add more stories and photos, so please do take a look now and in the future as well. Maharaj was giving us a great treasure during his physical lifetime, and I was mostly just storing and storing whatever I could. Now that we’re opening the treasure chest, we’re finding such great jewels in it.

      If you like the site, please recommend it to your friends. And keep checking our main Gobind Sadan website, for new additions. We are also returning to putting out a quarterly newsletter for those who want print versions of the news. If you’d like to receive that but your address has changed, please notify     With many thanks for your support, and may Maharaj keep blessing you, Mary Pat Fisher

Interfaith Unity News

July 8, 2010 by

INTERFAITH UNITY NEWS: July edition is now available at                              

International Council of Christians and Jews

July 8, 2010 by

ICCJ Istanbul Conference

Please find below the link to the ICCJ E-Bulletin # 18 in which ICCJ-Consultant Ruth Weyl gives a brief reporton the 2010 ICCJ Istanbul conference held from 20-23 June. This E-Bulletin is only available in English.

Israel Interfaith Encounter

July 8, 2010 by

The Israel Interfaith Encounter Association was covered by a nice article in the Go Jerusalem website. I am happy to share with you the link for this article and hope you enjoy reading it:

 The 2nd youth group of Jerusalem-Hebron met in the Austrian Hospice on April 29 for an encounter surrounding the issue of the Holiness of Hebron in Judaism and Islam. The topic of this encounter, and that of the upcoming meeting the Holiness of Jerusalem in the two religions, came up in the preceding meeting when we decided that there are no issues more befitting to speak about than the two cities that our group represents.

We began the meeting with an overview of the origins of the holiness of Hebron in Judaism. We listened to passages from the book of Genesis; the descriptions of the purchase of the Cave of the Patriarchs and the burials of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah. After that, we heard about the holiness of Hebron in Islam which is also connected to the Cave of the Patriarchs and to the same Patriarchs, who are considered prophets in Islam. Additionally, we saw that the name of the city in Hebrew and Arabic has identical meaning– it is named after our forefather Abraham, the friend (Haver) of G-d, and from here the name in Hebrew is “Hevron” and in Arabic; “Al-Halil” or “The Friend.” We understood that the foundation of the city’s holiness in both religions is actually almost identical. The main difference is that in Judaism, the belief is that the Patriarchs are physically buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs, whereas in Islam, the Cave of the Patriarchs is thought of as a grave marker and a center of prayer, though there is no evidence that the prophets are buried there. In fact, in Islam the only prophet that we know with certainty of the location of his burial place, is the Prophet Mohammad, whose grave is in the city of Medina.

The discussion was very eye-opening since many people in the group admitted during or after that they did not know that in the other religion there was such significance to the city, and just how similar the foundation of its holy status is between the two religions.

Reported: Ayelet Hanfling

Globalization for the Common Good

July 8, 2010 by
GCG Ninth Annual Conference: California 2010
Conference Website:
Conference Programme:
“Love and kindness, peace and justice, generosity and compassion, sympathy and empathy, dialogue of civilisations, ethics, sustainability and the common good”.
Since our conference these wonderful words have been running through my mind and heart, reminding me of our time we had at our conference in California and of the values that we are all passionate to manifest in our world.
From June 6th to June 10th we came together in Thousand Oaks at California Lutheran University in a spirit that positioned the quest for economic and social justice, peace and ecological sustainability within the framework of a spiritual consciousness and a practice of open-heartedness, generosity and caring for others.
The conference attracted over 150 participants including scholars, researchers, activists, spiritual and civil society leaders, elders and the senior citizens and the youths of many backgrounds, cultures and civilisations, representing many countries, including (UK, US, Canada, Brazil, Guatemala, El Salvador,  Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Egypt, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Australia, Thailand, Iran, The Netherlands, Bangladesh, India).
During our conference we heard from many distinguished speakers. We held many hours of dialogue and conversation. We reflected on many challenges and offered possible solutions to heal our troubled world.
We showed very clearly how through cooperation, commitment to dialogue and the common good, we can influence the direction and the path of development and engagement for the better. We showed that we exist to change the public consciousness, the public conversation and public policy, so that we may move our globalised world towards the profound spiritual awakening necessary for us to reverse the environmental destruction, financial and economic irresponsibility, wars and destruction, building a world of “Love and kindness, peace and justice, generosity and compassion, sympathy and empathy, dialogue of civilisations, ethics, sustainability and the common good” for all.
This is why I am asking you from the bottom of my heart, to help us to make our next year conference in Alexandria the greatest gathering, so that together we can show-case our shared dream: We can build a better world for our children and grand children. Next year the Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative will be 10 years old. With your participation and support you will give me your greatest birthday present possible.
Please read this brief resume and forward it to others too, encouraging them to join us also:
Globalisation for the Common Good: 10th Anniversary: From Oxford 2002 to Alexandria 2011
Kamran Mofid PhD (ECON)
Founder, Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative
Co-editor, Journal of Globalisation for the Common Good
Globalisation for the Common Good, California 2010
Globalisation for the Common Good, Alexandria 2011

URI Tenth Anniversary

June 16, 2010 by


10th Anniversary

Watch the 10th Anniversary celebration in Amman, Jordan as the URI Global Council and Staff join the Cooperation Circles from Jordan and other parts of the Middle East and North Africa Region, streaming live from 3 PM to 6:30 PM (Check local time) on 26 June 2010.

