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Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

International Peace Day Concert – Music for Peace in the Middle East

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on September 25, 2013

ImageOn UN International Peace Day, Universal Peace Federation – UK helped Tally Koren to organise a wonderful concert of Middle Eastern musicians in support of the Parents Circle Family Forum. ‘Music for Peace in the Middle East’ included Palestinian Oud player and singer, Nizar Al-Issa, guitarist Udi Glazer, Anna Kempton on Chello, violinist Julia Stone and Woody Dean on the piano and was held in the classic church background of St Peter’s in Notting Hill. Photos http://bit.ly/16zleFD

Music for Peace in the Middle East was a celebration of music from different cultures. Each person here tonight is supporting the language of love and on this note the first musician, the Persian Hamid Rasti, started playing with his instrument of 72 strings so beautifully. It was just music, peace, hearts beating and calming down in this church. It was just beautiful and every time we turned our heads back more people where coming in. Music has no barrier, as he diligently played and with what looked like chopsticks we all relaxed and he took us on a journey of hope.

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Music for Peace in the Middle East on International Peace Day

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on September 21, 2013

Music for Peace in the Middle East

Israeli singer songwriter Tally Koren heads a cast of Israeli and Palestinian musicians in a recital, ‘An Evening of Music for Peace in the Middle East’ taking place on the International Day of Peace, Saturday, September 21 at St. Peters Church on Kensington Park Road W11. The event organized by the Universal Peace Federation UK is a fundraising occasion for the Parents Circle Families Forum, which helps bereaved Palestinians and Israelis to reconcile their differences as an alternative to conflict.

http://musicforpeaceinthemiddleeast.eventbrite.co.uk

Fundraising Event for  The Parents Circle Families Forum

Bereaved Palestinians and Israelis who promote reconciliation as an alternative to conflict

Doors open 7.45 pm Show starts 8.15 pm

St Peter’s Church, Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill, London W11 2PN

Tally Koren, is a BBC Radio 2 playlist artist and the Fringe Award Winner For Best Singer-Songwriter. Her music was played by Chris Evans, Graham Norton, Janice Long and Steve Wright ,the Aled Jones’ Good Morning Sunday Show and was featured on the Virgin Media TV playlist and 100 other UK radio stations. She is passionate about this concert saying, “ I believe strongly that through culture we can bridge the gap for a better future “

Nizar Al-Issa is a singer with extraordinary range and control as well as a virtuoso on the oud (a cousin of the lute). He draws on traditional middle eastern music but is not afraid to upset the purists by mixing things up a little – a habit he puts down to his refugee background. Nizar explained, “ I am part of this concert for peace and humanity” His roots are in Ramallah but in his influences and attitudes he crosses borders. “Iraqis ask me if I’m from Iraq, while the Egyptians are convinced I am from Cairo, and in Spain they’re sure that I’ve spent time learning gypsy Flamenco… but the heart and soul of my music is the knowledge that we all share far more in common as human beings than we acknowledge, wherever we come from.”

Udi Glaser is a composer (film composer, composer for theatre, etc.), an accomplished guitarist, educated musician, producer, experienced guitar teacher and music theory tutor. Udi has dedicated his life to music.

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Universal Peace Federation – UK News August 2013 – 1

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on August 16, 2013

Universal Peace Federation - UK Newsletter August 2013

Universal Peace Federation – UK Newsletter August 2013 Page 1

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UN International Day Of Peace: Disarm Now Moeen Yaseen

