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Archive for the ‘Community Cohesion’ Category

Universal Peace Federation – UK News August 2013 – 1

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on August 16, 2013

Universal Peace Federation - UK Newsletter August 2013

Universal Peace Federation – UK Newsletter August 2013 Page 1

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Youth Universal Peace Federation-UK Solidarity Visit to Regents Park Mosque

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on June 17, 2013

Visit to Regents Park Central Mosque by Youth UPF‘Walk Hand in Hand and Shoulder to Shoulder to Heal our Communities’

Youth Universal Peace Federation (UPF) members visited Regents Park Mosque yesterday to ‘Walk Hand in Hand and Shoulder to Shoulder to Heal our Communities’. Supported by Sheikh Dr Hojjat Ramzy, the Muslim Council of Britain Education Committee Chairman, the group of young and old UPF activists from several different faiths, were introduced to Sheikh Imam Khalifa, the Imam of the Regents Park Mosque. He reflected on the current situation of the Muslim community. He shared that humanity all have the same heart and spirit given to them by the creator but we developed differently due to Allah’s wisdom. We should not harm another community because of those differences. (Photo Link)

Sheikh Imam Khalifa was grateful for the visit saying that this time of challenges will soon pass. He added that the Muslim community has a good situation generally in UK. Another worshipper after reading the banner and understanding the nature of the UPF visit, extended his blessing to all who had come to visit at this testing time. Robin Marsh expressed that UPF believes ‘humanity is one family under a loving God’ and that is why we had visited today. Sheikh Ramzy shared that the Mosque was a place that was open to all who wanted to pray to God. He added that he was proud to be an Ambassador for Peace of the Universal Peace Federation which is a great organisation working for peace in the world.

Attending the late afternoon prayers and meeting some of the worshippers, the group was later given a tour of the Mosque which, being built in 1974, is the third oldest in the UK.

The UPF -UK, with support from its leading Ambassadors for Peace, released a statement from the day after the murder in Woolwich.

‘The murder of a soldier in Woolwich was a tragic event. Our prayers are with his family who must be really suffering. It is also sad to see a backlash from small extremist groups against the Muslim Community. Now is the time for all communities in UK to appreciate the genuine Islamic contribution to UK. The Muslim community should be supported and valued as a vital part of the UK. It is through the democratic process, that the role of the UK soldiers who represent us all, is decided. Our strength and harmony is through the inclusion of all communities in the social and political fabric of the nation. That is a daily responsibility for all of us that now has added importance. The Universal Peace Federation, along with many other groups, promotes interfaith activity to facilitate mutual understanding and enhance this fabric.’

Robin Marsh

Secretary General

Universal Peace Federation (UPF) – UK

pa@uk.upf.org  www.uk.upf.org

UPF is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations

UPF-UK Latest Newsletter

UPF World Summit 2013 ‘Peace, Security and Human Development’

Upcoming UPF Events

Posted in Community Cohesion, Event Reports, Interfaith, Peace and Development | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

UPF – UK Statement on the Recent Riots

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on August 12, 2011

Universal Peace Federation - UKIt is with great sadness that we saw the recent chaos and criminality on our streets of London and other major cities around the UK. Our condolences go out to the families of those who have lost their lives during the turmoil. Several images and statements are enduring. The first is the helplessness of an overstretched Police Force to prevent the sudden escalation of criminal behaviour, the emergence of undercurrents of jealously, greed, violence and inter-community tensions. When Police authority was removed real emotions and motivations were released in a crude and raw expression. ‘You’re rich we’re poor but we rule the streets tonight’ was an expression of the crude, underlying feelings. In response many Londoners utilised social media for a good purpose to gather to clean the streets the next morning.

There have been many noble but unsuccessful efforts to assist the most vulnerable and deprived of UK society. It would be wrong to blame these riots upon these failures. We should instead recognise that there is a widespread failure to inculcate correct values that would strengthen the conscience of individuals. Irrespective of the opportunity to steal or loot individuals should not take the chance but respect other’s property. Similarly Directors of companies should not abuse their position to exploit others. Politicians should not abuse their positions and power. Journalists, and religious leaders, also should not abuse their position. The Universal Peace Federaton believes we should live for the sake of others in creating one family of humankind under an inclusive, loving God and that we are morally accountable for our actions. These values should be taught primarily by example in the family, but also in schools, religious institutions and the wider community.

Posted in Community Cohesion | Tagged: , , , , | 25 Comments »

Statement on the Burning of the Koran in a Florida Church

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on March 26, 2011

It is with great regret that we heard the news that the Christian Minister, Terry Jones burned a Koran in a public ‘trial’ in Gainsville, Florida. We as people of different faiths urge respect for faith to be the benchmark of inter-religious and inter-community relations. Religion can be a powerful force to divide humanity. Centred on respect for faith in its many and varied forms religion can be a force for healing and unification that encapsulates and articulates the great love of our Creator.

  • Rt Rev Riah Abu El-Assal, Emeritus Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem
  • Rev Canon Peter Challen
  • Jack Lynes
  • Aftikhar Ahmed
  • Robin Marsh, Secretary General Universal Peace Federation-UK
  • Ruth Barnett
  • Major (Retired) Suryaparsad Upadhya
  • Sir Bryan Frasi
  • Sudesh Sharma

Please leave a comment if you wish your name to be added to this statement.

For More Information

Posted in Community Cohesion | 7 Comments »

Holocaust Memorial and Genocide Prevention

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on February 15, 2011

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Hosted by Lord King, the Universal Peace Federation-UK held the annual ‘Holocaust Memorial and Genocide Prevention’ in a heart moving event in the House of Lords on February 15th, 2011. This featured Daniel Finkelstein sharing his family’s tragic Holocaust experience, Alex Ntung and Prudencienne Seward spoke of their horrific experiences in the Rwandan and Great Lakes region and Ruth Barnett spoke about Genocide in general and the Armenian Genocide in particular as a forerunner of the Holocaust. Jonathan Fryer emphasised the role of the individual to take on the Responsibility to Protect.

Daniel Finkelstein’s family suffered greatly during the Holocaust. Most of his family were in Holland in the same community as Anne Frank. On the day they received visas to go to the UK Holland was invaded and they were trapped. With three young children it was impossible to go into hiding like Anne Frank. His Grandfather, who was in London at the time, is famous for founding the Wiener Library in London for the collection of evidence and artefacts of Fascism. The collection was used during the Nuremberg Trials. The Wiener Library is the world’s oldest institution devoted to the study of the Holocaust, its causes and legacies. Founded in 1933 as an information bureau that informed Jewish communities and governments worldwide about the persecution of the Jews under the Nazis.

Finkelstein’s family experience of the Holocaust has coloured his political views. Big ideas are threatening because it was the big ideas that killed many of his family as well as many other tragedies. The small ideas are less threatening.  The passionate desire for the truth pursued by his grandfather has also influenced his political and journalistic career.

His mother and her sisters lived due to an ‘outrageous stroke of luck’ because there was a prisoner swap which only happened one time. He described the torment of ‘survivor’s guilt’ suffered by his Aunts adding that his Mother dealt with this through her strong mind and keen reasoning. (For a full account please see here)

Two testimonies about the Rwandan genocide were very powerful. Alex Ntung shared that he had been saved because of his nose! His nose does not look like a typical Tutsi nose. He sadly has been in three genocides: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Somehow he survived all three. Another time he escaped because the killers at a checkpoint had killed so much they were tired and hungry and he was able to pass through without being attacked. He suffered the survival guilt that was experienced by Holocaust survivors.

Prudentienne Seward, a Rwandan Tutsi, testified to her work with the healing process after so much tragic loss in her family during the  Genocide in 1994. She has been involved in ‘Highly Inclusive Inter-Rwandan Dialogue’. She is the Chair of PAX that is seeking to promote justice, forgiveness and reconciliation among Rwandans ad people of the Great Lakes Region by involving them in reconciliation activities. They hold regular conferences to attempt to deal with the repeated human rights violations of the Great Lakes region in a way that heals and brings closure for as many as possible. In the view of the activists there has been little progress since the Edenbridge declaration in 2001 to bring reconciliation in the Great Lakes region.

Ruth Barnett, a Holocaust Educator and Kinder transport child, shared that the pursuit of truth that was so important for Daniel Finkelstein’s Grandfather was also important for her and for the resolution of genocide. Denial of genocide is the final stage in the Gregory Stanton’s ‘the 8 Stages of Genocide’ (For More Info: Genocide Watch). The first six stages do not include murder. There are many opportunities to prevent genocide before it gets to violence. The 7th stage is extermination of the victimised group and the 8th stage is denial of the genocide. That is why she said she is so hot on challenging  genocide denial.

Barnett emphasised that the Armenian genocide was the model for the Holocaust in that the Turkish leaders were allowed to evade responsibility for 96 years. There are archives in the Houses of Parliament that demonstrate the truth of the Armenian genocide. There is no closure without acknowledgement. After the World War One there was a conspiracy to cover up the truth of the genocide that included the UK Government. This was not a healthy development and encouraged other genocides because conspiirators believed they could commit mass murder with impunity.

Prudentienne Seward testified to her work with the healing process after so much tragic loss in her family. She has been involved in ‘Highly Inclusive Inter-Rwandan Dialogue’. She is the Chair of PAX that is seeking to promote justice, forgiveness and reconciliation among Rwandans ad people of the Great Lakes Region by involving them in reconciliation activities. They hold regular conferences to attempt to deal with the repeated human rights violations of the Great Lakes region in a way that heals and brings closure for as many as possible. In the view of the activists there has been little progress since the Edenbridge declaration in 2001 to bring reconciliation in the Great Lakes region.

Her family suffered many deaths and her husband was also killed in the massacres. It has been so traumatic but she felt the only way to go forward was to seek to promote reconciliation, justice and forgiveness through PAX. This justice should deal with the massacres of 1994 but should also deal with the other bouts of killing that preceded this.

Marilyn Brummer, President of the League of Jewish Women, asked if the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ initiative could be effective when dealing with sovereign nations that were engaging in persecution of a minority community?

Jonathan Fryer emphasised that nations are composed of people who need to take responsibility to stand up for what they believe. In the Holocaust there were a number of individuals who took incredible risks to save Jews even though they were not Jewish themselves. The responsibility to protect can of course promoted and implemented by nations and armies but they are often part of the problem. Individuals must stand up to take their own responsibility to protect by being courageous. Once the people stand up the Government cannot hold them back for long.

Robin Marsh explained that the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) perceives humanity as being one family under God. This means that all human life has sacred value. Thus the human value and rights of all people are equal. This also means that our moral concern should be to protect all members of the human family and support the poorest and most disadvantaged. Tim Miller, the Vice President of European UPF, added that the Inter-Religious Council proposal for the United Nations composing the spiritual and religious wisdom of all faith communities in conjunction with political leadership could promote the dialogue that has the possiblity to prevent these tragedies.

Photo Link

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Sharing Stories of Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 10, 2010

6th November 2010

Annette Allen Receives An Ambassador for Peace Award

The third in a series of Forgiveness and Reconciliation Conferences, chaired by Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke,  considering not so much the theological statements about forgiveness but the personal experiences of those who have strived to forgive or be forgiven based on belief in those statements. The testimonies were from a series of people who shared about their struggles within wider community or national level conflicts, and those who had suffered personally in individual relationship problems. (Event photo link) Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Community Cohesion | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

7-7 Muslim Perspectives by Murtaza Shibli

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on July 4, 2010

FIVE YEARS ON – BRITISH MUSLIMS SPEAK OUT ON IMPACT OF JULY 7 BOMBINGS

British Muslims give condolences, and provide findings for future resilience

Our first thoughts and prayers are for those remembering loved ones and friends lost or injured in the 7 July 2005 London bombings. This was the worst act of domestic terrorism Britain has ever experienced.  The shock of finding that the perpetrators were young apparently well integrated British Muslims has caused many to question the role of Muslims in the UK.

The July 7 bombings affected British Muslims in an unprecedented way as questions about their loyalty, Britishness and the nature of their  belonging in our society created endless discussion, academic research, government interventions and media speculation.

Today we add substance and authenticity to the debate. For the first time, 25 British Muslims explain in their own words what they were doing that day, how they were affected immediately by the bombings, and what lessons they draw now that five years have passed. The contributors, evenly balanced between men and women, include British born Muslims, immigrants and converts to Islam.

Edited by Murtaza Shibli, former Public Affairs and Media Officer of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the book, 7/7: Muslim Perspectives will be launched on 7 July at the House of Lords, at an event supported by the Universal Peace Federation and European Muslim Research Centre, University of Exeter.

The editor of the book, Murtaza Shibli, said “The voice and views of the ordinary British Muslims have been lost

Murtaza Shibli

amongst the endless debates and analysis. This book offers a chance to find out what normal people experienced and how this watershed event has had an impact on their lives both as British citizens and as Muslims.”

Canon Guy Wilkinson, National Inter Religious Affairs Adviser & Secretary for Inter Religious Affairs to the Archbishop of Canterbury, said of the book “Those responsible, we need to be reminded, were respecters neither of humanity nor of religion. If this book enables more people to be respecters of both, then it will have contributed to the wellbeing of British society.”

Robert Lambert and Jonathan Githens-Mazer of the European Muslim Research Centre, University of Exeter, argue that a failure to hold a public inquiry into 7/7 has led to many misunderstandings about its causes. This in turn has allowed religiously observant and politically active Muslims to be demonised as ‘radical’ or ‘extremist’ by ill-informed commentators and politicians. For them    “This is an excellent book that challenges Islamophobic accounts of Muslims that have grown alarmingly since 7/7”.

In a joint statement, Robin Marsh and Margaret Ali of the Universal Peace Federation said, “The Universal Peace Federation (UPF) is supporting the book launch of ‘7/7 Muslim Perspectives’ because facilitating dialogue and understanding between communities is central to UPF’s vision. It is good to hear firsthand accounts from Muslim men

Seja Majeed: a champion of volunteering and a contributor to the book

Seja Majeed - A Contributor to the Book

and women. Through the humanity and compassion in their testimonies a wider common ground can be perceived by concerned non-Muslim Britons. This is particularly necessary at this time of tension over immigration and the rise of the BNP”.

Read the rest of this entry »

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New Future for Britain: Where will the Coalition Lead Us?

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on July 1, 2010

Tom Brake Addressing UPF South London Audience

In front of a 50-strong audience at the Peace Embassy in Thornton Heath, Tom Brake, the Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington, received an Ambassador for Peace award, which was presented in acknowledgement of his sterling contribution over many years as a hard-working MP and shadow government minister and for his long-standing efforts in support of human rights and international development. Presenting the award at UPF South London’s conference on “A New Future for Britain”, Robin Marsh, UPF Secretary General, commended Mr Brake for his sense of integrity and his consistent support for the principles of peace and social justice. The MP,  who had cycled from Carshalton to Thornton Heath to be with us, delivered a forceful message regarding the steps being taken by the coalition government to reduce the deficit and stabilise the economy.