URI’s Charter was signed at a global ceremony on June 26th, 2000. In 10 years, URI has grown from 83 founding Cooperation Circles in 30 countries to 476 CCs in 75 countries. As a dedicated global community of change-makers, we are working everyday to mediate religiously motivated conflict; build schools, orphanages and health clinics; campaign for citizenship rights and more. Our work is touching the lives of over 1.5 million people every year. In thousands of ways, URI is opening hearts and minds…and our scope and impact keep growing.

Zanandule, the spirit of the elephant”.

June 16, 2010 by

At the ASHA Centre we are busy preparing for a group of young South Africans from the townships of Johannesburg. They are coming to us on a leadership programme with special emphasis on theatre work which they greatly enjoy. The ASHA team have been twice to South Africa this year to work with them at the Bishop Trevor Huddleston Centre and now they are coming to us to perform a play written by Alex called “Zanandule, the spirit of the elephant”.  

Zanandule tells the story of a dying chieftain with a guilty conscience. Forced by his ancestors to look back on his life, the chief sees his mistakes: his cruelty to his brother, his theft of the crown and, above all, his betrayal of Zanandule. Featuring traditional South African music and dance, as well as life-size elephant puppets, Zanandule is a production you will never forget!   

Last year’s South African group hosted at the ASHA Centre returned to Johannesburg and performed their play “An African Love Story” for Nelson Mandela at his home. This year’s young people are hoping for similar success. 

 GLOUCESTER – Saturday 10th July 7.30pm The Picturedrome Theatre 162-166 Barton St. 

LONDON –  Saturday 17th July 7.30pm  Steiner Theatre, 35 Park St.NW1 6XT Underground Baker St)  

For all performances enquiries and reservations please ring:ASHA Centre 01594 822330 or email on 

Soap Hope

June 16, 2010 by

How We Help End Poverty

Soap Hope invests 100% of its profits every year, for the full year, into anti-poverty non-profits. These organizations use the funds to issue business loans to women in poverty, training them how to start and run their own small businesses. This “teach a woman to fish” model can permanently lift whole communities from poverty, providing families with the resources and skills they need to be self sufficient. We call our program “Good Returns.”

If you can buy products from Soap Hope for the same price as another web site or retail store, wouldn’t you choose to purchase from Soap Hope? You get the same great products, but we will invest ALL the profits into organizations that transform the lives of women.

Why You Are So Important

The Soap Hope model only works if customers make it work. Instead of spending our profits on marketing to reach more customers, we invest them into changing the lives of those in poverty. That’s why we need you to tell others about Soap Hope. You are our marketing department!

It’s so easy to do your part:

  • When it’s time to purchase your body care products, buy from
  • Remember us for gifts for your family, friends, or business colleagues
  • Tell others about Soap Hope by e-mail, phone, text, Facebook, Twitter, communicate with others
  • Link to us on your website, follow us on Twitter, and fan us on Facebook
  • Promote us to someone you know in the media – a reporter, blogger, talk show host
  • Give us feedback on how to better serve your needs

We thank you for supporting us and for participating in this great experiment to improve the lives of our fellow people!

Salah Boukadoum
Craig Tiritilli
Founders, Soap Hope

Please read the Founder’s Blog

Connect To Soap Hope

twitter: @soaphope
phone: 888-893-SOAP

11th International Youth Day (IYD) Celebration and Conference this August 10 ,11, 12, 2010 at Manila, Philippines..

June 16, 2010 by

The United Nations Youth Association of the Philippines (UNYAP) with the guidance and support of United Nations Association of the Philippines (UNAP) is spearheading the  11th International Youth Day (IYD) Celebration and Conference this  August 10 ,11, 12, 2010 at Philippine International Convention Center, Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines.. 

 With the theme: “Strengthening Peace and Human Rights education: Key to sustainable national development”, we are inviting 300-500 youth leaders both foreign and local to gather here in the Philippines in celebration of one great decade of youth’s empowerment, leadership and service to humanity. Representing their respective organizations/institutions from different parts of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, and  guest countries , participants include members of various United Nations Associations across the globe, SK Federation presidents and officials, student council officers from the academe and community youth leaders. International speakers from UNDP, UNESCO, UNV, Commission on Human Rights and with the endorsement from the Commission on Higher Education together with local experts are invited. The event’s culmination will be the awarding of UNAP Outstanding Youth Leaders at the Malacañang Palace with the President of the Republic of the Philippines , His Excellency Benigno “NoyNoy”Aquino III as guest of honor. 

The 11h IYD-Philippines will have parallel workshops and contests by which the participants could explore and maximize their potentials and skills in the field of visual arts, performing arts, writing, multi media and public speaking. This activity envisions a collective effort to understand peace and human rights.  This shall also promote youth participation especially on the matters of Human Rights violations, culture and peace and youth’s personal commitment in establishing Sustainable Development. We hope to strengthen the collective passion of our youth in their productive pursuit of development programs for themselves, our country and the world. Moving forward, these young people will be encouraged to adopt a wider global sense of social responsibility and to mobilize themselves and establish a culture of peace regardless of race, color, religious beliefs and other matters by which could create hostilities.