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on September 18, 2009

UN INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE: DISARM NOW

THE MILITARY INFLUENCE ON OUR GLOBAL ECONOMY AND THE NEED FOR A PARADIGM SHIFT

Moeen Yaseen Managing Director   Global Vision 2000

EMBARGOED

Monday 21 September 2009  6.30-8.30

Thanks to UPF for organisation of another event and the extension of the invitation to speak today. I wish to dedicate my contribution to the silent voices of millions of people who were sacrificed by the Warmongers. This contribution will not focus on the scientific, technical or legal dimensions but on the political economy of war and address the 800 pound gorilla in the room which we are in denial.  As General Smedley Butler stated there are only two things we should fight for one is the defence of our homes and a Bill of Rights : War for any other reason is a racket. Last year in April 2008 Global Vision 2000 held a conference on the Global Financial Meltdown, socioeconomic injustice and war: cause and remedy with speakers from Stop the War Coalition, International Peace Bureau and the 9/11 Truth Movement. Today I will address the underlying ideological glue cementing the event.I will focus upon AngloAmerican imperialism and AngloAmerican financial usurious capitalism given it’s pre-eminent role with the British empire in the 19th century and Pax Americana in the 20th century to date. Jonathan Swift identified the following factors in the evolution of the imperial system:- Doctrine of Permanent War;  War, Money power/Banking elite which benefits from the State’s indebtedness and Public debt as well as the Militarists and Military-Industrial-Political complex which President Eisenhower coined. This is the context we are dealing with namely a world where might is right and white is right and wherein the spirit of power prevails than the power of the spirit. The Global Financial architecture established in Bretton Woods by the financial oligarchy underwrites this dominant paradigm.

In the modern era the foundation of the Military Industrial Political Complex was established in 1939-45; in the postwar coldwar period the Trilateral Commission in 1968 established the National Security Apparatus and Military Keynesianism. Post 1989 with the collapse of the cold war with Bush wars we have seen the rise of the New World Order and Disaster Capitalism in which pre-emptive wars are built around deconstruction and reconstruction of societies by warprofiteers who plunder the Treasury/Currency. Economic policies are run to benefit the financial elites. Pre 9/11 we also have the Project for the New American Century to kick in the 21st American century which is ending up as an own goal.

Underpinning the Warfare economy exists the TRIAD of the Military Industrial Political complex interlocked to the concept of Permanent war entrenched since World War 2. In the postwar cold era Bush introduced the New World Order with seeds planted in the Middle East for future wars. This idea originated with the Trilateral Commission’s concept of the New International Economic Order wherein military might enforces foreign policy which is based on economic interests. It is an agenda of perpetual warfare and violence fuelling global domination via economic means. Also international organisations such as NATO devised for defence originally are being transformed into aggressive forces to enhance US economic and geopolitical interests with NATO in effect becoming a surrogate military-political force for globalisation and US world economic domination. As many people are asking what is NATO really doing in Afghanistan? What are British/European soldiers dying for?  It should be noted that Afghanistan is a symbolic rock in history where empires have been smashed.

This warfare economy is a parasite which manipulates fears and paranoia; it trashes economies by diverting resources from domestic investment into productive uses such as green technologies and subverts university research massively.  It reduces economic growth and employment. Indeed the 9/11 attacks on the US homeland were used as a Cassus Belli and for the establishment of a National Security State. The Global War on Terror manipulates fears; keeps us afraid and stops dissent. As far as 9/11 is concerned our thinktank rejects the official narrative as Alice in Wonderland mythology and supports the notion of the existence of  the phenomenon  of State sponsored false flag terrorism. But that is another story. The military economy operates outside a competitive market and erases the line between the State and the Corporation. Disguises it’s growth via the privitisation of war with the rise of mercenaries such as Blackwater- XE services which is in effect the largest private army in the world.

Insane expenditure on Department of Defence aka the Department of War has NO correlation to National Security- this has been hijacked by the Financial Oligarchs. see Chalmers Johnson. Melman has proven that the DoD budget is the largest single block of financial capital resources. The exact costs are difficult to verify as there is a cloud of secrecy over it. Melman argues that since 1944 the US Federal Government has spent more than 50% of it’s entire budget on past, current and future military operations and this underwrites the permanent war economy. The Mlitary budget is greater than all other nations at 623 Billion for 2008 not counting the supplemental budget nearing 3000 Billion for the wars(Stiglitz). N.B 30-40% of DoD budget is BLACK i.e. hidden for classified purposes The true size and cost for the US mil empire is 1100 billion for 2008.

