THE CORDOBA FOUNDATION, LONDON PEACE NETWORK AND FAITH-BASED REGENERATION NETWORK
MEDIA RELEASE AND EVENT REPORT
16 September, 2014
London Peace Conference – no topics off limits
The Cordoba Foundation (TCF), London Peace Network (LPN) and the Faith-based Regeneration Network (FbRN) convened a peace conference yesterday at the historic St. Ethelburga’s Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, in London.
Commemorating the United Nations International Day of Peace, this timely conference was supported by a number of prominent organisations representing a broad spectrum of religious, specialist and community organisations, including the Christian Muslim Forum, Muslim Council of Britain, Religions for Peace, Al-Khoei Foundation, The Quakers, Peace One Day, and the UNA Westminster.
From the crises in the Middle East, to reducing conflict in our homes and streets, the conference engaged scholars, experts, faith and community leaders to discuss the limits and challenges of grassroots peace endeavours, as well as learning peace-building skills, and exploring conceptual frameworks governing peace and dialogue.
The conference was jointly opened by Dr Anas Altikriti, Chief Execof The Cordoba Foundation and Catriona Robertson, Convener of the London Peace Network. Lord Michael Bates, who was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office in August 2014 and currently on his Walk for Peace to Berlin, sent a special message,
“It is all too easy to look around the world and get depressed about the cause of peace, but it is said it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness: that is exactly what the London Peace Network is seeking to do and I applaud them for it and would encourage all those who care about peace to join in.”
The morning keynote speeches were delivered by Imam Shafiur-Rahman, Director of Jibreel Institute in London, who talked about developing a framework for peace-building. Jo Berry, founder of Building Bridges for Peace, relayed her personal trauma and awakening following the killing of her father in an IRA bomb by Pat Magee. Her preparedness to try to understand Magee opened a path to empathy that continues to develop today, and this unusual relationship has been told in the BBC documentary “Facing the Enemy”, and featured in the film “Beyond Right and Wrong”, and inspired “The Bomb”, a play by Kevin Dyer.
Other notable contributions came from Chani Smith, Secretary, Friends of the Bereaved Families Forum; Rt Hon Clare Short, Former Secretary of State; Rabbi Natan Levy, Board of Deputies of British Jews; Revd Nadim Nassar, Director of the Awareness Foundation; Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary-General, Muslim Council of Britain;Keith Kahn-Harris, Sociologist and Author; Aliya Azam, Al Khoei Foundation; Jehangir Sarosh OBE, Religions for Peace UK; Rosalind Parker, Kings College London; and Julian Bond, Christian Muslim Forum. The closing address was delivered by Marigold Bentley, Assistant General Secretary, Quaker Peace & Social Witness.
The conference combined a mixture of skills-based workshops, thematic panel discussions, films (MUJU Crew), a performance by school students from the Khalsa Secondary Academy, Stoke Poges, and interactive sessions moderated by Steve Miller, Faith-based Regeneration Network and Angharad Thain, St Ethelburga’s.
The organisers proposed a draft statement of practical intent and commitment to peace-building in the 21st century, which stated the following,
“We recognise that peace is not just an absence of conflict but is about building a world where all can flourish without fear.
We know that fear and violence prosper in a world of ignorance and mistrust where we demonise the ‘other’ and mistakenly elevate ourselves as superior; whether that is across nations and peoples, in our streets and communities, or even in our own homes.
Disputes exist, injustice exists, exploitation exists – we know that these things are real in the world and words alone cannot solve these problems.
But, coming together today, we dedicate ourselves to find peaceful ways to pursue justice, to stand up and be active, and to use our joint energies and influence for creative and not destructive outcomes”.
Bringing the conference to a formal close, Abdullah Faliq, Head of Research at The Cordoba Foundation thanked all for making the conference a success and highlighted its significance: “unlike other conferences that tend to avoid serious and important issues because of political correctness, fear and intimidation, in this conference no issues are off limits. However this conference is only the start, its success depends on how it is followed up”.
Notes to editors:
1. Pictures from the conference available here: (Click to access album).
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