 In this connection, we are cordially inviting you and your institution to attend witness and participate this year’s celebration. Registration fee covers food and accommodation, conference kits, transportation from and to the conference venue; however, air fare shall be shouldered by the participants/their agency/institution. The conference fee for local participants is 4,000 php and for foreign participants is $ 250.00.. The deadline for the registration will be on July 20, 2010.

For confirmation, please fill out the attached application form and fax to (+632-4042310) and have it emailed to Please have your checks, made payable to the United Nations Association of the Philippines, or cash deposited in the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) with account no. 3063-5932-13.

Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the

June 5, 2010 by

Religions for Peace and Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

The 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the 
Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was held in May 2010 at UN 
Headquarters in New York. The final declaration was agreed by the 189 
member states after comprehensive talks on the last day of the conference. 
The NPT is acknowledged as the cornerstone of global disarmament efforts 
and is even strengthened after the unanimously agreed final declaration. 
The document calls for the United Nations secretary general to organise a 
meeting of Middle East states in 2012 to agree to the creation of a “zone 
free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction”. “All 
eyes the world over are watching us,” said conference president Libran 
Cabactulan, of the Philippines, as the final text was approved. More than 
2000 representatives of NGOs and faith groups including several Religions 
for Peace representatives were present during the month-long conference 
and Religions for Peace organised several events.
 To read the full text please visit

World Campaign 2010 for making prevention of abuse and violence against children a global priority.

June 3, 2010 by

LAST CALL AND LAST DATE 15 JUNE . Join the  Women’s World Summit Foundation (WWSF) World Campaign 2010 for making prevention of abuse and violence against children a global priority.

WWSF is happy to celebrate with you this year the 10th Anniversary of the World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse – 19 November. Last year, 785 organizations from 127 countries joined the international coalition marking not only the World Day but also the Prevention Education Week 13-19 November, or supporting the Day in general.

Launched in 2000, the World Campaign & World Day have as their main mission to create a global culture of prevention. We sincerely hope that you will join the 2010 coalition and to help make prevention a worldwide priority.  We also invite you to encourage your members and partners to do the same.

Please find online the 2010 Campaign Registration Form to be returned latest by
15 June and tick all the corresponding boxes in order to be considered as a coalition member, and describe your planned activities to qualify as an active member. We also give you the link to the introductory page of the campaign

To know all about our programs, please visit our revamped new web site, which gives you updated information on our children and on our women section.

We are pleased to share with you that WWSF is in the process of creating a new interactive web site with the aim to involve young people in prevention of abuse and violence among children and adolescents.

We look forward to counting you among the 2010 coalition members and celebrate with you the power of partnership in creating a global culture for prioritizing prevention.


Elly Pradervand
WWSF CEO and interim Children’s Section coordinator
“No violence against children is justifiable and all violence against children is preventable.”  
– Prof. Paulo Pinheiro

WWSF – Women’s World Summit Foundation – Children’s Section
Secretariat: 11 Avenue de la Paix, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland
P.O. Box 143, 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland
Tel: +41 (0) 22 738 66 19 / Fax: +41 (0) 738 82 48
Email: / Web:

The International Day of Peace (IDP) is on Sept 21

June 3, 2010 by

The International Day of Peace (IDP)is on  Sept 21 . Please note the date. It comes in the middle of the high level Millennium Development Goals  summit that will take place at UN Headquarters from Sept 20-22.


June 3, 2010 by

 Security concerns and human rights topped a United Nations-backed discussion among the religious and ethnic communities of the northern Iraqi governorate of Ninewa. 

Participants at the meeting which took place on 27 May included representatives of the Christian, Shabak, Turkoman and Yazidi communities, as well of the Ninewa administration, the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraqi Government. 

The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (<““>UNAMI) chaired the talks — the first-ever meeting of the Committee on Ethnic and Religious Communities in Ninewa — in the city of Tilkaef. 

Also among the topics discussed during the gathering where the representation of Ninewa’s various communities in Iraq’s security forces. 

The UNAMI meeting marked an important first step for further dialogue and action, said Jerzy Skuratowicz, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative. “While each of the components has its unique and distinct ethnic, cultural and religious heritage that must be preserved, it is also apparent that they all share many common concerns, which need to be addressed.” 

