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Posts Tagged ‘Community Cohesion’

Universal Peace Federation – UK News August 2013 – 2

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on August 16, 2013

Universal Peace Federation – UK Newsletter August 2013

Universal Peace Federation – UK Newsletter August 2013 Page 2

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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 »

The Woolwich Murder

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on May 23, 2013

The murder of a soldier in Woolwich was a tragic event last night. 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.

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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 »

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”.

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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.

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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.

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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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Joint Faith’s Celebration- Mawlid An-Nabi (Birth of Prophet Mohammed), Pesach (Passover), Easter And Vaisakhi

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on April 16, 2010

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The Joint Faith’s Celebration was a accumulation of sharing, talk, reading, food, music and drama highlighting the significance of ‘Mawlid An-Nabi (Birth of Prophet Mohammed), Pesach (Passover), Easter And Vaisakhi’. Around the sharing of these precious faiths’ holy events there were many significant meetings among the 80 plus people gathered, including interfaith figures such as Rev. Dr Marcus Braybrooke, President of the World Congress of Faiths, Community Cohesion figures such as Dr Husna Ahmad, CEO, Faith Regen Foundation, Marilyn Brummer of the League of Jewish Women and humanitarian influential figures such as Dr Saif Ahmad, (MADE in Europe), Dr Hojjat Ramzy, Proprietor of the Iqra Girls’ School in Oxford and a presentation by Daniel Hurter about Children’s Relief Bethlehem.

Photo Link

Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke explained the significance of Easter to Christians. ‘Lord Jesus Christ’s first word after resurrection was ‘Mary’. It was a personal word illustrating that this is a personal experience. Through the death of Jesus on the Cross we gained ‘Atonement’ for our sins. We can become ‘At One with God’. He described the feeling, ‘I am loved and forgiven’ rather than feeling abandoned by God. The belief in Easter is fundamental to Christians that illustrates that ‘love is stronger than hatred’.

Dr Husna Ahmad, CEO, Faith Regen Foundation identified a number of moral standards that were established by the Prophet Mohammed, (PBUH). Monetary honesty in financial dealings, keeping of one’s word and not lying were some of those standards that were established at that time that are needed during these days as well. The first human rights party was supported by Prophet Mohemmed who emphasised that wars had to fought ethically and respect given to prisoners of war in a code that had a role like the Geneva Convention today.

Jack Lynes showing his Freedom Pass explained that this (free London transport for those over 60 years old) has some parallels with Passover (Pesach)! He described the symbols of the Passover seder meal as a process of ‘visual early education’ rooted in the experience of the slaves in Egypt. The traditions of the ‘spring clean’ of the Jewish home before Passover as a healthy tradition that is supposedly looking for bread to remove from the house. The extra cup set out for Elijah to take on his return pressaging the coming of the Messiah. However, the belief of the children in Elijah’s coming has similarities to the belief in Father Christmas of Christian young children. Seder traditional ending is the toast, ‘next year in Jerusalem’. which has many meanings but Jack considers to be reliving the experience of those slaves, ‘next year we shall be truly free’.

Mr Sukhbir Singh explained, ‘Sikhs all over the world celebrated Vaisakhi yesterday, and will continue to do so for another few days. Vaisakhi for the Sikhs represents the birth of the Khalsa, and has its beginnings in a remarkable event that took place over 300 years ago. During the latter part of the 17th century, India was ruled by the Mogul Emperor Aurangzeb who was bent upon converting the Hindus into Islam.’  For more click here

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Event: ‘Joint Celebration Of Mawlid An-Nabi, Pesach (Passover), Easter And Vaisakhi’

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on April 12, 2010

Universal Peace Federation – UK: Community Cohesion Committee

43 Lancaster Gate, London, W2 3NA.

Tel : 020 7262 0985   pa@uk.upf.org   Web:  www.uk.upf.org

Based on the success and popularity of our past events particularly of the three faiths Joint Celebrations in April, 2009 (see last year’s joint celebration), the UPF Community Cohesion & Interfaith Working Committees would like to invite you to a Joint Celebration of the Holy Events of four faiths on Thursday April 15th, at 6.15pm at 43 Lancaster Gate, London, W2 3NA.

The Holy Days to be celebrated are:

MAWLID AN-NABI – The birth of the Prophet Mohammed, by Dr Husna Ahmad, CEO, Faith Regen Foundation.

PESACH – The season of Passover when Jews commemorate the liberation of the Children of Israel who were led out of Egypt by Moses. Jack Lynes will speak on Freedom – The Passover Plate’.


EASTER commemorates the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke, President of the World Congress of Faiths, will be speaking about Easter.

VAISAKHI – commemorates the establishment of the Khalsa at Anandpur Sahib in 1699 and the beginning of the Sikh New Year. Shukhbir Singh of Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha–Birmingham will be explaining the significance of Vaisakhi to the Sikh faith.