He further emphasised the importance of the concept of a wider society – a big society – and the role that the government envisioned community, church and voluntary groups to play. He admitted that working together with a party he had previously opposed represented a great challenge which required a new mindset but illustrated the adaptability of his party.  Fielding questions from the audience, Tom Brake talked about the options and timetable for electoral reform, and the desire of his party to remain true to its principles while working within the coalition.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Forgiveness by Karen Szulakowska

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on June 6, 2010

Forgiveness

Where does it come from? And where does it go?

How do we manage it and how do we know?

What helps people from the edge of despair?

And how do they begin to rebuild, love and care?

There are some who have much to forgive,

They have lost loved ones – and often too, their reason to live…

They have been tortured until there is nothing more to give.

Yet, still they are able to forgive…

Some of us are fortunate to have less to forgive

Yet however severe our suffering, we all need to learn and remember to forgive.

Forgive those who have held us back,

Forgive those with the will to attack

The parents and friends who didn’t know Read the rest of this entry »

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International Family Day 2010 – Impact of Migration on Families

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on May 30, 2010

‘What does it feel like to be a migrant or growing up in a migrant family? The impact of migration on families was the theme for the United Nations International Day of Families 2010 that was commemorated around the world by many chapters of the Universal Peace Federation. In Bromley, near London, several people who either were migrants or who are from migrant families, spoke on fairly similar themes about their experiences.’

‘I hate to see wasted talent.’ Was the first comment of Sheridan Mangal. He went to explain that he mentors 6 young boys from disadvantaged backgrounds from ethnic minorities in the UK. His motivation for this came from his father and mother who came from the Caribbean to the UK in the early 1950’s. They came for the economic opportunity with the attitude that the UK as the motherland was doing them a favour. It was a difficult course for them as a couple and later us as a whole family because they were people with talent and willing to work hard. Soon they were faced with resentment and bitterness from the indigenous workers as they were given greater responsibilities.

His house was always crowded with family members who followed them to the UK. His parents helped many close relatives to establish themselves in the UK. This led to some tensions as some paid rent regularly but others did not. His parent’s attitude was to keep their heads down and work hard. They encouraged him to do the same and try to get a Government job. However, he grew up here mixing with British children who were encouraged to reach for the stars. He did not understand why he should keep his head down and did not feel that the UK was doing him a favour. He saw that his parents had made an immense contribution through taxes and later by employing others.

Rohema Miah was one of six children who grew up in the UK. Their father is from Bangladesh and their mother is Welsh. Their father did not return to Bangladesh for 42 years but sent money back to support the family. The main route for Bangladeshis in the UK is through restaurant ownership. This has contributed £1.2bn per year to the British economy.

She added that their parents never imposed a religion on them. They were allowed to make their own choice and despite making different choices they have remained close as brothers and sisters.

Posted in Community Cohesion, Marriage and Family | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Observing UN International Families Day 2010

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on May 21, 2010

The Impact of Migration on Families Worldwide

By Sister Kate Holmstrom

Bonjour! Buenos dias! Dzen dobre! Al-salam al-lekum! Namaste! Jambo! Nee ha!

An event focussing on Families and Migration gathered about 35 people at the Quaker Centre, Milton Keynes, on 15 May, observing UN International Day of Families 2010, at the invitation of Christa Rennie of the WFWP (Women’s Federation for World Peace) and her husband David, of the Universal Peace Federation. Navrita Atwal from the MK Equality Council spoke on “Family Values from an Asian Perspective”, Ayser Ali on “The Journey of a Family from Iraq to the West”, I (Sr Kate) on my experience with refugee and immigrant families in London, Milton Keynes and Yarls Wood Immigration Removal Centre, and David on the “Vision of the Universal Peace Federation”.

Between us, we made the following points: Migrating can be a huge gift, promoting openness to other cultures and the enrichment of learning other languages. “Home is wherever the family is”. However, moving can also be de-stabilising, and come at a bad age such as adolescence, when friends are all-important. Despite lessons in their mother language and the support of their ethnic or religious community, it happens sometimes that youngsters grow up feeling neither totally integrated in the new country nor accepted in their country of origin if they return there. The importance of family meals was stressed: parents – particularly from cultures where eating together is taken for granted and seen as a significant family value encouraging respect and caring – have difficulty sometimes in gathering the children when there is competition from other activities. Keeping in touch physically can be problematic as the family members grow up and move away: “Why should I need to make the journey back to visit when we can speak on the phone and even see each other with the web-cam?” If the migrant parents cannot learn English as fast as their offspring certainly will do, there is the risk of a widening rift in understanding in the family.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Refugee Child by Sister Kate Holmstrom

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on May 20, 2010

Refugee Child by Sister Kate Holmstrom


I feel Mum’s worry, sense her sadness.

Where’s my Dad? She’s never said,

Never told me of the madness,

Of the reason why we fled.

I remember that night, hiding

While the soldiers searched and swore,

Shouting that they’d surely find him,

Battering upon the door.

I could hear my mother screaming

As those soldiers laughed and jeered.

I heard: “Rape!” –  what is its meaning?

Was that what she’d so much feared?

Now we’re here. I speak your language,

But the nightmares haunt me still.

Life goes on … we have to manage.

This I’ve learnt: I’ll never kill.


Kate Holmstrom, Oxford


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UN International Women’s Day 2010

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on March 15, 2010


UN International Women’s Day 2010

‘Celebrating the economic, political and social achievements

of women past, present and future’

43 Lancaster Gate, London, UK

Photo Link

A joint Universal Peace Federation and Women’s Federation for World Peace event to celebrate the UN’s International Women’s Day was held appropriately on the UK’s Mother’s Day.

Rita Payne, a former Editor of BBC Asia and currently the Chair of the Commonwealth Journalist’s Association – UK, reflected on the status of women in current developments and her own experience in the media in her speech, Women and Success – Is Hard Work Enough? ‘2010, on the face of it, is not a bad year for women’, she said, while pointing to Katherine Bigelow’s Oscar success on the eve of International Women’s Day and the passing of a Bill through the Indian Parliament to guarantee  that 1/3rd of all MPs are women. She added, ‘That there were protests and seven MPs were banned from the Indian Parliament shows that the battle for stronger representation for women is far from over.’

She referred to the raft of reviews and statistics that have emerged around Women’s Day revealing, for example, that there are more female Medical Doctor applicants than male because women have been outranking men in academic achievement.

However, she said some observers felt that former campaigning visionaries are being let down by the abuse of freedom by the laddette culture.

‘Maybe the greatest success will be when men and women are judged according to what they achieve than their gender’, she concluded. 

Her daughter suggested that, ‘Women can achieve many things but how can they do it without sacrificing the family.  Perhaps women can be more creative in addressing those needs but we won’t be able to do this without the men. We can address our needs with the help of men. Why don’t we forget about Women’s day and have a Family day instead?’

In a speech entitled ‘Women Initiating Change: The Strength of the Outsider’, Kat Callo explained the tragic cause of her work as a Trustee of Project Mosaic. Her cousin, a New York City firefighter, died in 9/11 trying to save those within the twin towers when the buildings collapsed. She began Project Mosaic, a UK-based educational charity that helps teach young people to be more tolerant of those coming from a different background – whether that’s a different race, ethnicity, religion, nationality or culture.

Violent extremism … plays on the theme of  “the outsider” – but it combines it with fear and ignorance, to creates a poisonous cocktail for our young people.

With a conversation, over a cup of tea or at a youth club or at a gathering of mothers at a refugee centre or talking with family members and friends. We are working to amplify the voice of the outsider – that person that takes a weakness and transforms it into a strength. (read more)

Hadia Saad had just returned from attending the 54th UN Congress on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York representing the Alulbayt Foundation in London. She also attended the UPF Parallel CSW event in New York. She shared about both experiences in a speech entitled, ‘Humanity Before Gender’. She said she was left with the sense that there is still a long way to go to obtain justice for women. She reflected on the position of women in Islam that tensions develop when the cultural traditions confine Islamic principles. (read more)

President of the League of Jewish Women

Mrs Ella Marks

Mrs. Ella Marks, the current President of the  League of Jewish Women (LJW), briefly described its history and activities since being founded in 1943. Stemming from a Judaic ethos, Jewish people believe that they should play an active part in the community wherever they live. The LJW has sought to educate young women to be both self supporting and train them to be active for the good of all society. The LJW is now affiliated to the National Council of Women as a consultative body. It is also very involved in interfaith meetings and activities. The LJW is a largely voluntary body that is an active community promoting service to those in need. She shared that she often reads to blind people.

Milena Ivovic commenting about the afternoon commented below, ‘It was very inspirational gathering. Women, outstanding achievers in various fields, were illustrating by their own life endeavours the greatness of human potential in each one of us. They are those who selflessly care for others in society and who know how to give from the essence. Their love and compassion certainly shed light and show the way.’

Shenaz Bunglawala

Posted in Community Cohesion, Peace and Development | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Genocide Awareness and Holocaust Commemoration

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on February 3, 2010

Ruth Barnett  Parallels of Holocaust and Armenian Genocide

Dr Hojjatt Ramzy, Marie-lyse Numuhoza, Ruth Barnett, Cllr. Margaret Ali

‘Genocide Awareness and Holocaust Commemoration’

House of Lords

1st February, 2010  More Photos Link

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This programme was aimed to promote awareness of the ‘Path to Genocide‘ and to focus attention on the recently passed UN Resolution, the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ soon after the internationally recognised Holocaust Memorial Day. It was held in the House of Lords, Committee Room 4A organised by the Universal Peace Federation’s (UPF) Community Cohesion Working Group who identify with the UPF vision of humankind as ‘One Family Under God’.

Robin Marsh explained that, Genocide is defined as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, by killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.’ He quoted Gregory H. Stanton, President of Genocide Watch, who describes eight stages of the ‘Path to Genocide’ as Classification, Symbolization, Dehumanization, Organization, Polarization, Preparation, Extermination and Denial. At each stage Stanton  has suggested appropriate actions that can be taken by the international community. Marsh concluded that an Inter-religious Council, especially at the United Nations, as conceived by the founding purpose of the UPF, could be a useful forum for dialogue to respond to these tragedies at an early stage.

Lawrence Joffe - Holocaust

Lawrence Joffe, an author and historian, spoke of the horror of the Holocaust, expressing his fortune at being born of a family whose grandmother was able to escape on one of the last ships from Germany to South Africa before the war. He referred to two types of people who feel guilty: the perpetrator and the survivor.  The Germans are very remorseful for the actions of their predecessors. The surviving Jews also feel very guilty for surviving when so many did not. For Ruth Barnett, one of the 10,000 kindertransport children who were saved, the guilt of survival has led her to being a Holocaust Educator.

Lawrence, quoting Raul Hildberg, said that there are only three types of people in these extreme situations. ‘The perpetrator, the victim and the bystander.’  He added that there should also be two other categories: the collaborator and the survivor. He explained the lack of support to receive Jewish refugees in 1935 when only the Dominican republic offered to receive Jewish refugees from many nations of the world was an example of the bystander. He added that it was ironic that the Ashkenazi Jewish people thought that Germany was the most advance nation in the world at that time and had felt very comfortable and accepted in German society. However Hitler in 1920 had said, ‘It is our duty to whip up the instinctive revulsion of the Jews.’ From 9 million Jews in Europe in 1939 approximately 6 million were killed. For example 90% of Jews in Poland were killed. (Useful links suggested by Lawrence Joffe to poetry of the Holocaust and inscriptions by Chagall)

Ruth Barnett since beginning her campaign for greater awareness of the Holocaust has also been active in campaigns for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and other human rights issues.

David Wardrop Chair Westminster UNA - Responsibility to Protect

David Wardrop: Chair Westminster United Nations Association

David Wardrop spoke of the UN Resolution in October 2009 that established the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ as well as the International Criminal Court current situation. He added that both were weak but that at least they were on the agenda and could be strengthened. He explained that ‘We the people’ must challenge Governments to champion the role of ‘Responsibility to Protect’ provisions. He concluded that civil society and media have an important role to play in developing the capacity of the international community to act in the case of an ongoing genocide.

Lord King of West Bromwich in his opening remarks emphasised that UPF believes that humankind is ‘One Family Under God’. He explained that Father Moon had suffered greatly to find the heart to love all people. He added that loving families would be at the core of peace in the future. Such families would form peaceful nations and a peaceful world.

Dr Pilikian Khatchatur Armenian Genocide

Dr Pilikian Khatchatur

Dr Pilikian Khatchatur described the parallels between the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust in which he said one million Armenians are estimated to have died. He quoted Hitler’s comment on the treatment of Armenians, ‘Ataturk has two great students in this world, Mussolini and I.’

Dr Hojjat Ramzy explained the circumstances of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia especially with the genocide of Bosniac Muslims in Srebrenica and the use of rape as a weapon of war. Marie-lyse Numuhoza described her experience of conflict in Rwanda that led to the genocidal killings of Tutsi people. Rachel Francis-Ingham (full speech here) described the suffering of the Gypsy or Roma people of whom 350,000 were estimated to have died in the Holocaust. There are serious health issues in a refugee camp of Roma people in Kosovo currently she said. Mr Paramjit Singh described the ‘premeditated killing of 500,000 Sikhs’ and ‘mass rapes of Sikh women’ in June and October 1984 mainly in the Punjab, India as a Sikh genocide.

By Gregory H. Stanton, President, Genocide Watch

Classification Symbolization Dehumanization Organization Polarization Preparation Extermination Denial

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Bosnian Genocide by Dr Hojjat Ramzy

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on February 1, 2010

Bosnian Genocide by Dr Hojjat Ramzy

Dear Brothers, Sisters and Friends,

Dr Hojjat Ramzi

I greet you all with the Islamic greetings of the peace and mercy of Almighty God,  Assalamu alaykum wa Rahmatullah.

The Holocaust Memorial Day which took place on January 27th marks the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Aushwitz concentration camp.

We all sympathise deeply with the victims and are horrified at the scale of brutality that took place during the Second World War. However, History has a terrible way of repeating itself.

Today I would like to remind you of another horror story, the Bosnian genocide: Another manifestation of the complete disregard for the sanctity of human life. I hope that we can learn lessons from this tragedy;  in the same way we have done from the Holocaust, in order to prevent such terrible events from ever happening again. God willing.