The Official Pentagon inventory includes:-

865 facilities/bases in over 40 countries;

190.000 troops in 46 countries this does not cover privitisation of war via contracted security firms which are mercenary armies

2 Billion dollars spent every day

US budget deficit of 1.75 Trillion and National Debt of 10.6 Trillion

Military Keynesianism see Seymour Melman on Pentagon Capitalism focusses on the political economy of war .Massive trade deficits financed by borrowing and the National debt is 10 Trillion in 2009. Therefore Military expenditure is Military Keynesianism used to keep and maintain a Permanent war economy and military output is seen as ordinary economic product although it makes no contribution towards production and consumption.  Even with Obama in Congress who swept into power on change has backtracked as Congress is not willing or able to articulate a rejection of the War economy. The economy has become preoccupied with Death; namely the business of killing and being killed. The war economy thrives on aggressive war and a perverse realpolitik of national security. There is a tacit acceptance of much that threatens to destroy anything and everything.

Hollowing out of the US economy has occurred with the lack of modernisation and replacement of assets has almost evaporated the US manufacturing base. The US is now the world’s leading Debtor nation with it’s influence reliant on it’s Military Industrial Political Complex which I would argue underpins the IMPERIAL DOLLAR.

SOLUTION

QUID PRO QUO for the survival of the USA in a Multi-polar world of Creditor nations:-

1. To save the dollar and the nation it requires a NATIONAL VOLTE FACE to show humility and repentance

2. Repudiation of the Neocon goal to achieve US Global hegemony

3. Liquidation of the American military empire and its overseas bases

4. Cessation of DoD budget as a Keynesianism jobs program and investment into a socially productive economy

CONCLUSION

We need to really reflect on Michael Jackson’s song Man in the Mirror; we need to look at this problem in the eye and make that change.

We need to end glorification of violence and repent. This entire military enterprise is surplus to requirement, damaging to the National Interest/security, cause of war with other nations. It shows a Global Hegemon in economic decline engaged in imperial outreach, perpetual war and insolvency with a real danger of the collapse and fragmentation of the US State.

Moeen Yaseen

(Note: Universal Peace Federation seeks to promote debate and discussion. Not all the views of contributors reflect a UPF perspective but are  still welcome in the process of encouraging dialogue and seeking understanding.)

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New Vision Amid Economic Crisis – Daily Jang

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on May 30, 2009

2nd April  2009,  House of Commons Committee Room 14

img029 New Vision Amid The Economic Crisis G20 April 2nd 2009 Daily Jang article 1

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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 14, 2009

Joint Celebration of the Holy Events of Three Faiths

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

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

Links for Event :   More Photos:
More Videos

Rev. Dr Shadrach Ofosuware PhD FRSA: Easter

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

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

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid JP: Mawlid An-Nabi

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid JP

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

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

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

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

Edwin Shuker: Passover

Edwin Shuker, Passover Seder Traditions

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

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

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

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


Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canon Andrew White

Canon Andrew White

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

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

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

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

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

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

Invitation letter:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Programme will include:

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

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

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

Yours Sincerely,

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

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

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

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Dave Anderson MP visits to Kenya and the Middle East

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on February 16, 2009

There has been considerable interest in Dave Anderson MP’s support for the good works of the Universal Peace Federation.

Click here for a report of the visit to the Middle East in 2007. This includes a visit to a hospital in Bethlehem, the work with Israeli and Palestinian Doctors, meeting trade union representatives, the support for the Bereaved Family Forum who are seeking reconciliation rather than revenge, briefings and appointments with Israeli and Palestinian politicians and bringing together of religious leaders of all sides. During his visit Dave Anderson was able to question Dr Mustafa Bhargouti, Palestinian Minister of Communication and Mr Oded Ben Haim, Director of Palestinian Affairs Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In Kenya the conference included a clean up of the Nairobi river, a UN project that the UPF sought to promote. There were further activities, including a football tournament that brought together the tribes that were engaged in post-election violence in Kenya.

The conference in Nairobi was attended by Kenyan Prime Minister and Mrs Odinga, former Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Bishop Abel Muzorewa, former Prime Minister of Romania, Victor Ciorbea, former President of Slovakia Michel Kovac and former President of Sierra Leone Ahmed Kabbah, as well as many other parliamentarians from across the world.

Politicians of a wide spectrum of backgrounds have participated in Universal Peace Federation, or its preceding organisation, Inter-religious International Federation for World Peace, events.

Robin Marsh
UPF – UK Secretary General
07956210768

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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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