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 4 Holy Days are in close proximity, we are fortunate to have this opportunity to be together, to celebrate them all.

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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

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Women Initiating Change: The Strength of the Outsider by Kat Callo

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on March 15, 2010

Women Initiating Change: The Strength of the Outsider

By Kat Callo, Trustee of Project Mosaic

www.projectmosaic.net / kat.callo@projectmosaic.net

Thank you for inviting me to take part in this event for the United Nations’ International Day of Women – on the subject of celebrating the achievements of women. How fitting to celebrate this on Mother’s Day. May I first wish to all Mums a very Happy Mother’s Day!

I am a little person, involved in a small and modest initiative called Project Mosaic. This is 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.

One of our projects, the Global Citizen programme, sends successful people from immigrant backgrounds to give inspiring talks to disadvantaged children and young adults. Each “Global Citizen” speaker focuses on two themes. The first is to give practical advice about job hunting, higher education, developing a career and getting better connected into mainstream society. The second theme is identity and tolerance, with a look in particular at how the multiple identities enable us to make a richer contribution to society.

Our Global Citizen speakers are teaching young people how to transform an identity as “an outsider” into a powerful tool for self improvement, community service and nation building.

We all have felt, at some point in our lives, like an outsider. People from immigrant backgrounds can feel they are living on the edge within their new country. Poverty makes people feel like marginalised, left out. Women working in a predominantly male industry can feel like outsiders. Being an outsider can be lonely – but it can also be liberating.

Violent extremism also plays on the theme of  “the outsider” – but it combines it with fear and ignorance, to creates a poisonous cocktail for our young people. Sadly, it’s a type of poison that is contagious, since prejudice by one group can so easily trigger prejudice by another. After the attacks of 9-11, many Americans concluded that Muslims as a group hated Americans and wanted to kill Americans. At Project Mosaic we are working with Muslim friends in the UK, the U.S., the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere to move beyond the fear and ignorance, and break the vicious cycle of group hatred. That’s just one conversation that needs changing. There are so many others.

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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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UPF Get Together December 21st, 2009

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on December 23, 2009

Dr Hojjat Ramzy Receives an Ambassador for Peace Award

Snow in the late afternoon prevented many of those who said they were coming from attending an end of year get together. Nevertheless we had a good sharing about ideas for 2010 between those brave souls who were able to come. There was a presentation of an Ambassador for Peace Award to Dr Hojjat Ramzy and a discussion of the importance of marriage and family.

For the photo link

Ambassador for Peace Award for Dr Hojjat Ramzy:

Dear Madame Chairman, Secretary General, Trustees, Delegates, Ambassadors and Friends,

I greet you with Islamic greeting of peace, Assalamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullah, meaning (Peace and blessings of Almighty God be with you all).

I would like to thank the Universal Peace Federation for accepting me as a member of their prestigious organization. It is a privilege and an honour to be part of this global organisation whose aim is to promote peace throughout the world, regardless of race, wealth or status.

My aim in life has always been to strive to live for the sake of others in the pursuit of world peace, integration, cohesion and education for all. It is a great opportunity for me to work with likeminded people who all have the same ambitions.

I would like to say, before I leave this world, it is my dream to see a world that is harmonious and peaceful for all, where everyone lives together in harmony. A free world with no wars which destroy, no walls to divide, and no borders to separate. A world where everyone is united within one family, a world in which everyone cares for each other.

And last but by no means least; I would like to thank my dear honourable friend Mr Villayat Khokhar for nominating me.

I thank you again.

May God Bless You All.

Dr. Hojjat Ramzy

———————————————————————————————-

Since arriving in England over thirty years ago, Dr Hojjat Ramzy has dedicated his life to the propagation of knowledge and the provision of accurate and accessible information concerning Islam to the community of Oxfordshire, in which he is currently based, and far beyond, in order to further understanding and peaceful coexistence amongst faith in this ever developing, multi-cultural country.

In September 2003, following the reorganisation of the state school system in Oxfordshire and the closure of the last single sex girls state school in the area, Dr Ramzy, who is now Proprietor, undertook the mammoth challenge of establishing the first Islamic School in this historic academic city, with the aim of providing the highest standard of education in the most conducive Islamic environment for the future generation of Muslims in order for them to enter the working world as informed and educated individuals, increasing the prospects for the integration and cohesion of these young Muslims into British society.