After the First World War Bosnia was united with other Slaav territories to form Yugoslavia. It was ruled and run by Serbs. Following the death of Tito the communist ruler of Yugoslavia and the national Yugoslavian elections in 1990, both Serbia and Bosnia declared their independence. Bosnia’s independence was recognised by the USA and the European Union. However,   the Serbian Leader Milosevich and the Serbs saw this as an affront to their claims to Milosevich’s ‘Greater Serbia’.

Tensions grew between the two sides and the Yugoslav army turned against the Bosnian community. The European Union’s attempts at intervention failed and the UN, who provided a number of troops for humanitarian aid, refused to intervene. Slowly the Bosnian Muslim areas fell to the Serbs and the ethnic cleansing began. The atrocities that were to take place in the town of Srebrenitsa illustrate one of the most horrifying episodes of this war where brutality and military efficiency turned into genocide.

In 1992, the UN declared this city a safe area, under the care of the French and Dutch governments. In July 1995 Serb troops led by Ratko Mladic descended on Srebrenitsa and began to destroy it. They had already killed many Muslim soldiers in the countryside villages. Now they were besieging Srebrenitsa’s thousands of Muslim civilians. Food supplies and water began to decline, buildings were destroyed, and people were murdered. Soon Serb troops were able to take up positions close to the town. In Bosnia’s capital, Sarajevo, a radio message from an amateur operator in Srebrenitsa was heard: ‘Please do something. Whatever you can. In the name of God, do something.’ No one did anything.

The only action taken was the Dutch commander warned Serb officials that there would be air strikes at 6.00 a.m. on the morning of July 11 unless Serbian troops moved away from the town’s borders. But, there were no air strikes, instead, the Serbs’ bombardment intensified. Thousands of Muslims fled to the Dutch compound. Throughout the day a stream of refugees was slowly admitted inside: up to 6,000 by nightfall and around 20,000 more were left waiting outside. There was no food, no water, only fear of mass murder.

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Rachel Francis-Ingham: UK Association of Gypsy Women

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on February 1, 2010

Kosovo’s Poisoned Generation

Rachel Francis-Ingham: UK Association of Gypsy Women

‘Genocide Awareness and Holocaust Commemoration’ UPF Meeting

February 1st, 2010


In WW2 our people were murdered in their tens of thousands in Hitler’s death camps:

Like the Jews, Gypsies were singled out by the Nazis for racial persecution and annihilation. The first to go were the German Sinte Gypsies; 30,000 were deported East in three waves in 1939, 1941 and 1943. Those married to Germans were exempted but were sterilized, as were their children after the age of twelve.

They were ‘nonpersons,’ of `foreign blood,’ `labour-shy,’ and as such were termed asocials. To a degree, they shared the fate of the Jews in their ghettos, in the extermination camps, before firing squads, as medical guinea pigs, and being injected with lethal substances in Auschwitz, Dachau, Mauthausen, Ravensbruck and other camps.

At Sachsenhausen they were subjected to special experiments that were to prove scientifically that their blood was different from that of the Germans.

A contemporary Nazi theorist believed that `the Gypsy cannot, by reason of his inner and outer makeup, be a useful member of the human community. The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 aimed at the Jews were soon amended to include the Gypsies. In 1937, they were classified as asocials, second-class citizens, subject to concentration camp imprisonment.

Ethnic Cleansing did not end for my people in 1945.

During the Balkans war in 1999, again our people were murdered, many remain missing, and many others driven from their homes and businesses and became ‘displaced people’

Over a decade later the Roma people remain on contaminated camps in Kosovo.

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Genocide Awareness and Holocaust Commemoration

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on January 24, 2010

Repentance and Remembrance - Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum Grounds: UPF's Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI) May 2006 - European and American Delegation

Universal Peace Federation (UPF)

Email: pa@uk.upf.org Web: www.uk.upf.org

‘Genocide Awareness and Holocaust Commemoration’

Repentance and Remembrance at Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum: German Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI) Participant Preparing to Lay Flower in Remembrance of the Holocaust

Repentance and Remembrance Ceremonies at Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem during the Middle East Peace Initiative visits by the Universal Peace Federation.  (Link for MEPI Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum Ceremony Photos.)

Repentance and Remembrance - Laying Flowers and Greeting Jewish Representatives - Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum Near Jerusalem

Universal Peace Federation – UK

Tel : 020 7262 0985, 43 Lancaster Gate, London, W2 3NA.   www.uk.upf.org

www.mepi-eu.org Middle East Peace Initiative

UPF is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations

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‘Genocide’

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on January 23, 2010

https://peacedevelopmentnetwork.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2485&action=edit

Cllr. Faizullah Khan:             Genocide

(Paper prepared for February 1st presentation at  ‘Genocide Awareness and Holocaust Commemoration’ Conference)

If a question is asked, “What is common between Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chechnya, Sudan, DR Congo.”  Only perhaps human right activist or some UN official will be able to answer this question. The answer should not surprise you, it is “Genocide”

The term “genocide” did not exist before 1944. It is a very specific term, referring to violent crimes committed against

Cllr. Faizullah Khan laying flowers Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum

groups with the intent to destroy the existence of a certain group.

This only became possible by the efforts of a Polish-Jewish lawyer named Raphael Lemkin(1900-1959). He sought to describe Nazi policies of systematic murder, including the destruction of the European Jews. He formed the word “genocide” by combining geno-, from the Greek word for race or tribe, with –cide, from the Latin word for killing. In proposing this new term, Lemkin had in mind “a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves.” The next year, the International Military Tribunal held at Nuremberg, Germany, charged top Nazis with “crimes against humanity.” The word “genocide” was included in the indictment, but as a descriptive, not legal, term.

On December 9, 1948, in the shadow of the Holocaust and in no small part due to the tireless efforts of Lemkin himself, the United Nations approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This convention establishes “genocide” as an international crime, which signatory nations “undertake to prevent and punish.” It defines genocide as:

While many cases of group-targeted violence have occurred throughout history and even since the Convention came into effect, the legal and international development of the term  is concentrated into two distinct historical periods: the time from the coining of the term until its acceptance as international law (1944-1948) and the time of its activation with the establishment of international criminal tribunals to prosecute the crime of genocide (1991-1998). Preventing genocide, the other major obligation of the convention, remains a challenge that nations and individuals continue to face.

Resolution 96 (I) 11 December 1946

United Nations considered in its resolution 96 (I) 11 December 1946 that genocide is a crime under international law, contrary to the spirit and aims of the United Nations and condemned by the civilized world,

Recognizing that at all periods of history genocide has inflicted great losses on humanity, and being convinced that, in order to liberate mankind from such an odious scourge, international co-operation is required,

Hereby agree as hereinafter provided:

Article 1

The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.

Article 2

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such:

•       (a) Killing members of the group;

•       (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

•       (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

•       (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

•       (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

International Criminal Court logo

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

On 9 December 1948 United nations  General Assembly approved and proposed for signature and ratification or accession resolution 260 A (III) which entered into force on 12 January 1951, in accordance with article XIII. Genocide was a crime now in international law.

The Convention entered into force on January 12, 1951, after more than 20 countries from around the world ratified it.

An International Promise to Prevent and Punish Genocide is Made

Despite facing strong opposition by those who believed it would diminish U.S. sovereignty, President Ronald Reagan signed the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide on November 5, 1988. Among the Convention’s most vocal advocates was Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire, who delivered more than 3,000 speeches before Congress arguing for its passage.

This timeline traces the development

1944

The Crime is Named

Before 1944, no word existed to describe a coordinated assault on civilian populations.

1993

The World Acts to Punish but Not to Halt Atrocities in the Former Yugoslavia

Targeted civilian groups suffered brutal atrocities throughout the conflicts in the former Yugoslav republics of Croatia (1991-95) and Bosnia-Herzegovina (1992-95). Though the international community showed little will to stop the crimes as they were taking place, the UN Security Council did establish the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. It was the first international criminal tribunal since Nuremberg and the first mandated to prosecute the crime of genocide.

Nonetheless, the single worst atrocity to occur in Europe since the Holocaust came two years later. In July 1995, the Bosnian Serb army overran the United Nations declared “safe haven” of Srebrenica. In the following days, they killed some 8,000 Bosniak men and boys. This incident would later be judged to constitute “genocide” by the ICTY. In total, 100,000 people died during the Bosnian conflict; some 80% of the civilians killed were Bosniaks.

1994

Genocide memorial in Nyamata church, Rwanda

After the Genocide Ends, the World Creates a Tribunal for Rwanda

From April through mid-July, at least 500,000 civilians, mostly of the Tutsi minority, were murdered with devastating brutality and speed while the international community looked on. In October, the UN Security Council extended the mandate of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to include a separate but linked tribunal for Rwanda, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, located in Arusha, Tanzania.

1998

The First Conviction for Genocide is Won

On September 2, 1998, The International Criminal tribunal for Rwanda issued the firt conviction for Genocide after a trial, declaring Jean-Paul Akayesu guilty for the acts he engaged in and oversaw as Mayor of Rwandan town of Taba.

The skulls of hundreds of victims rest at Ntarama memorial, one of dozens of churches where Tutsis gathered to seek protection during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. November, 2007. USHMM

1998

A Permanent Court to Prosecute Atrocities against Civilians is Established

Through an international treaty ratified on July 17, 1998, the International Criminal Court was permanently established to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The treaty reconfirmed the definition of genocide found in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It also expanded the definition of crimes against humanity and prohibits these crimes during times of war or peace.

A brief about recent genocide.

DR Congo. Throughout its colonial period and into the present, Congo’s rulers have exploited the country’s vast natural resources for their own profit. Long-serving President Mobutu Sese Seko pitted ethnic groups against each other in an effort to sustain power and violently oppressed opposition.

Sudan. Since independence, Sudan has been dominated by a ruling elite in the capital Khartoum, which has overseen almost constant war in the nation’s peripheral regions. Both the war in the south and the ongoing conflict in Darfur have been characterized by crimes against humanity, with the conflict in Darfur amounting to genocide.

Chechnya In 1944 the entire Chechen population was deported. When the Soviet Union broke apart in the 1990s, a Chechen nationalist independence movement gained momentum. The Russians responded with force.

Bosnia-Herzegovina A history of regional violence was resurrected by new leaders to support nationalist goals. In summer 1995, Bosnian Serb plans to create an ethnically cleansed state culminated in preparations to take the last UN safe havens in eastern Bosnia.

Rwanda, Amid increasing economic and political tensions, and an armed threat from a Tutsi-led rebel group, Hutu extremists prepared to assault the entire Tutsi minority population.

Genocide does not occur spontaneously. While warning signs can vary from case to case, there are common indicators that suggest a growing potential for genocide. Some of these signs can be found within a society’s history. The potential for genocide, however, increases when leaders decide to heighten tensions between groups and make specific plans to use violence.


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Universal Peace Federation – UK 2009 Activities

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on January 4, 2010

Posted in British Academy for World Peace, Community Cohesion, Cultural Programme, Evironmental Awareness, Interfaith, Marriage and Family, Peace and Development | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Best Wishes for 2010

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on January 1, 2010


Best Wishes for 2010

Universal Peace Federation – UK

Thank you for everything we could do together in 2009.

Our year, 2009, in pictures Our year, 2009, in videos

Become a Member of UPF

Best Wishes From All of Us

UPF-UK Secretariat

Robin Marsh: Secretary General, Mobile 07956 210 768

Cllr. Margaret Ali: Director, Tel 0208-395-6788 / / 07723024750

Joyce Suda: Director, Tel 02084673035

Universal Peace Federation – UK www.uk.upf.org

Email: pa@uk.upf.org Tel: 44 (0) 207 262 0985

UPF is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations


Posted in British Academy for World Peace, Community Cohesion, Cultural Programme, Evironmental Awareness, Interfaith, Marriage and Family, Peace and Development | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Forgiveness Heals

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on December 21, 2009


‘Forgiveness Heals’ by Cllr. Faizullah Khan

Former Speaker   London Borough of Hackney Council

If only! We hold our tongue, and hold our hand

If only! We try a little harder to understand

I am sure,  that we will be able to avoid aggression

Happiness will be our reward; a great compensation

If we want to be lighter then light

Mercy is the route; not the might

Look human, but be an Ocean where all things dissolve

If you are calm, surely and truly it will eventually resolve

Peace.  We all want and peace we deserve

Harbour no grudge and peace we preserve

When treated badly, Deep down, A Plight

We were only asking,  what was our right

Stop feeling angry and resentful

The Perpetrator will be shameful

I know revenge is due when we are harmed

We may exceed in retaliation, when armed

Bury the hostility and Make allowance for Clemency

If you seek mercy for yourself than be first in Mercy

Forgiveness & Altruism, all religions have preached

To handle problems; These tools are to be reached

Forgiveness is the Blessing. They all said

Your Lord is Forgiving:  A help and an aid

He is One God, Merciful, The Only

With Him you will never feel lonely

When you are hurt and oppressed

When you are down and depressed

You are in grief, when people give you pain

Pray to Him. He will lift you; sunshine or rain

Seek refuge with Him when down

There is no need to faint or frown

Forgiveness rewards you in the best possible manners

Enemies become friends. Surely Forgiveness delivers

Let bygones be bygones. If you “Love thy enemy”

You are nearer to Creator and earned His Mercy

You forgive and forget. This is a test but a safe destination

Stretch out your hands of Forbearance and Reconciliation

Seek Lord’s help in despair

Ruined lives, He can repair

Mighty Lord, All Powerful, Omnipotent

Most Merciful, Protector, Omnipresent

He is All Forgiving and loves forgiveness

Delivers you from misery and loneliness

Forgiveness is a natural healer

A rare gift from God for sufferer

Suddenly,  we switch from negative to positive

We are our own enemy, if we do not forgive

Cllr Faizullah Khan

If only! We hold our tongue, and hold our hand

If only! We try a little harder to understand

I am sure,  that we will be able to avoid aggression

Happiness will be our reward; a great compensation

If we want to be lighter then light

Mercy is the route; not the might

Look human, but be an Ocean where all things dissolve

If you are calm, surely and truly it will eventually resolve

Peace.  We all want and peace we deserve

Harbour no grudge and peace we preserve

When treated badly, Deep down, A Plight

We were only asking,  what was our right

Stop feeling angry and resentful

The Perpetrator will be shameful

I know revenge is due when we are harmed

We may exceed in retaliation, when armed

Bury the hostility and Make allowance for Clemency

If you seek mercy for yourself than be first in Mercy

Forgiveness & Altruism, all religions have preached

To handle problems; These tools are to be reached

Forgiveness is the Blessing. They all said

Your Lord is Forgiving:  A help and an aid

He is One God, Merciful, The Only

With Him you will never feel lonely

When you are hurt and oppressed

When you are down and depressed

You are in grief, when people give you pain

Pray to Him. He will lift you; sunshine or rain

Seek refuge with Him when down

There is no need to faint or frown

Forgiveness rewards you in the best possible manners

Enemies become friends. Surely Forgiveness delivers

Let bygones be bygones. If you “Love thy enemy”

You are nearer to Creator and earned His Mercy

You forgive and forget. This is a test but a safe destination

Stretch out your hands of Forbearance and Reconciliation

Seek Lord’s help in despair

Ruined lives, He can repair

Mighty Lord, All Powerful, Omnipotent

Most Merciful, Protector, Omnipresent

He is All Forgiving and loves forgiveness

Delivers you from misery and loneliness

Forgiveness is a natural healer

A rare gift from God for sufferer

Suddenly,  we switch from negative to positive

We are our own enemy, if we do not forgive

Cllr Faizullah Khan

40, London N16 7PS

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Speech in Las Vegas by UPF Founder

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on December 16, 2009

UPF Founder Las Vegas Speech

Despite being 90 years old UPF Founder, Dr. Sun Myung Moon, recently made a speech, ‘Building a United Nations that embodies the True Love of God’ to a large interfaith and intercultural gathering.