The Dalai Lama’s New Book

May 29, 2010 by
From Eboo Patel
One of the great global leaders of our time, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, is focusing his attention on the importance of interfaith cooperation. In his new book, Towards a True Kinship of Faiths, he tells the world what this kind of cooperation means for the 21st century. He writes,  “Harmony among the major faiths has become an essential ingredient of peaceful coexistence in our world. From this perspective, mutual understandin g among these traditions is not merely the business of religious believers – it matters for the welfare of humanity as a whole.”  
Address postal inquiries to:
Interfaith Youth Core
910 W. Van Buren Street 4th Floor

In Search of the Virtuous Economy: A Plea for Dialogue, Wisdom, and the Common Good”

May 28, 2010 by
Dear friends and colleagues,

“In Search of the Virtuous Economy: A Plea for Dialogue, Wisdom, and the Common Good”

I am delighted to inform you of the Final programme, which is now posted online. In spirit and tradition of a truly warm, and “Sunny California” welcome and hospitality, we invite you to join us in Thousand Oaks, California Lutheran University, to participate in and contribute to this major international conference and to meet with peers and colleagues from around the US and the world.  I can assure you that our Globalisation for the Common Good Conference will be a truly enriching dialogue, a great cultural experience, and a motivational springboard for further global action.

How well we succeed in changing our world for the better, so that we can build a world that is just, free and prosperous for all, will depend on our collective capacities to mobilise interest and master enthusiasm around our common vision and our collective action. This call to action should be heard loud and clear. So please share our message with all of your colleagues and friends: California Lutheran University will be the place where we will come together with a positive global focus, inviting all to march with us along the path of justice, peace and the common good for all.

If you have not registered yet, and wish to do so please see the links below, and kindly please forward this email to all those who might be interested.
Very much looking forward to seeing you all,
With my warmest regards,

“In Search of the Virtuous Economy: A Plea for Dialogue, Wisdom, and the Common Good”

June 6 – 10, 2010

California Lutheran University
Thousand Oaks, California

Kamran Mofid PhD (ECON)
Founder, Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative
Co-editor, Journal of Globalisation for the Common Good
Globalisation for the Common Good, Chicago 2009
Globalisation for the Common Good, California 2010

European Council of Religious Leaders.

May 21, 2010 by

On Tuesday 18 May the Foundation for a Culture of Peace, in collaboration
with the European Council of Religious Leaders, hosted a seminar at the
Palais des Nations in Geneva on “Religions and the Building of Peace:
Fostering Intercultural and Interreligious Cooperation and Action for a
Culture of Peace.” The meeting was attended by religious representatives,
experts and members of UN delegations in Geneva.

Read more at:

Stand Up for Religious Pluralism.

May 20, 2010 by
New resources to encourage a positive approach to religious pluralism are available from the Interfaith Youth Core.




May 20, 2010 by


Just over 100 days remain before the start of the  33rd World Congress of the International Association for Religious Freedom in the capital of Kerala state, Kochi, India.
You can register for our 33rd World Congress from our website’s homepage,
The pre-Congress tour from Chennai to Kochi, “Temples & Treasures of South India”, is
almost full.
The latest IARF newsletter is available from


May 20, 2010 by


The new bulletin of DIM/MID focusses on the pioneering spiritual journey of Dom Henri Le Saux, better known as Swami Abhishiktananda


May 1, 2010 by

27 April 2010 – Religious leaders have a vital part to play in promoting dialogue between different cultures and societies at a time when globalization has left many people feeling discontented, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told an international gathering of leaders.

In a message to the two-day World Summit of Religious Leaders, which concludes today in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, Mr. Ban said that “when we build a culture of understanding and uphold human dignity, we build a better world.”

He noted that “we live in a changing and interconnected world,” where local events can have an impact globally and international events can also have a local impact.

“Globalization continues to transform our societies, bringing gains for many but leaving too many others untouched and discontent. These 21st-century facts compel us to strengthen cooperation – to expand the space for dialogue.”

The Secretary-General stressed that the entire United Nations system supports efforts to promote dialogue between cultures and religions, adding that the UN Alliance of Civilizations initiative has part of those efforts since 2005.

“As religious leaders, you have an essential role to play in ensuring that the values of equality, tolerance and mutual respect, which lie at the core of all the world’s greatest religions, are defended, promoted and used to truly enrich our societies.

“You can encourage dialogue that respects the importance of tradition but also embraces change. You can foster contacts and create conditions that will lead to sustainable peace, social justice and cultural cohesion.”

The World Summit of Religious Leaders was organized by the Inter-Religious Council of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

European Council of Religious Leaders annual meeting addresses justice,

April 27, 2010 by

News from RELIGIONS for PEACE :

The European Council of Religious Leaders – Religions for Peace annual
meeting opened in Istanbul, Turkey, on Monday 26 April 2010. The meeting
lasts until Wednesday and the main theme is “At the Crossroads: Justice,
Equality and Sharing as a Basis for Cultures of Peace”.

Dr A Hadi Adanali, the adviser to the Turkish Prime Minister on
intercultural affairs, gave the key note address in the opening session of
the meeting. He presented the Turkish government’s initiatives linked to the
Alliance of Civilisation process; “The first decade of the 21st century has
seen a growing recognition of the role of religion in the meeting of
cultures,” he said, and also emphasised the necessity in our time for
religious leaders to understand and interact with youth culture.