This, however, is not Dr Ramzy’s only pursuit. In addition to the overseeing of this establishment, Dr Ramzy also pursues the goal of providing clear and accurate knowledge about Islam to the community of Oxfordshire at large through the running of the Oxford Islamic Information Centre. Through this organisation, Dr Ramzy runs a stand in Oxford’s busy city centre which provides reliable information, advice and literature on Islam to the public free of charge. Dr Ramzy firmly believes in supplying people with an accessible source of accurate information about the religion, and endeavours to answer all questions, whatever they may be and whoever they may be asked by. From police chiefs, to bishops, from students to MPs and your average Saturday shopper, Dr Ramzy has been approached by an incredibly diverse range of inquirers and hopes to have helped dispel some of their common misconceptions about the faith. As a result of these efforts, Dr Ramzy has facilitated over 200 shahadah declarations.

Another facet of this enterprise is the provision of lessons and lectures specifically tailored to suit the needs of new Muslims, as well as the provision of Muslim wedding and divorce ceremonies in his capacity as an Islamic Judge and Registrar. In this respect, Dr Ramzy provides clear advice and support to these new Muslims as to how to retain their European identities at the same time as practising their Islamic faith.

The Information Centre also acts as a hub for fundraising and as the agent in Oxford for Muslim Aid and Islamic Relief, Human relief foundation. Dr Ramzy works to collect funds for disaster appeals in all corners of the world, by the Grace of Almighty God and with the help of the community, he has been able to raise thousands to help ease the suffering of those in need.

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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 »

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

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)

Posted in Community Cohesion | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

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.

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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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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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World Cultural Association’s Oriental Experience

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on August 24, 2009

World Cultural Association’s Oriental Experience,

August 22nd 2009,  43 Lancaster Gate

Mongolian and Japanese Traditional Dress
Mongolian and Japanese Traditional Dress
Murad Qureshi - London Assembly Member

Murad Qureshi AM

‘London is the most multi-cultural city in the world. When we welcome the world here in 2012 Olympics we will have each local community here embrace their own delegation. I love to see this kind of event that celebrates our diversity.’ Murad Qureshi AM. (Greater London Authority Assembly Member).

Yesterday UPF was supporting the cultural programme, ‘An Oriental Experience’, the inaugural event of the World Cultural Association. It was a great event organised by the musician, Peter Graham, who has a longstanding passion for music and art to overcome  barriers between peoples and build a culture of world peace. The programme included Korean, Mongolian and Japanese cultural performances. Please click here for the links to photos of the event.

In a reception before the event, John Grogan MP, the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Mongolia, expressed his warmth for Mongolian culture as well as the appreciation of cultural events that allow people in the UK to understand more of the origins of the people around them.

The afternoon featured a presentation by Mathew Jackson of the Korean Spirit Promotion Project.

John Grogan

John Grogan MP

Mongolian traditional costume

Mongolian traditional costume

IMG_0043 Mongolian painting

Painting of a Mongolian women in traditional dress

Sakura Club

Sakura Club

Peter Graham
Peter Graham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unurmaa Janchiv of the Mongolia Art Cafe organised a number of Mongolian exhibits, a Mongolian calligrapher and other performances.

The Sakura Club, wearing beautiful Kimonos, demonstrated the Japanese Tea Ceremony and sang two Japanese songs.

We look forward to having more cultural events that reflect a world of ‘One Family of Humanity Under God’.

Robin Marsh

Posted in Cultural Programme | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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 »

Mindanao Peace Initiative by Gene Alcantara

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on July 6, 2009

Mindanao Peace Initiative by Gene Alcantara

Dear Friends and Kababayans

Gene Alcantara

Gene Alcantara

You will know that the conflict in Mindanao continues to cause pain and suffering, dislocation and costs in terms of the economy, loss of human life, increased poverty and destruction of localities. As we have also seen recently the situation allows kidnap-for-ransom activities which create fear and deflect tourism and investment in the region.

I am writing to tell you that a Mindanao Peace Initiative was launched during the Global Peace Festival Mindanao in September 2008. The event was co-sponsored by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), the Philippine Government at national and local levels, and non governmental organisations. Enclosed herewith please find the Declaration of the Inauguration of the Mindanao Peace Initiative (MinPI).

In our desire to get involved in the pursuit of peace in Mindanao and help our compatriots there, we have set up a UK Committee to support and seek funding for the MinPI. I hope you will be able to join us and contribute to the peace efforts.

A couple of projects we will be supporting this year are the Lanao Del Norte (LDN) Peace School Model, and the First Mindanao Hiphop Convention to be held in August 2009.

With Service For Peace we are also exploring the possibility of advocating volunteerism and service in LDN and Davao City, as well as implementing micro financing and soft loans for young entrepreneurs and women.

The MinPI UK Committee will be overseen by UPF and its partners, particularly in the Filipino community. Administration and handling of contributions/sponsorships will be provided by International Relief Friendship Foundation, Inc. (IRFF), a UK charity organization [http://www.irff.org/]. Execution on the ground in Mindanao will be the responsibility of Service For Peace [www.serviceforpeace.org] and partner Filipino NGOs.