A powerpoint of the event can be downloaded from the following link  Las Vegas Photo Essay Web

Posted in Community Cohesion, Cultural Programme, Interfaith, Marriage and Family, Peace and Development | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Universal Peace Federation: Peace Council Dec 5th, 2009

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on December 6, 2009

Universal Peace Federation Peace Council

Universal Peace Federation – UK: Peace Council

5th December 2009

Photo Link

The bi-annual Peace Council is an opportunity to understand the development of Universal Peace Federation in the UK and around the world and to strategise about activities for the coming year.

UPF – UK Activities in 2009 Powerpoint UPF UK Report Dec 5th 2009

Lord King of West Bromwich, a Patron of UPF, welcomed everyone saying  ‘Good to see so many Ambassadors for Peace and activists who have worked tirelessly to make this world a better place to live in.’ Lord King explained that the Peace Council enabled a review of UPF’s impact on world peace and to promote good practices that have been successful.

Lord King UPF

Lord King

Jonathan Fryer - international perspective - 'one family under God'

Jonathan Fryer

Seja Majeed - Volunteering

Jack Corley - Character Education

Jack Corley

Robert Williamson, the Director of UPF in the Balkan region, described the position of UPF in Albania. People in Albanian Government see the UPF as an attractive NGO as a lobby providing moral direction.

The UPF has about 1000 members and branches in eight cities where they do local projects. They have a presiding council to which 20 members are elected every two years. The Presiding Council members are responsible for the committees of the UPF in Albania. Robert shared one example in which the experience of a student who was expected to bribe a teacher before being allowed to graduate and therefore was being held back even though she had passed her exams, was brought to the highest level and dealt with through UPF’s access.

The UPF has a neutral position and therefore can speak for the nation. National media covers the elections and meetings of the national presiding council. There is a track record established that has built up over many years.

There are eight branches in Albania’s major cities. These do local level projects and service activity. These are complemented by continuous education programmes in the vision of the UPF. This work is supported by a former President of Albania and former and current Parliamentarians.

Jack Corley, the UPF Director for Ireland and the UK, presented an inspiring framework for the development of strong marriages and families. He explained that the Unification Movement Founder had been so involved in big marriage blessings in order to build a network of inter-racial, international marriage that draw together nations in conflict.

Dr David Earle is the Vice President of UPF and his wife is Vice President of Women’s Federation for World Peace so they cooperate closely in their activities. He explained the depth and range of the work in Birmingham. The Earle’s held joint meetings in the Birmingham Council chamber to discuss community cohesion in Birmingham in February and a series of meetings in their house where they have extended their living room and garage to be able to hold meetings for up to 100 people.

Seja Majeed spoke of her commitment to volunteering particularly when she was finding it difficult to find a job. She said by going out and doing volunteer activities she was able to meet the people and learning the skills that were assisting her to develop her career. She advised young people to believe in themselves and to be determined. ”The determined person is never powerless!’ she emphasised. She volunteered to work for a counter-terrorism group that then led to an internship with the three faiths forum and then to making a documentary in Iraq. The documentary then has opened doors that enabled her to meet Jon Snow and to a part time work with Amnesty International. Her advice was not just to dream about peace and the ideal but to be involved in making it a reality. (You Tube Video of Seja’s speech). She was later presented with an Ambassador for Peace award (see below).

The author and journalist, Jonathan Fryer, posed the question, ‘How can people in a diverse and crowded world live together constructively and harmoniously?’  He emphasised that we need to face each issue from a moral perspective. He considered that Britain was not a broken society but a nation that has lost its aims and goals. He added that he faces severe differences of wealth and poverty where he lives in Tower Hamlets. He concluded that while the British political scene is confrontational the solution of these issues required dialogue and cooperation drawing on our common desire for peace, prosperity and love. (You tube link)

Dr Salwant Singh Multani expressed his desire to establish a UPF Branch in Sterling. He is the Chair of Central Scotland Interfaith and has been acknowledged as the most prominent Sikh in Scotland this year. He has also been awarded the Hind Rattan award by the Indian Government.  He has a passion to establish an Interfaith Youth Hostel in the highlands of Scotland.

Interfaith Youth Hostel

Robert Williamson - Albania UPF

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UPF Peace Council Ambassador for Peace Awards

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on December 5, 2009

Mr Haribivor Karki

Mr Hari Bivor Karki was nominated for the Ambassador for Peace award for his contribution to society. He is the first ex gurkha soldier to have settled in this country. He has served the Nepalese community for 25 years and has been instrumental in bridging relationships with different communities. He is a well known and respected member of the Nepalese community in Rushmoor.

He is also the first gurkha nepalese to start a nepalese restaurant business in UK and was a role model for nepalese restaurateurs for many years. He is the founder member of the Non Resident Nepalese organisation in UK which is now an established forum for Nepalese to link with other groups in UK. He has been a committee member of the Britain Nepal Society which has helped to build good relationships between Nepal and UK. He has organised many interfaith events and this has build community cohesion in Rushmoor and Surrey.

He is a founder member of the Britain Chamber of Commerce which has helped improve commerce between Nepal and UK. He is also a member to a couple of charitable organisations and is a well respected member of the community. Currently he is engaged in freelancing in linguistic and interpretation for Home Office in nepalese immigration matters. I believe that Mr Karki has served the community well with a selfless commitment to everything he does.

Mr Malik Ghazansar Ali

Mr Ghazanfer Ali is one of the founding members and present Chairman of Ilford Islamic Centre, previously known as the Muslim Welfare Association, that was established in the late 60’s. It was the very first Islamic organisation in the borough of Redbridge. The aims and objectives from the outset were to establish a centre which would fulfil the spiritual, religious, social and welfare needs of the local community.

The vision was to create an organisation which would reflect the true essence of Islam – a belief based on the tenants of Peace, Harmony, Respect, Care, Tolerance, Community Cohesion, the development of relationships with other faiths and communities and the basic Love of Humanity.

Starting from very humble beginnings, the Centre has now developed into one of the largest such organisations in East London and Essex. It is well known for it’s Community, Interfaith and Three Faiths Forum activities. It serves as a focal point for most Islamic activities within the borough for Muslims and non Muslims. We have numerous visits from a variety of organisations on a regular basis. Most schools in Redbridge send their children to the Centre for visitations and we have had visits from many foreign delegations. Only last week, we held a very successful Inter Faith Walk. We had a workshop at our centre organised by the Charity Commission, themed ‘Good Governance’ and two local primary school visits!

Mr Ghazanfer Ali has also been involved in many other community initiatives, most notably as Chairman of the Redbridge Racial Equality Council.

Ms. Seja Majeed

Seja Majeed is a twenty-three year old British Iraqi living in North London. She is a Law graduate from Brunel University and also has a diploma in screenwriting from the London Academy of Radio, Film and TV. She is currently undertaking her Legal Practice Course and Masters in International Law at City University.

In 2007, Seja collaborated with the Rainbow Collective Film Company and journeyed to Iraq with the intention to deliver humanitarian supplies and record her accounts. Over the four weeks of her trip, Seja visited dangerous provinces and gathered relaxed and informal interviews with those trying to lead a normal life in the aftermath of a war.

The film, “Baghdad Holiday” is currently within postproduction and has attracted attention from prominent broadcasters, such as More4, Guardian Films and Al-Arabia Network. The film has also been praised and supported by T.V. presenter Jon Snow, foreign affairs correspondent Jonathan Miller from Channel Four News, and the Secretary General of Amnesty International. It will be screened by Amnesty International in January 2010.

Seja also worked as an intern for Amnesty International in January 2009 on the Anti-Death Penalty programme, where she was based at the International Secretariat in London.

She has recently won an award by V-inspired the National Volunteer’s Service, for being the most inspirational volunteer for Greater London. Seja is one of the first young Muslim women to be chosen in a national advertising campaign for V-inspired, the leading volunteer charity for young people.  She ran make-up artist workshops taught by industry professionals to 16 -25 years olds interested in media or fashion through a Cosmetic Hive project she set up.

Seja has also been working alongside an Iraqi Minister of Parliament and has written social initiatives on his behalf. Her initiatives have been presented to the Iraqi Parliament for consideration. As an aspiring legal commentator she has recently had three of her articles published in the Journal of Islamic State Practices of International law.

Mr. Dhinesh Golam

Dhinesh Golam has been very active over the last 15 years to support elderly people and those living with learning difficulties. He spent many hours in fundraising activities to ensure that those living with learning difficulties could have a holiday. He took those in his care to the seaside in his own time on weekends. He led a campaign to save the local Post Office that was used by many elderly people to save them the discomfort of a longer journey. He has also volunteered his time as a political activist.

Posted in British Academy for World Peace, Community Cohesion, Cultural Programme, Evironmental Awareness, Interfaith, Marriage and Family, Peace and Development | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Immigrant’s Contribution to the UK: November 24th, 2009

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 25, 2009


Immigrant’s Contribution to the UK

House of Commons, Committee Room 12

November 24th, 2009

Photo Link here

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

‘I am described as the most hated man in England’ said Keith Best, the Chair of Immigration Advisory Service UK (IASUK), referring to a BNP website as an illustration of the controversy and confusion that surrounds the immigration debate. He compared the UK where 10% of the population were born overseas to 12% in the US, 14% in France, 20% in Canada and 25% in Australia adding that none of those nations are in danger of ‘immediate social disintegration’. Yet the UK has a higher level of negativity to immigration than those other nations. (IASUK Press Release link here.) Yasmin Alibhai – Brown commented that the media had surrendered the debate to the anti – immigration lobby and that the situation was as bad as the 1960’s with both the centre left and the centre right uniting against immigration. She pushed for serious research into the effects of immigration highlighting changes in the UK since the 1960’s.

During a wide-ranging discussion on immigration chaired by Tom Brake MP and organised by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), there were also presentations from Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh, Mark Brann Secretary General of UPF Europe, Baroness Uddin and Seja Majeed. There were views also expressed from Pakistani, Afro-Caribbean and Philippine communities.

Lord Parekh explored how to frame an effective discussion (full speech link) of the immigration issue targeting neither those vehemently for or against immigration but those who remained to be influenced by accurate and logical debate. He emphasised that the immigrants who came to the UK were mostly resourceful and industrious and added £3-4 bn to the UK economy and the vitality of its culture.

Seja Majeed

Baroness Uddin

Mark Brann described the UPF ethos of ‘One Family Under God’ through True Love. He could see the growing international familial bonds through globalisation, migration and inter-marriage. He emphasised the need for the Christian indigenous community to see the Muslim and other faith communities as a challenge rather than a threat that could re-invigorate Christian values in the UK economic, social and political life.

Seja Majeed illustrated the experience of immigrants coming to the UK at one year old from Iraq via Algeria, becoming an active volunteer for many years and now a face of the Vinspired campaign. She suggested that if families involved their children in volunteer activities in their pre-teen years they would be most likely to continue.

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Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh: Effective Arguments for Immigration Debate

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 24, 2009


‘Effective Arguments for an Immigration Debate’ *

Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh

House of Commons, ‘Immigrants Contribution to the UK’

24th November 2009

Professor Lord Bhikhu Parekh

Lord Bikhu Parekh, Chair of ‘Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain’ Report in 2000, started with the classification of the audience. He mainly classified the audience into two groups: converted (ie generally supportive of immigration) and racists or nationalists. “What I would like to do is to ask a different kind of question: We can easily talk to the converted and convince them that immigration is a wonderful thing; because we are all immigrants; this is the kind of things they want to hear. So it is easy to convince the converted.  It is impossible to convince the racists. Those who are racists, those who don’t like black and browns at all and those who are nationalists in the mould of Enoch Powell, either  don’t want black people or want to keep a certain way of life.”

Referring to the points of remittances mentioned by Best, Lord Parekh said, “Keith made a very beautiful argument that when you go to Bangladesh or to Mirpur or to India there are villages where remittances from immigrants here have made a profound difference. Now if I go to the audiences here and say look with the same kind of argument; they will say I don’t know what you are trying to tell me. This argument has a meaning only if I have a moral obligation to help people in that part of the world. I don’t recognize any such obligation. So while that argument is very attractive to us but it will not cut any ice with this audience I am thinking about.”

Britain had no tradition of immigration
Lord Parekh mentioned that Britain had no tradition of immigration. “It is worth bearing in mind that until now certainly in Britain we have had people coming from outside but they are not immigrants. They are asylum seekers; refugees; we never positively went out to recruit immigrants, in a way that Canada and Australia and the United States did. Therefore, we have no tradition of immigration and therefore we have no vocabulary in terms of which we can talk about immigration. That is the first point to bear in mind,” said Lord Parekh and added, “When people came in the 1880s; 1920s, they were not immigrants; they were asylum seekers, they were refugees. So what kind of immigration that we are talking about.”

Immigration is a post-war phenomenon
Lord Parekh said, “It is a post-war phenomenon. Therefore, it’s a new to British life. We must bear that in mind. Because there are no old arguments, the traditional arguments upon which we can rely; we have to create our own tradition of arguments.”