In his report to the council, ECRL Moderator Bishop Gunnar Stålsett, placed
the work of the council within the context or present day challenges for
religions in Europe:

Read more at:

Interfaith Dialogue: Cross Cultural Views

April 26, 2010 by
Interfaith Dialogue: Cross Cultural Views
Interfaith Dialogue: Cross Cultural Views is useful new book from Ghainaa Communication and Studies, P.O Box 226546 Riyadh, KSA


April 26, 2010 by


“In recent years, the Scarboro Missions Interfaith Department in Toronto, Canada has committed itself to building a website featuring useful educational resources for interfaith work.  Some of these resources were developed to accompany our Golden Rule Poster which features the Golden Rule – scripturally and symbolically – in 13 religions    

1)  To access our entire Golden Rule section:

2) Do-it-yourself Golden Rule workshop outline:

3) The 13 Golden Rule texts in 7 languages

     – English, Spanish, French, Italian, German,  Portuguese & Hebrew

4)  Golden Rule Curriculum for Schools and Youth Groups

        5)   Golden Rule Meditation Exercises

6)   Making the connection between the Golden Rule and the emerging Global Ethic:

7)   Golden Rule Movie (featuring youth)

8)   Interactive Golden Rule Flash Presentation:

9)   To get access to our entire Interfaith Dialogue section:

10)  Check out this do-it-yourself workshop in multi-faith sensitivity training:

11)  Guidelines for Designing Multifaith Prayer Services

12)  To view or order the Golden Rule Poster

Medical Equipment Needed for Bethlehem’s Children

April 26, 2010 by

Medical equipment for a children’s  hospital is urgently needed.
To ensure that equipment we have to raise over £70,000.
We deeply appreciate your support and looking forward to hear from you.

Please do not hesitate to contact me for further questions.

Best wishes

Daniel Hurter
Operations Manager
Children’s Relief Bethlehem UK
PO Box 320
TR18 9BY

Tel. 0844 22 50 300

Children’s Relief Bethlehem UK is a registered charity No. 1133383
and a company limited by guarantee No. 7033530 in England and Wales.
Documentary –

Global Caring Ethics

April 26, 2010 by

A Message from Global Caring Ethics

Global Caring Ethics…vision to reality!

Our challenge is to address the huge suffering and poverty amongst billions of our human family and establish global human rights, something that we all strive for, but so far with limited success.

* Officially, we are led to believe that adults shine the light for global peace and harmony but so many of you have shown the contrary!

* Time and time again you describe how young people’s hearts and minds, fresh from parental love, generate bonds of friendship crossing boundaries of state, race and faith.

* You describe children positively bubbling with enthusiasm when presenting their ideas to solve global problems.

* Feed back from young people volunteering abroad in their gap year, confirms that they get a buzz from doing a ‘healing’ job, much as a nurse or doctor does from a positive caring occupation.

* It is a fact that positive empathy will lodge in a young brain, enter adolescence and retain its power into adulthood.

* In effect, this means that the younger generation hold the key to a happier caring world.  It just requires positive enthusiasm to exploit this finding…..but sooner rather than later!

Action Plan

* Without the charitable movements and the positive activities, such as the ones you represent, there would be mayhem on planet earth!

* But a number of us have already realised that the missing ‘educare’ element within education allows negative values to creep in and bring out human’s worst characteristics based on power and greed.

* The present curriculum with its 3Rs shouts a ‘message’.  It says:

‘Education provides the power to improve your life, to be somebody and lead a fulfilling life.’

But hunger for power can provide fulfillment of the negative variety and educated rogues regularly exploit this power causing huge misery to billions of our fellow beings.

The 4th R in a Positive Values Education.

This special R stands for three basic trends, namely, Human Rights, Respect for all races and faiths, and Responsibility for the welfare of fellow humans everywhere.  The last Responsibility being an extension of the care we are already showing for wild life, farmed animals and ‘green’ activities.

But this 4th R should not be a burden on overworked teachers. Global Caring Ethics can fit within the present subjects, humanities and citizenship, in such a way as to inspire creative ideas.  For instance, ideas sown in young hearts and minds that suggest ‘I can do something to help make the world a happier place’ strikes a core which actually lies within us all.

Research shows that positive adult values do arrive from ethics sown in childhood.  There is no doubt about this!

The whole purpose of the Action Plan is to reverse the selfish direction of global education.

It is no fantasy to suppose that the key to a happier peaceful world lies in addressing this missing R in education.  Lets go for it and press every lever in the education world!

Inspiring that 4th R

The teachers amongst you will confirm that teaching a child to be kind and good often invites rebellion.  But inspiring a young person to visualise that he or she can be a ‘healer of sorts’, is an exciting prospect.

Here are a few suggestions for teachers to adopt in the creative inspiration process:-

“Children, you learn about the bad things happening in the world. Come up with your ideas so your own children can live one day in a happier peaceful world.”

“Children, there is so little rain in some parts of Africa, and people have to walk 5 miles every day to fetch drinking water from a river.”

“Write about your ideas to help these poor families. Watch the spelling please.”

One can visualise numerous ideas to inspire creative thoughts in childrens’ hearts and minds.


Every person within the education world needs to be contacted.  A role organiser is needed.  There are thousands ready to support you!  Do not doubt, this ‘Educare’ movement is one more step in the evolutionary process towards a true human being!  Be a part of it! 