I would be grateful if you could please forward this to friends and kababayans who might be interested in getting involved or to contribute financial and other help. If anybody wishes to provide any financial help, please go directly to http://www.irff.org/ to do so, specifying your contribution is for the Mindanao Peace Initiative UK.

Meantime if you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

With best wishes

Gene Alcantara

Mindanao Peace Initiative,
UK Committee
43 Lancaster Gate,
London W2 3NA

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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.

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Islam, Renewal of United Nations and Peace

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on June 2, 2009

Islam, Renewal of United Nations and Peace*

IMAM Dr Abduljalil Sajid

The Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony

* A paper prepared for the ‘World Summit on Peace: A New Vision for peace in the 21st Century’ held at Seoul, Korea 29 to 2 June 2009

Bismillah Hir Rahma Nir Rahim (I begin with name of God the Most Kind the Most Merciful). I greet you with the greetings of Islam (Assalamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakathu (May God’s blessing and peace be with us all.)

I am honoured to be asked to speak to you on the important issue of “Islam, Renewal of United Nations and Peace” at the great city of Seoul in the South Korea in the World Summit on Peace: A New Vision for Peace in 21st Century organised by the Universal Peace Federation – UPF. I am also very grateful to the Founder, Chairman and the Secretary General of the Universal Peace Federation – UPF for providing me an opportunity to explain my thoughts of the very important topic.

I have two roles: First to explain what we have been doing in the United Kingdom for Peace and secondly explain the position of my faith.

So far as Universal Peace Federation – UPF UK is concerned the major emphasis of this year has been to support the United Nations in its activities and make it more effective through its organs. The UPF has held various activities in the UN buildings in New York, Geneva and Vienna promoting themes that support the wider direction of the UN. There has been a big emphasis on the UN International Day of Families and the September 21st Day of Peace at UPF Branches throughout the world. The UN International Day of Families has been supported by the UK branch with two events in London attracting an MP, local politicians a senior UNA representative, and interfaith leaders. There have been various activities in the UPF – UK promoting dialogue between cultures and faiths called for by several UN Resolutions for the Dialogue of Civilisations and Faiths. Interfaith, Community Cohesion, Humanitarian activities and the promotion of Millennium Development Goals have been continuing strongly in activities of UPF branches and HQ.

We did recommend on 2nd April 2009 at the meeting of House of Commons in parallel to G20 meeting at Excel with the support of Dr Walsh, Secretary General of UPF International, Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak and Lord Tarsem King the following:

1.      The current financial crisis did not happen by accident. The root cause of the present political, economic and leadership problem is that it has no link with God and it is not based on any ethical foundation. Therefore we recommend an Economic Ethical reform accompanied by greater transparency and fairness to all.

2.      Consideration of the true relationship based on family life, which is the only God inspired institution given to mankind by God, and wider economic realities.

3.      Character and Peace education in the family with wider community, faith based institutions and public schools be given priority.

4.      Debt forgiveness for the poorest nations of world should become a reality.

5.      Interfaith and intercultural dialogue to promote better understanding of our diverse communities and culture and our roots.

6.      Dedication to fulfilment of the UN Millennium Development Goals be given priority if the International community wanted to establish a sustainable economy in the world.

Regarding the Renewal of the United Nations we have working on the three point Agenda:

1.      Renewed UN Must increase its Security Council membership;

2.      Renewed UN Must become democratic in theory and practice to gain respect of the people of the world.

3.      Renewed UN Must establish a second chamber consists of recognised major faith leaders to provide moral and spiritual guidance to political leaders of the World.

Let me deal with other important issues in clarifying two terms Islam and Peace one by one. The Word “Islam”: The “root” of the word “Islam” in Arabic is SALAMA which is the origin of the words Peace and / or Submission, a submission to God and peace to all humanity. It is, thus, no wonder why the salutation in Islam is: “Al-Salamu Alaikum or Peace on You.”  In this regard, Prophet Mohammad ordered his fellow Muslims to salute others Muslims or non-Muslims with peace when he said: “Peace before Speech” It is a Rule in Islam that during war time, an enemy warrior who pronounces the word peace is totally immune. The United Nations has a link with Peace of the World but only an able UN and renewed UN can deliver Peace.

Let me deal with some principles which Islam teaches for establishing internal and external Peace.