Lord Parekh in the aftermath of that report on immigration went round the country and began to ask himself: “Can I speak only to satisfy my conscience or do I want to achieve something? And if I wanted to achieve something; how do I relate to the audience; what is my audience? Racists I cannot touch, converted I don’t want to touch. In the middle there are 75% to 80% of the people. What language they do understand?  At the same time  it’s not enough to know what language they do understand is also important that I should share the value of that language.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Migration should be based on the facts and not mythology

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 24, 2009

We can absorb the current level of migration taking account of emigration

Migration should be based on the facts and not mythology

Keith Best, Chief Executive, Immigration Advisory Service UK

Keith Best speaking with Tom Brake MP and Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh

Keith Best speaking Tom Brake MP (left) Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh (Right)

Speaking in the House of Commons Committee Room 12 to an audience of Members of the Lords and Commons and others from The Universal Peace Federation (a global alliance of individuals and organizations dedicated to building a world of peace) with Lord Bikhu Parekh and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on the subject ‘Contribution of Immigrants to British Society’ Keith Best, Chief Executive of IAS, said that for too long the debate about migration has been based on poor statistics and prejudice rather than facts and this was the reason that the UK in the Transatlantic Trends survey of the USA and six EU countries comes out as the most anti-immigrant in its public sentiment.

“There is now general acceptance that migrants bring not just economic but cultural benefit to the UK, are hard workers and often do jobs that the British workforce is unable or unwilling to do. Migrants have given us our cuisine, art, literature and music” he said. “Against all the evidence of economic and social benefit come the ridiculous and wild assertions of some self-appointed so-called experts opposed to migration that migrants cost us £1 million each – an assertion on wholly flawed logic.

“Students bring more than £8 billion a year to the UK in their overseas student fees and spending power: they do not have the right to settle in the UK. Yet without those overseas students the academic institutions, many of the larger ones relying for more than half their total income on overseas student fees, would not be able to educate British domestic students as Prof David Metcalf, Chair of the Migration Advisory Committee, has pointed out.

“More people are coming for temporary purposes in a globalised world increasingly of circulatory migration which benefits both donor and recipient countries. Remittances are often a more effective way of helping an economy develop than official development aid.

“We are all migrants in the UK – it is just a question of when our ancestors arrived here. We have a rich diversity which is the legacy of Empire and Commonwealth that we should treasure. 8,000 people a week are leaving the UK to settle elsewhere – half of them are British citizens going to Australia, France, Spain and half are migrants who are returning home. This is the example of circulatory migration which will be a hallmark of the future.

“Even though parts of the UK may feel under threat by a massive influx of migrants and a majority of schoolchildren who do not have English as their first language these are issues that need to be addressed locally and do not reflect the situation throughout the UK. We can absorb and continue to benefit from the current levels of migration. About 10% of the UK population was not born here – compared with 25% in Australia, 20% in Canada, 14% in France and 12% in the USA – these are not countries on the brink of social disintegration as a result.

“We need to curb our xenophobia and accept the reality that increasingly people will make their own choices where they take their portable skills and choose to live – there are more UK citizens working and living abroad than there are EU migrants in the UK. These are the facts of modern day life.”

END CONTACT:

Keith Best,

Chief Executive

Immigration Advisory Service UK

26-11-2009

Press Release (Click link for original)

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Celebrating Spirituality: South London UPF

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 21, 2009

Celebrating Spirituality

November 21st, 2009

An inspirational idea put forward by one of our Ambassadors for Peace, Mayura Patel, brought together representatives from Islam (Ms Saleha Jaffer), Sikh (Mrs Rawinder Kalsi) and Hindu (Mr Ganesh Lall) faiths, Buddhism (Mr Les Kemp), Christianity (Rev. Elizabeth Jatto) and Unificationism (Mr Nigel Barrett) to expound on their respective major ‘Holy Days’ or celebrations through brief presentations which also introduced the basic religious tenets of each of the faiths. Whilst each of the very simple but profound explanations portrayed the unique historic and cultural underpinnings of their celebrations, it was striking how a deep truth became very apparent, namely the underlying human striving for goodness and higher ideals, culminating in the discovery of God, and his Holy Men/Prophets on earth, leading to the ultimate experience of inner and worldly peace. This ‘sameness’ was further highlighted through the stimulating panel discussion after the presentations.

The conference was very ably chaired by Dr. Lance Gardiner. Mr Franklin Fortune showed a brief video about the recent 10.14 Marriage Rededication Blessing in Korea depicting the experiences of people from all over the world who were present at the event. This resonated beautifully with the existing mood among the participants. The conference was relatively small in scale but had a very intimate atmosphere. It was brought to a close by the traditional round of songs presented by Russell Gough as well as the usual buffet refreshments and networking among all.

———————————————————————————————————————————————–

Time for Vision – The Path Ahead

May 30th 2009, South London – UPF

Nigel Barrett, Susan Beresford and Cllr Faizullah Khan

Nigel Barrett, Susan Beresford and Cllr Faizullah Khan

Councillor Faizullah Khan urged peace activists to arm themselves intellectually with a higher level of understanding and tolerance with which to analyse conflicts and contribute effectively to the peace building process. Speaking on 30th May 2009 at the Peace Embassy in Thornton Heath, South London, on the occasion of the third in a series of conferences held under the title “Time for Vision – The Path Ahead”, he opined: “Desiring peace will never deliver peace, it is activism in peace which will deliver peace.”

The conference was attended by about 40 Ambassadors for Peace, UPF supporters and their guests. The series has focussed on the need for a positive vision to address the challenges we face in this era of economic, political, environmental and moral crisis. The proceedings opened with a thought-provoking presentation by Mr Nigel Barrett on the role of conscience in personal development. Drawing on the philosopher Plato’s discussion of the mythical “Ring of Gyges”, he asked if we would still live a moral life if we could be freed from being held accountable for our actions by others – a pertinent question in light of the recent scandalous revelations of political and financial improprieties. He introduced the challenging concept of a cosmic level of conscience inspired by Divine spiritual laws and principles.

Susan Beresford then presented the ongoing work of Undercroydon, a non-profit organisation, which has successfully brought communities together through innovative artistic, fashion and food-based projects. She described how projects such as the art mural in the Whitgift Centre in Croydon, in which several schools participated, have released individuals’ creative and cooperative talents.

CIMG3008 SL UPF event croppedA lively panel Q&A session followed the speaker presentations, and the proceedings concluded with the generous donation of a large cheque by the Sabrang Ladies Group to UPF for improvement of the furnishings in the Peace Embassy.

Lance Gardiner

CIMG3024 SL UPF event cropped panel

Posted in Community Cohesion, Evironmental Awareness, Interfaith | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Praise works!

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 10, 2009

I attended a Star Foundation Awards ceremony for young people today organised by a good friend Dr Joy Philippou. She is doing such great work despite her age. There were a number of very worthy recipients, music and celebrities. Dr David Hanna opened the programme with prayer and the words that ‘Joy has found that the simple things are the most successful. Praise and encouragement have great effect.’

Star Foundation Awards Group Photo - Youth Awards -

Star Foundation Awards Group Photo

For more photos please use this link.

The Star Foundation Awards were presented to young people nominated for doing good work in their community or for keeping the slate clean for several years if they were in trouble in the past. I nominated a young lady, Narraser Gordon, from Bristol who has led a campaign in Bristol to STOP (Solve This Ongoing Problem) gun and knife violence. She gave a talk at a recent Bristol Universal Peace Federation event I attended about the work of STOP. Narraser, blessed with a strong Christian faith, has a sincere passion to prevent the violence among her peers that has killed too many already. She takes each death, each injury, personally.

IMG_0042 Patti Boulaye with Narraser Gordon

Patti Boulaye with Narraser Gordon

Patti Boulaye, who has several charitable projects of her own, was very encouraging to all those receiving awards. She emphasised the need for good family traditions and boundaries that form the bedrock of a good society.

IMG_0022 cropped Joy and the Crown Prince rev

Dr Joy Philippou and the Crown Prince of Burma

Well done Joy!!

Robin Marsh

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Commemorating Dr LM Singhvi’s Interfaith Contribution and Joint Celebration of Religious Holy Days

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on October 31, 2009

Annual Commemoration of Dr LM Singhvi

and

Joint Celebrations of Holy Days during National Interfaith Week

Interfaith Water Ceremony

Universal Peace Federation

Tel : 020 7262 0985  Fax : 020 7724 2262

Web: www.uk.upf.orgWeblog Email: pa@uk.upf.org

Hosted by Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh

Committee Room 4A House of Lords

Wednesday 18th of November, 2009 – at 5pm

Dear Friends,

Prof. Lord Bhiku Parekh

Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh

We have a wonderful opportunity to celebrate National Interfaith Week and to commemorate the late Dr L.M. Singhvi’s contribution to interfaith work. Dr Singhvi, as a distinguished seven year Indian High Commissioner to the UK, left a deep impression particularly in his encouragement of good interfaith relations. Professor Lord Parekh, who in November 2008 gave a commemorative lecture, will highlight the significance of Dr. L. M. Singhvi’s promotion of interfaith understanding in the cause of peace. Dr Singhvi was the former President of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) in India and in that position held numerous conferences on the possibilities of an Inter-religious Council in the United Nations.

The UPF Interfaith Committee’s series of Joint Celebrations of Holy Days seeks to provide opportunities for people of faith to learn about and celebrate other religious traditions. We are encouraging an inter-generational expression of younger and older representatives of Muslim, Jewish, Dharmic and Christian faiths to explain what Eid, the Jewish High Holidays, Diwali and All Saints Day means to them. We want to encourage younger participants from the audience to also offer their comments during the evening. It is appropriate that we can celebrate the holy days of several faiths while commemorating the contribution of Dr Singhvi who contributed greatly to interfaith dialogue.

Hon. Dr. L. M. Singhvi: May 21st 2007, Moses Committee Room, House of Lords, London

‘Today religion is often seen as a potent but negative force. As Lord Parekh said, we must not just look for commonalities between religions but for ways in which we can aid the process of co-existing well. In the declaration of UNESCO it states that ‘War begins in the minds of men’ – I say that peace begins in the minds of men, women and children. The Universal Peace Federation’s work is all about this peace and it is my privilege to introduce this work to you. UPF is emphasizing that peace is too important to be left to diplomats and soldiers alone. There are other constituencies of peace which deal with our common future and human equality.


dr l m singhvi - photos2

Dr. L. M. Singhvi

Dr. L. M. Singhvi  with Robert Kittle

Dr. L. M. Singhvi with Robert Kittle

dr l m singhvi photos4

‘The Universal Peace Federation is the forum to address these issues – we are many people, but one world, one cosmos. If we do not hang together, as religions, we will hang separately! The mission of religion is to reach the soul and heart of humanity. UPF promotes the culture of heart in the garden of diversity and is for intervention on a hundred fronts where humanity needs help and succour. Peace will not come unless civil society is at the forefront and pushing interfaith dialogue. It will not come through the establishment. Inter-religious work speaks of love of peace and the peace of shared love. There is so much we can do together and that we destroy in our separateness.’  Interfaith Initiatives

The evening promises to be an exciting occasion and therefore we urge you to reserve your place. Kindly RSVP by email or telephone to any of the numbers below. We look forward to seeing you on November 18th at 5:00 pm, House of Lords, Room 4A. (Please remember to leave 30 minutes to go through security.)

Yours sincerely,

Joyce Suda,  Director, Interfaith Committee, 0207 – 563 -0907  – Home: 0208 467 3035

Robin Marsh    Secretary General     Mobile: 44 (0) 7956 210 768    Twitter: RTMarsh

Cllr. Margaret Ali, Director, Mobile: 44 (0) 7723024750

Upcoming UPF Events

Universal Peace Federation – UK www.uk.upf.org 44 (0) 207 262 0985

Peace and Development Network:  https://peacedevelopmentnetwork.wordpress.com

http://uk.youtube.com/PeaceDevelopmntNetwk

UPF is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations

Posted in Community Cohesion, Interfaith | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Bristol Showcases UPF

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on October 24, 2009

IMG_0158  Group Photo Bristol UPF meeting reduced

UPF Bristol recently held a showcase event where we could welcome our European sub-regional chair Jack Corley and our UK secretary-general Robin Marsh. We also had presence of David and Patricia Earle from UK Birmingham region supporting us warmly.

Among many guests, five new Ambassadors for Peace were introduced. We had wonderful talks and lectures but also interfaith prayers, songs, African drumming and testimonies from our dear Ambassadors for Peace. Professor Iwugo from Bristol University who is an adviser for Bristol UPF said that ‘the UPF is a very inspiring organization where all the races and all the religions can work together for world peace’.

UPF Bristol 2009 Talks and Song from Steve_and_Tomoko on Vimeo.

This showcase made people much more aware and respectful of Father and Mother Moon’s work. After the official meeting finished, people were still talking with much excitement, feeling that they want to do something together with UPF.

IMG_0096 playing the drums brightened reducedIMG_0097 playing drums brightened reduced

IMG_0093 drums2 bightened

The audience enjoyed learning how to play African Drums by Omanye African Drums and Dance UK Performance.

UPF Showcase Bristol 2009 from Steve_and_Tomoko on Vimeo.

IMG_0088 Drums reduced brightened reduced

Omanye African Drums

IMG_0146 Tomoko and Danielle

Tomoko and Danielle

Danielle, 14 years old, sang beautifully during the programme.

IMG_0159 Narraser Rochelle Gordon  STOP reduced

Narraser Rochelle Gordon - STOP

There was a very serious talk by Narraser Rochelle Gordon who is involved in STOP – Solve This Ongoing Problem – of gun and knife crime. More can be found about this organisation on Facebook.

IMG_0101 cropped brightened reduced

African Drums

UPF Showcase 2009 from Steve_and_Tomoko on Vimeo.

Dr Krishna (on right playing the drum) gave a wonderful testimony of going to an international UPF conference in Korea.

For more photos of this event click here

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Upcoming Universal Peace Federation – UK Programmes Nov – Dec 2009

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on October 20, 2009

UPF - logos 2-0 cm

Upcoming Universal Peace Federation – UK Programmes

Click on the links for further information.

November 18th – 5:00 pm Commemorating Dr LM Singhvi’s Interfaith Contribution and Joint Celebration of Religious Holy Days:
Hosted by Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh in Committee Room 4A, House of Lords. We have a wonderful opportunity to celebrate National Interfaith Week and to commemorate the late Dr L.M. Singhvi’s contribution to interfaith work. Dr Singhvi, as a distinguished seven year Indian High Commissioner to the UK, left a deep impression particularly in his encouragement of good interfaith relations. The UPF Interfaith Committee’s series of Joint Celebrations of Holy Days seeks to provide opportunities for younger and older faith representatives to express their faith and to both learn about and celebrate other religious traditions.

November 24th – 5:00 pm‘Immigrants Contribution to British Society’
Committee Room 12, House of Commons:  Lord Bikhu Parekh, Chair of ‘Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain’ Report in 2000, Ms Yasmin Alibhai- Brown – distinguished Journalist and Commentator, Mr Tom Brake MP – Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Home Affairs and Mr Keith Best – Chief Executive, Immigration Advisory Service.