The European Council of Religious Leaders to meet in Istanbul

April 19, 2010 by

The European Council of Religious Leaders – Religions for Peace will meet
for their  annual meeting on 26 – 28 April 2010 in Istanbul, Turkey. The
meeting is generously hosted by ECRL member HE Prof. Dr Ali Bardakoglu,
President of Religious Affairs in Turkey.

The main theme of the council meeting will be: “At the Crossroads: Justice,
Equality and Sharing as a Basis for Cultures of Peace”, and the council will
address the issue of minorities’ situation in Europe including the banning
of minarets in Switzerland November 2009.

Read more at:

Survey Finds One-Quarter of Africans Fear Religious Conflict

April 16, 2010 by

More than half the population in Nigeria and Rwanda fear future bloodshed along religious lines – so says new research from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. But it says on the whole Christians and Muslims across Africa view one another favorably.

The survey found that across sub-Saharan Africa one-quarter of people worry that religion will lead to conflict. “There are significant numbers who say religious conflict is a big problem in their country. Highest among that, incidentally, is Nigeria which probably won’t come as a surprise to many people given the headlines that we’ve been seeing,”  said Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, part of the Pew Research Center based in Washington.

More than 500 people have been killed in clashes between Muslims and Christians in central Nigeria this year.

A large number of African Christians – in more than a dozen countries as many as 40 percent – said they consider Muslims to be violent. Muslims were more positive in their assessment of Christians.

But the majority of sub-Saharan Africans were positive about both religions and said it was a good thing for people from other religions to practice their faith freely. “The majority of Muslims and Christians identified the other faith with positive characteristics – they’re being tolerant, honest, respectful of women and devout. Much fewer identified people of the other faith with negative characteristics such as selfish or immoral or arrogant,” said Lugo.

Lugo says part of the reason for the good relations may be that there are often members of different religions within one family.

And, he says, religious zeal is equal across both faiths.  “Both share a high degree of religious commitment, which would not be the case, let’s say, as Muslims interact with fairly secular European societies to give you a contrasting example. Muslims and Christians both have strong moral conservatives value and they share those values,” he said.

The survey is based on more than 25,000 face-to-face interviews conducted in more than 60 languages or dialects across 19 countries.

More than 90 percent of people surveyed identified themselves as Christians or Muslim. Lugo says this is why Africa was a good place to begin his research – which will go on to look at religion in other parts of the world. “This is as good a place as any if you’re going to find a meeting place or a fault line depending on your point of view between these two traditions and how they negotiate their differences. This is probably the best place in the world to do that,” he said.

According to the survey, many people who believe in Christianity or Islam also retain beliefs that are characteristic of traditional African religion. Many keep sacred objects such as animal skins and skulls in their homes and consult traditional healers when someone is sick.

Selah Hennessy | London 15 April 2010


March 29, 2010 by
Calls from Faith-based and Human Rights’ organizations for the cancellation of Haiti’s debt to the International Monetary Fund are growing.
Haiti has a painful history with debt. When it won its independence in 1804, it was required to pay restitution to France for loss of property and lost profits from slave trading. Money which could have been invested in building  a new nation had to be used to repay the necessary loans and interest. The loan was not finally paid off until 1947. 
Today Haiti’s debt is nearly $1 billion. There are a growing number of calls for the debt to be cancelled and for all assistance to be in the form of grants and not loans
See Just Commentary  Vol 10 N0 2 February 2010

Religious leaders commit to visible and active leadership on HIV

March 28, 2010 by

Religious leaders commit to visible and active leadership on HIV

Religious leaders from every continent and many of the world’s faiths commit
to stronger, more collaborative efforts to eliminate stigma and
discrimination against people living with HIV.
Den Dolder, The Netherlands, 23 March 2010 – High level religious and
spiritual leaders from many of the world’s major religions pledged
“stronger, more visible and practical leadership in the response to HIV” as
the first global High Level Summit of Religious Leaders on HIV concluded
today in The Netherlands.

Read more at:


March 28, 2010 by

The new issue of Wisdom – the newsletter of the Elijah Interfaith Institute contains interesting reports of 
 Elijah at the Parliament of World Religions

Go to

Globalization for the Common Good

February 1, 2010 by

 Globalization for the Common Good: An Interfaith Perspective
Ninth Annual Conference

“In Search of the Virtuous Economy: A Plea for Dialogue, Wisdom, and the Common Good”

June 6 – 10, 2010

California Lutheran University
Thousand Oaks, California

Similar to previous conferences, the 2010 event promises to be especially significant and timely. Today, when global conditions can only be described as “complex and perplexing”, a combined effort and collective thinking is needed to find ways to overcome the challenge brought about by the global socio/economic and political crises. Today, our world is challenged by a changing climate, financial and banking crisis, sleaze and lack of transparency in private and public life, hunger and pandemic disease, war and terrorism, armaments and unprecedented violence and insecurity, amongst others. What can make a difference?  Good ideas, Creativity, Passion, Innovation, Wisdom, Justice, dialogue, and the Common Good.