Islamic Moral and spiritual teachings are the basis of internal Peace:

Here are some moral teachings of Islam, which comes from the idea of “promoting good and preventing evil” “Amar bil Maroof and Nahi a’nil Munkar” (The Holy Qur’an 3:104; 110; 9:71); Be Honest, (The Holy Qur’an: 22:78 and 16:92); Be truthful, (The Holy Qur’an:25:72 and 104:1); Be Pure, (The Holy Qur’an: 23:1-11); Be Unselfish, (The Holy Qur’an: 17:32); Be Just, (The Holy Qur’an: 4:135); Be good and do good to others, (The Holy Qur’an:2:83; 2:195 and 41:33); Be part of the change you wanted to see as God will not change unless you change for yourself, (The Holy Qur’an: 13:11); Love, (The Holy Qur’an:2:195,9:108 and 96:11); Listen and Obey, (The Holy Qur’an:64:16; Pray – Quite time, (The Holy Qur’an:7:205), Istikhara – Seek guidance from God, (The Holy Qur’an: 1.45).

Let me deal with these principles in some details which may be pre-requisite for peace:

1) Read and Learn! Read and learn in the name of God who has created. .[1]

2) Believe and work hard. Those who believe and work hard deserve God’s forgiveness and a great reward[2]

3) Be pious and respect your parents. God Almighty has prescribed that you worship none except Him and that you do good to your parents…[3]

4) Be honest and fight for your rights. You ought to be engaged in the effort to the way of God courageously and honestly…[4]

5) Be aware of tomorrow. Let every one, male and female, see what he/she is doing for tomorrow…[5]

“That is a past nation. It belongs to it what it has earned by itself and to you belongs what you have earned by yourselves, [6]

6)Be Good and Do good deeds: ‘And do good. Truly Allah loves the good-doers.’ [7]

7) Be Peaceful in all aspects of life; The word Islam is itself derived from the word peace (i.e. salaam). And Muslim is the best description of those who believe in this religion:

‘It is the religion of your father Abraham. It is He (Allah) Who has named you Muslims both before and in this (the Holy Qur’an), that the Messenger be a witness over you and you be a witness over mankind!’ [8] The essence of this religion is peaceful submission to the Lord of the worlds: ‘Yes, but whoever submits his face (himself) to Allah (i.e. follow Allah’s Religion of Islamic monotheism) and he is a good-doer, then his reward is with the Lord, on such shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.’ [9]

‘When his Lord said to him, “Submit (ie. Be a Muslim)!” He said, “I have submitted myself to the Lord of the worlds.” [10] ‘”And we were ordered to submit to the Lord of the worlds”’ [11]

Paradise is itself a place of peace: ‘For them will be the home of peace (paradise) with their Lord. And He will be their Helper and Protector because of what they used to do.’ [12] ‘Allah calls to the home of peace and guides whom He wills to a Straight path.’ [13]

Allah, the High, the Blessed, has named Himself “Peace”: ‘He is Allah other than Whom there is none (that has the right to be worshipped) the King, the Holy, the Peace…’ [14]

8) Be Merciful and patient: Mercy is the companion of peace in the salutation of Muslims. The Messenger of Islam is a Mercy to the worlds. And the slogan of Islam, repeated in every utterance and action is “In The Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.” The behaviour between the believers is one of patience and mercy:

‘Then he became one of those who believed and recommended one another to perseverance and patience, and (also) recommended one another to piety and compassion.’ [15]

9) Compassion and Forgiveness In Islam: Muslims are enjoined by the Holy Qur’an to “pardon and forbear… [For] do you not desire that God should forgive you your sins, seeing that God is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace?” They are reminded of this duty when they pray five times daily to “Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate” or invoke “God the Forgiver” or “God the Pardoner” – four of God’s ninety-nine names.

Leadership must be forgiving: “And it was by God’s grace that thou [O Muhammad] didst deal gently with thy followers: for if thou hadst been harsh and hard of heart, they would indeed have broken away from thee. Pardon them, then, and pray that they be forgiven. And take counsel with them in all matters of public concern; then, when thou hast decided upon a course of action, place thy trust in God: for, verily God loves those who place their trust in Him.” [16]

Forgiveness: A different outlook and a new start: In Islamic history one may find an outlook of a different nature. When the Romans conquered any country, the first thing they would do is mass massacre. When the Muslims entered any country, they would give guarantees of life, property and honour to all the non-belligerents. Even in war a Muslims are not allowed to kill an old person, a woman, and a child, those who are crippled or disabled. Not only that, even trees are not to be cut and crops are not to be burnt. The entire Islamic history does not know of the concept of mass killing or massacre of enemies. One cannot find one single example of any Inquisition or ethnic cleansing on the name of Islam.

Ends cannot justify means: Another point is that Islam is very unique and firm in asserting that the ends cannot justify the means. This means that to achieve even good ends you could resort to evil means. The principle that Islam has enunciated is that

“Good and bad are not equal. Replace evil by good”. (The Holy Qur’an 41:34)

If you fight falsehood with falsehood it is falsehood that prevails. If you replace vice with vice, it is vice which triumphs. If you change evil by evil, it is evil which is victorious. Islam says that evil is to be eliminated by good. If you pursue this technique then only you would be able to fill the earth with goodness, and justice, and peace and fellow feeling. As far as the wrong (Munkar) is concerned, you are permitted to eliminate it. But as far as the truth and virtue (Ma’ruf) is concerned, it is not to be enforced by power.