November 26th – 6:30 pm: UPF-UK Environment Chapter: 43 Lancaster Gate, W2 3NA “London Initiative ahead of Copenhagen 2009 – ‘Think globally – act locally’ “ Emma Burnell, Vice Chair of SERA and Lawrence Bloom, the chair of the UN Environment Programme, Green Economy Initiative.

November 28th – World Culture Association: 43 Lancaster Gate, W2 3NA

December 5th – 10:30 amUniversal Peace Council: 43 Lancaster Gate, W2 3NA

The UPF Bi-annual Peace Council Meeting is a gathering of Ambassadors for Peace and friends to review activities and strategise how to utilise the cooperative influence of UPF’s growing national and international network. The Universal Peace Federation and its slogans of ‘one family under God’ and ‘living for the sake of others’ has incredible significance in this time of unsettling changes. The UPF Peace Council will begin at 10:30a.m. On Saturday 5th of December, with sessions up to lunch of reports and keynote speakers who have been supporting UPF events during the year.

Recently Held Events:

Rev. Dr Marcus Braybrooke: Book launch, ‘Beacons of the Light‘  October 16th

Green Economy Initiative with speakers Lawrence Bloom and Murad Qureshi September 3rd. For the report please click here.

September 6th 6:30 pm –   Pilgrimage:  A discussion of the role of pilgrimages in different faiths. For photos click here.

Robin Marsh
Secretary General, UPF – UK

Mobile: 44 (0) 7956 210 768     Twitter: RTMarsh

Cllr. Margaret Ali

Director, UPF – UK

Mobile: 44 (0) 7723024750

Universal Peace Federation – UK

Tel: 44 (0) 207 262 0985

Peace and Development Network:  https://peacedevelopmentnetwork.wordpress.com

http://uk.youtube.com/PeaceDevelopmntNetwk

UPF is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations

Posted in Community Cohesion, Evironmental Awareness, Interfaith, Peace and Development | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Reconciliation and Forgiveness Conference

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on October 4, 2009

‘Reconciliation and Forgiveness’ Conference

2009 UN Year of Reconciliation

Morning Session

Forgiveness and Reconciliation Conference Full Report October 4th 2009

The day featured two sessions. The first session in the morning in a meeting room in 43 Lancaster Gate was chaired by Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke. Photo Link from the morning conference:


Dr Natubhai Shah

Dr Natubhai Shah

Bhai Mohinder Sahib Singh

Bhai Mohinder Sahib Singh

IMG_8479a audience

IMG_8480a audience

The morning session was rich with experience and knowledge about the topic of Forgiveness as expressed by the pool of wisdom emanating from distinguished speakers such as depicted above as well as Dr Ven Sumana Siri, Mr Jehangir Sarosh, Andrea Foulkes and Mr Jack Corley of UPF who gave concluding remarks. The general feeling about the morning conference was well expressed by the chair Dr Braybrooke who felt that during next year we should consider a one day conference with 3 sessions, one which could be a workshop in smaller groups perhaps, given the fact that there was so much to discuss, and such a wealth of experience amongst the speakers.

The second session was held in Friends Meeting House including an Interfaith Water Ceremony and presentations by many faith and community leaders.  Photo Link from the afternoon conference:

Report on the ‘Forgiveness and Reconciliation’ event by Connie Rennie

IMG_8689a interfaith water ceremony

Interfaith Water Ceremony

IMG_8625a Connie Rennie and Robert Haines

Connie Rennie and Robert Haines Readings

Today I had the opportunity to take part in a ceremony at Friends meeting house where representatives of many different faiths came together to share the teachings, practices and experiences of forgiveness and reconciliation. It was a rare and wonderful sight to see so many different faiths being represented on one stage as each stood to share their viewpoint. The religious leaders included keynote speakers such as Dr Marcus Braybrooke: President World Congress of Faith and Rev Dr Sumana Siri: Buddhist Cardinal of Europe and many many more.
Differences are often emphasized between faiths and cultures, but by listening to the words of each of the leaders at the event today, one clear message was portrayed; forgiveness is a key aspect of a strong life of faith, which when practiced leads to peace within oneself, naturally allowing you to bring peace to others, as is described in Buddhist psychology, ‘He who loves himself will harm not another.’ Not only does forgiveness bring us closer to each other, but all faiths expressed that forgiveness brings us closer to God. One of names of God in the Qur’an is, ‘The Forgiver.’ In practicing forgiveness, do we not become God-like?  One of the most important days of faith for Jewish believers, as described by Mr. Edwin Shuker: Sephardic Jewish Association, is ‘Yom Kippur ‘or ‘The day of Atonement’ where the relationship between God and humans is reconciled through repentance, and the seeking of forgiveness.

To see the similarities in the teachings on the topic was interesting, but what I felt really created a positive atmosphere of unity in the hall, was the practice of forgiveness. Chants of forgiveness from the Muslim, Jewish and Jain traditions were presented, as well as an interactive session where the audience were asked to stand and greet their neighbor as a representative of all things that they need to forgive, and tell them, ‘You are forgiven!’ We were also led through a meditation chant by Mayura Patel representing Hinduism. At this point I felt that peace and reconciliation between people of different faiths cannot be achieved simply by an intellectual understanding, but to respect each other as much as to be willing to practice each other’s traditions. Everyone in the room was willing to share and participate in the practices of other faiths, and I was so moved!

The highlight of the event was the ‘Interfaith Water Ceremony’ where representatives of each faith poured pure water into one single bowl, while reflecting on the virtues of water and its importance to Sikhs and Gurus, as described by Bhai Gurdas in his writing, ‘Be Compassionate Like Water.’ This ceremony is a symbol of the dissolution of resentments, and the desire to become one interreligious peaceful community. And after taking part in this event and seeing the example of the leaders today I feel inspired, and re-determined to practice forgiveness as one method to bring peace within myself, to those around me, and ultimately to God. Thank you!

Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke Reporting on the Morning Conference

Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke Reporting on the Morning Conference

Photos by Andy Johnson

Lord King UPF Patron

Lord King UPF Patron

water ceremony different faiths 2

Interfaith Water Ceremony

Posted in Community Cohesion, Interfaith | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

“Forgiveness and Reconciliation” Programme – 2:00 pm 4th October 2009 Friends Meeting House, Euston

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on September 25, 2009

CCWG Logo Community Cohesion Working Group copy

“Forgiveness and Reconciliation” Programme:

Universal Peace Federation   Community Cohesion Working Group

2:00 pm  4th October 2009      Friends Meeting House, Euston


Faith and Community Perspectives: Emcee Rev. Dr David Hanna: Unificationist Pastor Bromley

Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke: President World Congress of Faith, Introduction & Christian Perspective

Prof. Natubhai Shah: Chair of Jain Network and Jain Academy, Jain Perspective

Rev Dr Sumana Siri: Buddhist Cardinal of Europe,

Mayura Patel: Hindu Meditative Chant with Translation by Vanessa Edwards

Mr. Edwin Shuker: Sephardic Jewish Association – UK   & Mrs. Ruth Barnett: Holocaust Educator

Mr. Bhai Mohinder Sahib Singh: Chair of British Sikh Consultative Forum

Mr. Shepetim: Muslim College, Muslim Chant

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid: Chairman Muslim Council for Religious & Racial Harmony UK

Miss Elisa Brann: Unificationist Youth Perspective

Mr Jehangir Sarosh: Zoroastrian Perspective

Mr Andrea Foulkes: UK TV’s Expert on Soul Freedom Therapy

Samana Prasana Pragya &  Samana Rohit Pragya: Jain Vishva Bharati London

Mr Robert Haines: Christian Reading   &    Miss Connie Rennie: Unificationist Reading

Mr Jack Corley: Regional Director, Unification Movement

Ms. Kulvinder Nagha: Sant Niramkari Youth Volunteer & Swami Saradananda: Hindu Perspective

Interfaith Water Ceremony: Rev. Dr. David Hanna: Explanation

Ms. Angad Kaur: Guru Ram Das Project ‘Be Compassionate Like Water’ by Bhai Gurdas

Break: Conclusion of Break – Bernard Chellew: ‘Ryhmes and Reasons’ by John Denver

‘Forgiveness & Reconciliation’ Experiences (1) Ms. Marcian Uwimana – Rwanda  (2) Mrs. Sabina Miller

‘Amazing Grace’ the origins by Prof. Ian Hall. Rev. Harriott, and others, to play Amazing Grace

Mr Glory Mbala, Poetry Reading

Anthony Padgett, A Jewish Artist, Reading from his Book, ‘The Rainbow Swastika Conspiracy’

Dance of Forgiveness narrated by Ms. Anusha Subramanyam of Beeja Dancing Group Performed by Dancers Elena, Jecinta and Katrina.

Lord King of West Bromwich: Universal Peace Federation Patron Concluding Remarks

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Universal Peace Federation – Peace Council

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on July 6, 2009

Universal Peace Federation (UPF) – Peace Council

43 Lancaster Gate

July 4th, 2009

Link for Photos:

UPF Peace Council - July 4th 2009

UPF Peace Council - July 4th 2009

Greetings from Lord King of West Bromwich - UPF Patron

Greetings from Lord King of West Bromwich - UPF Patron

Ambassador for Peace Award Recipients

Ambassador for Peace Award Recipients

The UPF Peace Council was held last Saturday on July 4th in order to gather together branches and committees of UPF across the UK. It was useful to promote the work of committees to those activists in parts of the UK where is less activity. It was also useful to identify new areas in which there is interest to develop UPF activities.

Reports from UPF Committee Chairs or active representatives.

Gene Alcantara - Mindanao Peace Initiative

Gene Alcantara - Mindanao Peace Initiative-UK

Gene Alcantara spoke about the Mindanao Peace Initiative – UK that involves supporting youth service activities, a Hip Hop convention and a number of other initiatives to bring young and old from different communities together in this Philippine area of Christian-Mulsim conflict. (For more information please see comment below. Click links  MinPI Also the link to various activities. Further Explanation By Gene Alcantara)

Cllr. Margaret Ali, Saleha Jaffer and Cllr. Janet Baddeley: UPF Community Cohesion Group

Cllr. Margaret Ali, Saleha Jaffer and Cllr. Janet Baddeley: UPF Community Cohesion Group

The Community Cohesion Group announced events such as a Forgiveness and Reconciliation Festival on October 4th, an event to commemorate ‘Black History Month’ in September and a Holocaust Day event in late January 2010.

Marios Gerogiokas - Report from UPF Environment Chapter

Marios Gerogiokas - Report from UPF Environment Chapter

Dr Marios Gerogiokas announced a series of conferences and discussions with experts to consider the issues surrounding Climate Change negotiations culminating in Copenhagen in December 2009. These include a talk by Dr. Yacob Mulugetta from Surrey University on Understanding Food, Water and the Energy Crisis on July 16th and a talk by Lawrence Bloom on September 3rd evening both at 43 Lancaster Gate.

Marriage and Family Committee Report by Chair Eddie Hartley

Marriage and Family Committee Report by Chair Eddie Hartley

Marriage and Family Committee Chair, Eddie Hartley, highlighted the upcoming conference on the 18th of July,Commitment in Marriage: What the Faith Traditions Offer Modern-Day Britain held together with the Women’s Federation for World Peace.He also reported on the UN International Day of the Family event held on May 15th.

Dr David Earle reporting on UPF activities in Birmingham

Dr David Earle reporting on UPF activities in Birmingham

Birmingham UPF – Dr David Earle explained the progress being made in Birmingham with the local Council in partnership with Women’s Federation for World Peace run locally by his wife, Patricia.

Dr Satwant Multani - Interfaith Youth Hostel Project Inspired by Paul Currie's 1000 Mile Walk

Dr Satwant Multani - Interfaith Youth Hostel Project Inspired by Paul Currie's 1000 Mile Walk

Dr Satwant Multani, the Chair of Central Scotland Interfaith, spoke of the Interfaith Youth Hostel project and the inspiration he had received from Paul Curries 1000 mile walk. He had raised £1000 for the Interfaith Youth Hostel among the members of his Gurdwara. A quick collection from the audience raised a further £180 for the project.

Ambassador for Peace Awards

Ms. Hadia Saad

Ms. Hadia Saad

Mr Mohammed Khokhar

Mr Mohammed Khokhar: Community Liaison Officer / UK Funds Distribution Manager for International Charity Muslim Aid

Karen Szulakowska

Karen Szulakowska

Major(Retired) Suryaparsad Upadhya

Major(Retired) Suryaparsad Upadhya

Posted in Community Cohesion, Evironmental Awareness, Interfaith, Marriage and Family, Peace and Development | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

UPF-UK Statement on European and Local Council Elections

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on June 4, 2009

Universal Peace Federation – UK

Statement on European and Local Council Elections

Rarely have our democratic institutions and processes been under such pressure as they are at this time. As
we experience a crisis of trust at the very heart of the democracy we value so highly, many feel a sense of being betrayed by those in positions of authority. This trust, generated by leadership that maintains integrity and genuine
public-mindedness, is so essential for the good working of our political structures.

The people of Britain once again have the opportunity to express their views about the future of Europe as well as some areas of local Government. It is important that all eligible citizens exercise their precious right and duty to vote, and that they vote wisely. Failing to fulfil that duty can only serve to assist those who wish to damage our democracy.

The Universal Peace Federation is a global alliance of individuals and organizations dedicated to building a world of peace, a world in which everyone can live in freedom and harmony, and enjoy prosperity. Many of the issues being
dealt with by our current UPF committees stand to be affected by these elections: community cohesion, marriage and family, peace and development, interfaith relations, and more. Our strong alliance of diverse religious leaders
is calling on all people of faith to pray for these European Elections that will be held on 4th June; prayer has the power to touch hearts and minds, and to nurture all that is good, loving and just.

Of course, this commitment is one shared by all conscientious people. For this reason, UPF is making this call to all voters to reject divisiveness and messages of hatred and distrust, and to foster policies and decisions that further the wellbeing of all European citizens.

Posted in Community Cohesion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Three Faiths Celebration Article – Daily Jang

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on April 20, 2009

To Promote Inter-Religious Understanding Practical Steps Are Needed

Under the Auspices of Universal Peace Federation (UPF):

Brief Translation
Religion is the Only Way to Bring World Peace and to Bring People Closer Together But it is Usually Used as a Justification to Kill People.

Joint Celebration of the Holy Events of the Three Faiths of Abraham

Joint Celebration of the Holy Events of the Three Faiths of Abraham: April 14, 2009

Dr Raheem Khan quoted that the Holy Prophet’s teaching includes bringing negotiations of peace with non-Muslims in every way.