It is our task to ensure that people everywhere know that there are serious alternatives to the world’s present failing policies, rules and institutions, and that there are likeminded global citizens who share a vision of hope and the common good that can lift them out of the deep sense of powerlessness and despair that is now affecting so many parts of the world. Moreover, while the central focus is on solutions to the global economic and financial crisis, we should keep in mind the deeper questions that rarely find their way into political debate or public discourse, matters that are deeply ethical and spiritual: What is the source of true happiness and well-being? What is the purpose of economic life? What is the good life? What does it mean to be a human being living on a spaceship with finite resources?

We invite you to come and be part of this groundbreaking moment in addressing the challenges of globalisation, deepening our understanding, developing skills, cultivating compassion, wisdom and dialogue. Come and join us, so that together we can discover the intellectual energy, the spiritual passion, and the relational power of dialogue, conversation, friendship, sharing wisdom and experience and expertise to heal our broken world.

The Conference main theme and focus is on our search of the virtuous economy, leading by wisdom, doing well by doing good, creating a world that works for all. Other thematic areas which will be addressed include the following: *The meaning and Practice of wisdom, virtues and Service as the basis of a trustful and effective Leadership; *Various religious and spiritual philosophies on economy, globalisation, environment, peace and justice; *Causes and Solutions of the Global Financial Crisis; *Global Repercussions of the Financial Crisis; *Fundamental Defects of the Free Market System; *Ethical Foundations of Ecological Economics, *The Role of Business Schools in the Development of International Projects and Service-Based Learning; *Ethical Investments for a Sufficiency Economy; *Globalisation and Dialogue of Civilisations; *Theology and Economics; *Media, Global Communication and Globalisation; *Government and/or Private Sector Response to the Financial Crisis; *Gender Equity; *Human Health and Well-being; *The Challenges of the Aging Population in the era of Globalisation; *Environmental Stewardship; *The Young People perspectives on Globalisation, Education, Ecology, Economics, Politics and more; *Interreligious Dialogue; *Islam and the West; *Sustainable Production and Consumption; and *How to Harness Greed and How to Nurture the Common Good, and more.

For further details please see the conference website:

For registration details see:

French Ban on the Burqa

January 29, 2010 by
 A French parliament report called on Tuesday for a ban on the full Islamic veil in all schools, hospitals, public transport and government offices, saying the burqa was an affront to French values.
The wearing of the full veil is a challenge to our republic. This is unacceptable,” the report released by a parliament commission said. “We must condemn this excess.”
“The wearing of the full veil is a challenge to our republic. This is unacceptable,” the report released by a parliament commission said. “We must condemn this excess.”

After six months of hearings, the panel of 32 lawmakers recommended a ban on the face-covering veil in all state-run institutions and offices, the broadest move yet to restrict Muslim dress in France.

The commission called on parliament to adopt a formal resolution stating that the burqa was “contrary to the values of the republic” and proclaiming that “all of France is saying ‘no’ to the full veil.”

Women who turn up at government offices wearing the full veil should be denied services such as a work visa, residency papers or French citizenship, the report recommended.

The panel however stopped short of proposing broad legislation to outlaw the burqa on the streets or in shopping centres after cautioning that such a move would have to be reviewed by the courts to establish its legality.

“The wearing of the full veil is the tip of the iceberg,” said communist lawmaker Andre Gerin, the chair of the commission.

“There are scandalous practices hidden behind this veil,” said Gerin who vowed to fight the “gurus” seeking to export a racial brand of fundamentalism and sectarianism to France.

Home to Europe’s biggest Muslim minority, estimated at about six million, France is being closely watched at a time of particular unease over Islam, three months after Swiss voters approved a ban on minarets.

President Nicolas Sarkozy set the tone for the debate in June when he declared the burqa “not welcome” in France and described it as a symbol of women’s “subservience” that cannot be tolerated in a country that considers itself a human rights leader.

From the Times of India

Interfaith Youth Core IFYC Feb 2011

March 1, 2011 by
Our interfaith leaders are building a movement of people from all faiths and traditions who are working together to change the world. Watch IFYC’s new video!
Our goal is to collect the most eloquent, established and emerging commentators, storytellers and interpreters to have a different conversation about religion. Check out this months pieces from:
From launching our new website, to hosting a multi-campus training institute in the Bay Area, to the kickoff of 81 Better Together Campaigns across the country, IFYC has had a busy month. We were also pleased to co-edit a special issue of the Journal of College and Character — focused on interfaith cooperation in higher education. And the year has just begun!
I hope you’ll take a few moments to explore these highlights. Thank you for your support.
Interfaith Youth Core launched its new website, designed to meet the needs of its young leaders and engage our audiences in our important work of interfaith cooperation. New features include: our blog, an interactive campaign page, multiple ways to get involved, multi-media stories of l eaders, and more!
In addition, we hope you like our new logo, look, and feel.
Understanding religious differences should be an important goal of higher education, and college campuses provide a valuable learning laboratory for this purpose. Check out the new issue with features from Eboo Patel, Cassie Meyer, and IFYC alum Chris Stedman.
The world has been buzzing about the events in Egypt and the Mideast, and our leaders have been inspired by the role young people have played. IFYC Alums Frank Fredricks and Ola Mohamed co-hosted a call with Eboo Patel to explore the connection of recent events to the civil rights movement and 9/11, the importance of Christian and Muslim relationships, and how the Egyptian revolution can be seen as an interfaith movement.
Address postal inquiries to:
Interfaith Youth Core
910 W. Van Buren Street, 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60607-3575