10) No Coercion in Islam and Justice and Fairness to Non-Muslims: Unlike many other religions where people were offered either conversion and peace or death, Islam came with the just word of our creator. In the Holy Qur’an 2:256; God said “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error…” [17]There are many other verses in the Holy Qur’an that deals with the nature of spreading God’s message. One of my favourites which I keep quoting is Verse 10:99 “If it had been thy Lord’s Will, they would all have believed, all who are on earth! Wilt thou then compel mankind, against their will, to believe!” [18]

Global Ethics and Interfaith Dialogue: I am reminded the words of Professor Hans Kung “No peace among nations without peace among the religions and no peace among the religions without dialogue between the religions”. I add “No peace without Justice and no Justice without forgiveness and compassion”.  Dialogue and agreement must be conscientiously applied and maintained, so to create bonds of love, care, trust and confidence. Its prerequisite is proper education and learning from one another.  We must speak and act truthfully with compassion. We must treat others as we wish others to treat us. Every human being must be treated, fairly, humanly and with dignity without any fear or discrimination.

I admire the work of Prince Hassan El Talal over the years for promoting better understanding between different faiths and advocating dialogue for resolving conflicts. His short book “Continuity, innovation and Change” is must read for every Muslim. I not only share his vision but also say that he represents true Islamic scholarship in the current debate on the issue of World peace. The building of peace requires an attitude of sanctity and reverence of life, freedom and justice, the eradication of poverty, dissolution of all forms of discrimination and the protection of the environment for personal and future generations. The ideals of peace include fundamental and global directives such as:

  • Do not kill i.e. have respect for life;
  • Do not steal i.e. deal honestly and fairly;
  • Do not lie i.e. speak and act truthfully;
  • Do not commit sexual immorality i.e. respect and love one another.

I confirm that Islam is faith of moderation and girder of unity for all mankind and blessing for mankind because Muslim model communities where:

  • All of God’s creation – whether human, animal or the environment – is valued and respected;
  • Where people want more to serve others than to get what they can for themselves;
  • Where no one has too little or too much;
  • Respecting the right of others to disagree with us;
  • Being sensitive and courteous to all.

The world will not change for the better unless the conscience of individuals is changed first. Remember, Remember, Remember. Evil is not in the body. Evil is in the mind, Therefore harm no body. Just change the mind.  Lord You said and your word is true! Love is stronger than hate. O God Almighty You are peace and from You peace comes. Bestow upon all of us Your peace and make our final destiny in your eternal abode of peace. Let there be respect for the earth, peace for is people, love in our lives, and delight in the good, forgiveness for our past wrongs and from now on a new start.

This is a brief sketch of the basis of true peace within our selves for the sake of all humanity. May God have mercy upon all of us and show us the true guidance for establishing Peace and making necessary changes in the United Nations. May God guide us all and show us the right path in our lifetime.

Amen.

Imam Sajid

Imam Sajid

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid

Chairman Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony UK (MCRRH);

President National Association of British Pakistanis (NABPAK);

President Religions for Peace UK and Deputy President of European WCRP -Religions for Peace;

Chairman European Inter-cultural Dialogue;

Deputy President and International Secretary World Congress of Faiths (WCF);

Adviser to European Council of Religious Leaders/Religions for Peace (ECRL);

Adviser to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) Europe and International Affairs Committee (EIAC);

Link Officer Brighton and Hove Interfaith Contact Group (IFCG) for National and International Inter-faith matters;

European Representative of World Council of Muslims Inter-faith Relations (WCMIR)

[1] The Holy Qur’an, 96:1

[2] The Holy Qur’an, 5:9

[3] The Holy Qur’an, 17:23

[4] The Holy Qur’an, 22:78

[5] The Holy Qur’an, 59:18

[6] The Holy Qur’an, 2:134

[7] The Holy Qur’an, 2:195

[8] The Holy Qur’an, 22:78

[9] The Holy Qur’an, 2:112

[10] The Holy Qur’an, 2:131

[11] The Holy Qur’an, 6:71

[12] The Holy Qur’an,16:127

[13] The Holy Qur’an, 10:25

[14] The Holy Qur’an, 59:23

[15] The Holy Qur’an, 19:17

[16] The Holy Qur’an, 3:159

[17] The Holy Qur’an, 2:256

[18] The Holy Qur’an, 10:99

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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

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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:
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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

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Inter-religious Cooperation Beyond Dialogue