Under the auspices of the UPF, Muslims, Christians and Jewish leaders came together to address this meeting. They said practical steps are needed rather than just talk to bring inter-religious cooperation and understanding.

Dr Raheem Khan said, over the past centuries people are being killed in the name of religion while religion is the only way that there can be peace in the world. Interfaith dialogue is an important need of the day.

Yael Lindenboim said the current circumstances of the world demand that mutual hatred should be replaced by mutual understanding between communities.

There were messages from Canon Andrew White, the ‘Vicar of Baghdad’ and the former Bishop of Jerusalem, the Rt. Rev’d. Riah Abu El-Assal. Imam Nabil Haider gave a recital from the Koran

There were recitals from different texts. The importance of each of the ceremonies was explained. The occasion was attended by a large number of distinguished members of different faith communities.

Joint Celebration of the Three Faiths April 14 2009 Daily Jang Article

Joint Celebration of the Three Faiths April 14 2009 Daily Jang Article

Posted in Community Cohesion, Interfaith | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Joint Celebration of the Holy Events of Three Faiths

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on April 15, 2009

Joint Celebration of the Holy Events of Three Faiths

14th April, 2009
The Joint Celebration of the Holy Events of the Three Faiths was inspired by a very successful Jewish – Muslim Celebration evening on October 21st 2006 following the 2nd Lebanese war. Yael Lindenboim had suggested that event because the Jewish High Holy Days and Eid celebration at the end of Ramadan occurred at roughly the same time that year. Yael was acknowledged at the start of this evening by Dr Raheem Khan who had been one of the leading members of the Community Cohesion and Interfaith committees organising this event. The evening began with messages from those who had been aware of the evening but could not be there. Canon Andrew White, the ‘Vicar of Baghdad’, had prepared a message that was presented by Sharon Booth his Personal Assistant and Project Manager of Foundation for the Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. The Rt. Rev’d. Riah Abu El-Assal, the former Bishop of Jerusalem, also sent a message that was read by Vanessa Edwards.

Each of the three faiths representatives were to present scriptural readings about the holy event in their calendar and to explain both the significance and some of the traditions included in the celebration. There followed also some younger representatives presentations, cultural performances and food from each religious heritage.

Links for Event : More Photos:
More Videos


Rev. Dr Shadrach Ofosuware PhD FRSA: Easter

Pastor Dr Shadrach Ofosuware PhD FRSA, the Pastor of Freedom Centre International, a multicultural Christian Pentecostal church with an aim to “Raise overcomers and set the captives Free” explained that Easter was a time of renewal as Jesus came to renew humankind by bringing salvation through his sacrifice.

Pastor Shadrach shared that Easter is the celebration of the Passover a time of atonement in which the High Priest makes a sacrifice of the Passover lamb for atonement of sins in the Holy of Holies. That shedding of blood atones for sins. Jesus shed his blood, like the Passover lamb, for our past, present and future sins. Therefore we can treat each other with love and care. Pastor Shadrach concluded ‘the blood of Jesus unites all nations and all people’.


Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid JP: Mawlid An-Nabi

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid JP

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid JP

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid expressed how the birth and life of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) influenced the world. Muslims in various parts of the world celebrate his birth as a perfect human being, in the festival of Mawlid An-Nabi, who came not to start a new faith but to continue the faiths of Judaism and Christianity.

He pointed to the inclusive nature of the constitution of Medina as an example of his worldview. He did not create a constitution just for his followers but for all people of Medina, including those of other faiths, both for security and prosperity.

His character of forgiveness was also exhibited in the conflict with the population of Mecca. During the persecution he did not want to condemn any of the persecutors so that they could have a chance to realise their mistake and come round to support him.

After the victory over Mecca he was asked how he wanted to deal with the population of Mecca. He answered that he would deal with them in the same way that Joseph forgave his brothers for their wrong doing. This action led to an era of peace.



Edwin Shuker: Passover

Edwin Shuker, Passover Seder Traditions

Edwin Shuker, Passover Seder Traditions

The ‘Joint Celebration of the Three Faiths’ included presentations, music and food from each faith. Because of the oncoming sundown Edwin Shuker, the Vice President of the World Sephardic Council, began the evening with a reading from the Torah and explained the reason for the traditional Passover foods. ‘Passover is a symbol of hope, he said, ‘it is my favourite holiday in the Jewish calendar’ he said.

He felt that the act of sharing this precious message is holy in itself. ‘When I heard from Dr Khan the inspiration for this event I felt that his passion for the event went way beyond him; from the God that unites us all.’

He explained some of the symbolism in Passover. He said that the removal of the leavened bread, ‘Hametz’, from the house prior to Passover, was an expression of removing the arrogance or pride. The Passover traditions are the longest rituals in the western world having been followed for 3300 years.

Edwin Shuker is also a member of the International Division of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and President of Justice for Jews of Arab Countries.




Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal

bishop-riah-in-g20-new-vision-amid-economic-crisis-_dsc0991-april-2nd-2009-3-reduced1

Much as I desire to be with you and all taking part in the Three Faith Traditions Celebrations, I am afraid, physically speaking, it is not going to be possible. However, I want you to know that I will be with you all in the spirit.

I have always advocated co-living not simply co-existence; believing that this will be the only way left for us, humans, to live in peace and harmony in years to come.

Religion was never meant to separate people from people; irrespective of this or that person’s convictions. Neither was it meant to imprison any and make him/her a slave of this or that tradition. St. Paul was right when he challenged us to re-examine where we stand as believers when he said: “the letter kills but the spirit gives life.” We are called to bring life even in the midst of death. How more when we are called to live together, recognize the otherness that is in the other, if we wish the other to recognize the otherness that is in us. Religion has been used, misused and often abused, not by the outsiders, but those who claim to be the defenders of the faith!!! I am sick of that religion and I call on all who believe in the ONE GOD who created ALL of us to enjoy and appreciate the beautiful mosaic that the Almighty left for us humans to enjoy. To ignore the other and / or pretend he/she does not exist, does not make him/her cease to be.

Easter reminds us of the love of God who cares for All His Children and want them to be united for what protects His beautiful image in each and everyone. It is the day when we celebrate the victory of life over death, the victory of faith over doubt, the victory of hope over despair. In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, I dare say it is in the recognition of the other that I am recognized; in appreciating the other and his otherness that I am appreciated and my otherness; and it is “in giving that we receive.” Easter is also the Passover, when we are called to pass–over barriers and reach out with whatever love God has placed in our hearts to meet the so-called ‘other.’ Only in passing we will realize that we have come to a Brother and to a Sister, not simply another creature. Oh for the day when God in His Mercy will break down all the barriers that separate the Brother in God from the Brother in God, the Sister in God from the Sister in God. This is the vision that St. John in the Book of Revelation saw and shared with us when the ‘new heaven and the new earth’ come in our midst and the Almighty be the God of All of us.

In closing, I wish to quote Joan Chittister: “Vision is not the ability to predict the future. Vision is the foresight to create the future.”

God bless you all and know that this comes with my love and my best wishes.’

Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal is the former Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem


Canon Andrew White

Canon Andrew White, Vicar of Baghdad
Canon Andrew White

‘Greetings from Baghdad, I am so sorry that I am unable to be with you today especially as my great friend and member of my board Dr Raheem Kahn is behind this event.

Today you come together as members of the three great monotheistic faiths, Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Together we have one great thing in common we all believe that G-d is one. We all believe that G-d is part of our life and we believe interfaith activity does not make us weak in our faith it should makes us stronger and indeed more orthodox in what we believe and practice. Unlike many in the West I do not live and work with those who do not believe much. Most people believe firmly in their faith. Yet they are serious about engaging with the other.

At the same time we all realise that when religion goes wrong it goes very wrong. We do not deny that religion is at the core of so many of the problems in the world today, but if religion is part of the problem it must also be part of the solution. The solution begins with you; you have come together as one not two or three. You must hear each other’s story and you will soon discover that you are friends not enemies. It was the American poet Longfellow who said “Who is my enemy; it is the person whose story I have not heard”.

May the Lord, Hashem, Allah and the Almighty G-d be with you all forever.’

Canon Andrew White
Vicar of St Georges, Baghdad
President, Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East

————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Invitation letter:

Universal Peace Federation (UPF)
43 Lancaster Gate, London W2 3NA
Tel : 020 7262 0985 Fax : 020 7724 2262
Email: peacefederationuk@gmail.com
Web: www.uk.upf.org

The UPF Community Cohesion & Interfaith Working Committees would like to invite you to a joint celebration of the holy events of the three faiths on Tuesday April 14th, at 6.30pm at 43 Lancaster Gate, London, W2 3NA.

1) MAWLID AN-NABI – The birth of the Prophet Mohammed, (peace be upon him) takes place on March 9th in 2009. Charity and food are distributed, and stories about the life of Muhammad are narrated with recitation of poetry by children. There are also large street processions and homes or mosques are decorated.

2) PESACH – The season of Passover when Jews commemorate the liberation of the Children of Israel who were led out of Egypt by Moses begins on April 9th and finishes on April 17th. This is commemorated each year at the ‘Passover Seder’.

3) EASTER commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the most important Christian festival. On Good Friday, Jesus Christ was executed by crucifixion. On Easter Sunday Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is celebrated. Easter is a time for families to worship and spend time together.

More information on all these Holy Days at BBC Religion website – www.bbc.co.uk/religion

As you well know these three Holy Days have a deep significance in the lives of the respective faith traditions and many who are less religious also hold these days as a special time in their yearly calendar – a time of togetherness in their families. As the 3 Holy Days are in close proximity, we are fortunate to have this opportunity to be together, to celebrate them all.

The Programme will include:

  1. Short talks about each festival delivered by prominent speakers from each Faith and illustrating the importance of the Holy Days to their faith community.
  2. The foods of the three faiths with particular significance for the celebrated holy events .
  3. Music, Poetry and Cultural Performances from each faith community.

More than anything we will have lovely people from all communities who want to share their Holy Day with others. We will learn from each other and enjoy a high spiritual experience, created by our collective good will. Peace, Harmony and Joy will reign!

Should you wish to contribute (or someone you know) please let us know!!

Yours Sincerely,

Dr Raheem Khan – special consultant to the three faiths celebration
Saleha Jaffer – Joint Chair of CCWG and Community Cohesion/preventing extremism consultant
Margaret Ali – Joint chair of CCWG & Director-UPF UK
Robin Marsh – Secretary General of UPF UK

Other members of the Community Cohesion Committee include
Cllr. Liaquat Ali: former Mayor of London Borough of Waltham Forest
Mrs Ruth Louise Barnett: Holocaust educator
Cllr. Janet Baddeley: Watford Borough Council
Habibah Anwar Bhatti: BME Development and Community Cohesion officer, Hastings V. A.
Cllr. Mushtaq Lasharie: Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea & Chair of 3rd World Solidarity
Brenda Hodgson: Peace activist
Alan Rainer: Interfaith activist & RE teacher
Hilde Rapp: Conflict Resolution & Co – Chair, Centre of International Peacebuilding
Ajit Singh MBE: Interfaith activist
Tim Miller: Chair of Hastings Interfaith Forum
Mathew Huish: Chair of Faithlink (student interfaith group)
Shamsuddin Agha: President of Indian Muslim Federation – UK
Mr Brij-Mohan Gupta: Chair of Hindu Culture and Heritage Society – UK
Cllr. Faizullah Khan: Former Speaker of London Borough of Hackney
Mr Edwin Shuker: Vice President of the World Sephardic of Congress
Cllr. Greta Sohoye: Croydon Council
Cllr. Lurline Champagne: London Borough of Harrow Council
Mr David Sasson: Peace Activist
Amarjeet-Singh Bhamra PhD IHM: Interfaith activist and Ayurveda Consultant

Interfaith Committee members include below:
Dr Ghayassudin Siddiqui
Dr. Christoph Von Luttitz
Mr Sukhbir Singh
Mrs Joyce Suda
Mrs Ruth Barnett
Mr Mathew Huish
Dr Raheem Khan
Mr Martin Moloney

Posted in Community Cohesion, Interfaith | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Joint Celebration of the Holy Events of Three Faiths

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on April 14, 2009

Joint Celebration of the Holy Events of Three Faiths

14th April, 2009
The Joint Celebration of the Holy Events of the Three Faiths was inspired by a very successful Jewish – Muslim Celebration evening on October 21st 2006 following the 2nd Lebanese war. Yael Lindenboim had suggested that event because the Jewish High Holy Days and Eid celebration at the end of Ramadan occurred at roughly the same time that year. Yael was acknowledged at the start of this evening by Dr Raheem Khan who had been one of the leading members of the Community Cohesion and Interfaith committees organising this event. The evening began with messages from those who had been aware of the evening but could not be there. Canon Andrew White, the ‘Vicar of Baghdad’, had prepared a message that was presented by Sharon Booth his Personal Assistant and Project Manager of Foundation for the Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. The Rt. Rev’d. Riah Abu El-Assal, the former Bishop of Jerusalem, also sent a message that was read by Vanessa Edwards.

Each of the three faiths representatives were to present scriptural readings about the holy event in their calendar and to explain both the significance and some of the traditions included in the celebration. There followed also some younger representatives presentations, cultural performances and food from each religious heritage.

Links for Event :   More Photos:
More Videos

Rev. Dr Shadrach Ofosuware PhD FRSA: Easter

Pastor Dr Shadrach Ofosuware PhD FRSA, the Pastor of Freedom Centre International, a multicultural Christian Pentecostal church with an aim to “Raise overcomers and set the captives Free” explained that Easter was a time of renewal as Jesus came to renew humankind by bringing salvation through his sacrifice.

Pastor Shadrach shared that Easter is the celebration of the Passover a time of atonement in which the High Priest makes a sacrifice of the Passover lamb for atonement of sins in the Holy of Holies. That shedding of blood atones for sins. Jesus shed his blood, like the Passover lamb, for our past, present and future sins. Therefore we can treat each other with love and care. Pastor Shadrach concluded ‘the blood of Jesus unites all nations and all people’.

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid JP: Mawlid An-Nabi

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid JP

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid expressed how the birth and life of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) influenced the world. Muslims in various parts of the world celebrate his birth as a perfect human being, in the festival of Mawlid An-Nabi, who came not to start a new faith but to continue the faiths of Judaism and Christianity.

He pointed to the inclusive nature of the constitution of Medina as an example of his worldview. He did not create a constitution just for his followers but for all people of Medina, including those of other faiths, both for security and prosperity.

His character of forgiveness was also exhibited in the conflict with the population of Mecca. During the persecution he did not want to condemn any of the persecutors so that they could have a chance to realise their mistake and come round to support him.

After the victory over Mecca he was asked how he wanted to deal with the population of Mecca. He answered that he would deal with them in the same way that Joseph forgave his brothers for their wrong doing. This action led to an era of peace.