Peace NGOs in Jericho

February 16, 2011 by

I recently attended a conference of PEACE NGOs in Jericho. PEACE NGOs is a coalition of 50 Israeli groups and 50 Palestinian organizations that work for peace in our region in a variety of ways through civil society initiatives. It is coordinated by the Peres Peace Center in Israel and by Panorama in the Palestinian Authority. ICCI has been a member of this coalition for the past 5 years. The month before this conference, I attended the inaugural conference of Religions for Peace Palestine in Bethlehem. 

On these visits to the West Bank, I sensed a real desire for peace among Palestinian groups and a palpable feeling that the institutions of a Palestinian State are being developed. Moreover, there are 50 Israeli peace NGOs who support this idea and work towards it in educational and social ways. 

ICCI as a non-political NGO does not get involved in the details of the diplomacy of peacemaking. All we can do is encourage the peacemakers to work faster and more efficiently. Our role is to supplement the political and diplomatic peace process with peacebuilding efforts on the ground which can change the hearts and minds of many sectors of Israeli and Palestinian society about the possibilities and benefits of peace. This is why we continue to bring religious leaders, women, youth, young adults and educators together in dialogue and educational programs, to lay the foundations of mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence for the future.

In peace, shalom, salaam, 

Dr. Ron Kronish, rabbi

Director, ICCI

The Language of Interfaith Conversation

January 17, 2011 by

Etiquette is part of many disciplines, including interfaith dialogue. In this new article on our website, Canadian multifaith educator, JW Windland, argues that a sensitive use of interfaith language expresses our common humanity, builds relationships of respect and trust, and pursues peace.

When you click the link below, you will arrive at “The Principles and Guidelines for Interfaith Dialogue” section of our site. Next, click entry #12 which is “The Language of Interfaith Conversation.”

Here is the link:

Paul McKenna

Scarboro Missions Interfaith Dept.
2685 Kingston Rd.

Conversions to Islam in UK

January 7, 2011 by

A new report suggests that the number of conversions to Islam in the UK  is growing, according to reports in the Independent and Daily Mail

Pakistan’s blasphemy law

January 7, 2011 by

ISLAMABAD | Wed Jan 5, 2011 4:44am EST

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan‘s anti-blasphemy law has been in the spotlight since November when a court sentenced a Christian mother of four to death, in a case that has exposed deep rifts in the troubled Muslim nation of more than 170 million people.

While liberal Pakistanis and rights groups believe the law to be dangerously discriminatory against the country’s tiny minority groups, Asia Bibi’s case has become a lightning rod for the country’s religious right.

On Tuesday, the governor of the most populous state of Punjab, Salman Taseer, who had strongly opposed the law and sought presidential pardon for the 45-year-old Christian farmhand, was gunned down by one of his bodyguards.

Here some facts about the blasphemy law and its fallout.

* The law has its roots in 19th century colonial legislation to protect places of worship, but it was during the military dictatorship of General Mohammad Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s that it acquired teeth as part of a drive to Islamize the state.

* Under the law, anyone who speaks ill of Islam and the Prophet Mohammad commits a crime and faces the death penalty but activists say the vague terminology has led to its misuse. The law stipulates that “derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo or insinuation, directly or indirectly shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”

* Christians who make up 4 percent of Pakistan’s population have been especially concerned about the law saying it offers them no protection. Convictions hinge on witness testimony and often these are linked to personal vendettas, they say.

* Blasphemy convictions are common in Pakistan, although the death sentence has never been carried out. Most convictions are thrown out on appeal, but angry mobs have killed many people accused of blasphemy.

* In 2009, 40 houses and a church were set ablaze by a mob of 1,000 Muslims in the town of Gojra, Punjab. At least seven Christians were burned to death. The attacks were triggered by reports of the desecration of the Koran. Police had already registered a case under Section 295C against three Christians for blasphemy.

Last July, two Christian brothers accused of writing a blasphemous letter against the Prophet Mohammad were gunned down outside a court in the eastern city of Faisalabad.

Hence a conviction or even an accusation under this law is often a death sentence, activists say.

* Some attempts have been made in the past to either repeal the law or try and amend the provisions to prevent their misuse, but each time the government has faced the wrath of religious conservatives. The current administration has ruled out scrapping the law altogether, saying such a move would hand a weapon to religious extremists and fuel militancy at a time when it is struggling to tackle it.

* Islamist parties have warned against any attempt to change the law, seeing it as a dilution of the country’s Islamist character under foreign pressure. On December 31, thousands of supporters led a nationwide strike warning any attempt to change the law would only be “over their dead bodies.”

* Earlier in December, a pro-Taliban Muslim cleric offered a $5,800 reward to anyone who killed the Christian woman, Bibi, in prison, angered by attempts, by among others governor Taseer, to save her from the gallows.

(Writing by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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