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on March 17, 2009

Inter-religious Cooperation Beyond Dialogue  – London, UK

On Saturday 28th February the UPF Interfaith Committee continued their series of events showcasing models of Inter-religious Cooperation Beyond Dialogue. Mr Sukhbir Singh, the London representative of the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, explained how the Sikh community in Birmingham supported the Hindu community during the Ram Katha Vedic Festival in the Birmingham NEC in 2001. After telling the story from the perspective of the Sikh community, Mr Singh was followed by the director of the festival, Mr Dinesh Chauhan, in sharing the perspective of the Hindu community. After a description of langar, the holy and humble sharing of food which is essential to the Sikh faith, Mr Singh described the scale of support being offered to the festival: A marquee was to be erected in the NEC car park where food for 10,000 people would be prepared daily. Both communities had encountered episodes of obstacles, which frequently threatened to jeopardise the entire festival. After some miraculous breakthroughs, the 9-day event was executed successfully. There were no emergencies, no health and safety issues. The event was highly praised by the then Birmingham Lord Mayor. The stories were so touching that many had tears in their eyes.

Mr Sukhbir Singh and Mr Dinesh Chauhan

Mr Sukhbir Singh and Mr Dinesh Chauhan

Many Sikh organisations actually could not comprehend or approve of this initiative. Many Hindus had second thoughts about working with Sikhs – however the perseverance of great leaders like Mr Chauhan, Mr Sukhbir Singh  and Mr. Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh the Chairman of the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, AND with the help of God, they could overcome all obstacles and bring about such a glorious result of such impact that many cannot forget this precious experience. To date, it gives them much joy and empowerment as the testimonies demonstrated. It was very pleasing to see that friendships have developed and strengthened over the years because of this experience of Inter religious Initiative Beyong Dialogue.

Miss Balhar Kaur, the daughter of Mr Singh, gave an account of her experience as an 11-year old volunteer within the kitchen, or langar. She could testify to the electric and deeply spiritual atmosphere created when Hindus and Sikhs cooperated in the preparation of food for the festival participants. In homage to her father, she announced that “anything is possible with my Dad.”

Mr Sukhbir Singh's family in the UPF Office

Mr Sukhbir Singh's family in the UPF Office

Hindus and Sikhs worked side-by-side in the preparation of food, chanting God’s name together, truly creating the spirit of one family under God.

After the presentations, discussion circles were organised in order to generate new ideas of how our respective faith communities could offer something to another faith community. Some of the ideas mentioned included: serving langar in the Middle East as part of the ongoing Middle East Peace Initiative; organising an Interfaith Festival of Forgiveness around the time of the UN International Day of Peace; empowering youth cooperation amongst faith communities; and celebrating the gift of service.

Krishna Chauhan, the son of Mr Dinesh Chauhan, took the opportunity to promote an upcoming event promoting unity between Sikhs and Hindus through the joint celebration of the festival of Holi: On Sunday 15th March the Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa College will host the Redbridge Nagar Holi Celebration. Everyone was invited to join in between midday and 4pm.

The next event will be a joint festival between the Abrahamic faiths celebrating the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Pesach & Easter. At 43 Lancaster Gate, London W2 3NA, on Tuesday 14th of April at 6.00pm. For more information please contact 020 7262 0985 or http://www.uk.upf.org

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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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Community Cohesion Working Group

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on July 10, 2008

Community Cohesion Working Group:

Cllr. Margaret Ali – Joint chair of CCWG & Director-UPF UK    (pa@uk.upf.org)
Ms. Saleha Jaffer – Joint Chair of CCWG and Community Cohesion/Preventing Extremism Consultant & UPF-UK Trustee
Ms. Vanessa Edwards: CCWG Secretary (vanessa@vandaehworks.co.uk)
Cllr. Liaquat Ali: former Mayor of London Borough of Waltham Forest
Mrs. Ruth Louise Barnett: Holocaust educator
Cllr. Janet Baddeley: Watford Borough Council
Cllr. Mushtaq Lasharie: Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea & Chair of 3rd World Solidarity
Ms. Brenda Hodgson: Peace activist
Mr. Alan Rainer: Interfaith activist & Religious Education teacher
Ms. Hilde Rapp: Conflict Resolution & Co – Chair, Centre of International Peacebuilding
Mr. Ajit Singh MBE: Interfaith activist
Mr. Tim Miller: Chair of Hastings Interfaith Forum
Mr. Mathew Huish: Chair of Faithlink (student interfaith group)
Mr. 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
Mr. Amarjeet-Singh Bhamra PhD IHM: Interfaith activist and Ayurveda Consultant

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East London Community Cohesion Event, 4th May 2008