Edwin Shuker: Passover

Edwin Shuker, Passover Seder Traditions

The ‘Joint Celebration of the Three Faiths’ included presentations, music and food from each faith. Because of the oncoming sundown Edwin Shuker, the Vice President of the World Sephardic Council, began the evening with a reading from the Torah and explained the reason for the traditional Passover foods. ‘Passover is a symbol of hope, he said, ‘it is my favourite holiday in the Jewish calendar’ he said.

He felt  that the act of sharing this precious message is holy in itself. ‘When I heard from Dr Khan the inspiration for this event I felt that his passion for the event went way beyond him; from the God that unites us all.’

He explained some of the symbolism in Passover. He said that the removal of the leavened bread, ‘Hametz’, from the house prior to Passover, was an expression of removing the arrogance or pride. The Passover traditions are the longest rituals in the western world having been followed for 3300 years.

Edwin Shuker is also a member of the International Division of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and President of Justice for Jews of Arab Countries.


Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal

Much as I desire to be with you and all taking part in the Three Faith Traditions Celebrations, I am afraid, physically speaking, it is not going to be possible.  However, I want you to know that I will be with you all in the spirit.

I have always advocated co-living not simply co-existence; believing that this will be the only way left for us, humans, to live in peace and harmony in years to come.

Religion was never meant to separate people from people; irrespective of this or that person’s convictions.  Neither was it meant to imprison any and make him/her a slave of this or that tradition.  St. Paul was right when he challenged us to re-examine where we stand as believers when he said: “the letter kills but the spirit gives life.” We are called to bring life even in the midst of death.  How more when we are called to live together, recognize the otherness that is in the other, if we wish the other to recognize the otherness that is in us.  Religion has been used, misused and often abused, not by the outsiders, but those who claim to be the defenders of the faith!!! I am sick of that religion and I call on all who believe in the ONE GOD who created ALL of us to enjoy and appreciate the beautiful mosaic that the Almighty left for us humans to enjoy.  To ignore the other and / or pretend he/she does not exist, does not make him/her cease to be.

Easter reminds us of the love of God who cares for All His Children and want them to be united for what protects His beautiful image in each and everyone.  It is the day when we celebrate the victory of life over death, the victory of faith over doubt, the victory of hope over despair.  In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, I dare say it is in the recognition of the other that I am recognized; in appreciating the other and his otherness that I am appreciated and my otherness; and it is “in giving that we receive.” Easter is also the Passover, when we are called to pass–over barriers and reach out with whatever love God has placed in our hearts to meet the so-called ‘other.’  Only in passing we will realize that we have come to a Brother and to a Sister, not simply another creature. Oh for the day when God in His Mercy will break down all the barriers that separate the Brother in God from the Brother in God, the Sister in God from the Sister in God.  This is the vision that St. John in the Book of Revelation saw and shared with us when the ‘new heaven and the new earth’ come in our midst and the Almighty be the God of All of us.

In closing, I wish to quote Joan Chittister: “Vision is not the ability to predict the future.  Vision is the foresight to create the future.”

God bless you all and know that this comes with my love and my best wishes.’

Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal is the former Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem

Canon Andrew White

Canon Andrew White

‘Greetings from Baghdad, I am so sorry that I am unable to be with you today especially as my great friend and member of my board Dr Raheem Kahn is behind this event.

Today you come together as members of the three great monotheistic faiths, Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Together we have one great thing in common we all believe that G-d is one. We all believe that G-d is part of our life and we believe interfaith activity does not make us weak in our faith it should makes us stronger and indeed more orthodox in what we believe and practice. Unlike many in the West I do not live and work with those who do not believe much. Most people believe firmly in their faith. Yet they are serious about engaging with the other.

At the same time we all realise that when religion goes wrong it goes very wrong. We do not deny that religion is at the core of so many of the problems in the world today, but if religion is part of the problem it must also be part of the solution. The solution begins with you; you have come together as one not two or three. You must hear each other’s story and you will soon discover that you are friends not enemies. It was the American poet Longfellow who said “Who is my enemy; it is the person whose story I have not heard”.

May the Lord, Hashem, Allah and the Almighty G-d be with you all forever.’

Canon Andrew White
Vicar of St Georges, Baghdad
President, Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East

————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Invitation letter:

Universal Peace Federation (UPF)
43 Lancaster Gate, London W2 3NA
Tel : 020 7262 0985  Fax : 020 7724 2262
Email: peacefederationuk@gmail.com
Web:  www.uk.upf.org

The UPF Community Cohesion & Interfaith Working Committees would like to invite you to a joint celebration of the holy events of the three faiths on Tuesday April 14th, at 6.30pm at 43 Lancaster Gate, London, W2 3NA.

1)   MAWLID AN-NABI – The birth of the Prophet Mohammed, (peace be upon him) takes place on March 9th in 2009. Charity and food are distributed, and stories about the life of Muhammad are narrated with recitation of poetry by children. There are also large street processions and homes or mosques are decorated.

2)   PESACH – The season of Passover when Jews commemorate the liberation of the Children of Israel who were led out of Egypt by Moses begins on April 9th and finishes on April 17th. This is commemorated each year at the ‘Passover Seder’.

3)   EASTER commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the most important Christian festival. On Good Friday, Jesus Christ was executed by crucifixion. On Easter Sunday Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is celebrated. Easter is a time for families to worship and spend time together.

More information on all these Holy Days at BBC Religion website – www.bbc.co.uk/religion

As you well know these three Holy Days have a deep significance in the lives of the respective faith traditions and many who are less religious also hold these days as a special time in their yearly calendar – a time of togetherness in their families. As the 3 Holy Days are in close proximity, we are fortunate to have this opportunity to be together, to celebrate them all.

The Programme will include:

  1. Short talks about each festival delivered by prominent speakers from each Faith and illustrating the importance of the Holy Days to their faith community.
  2. The foods of the three faiths with particular significance for the celebrated holy events .
  3. Music, Poetry and Cultural Performances from each faith community.

More than anything we will have lovely people from all communities who want to share their Holy Day with others. We will learn from each other and enjoy a high spiritual experience, created by our collective good will. Peace, Harmony and Joy will reign!

Should you wish to contribute (or someone you know) please let us know!!

Yours Sincerely,

Dr Raheem Khan – special consultant to the three faiths celebration
Saleha Jaffer – Joint Chair of CCWG and Community Cohesion/preventing extremism consultant
Margaret Ali – Joint chair of CCWG & Director-UPF UK
Robin Marsh – Secretary General of UPF UK

Other members of the Community Cohesion Committee include
Cllr. Liaquat Ali: former Mayor of London Borough of Waltham Forest
Mrs Ruth Louise Barnett: Holocaust educator
Cllr. Janet Baddeley: Watford Borough Council
Habibah Anwar Bhatti: BME Development and Community Cohesion officer, Hastings  V. A.
Cllr. Mushtaq Lasharie: Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea & Chair of 3rd World Solidarity
Brenda Hodgson: Peace activist
Alan Rainer: Interfaith activist & RE teacher
Hilde Rapp: Conflict Resolution & Co – Chair, Centre of International Peacebuilding
Ajit Singh MBE: Interfaith activist
Tim Miller: Chair of Hastings Interfaith Forum
Mathew Huish: Chair of Faithlink (student interfaith group)
Shamsuddin Agha: President of Indian Muslim Federation – UK
Mr Brij-Mohan Gupta: Chair of Hindu Culture and Heritage Society – UK
Cllr. Faizullah Khan: Former Speaker of London Borough of Hackney
Mr Edwin Shuker: Vice President of the World Sephardic of Congress
Cllr. Greta Sohoye: Croydon Council
Cllr. Lurline Champagne: London Borough of Harrow Council
Mr David Sasson: Peace Activist
Amarjeet-Singh Bhamra PhD IHM: Interfaith activist and Ayurveda Consultant

Interfaith Committee members include below:
Dr Ghayassudin Siddiqui
Dr. Christoph Von Luttitz
Mr Sukhbir Singh
Mrs Joyce Suda
Mrs Ruth Barnett
Mr Mathew Huish
Dr Raheem Khan
Mr Martin Moloney

Posted in Community Cohesion, Interfaith | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Integration, Inclusion and Identity Part II – 15th July 2008

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on July 15, 2008


“Integration, Inclusion and Identity Part II”

15th July 2008

Houses of Parliament – Committee Room 15

In the absence of Shahid Malik MP, Lord King of West Bromwich stepped in to start the meeting and  give the opening remarks. It was interesting for Lord King, being a person from West Bromwich, to speak about the importance of Community Cohesion in multi faith Birmingham. He also welcomed the former Lord Mayor of Birmingham Cllr. Mahmood Hussain,  the respected Sikh leader, Mr. Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh, and  Cllr Idriss from Birmingham.

Mr David Anderson MP was the next speaker who emphasised the importance of  local communities, like the mining community he came from,  for community building.  He also emphasised the global aspect of Community Cohesion and he gave the example of how we could work together in Britain to improve things in Iraq.  Iraq is an area where he is keenly interested in promoting better understanding between our two countries.

Tim Miller, Vice President of Universal Peace Federation – Europe, explained briefly about the work of  the Community Cohesion working Group (CCWG).
He emphasised the importance of various groups and communities working together. Through his experience in the Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI) he found out how much we are inter-related, as he saw how political unrest in the Middle East does affect community strife at home.

HRH Prince Frederick von Saxe-Lauenberg greeted all present and congratulated the group for its efforts to improve  Community Cohesion in our neighbourhoods.

Many of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) Community Cohesion Working Group (CCWG) members made their reports on the accomplishments of the year’s activities, working with the joint-chairs Saleha Jaffer and Cllr. Margaret Ali.

Among these CCWG members was also Former Mayor of Waltham Forest Cllr. Liaquat Ali, who said it was important to promote understanding by distributing information and knowledge about one another. He observed throughout the series of CCWG meetings how young and old, religious and civic leaders and community members including the Police were very interested in Community Cohesion. He said it takes all parties to work together to achieve the required result, he then added that he was proud to host the first UPF Community Cohesion event of this year.

The former Speaker of Hackney Council Cllr. Faizullah Khan said we are here because we have a problem of not loving each other. He spoke passionately about the fact that we have lost the value of a caring society. Unless we bring the human aspect of loving our neighbour, Community Cohesion will not be possible.  Saleha Jaffer emphasized a point made by Cllr. Khan and added that a community has to work together to educate our youth today.

The former Lord Mayor of Birmingham Cllr. Mahmood Hussain is the first Muslim Lord Mayor in Birmingham’s history of 200 years or so. Although he was proud of this fact, there were many people who had been skeptical about the outcome of this appointment. He said Birmingham is an amazing city with a multi faith population of 1 million – the largest local authority in Europe.

The former Lord Mayor said that what makes Birmingham a most amazing city is the fact that its people, mainly a population of immigrants, had chosen to stay in Birmingham because they simply loved the city! This makes a good recipe for Community Cohesion, because people are willing to break down barriers or at least they are not against doing so. Breaking down barriers is one job UPF does very well indeed so it will be a good thing to hold a Community Cohesion event in Birmingham.

Ms. H. Bhattia explained about the existing community problems in Hastings, mainly due to the asylum seeker population. She also outlined ways to overcome these challenges. She expressed concern in terms of the rise of the British National Party candidates that are targeting Hastings. In developing Community Cohesion, Ms. Bhattia expressed that a greater effort should be made to include the Host community in the programs, so real cohesion can take place. She also shared the positive news of the upcoming launch of the Hastings Interfaith Forum in October which will be followed by a Community Cohesion event in Hastings.

Rev. D. Palmer explained passionately about the Community Cohesion event in Bristol.  UPF- CCWG was invited to organize an event there. She said: “Representing all the councilors, NGO’s, youth and faith leaders, I can say that we had a most amazing start of this work in May. Everyone was appreciative of the UPF model of CC which is based on universal principles of peace building, emphasizing the importance of ’one family of mankind’.  They carry on the good work and are planning to invite a group of youth from Bristol to come to CC event in September, to encourage greater give and take.

There were three contributions from distinguished faith leaders:

The respected Sikh leader from Birmingham Soho Road Guduwara, Bhai Sahib Ji, felt that the main role of faith leaders in building CC was to teach their followers, especially the young, to practice their faith in action. That will turn them into good citizens and responsible people – and if they could learn that all faiths teach these things, they will learn to respect and understand one another. He also suggested that faith leaders can assist local Government, Police and other departments, who often lack information that faith and community leaders can provide.

A great interfaith giant Imam Dr Abduljallil Sajid, agreed with most of the sentiments expressed by Ba Ba Ji. He also added that through his vast experience in the interfaith world, he could see a lot of people of diverse backgrounds coming together. This togetherness is the first step in building community cohesion. The next step would then be WORKING together for a higher cause, as is encouraged by UPF.

The Most Rev Father Dr Abiola emphasized the importance of faith leaders in taking care of their own people. They should teach them to share information about themselves with others and learn from others about themselves. In this way communities will not be shy or scared of one another and will avoid pockets of isolation, hence the communities will reach out to each other.  This is our aim and this is what we can learn from this meeting.

There were a few Police officers who gave us words of encouragement and offered us their services when needed. Inspector Melanie Roulston of Waltham Forest is working on a pilot scheme in CC work along with 2 Sergeants.  At present there are five of these projects in the country.

Carl Wonfor of the National Security Tension Team (ACPO) explained how important it is to have such gatherings of people. He talked about programmes that have borne fruit. He said we should all try to do things like this and develop our focus groups.

Matthew Huish, UCL Interfaith Society Chair, talked about FAITHLINK, a youth organization that brings youth of all backgrounds together. They discuss topics of interest with students and thus get to know one another.  One exciting project they have:   young people of different faiths go to Israel and Palestine. They participate in service projects and thus become acquainted with the situation in the Middle East. Most importantly they learn the points of view at both sides of the conflict. This is an ongoing project and so far they made four trips to the Middle East.

They are also planning summer service projects in the UK. It is the best way for people to get to know one another, Mathew Huish said.

Most exciting was to hear from a 16 year old called Liam Wilkinson, who was introduced to us by David Walker, a mentor training youth in Southwark.  They both spoke about youth mediation programme that had successfully taught Liam and others resolve tensions. It was extremely exciting to hear from a 16 year old, speaking so candidly and with deep confidence about the value of the mediation work that he is doing.

The evening was brought to a conclusion by Cllr Margaret Ali, joint chair of CCWG, emphasizing the point made by Saleha Jaffer, the other joint chair of CCWG, regarding how the group would like to help the policy makers and officers with the difficult task of keeping in touch with the people on the grass roots level.


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