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on May 4, 2008

UPF - logo

Universal Peace Federation – UK

Community Cohesion Working Group


East London Community Cohesion Event

Minhaj-Ul-Quran Mosque, Forest Gate, London

Sunday 4th May 2008 (2-6pm)


Partners for this event include: Minhaj-Ul-Quran, WFWP S-London, SABRANG ladies, IMF Newham, FAITHLINK, WAIT East – London, Service for Peace, UPF-EAST

On a bank holiday weekend on a Sunday, Mayor of Waltham Forest,  Mayor of Havering, speaker of London Borough of Hackney and most appropriately  the civic ambassador of Newham gathered in Minhaj-Ul-Quran Mosque in Rumford Road,  Forest Gate, Newham, to address a room full of over a hundred activists and professionals, Youth , and women  regarding Community Cohesion projects in the region of East London area and to congratulate those in the audience who brought models of good practice from the community in specific areas of women, youth and civic/faith-leader groups.  Mrs Saleha Jaffer and Cllr Margaret Ali joint chairs of Community Cohesion working group- welcomed all and invited The Civic Ambassador of Newham , Cllr Omana Gangadharan to give the opening  speech. The speech was a wonderful testimony to her life coming to this point – she  said that Newham is one of great Boroughs  championing  diversity and building community cohesion.

Mayor Ali was very encouraged to see so many people here for this Community Cohesion Event. He was greatly honoured to host the first of the Community Cohesion events in Waltham Forest back in February, and is very pleased to be in this follow up event here in Newham and encourages a cohesive community as it is a happy community.

Cllr. Faizullah Khan, Speaker of London Borough of Hackney, was very passionate about Community Cohesion and how Faith leaders and our Sacred Texts from all Faiths, just as much as Quran, can help so much in bringing better understanding and respect for the “other”.

Mayor Georgina  Gulpin of Havering, born in Newham said “My Borough misses out so much compared to Newham because there is  so much diversity here…we must all strive to make good effort to better community relations wherever we are..”

The incoming Civic Mayor of Newham, Cllr Akbar Chaudhary, praised the people and policies of Britain to make Britain one of the most tolerant countries in the world, he said we should all work together to keep it that way!

As Mr Carl Wonfor of National Community Tension Team (NCTT) of Metropolitan Police said during the speech he delivered: “I’ve never seen so many Mayors in one room together at one time. I am particularly impressed as this is a Bank Holiday weekend and the event is on a Sunday! I want to congratulate the Mayors for their  commitment to Community Cohesion and the organisers for bringing you all together” . Mr Wonfor also emphasised the importance of highlighting   and documenting all the good reports of the amazing activities  he heard about,  particularly the projects he listened to  in the Youth group workshop.  (He was suggesting we put these on a website perhaps that of GPF). He wanted to bring these positive models to the attention of the Police Chiefs. We need to give young people a voice. He added that “All the good works already exist and the government does not need to invent new projects but support those in existence. We need to give young people a voice, people like those in the audience doing good have at least one aim to make everyone in the community feel safe! If we have a cohesive community where there are support structures, people can be helped before they get into trouble

There were Models of good practice presented  by women, (from WFWP and Sabrang  Ladies Friendship and  Co-operation in South London)  also sister  Khadija from Minhaj Ul Quran shared about her work with women. ,Youth work from Minhaj Ul Quran, was shared by Rafiq Patel who guides the youth work. and Youth from Service for Peace,(with Wait –East) and  FAITHLINK, Faith connection for Youth- spoke of great models of good practice. Wait East had earlier in April in collaboration with London Wildlife Trust-   done a great project in Dagenham  involving youth of all races, backgrounds and faiths working alongside each other clearing the smaller trees to give way for larger trees to develop.

Models from Faith Leaders, included speakers from  Church of England and from the Catholic Church in Manor Park, Mr Patrick Hanley,  who spoke of the great work they are doing in Muslim Christian dialogue forum, together with Imam Qureshi.  The  2 Christian ministers were working closely in cultural and religious celebration projects with an Interfaith group in NEWHAM as well as with Minhaj Ul Quran particularly. The chief Imam of the Mosque spoke passionately about their work and expressed deep appreciation for spiritual aspect of the UPF presentation by Tim Miller.

Imam Qureshi said “this is a fantastic event – all different people together makes good community -thanks for coming to our Mosque . I enjoyed all the speeches, particularly Mr Miller’s  speech, which had such a good spiritual input.. .”.

We later had  3 concurrent  workshop sessions 1. With women and women leaders    2. Youth and Youth leaders doing  projects and 3. Faith and  Civic leaders. All 3 groups  had animated exchange of idea s and information sharing. We had reports from all three groups which were quite illuminating.  People   who did not have opportunities to share, were given a chance to speak briefly .

The meeting was brought to a close with a good feeling of having sewn the seeds for good works to follow.

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