Event Report: The Role of Faith in Reconciling Post Conflict Sri Lanka

Event Report: The Role of Faith in Reconciling Post Conflict Sri Lanka

The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) has been working for the past 6 years in a consultation role with various stakeholders in Sri Lanka.  More recently, it has developed a working relationship with the North East Interfaith Forum (NEIFR).

 

The North East Inter Faith Forum (NEIFR) is a new group that has been set up in the aftermath of the conclusion of Sri Lanka’s 30 year old conflict by religious leaders (from all of Sri Lanka’s main religions) to identify the positive role that faith leaders can play in post conflict reconciliation.

 

The Forum believes that spirituality and common human values founded and strengthened by the different religious teachings can be used as a force to foster inter-ethnic relationships and promote inter-ethnic understanding and social cohesion.

 

The Forum is calling for a space in order to discuss and develop solutions to problems affecting the community and are calling for the support of faith based diplomacy which involves the follwoing:

* developing a committee of consciences to advise the local and national government on human rights, resource access and allocation of natural resources

* reconciliation and peace committees

* community steering groups who will take their own development into their hands.

 

The Cordoba Foundation along with the Mahatma Ghandi Centre, worked with NEIFR and religious leaders on the  4th of January 2011 to plan itheir work programme for the year.  Amjad Saleem, Head of Communications at TCF, presented models of interfaith reconciliation from other countries as he facilitated some of the discussions.

 

At the end of the meeting, religious leaders made a declaration to share with the rest of  the country, NEIFR’s conviction of bringing spirituality as an arbitrator in all future dealings, and as a means to ensure that no one in the country is marginalized on the basis of religion, race, caste, class, wealth, territory etc.

 

The NEIFR also reiterated need for the establishment of a National Committee of Conscience as an advisory body for the governments and setting up of village development committees with an oversight from the religious dignitaries in the area for ensuring trust and better accountability in all public affairs.

 

TCF has been advising  NEIFR prior to their establishment and will continue to provide the platform for faith leaders to come together to talk on issues of reconciliation

 

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Measuring the State of Muslim-West Relations

Measuring the State of Muslim-West Relations

The ground-breaking report, based on more than 123,000 surveys conducted in 55 countries and areas between 2006 and 2010, explores areas of both respect and tension between Western and majority Muslim societies. It also examines the differences between individuals who express an interest in Muslim-West engagement and those who do not.

 

Event Report: An African Answer to an African Problem

Event Report: An African Answer to an African Problem

On the 12th of November, a new documentary, ‘An African Answer’, featuring the reconciliation work done in Kenya of Imam Ashafa and Pastor James from Nigeria, was screened in London.  Those not familiar with the ‘The Imam and The Pastor’, will be struck by their story.  Emerging from the 1990s in Northern Nigeria after being in the frontlines of confrontations between Christians and Muslims which saw the killings of thousands in inter-religious warfare, Imam Ashafa and Pastor James are two of the most unlikeliest of allies, forging new grounds with their   Interfaith Mediation Center, responsible for mediating peace between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria’s Kaduna state.

 

Once bitter enemies, determined to kill each other (The pastor had his hand hacked off while defending his church against Muslims and the imam had his spiritual adviser and two of his brothers killed by Christian extremists), the two men are now embarking upon an extraordinary journey of healing and forgiveness.   Through talking to each other, they questioned the cost of the violence finding passages in the Bible and the Koran which showed common approaches of working together and more importantly started teaching about it to others, despite staying faithful to their religion.

 

In fact it is this demonstration of the importance of staying faithful to one’s own religious principles whilst reaching out to others of a different faith, is what has been the appeal of their story over the last decade or so.  This and the fact that their solution is a home grown solution that has not had any external influences, means they talk not only with credibility but with a refreshing sense of uniqueness.  This credibility is important especially for a continent that has suffered from being told how to solve its problems rather than being provided with a space and facilitation in order to solve the problem for itself.

 

An African Answer is a continuation of their story and how they have now transferred those skills outside of Nigeria, to helping the people in Kenya in the aftermath of the electoral violence  in 2007.  The video is a powerful testament to the fact that people in the developing world or the global south pretty much know how to solve their own problems if they can be provided a space to do so.

This is not just something that should be left to the politicians or the institutions but really no one can be ruled  out having a part in contributing to the solution of a conflict.

 

Imam Ashafa and Pastor James were hardly candidates for setting an example for their country or for peace building or unlikely to be described, as they are now, by the Archbishop of Canterbury as ‘a model for Christian Muslim relations’ there, yet today they are examples of how individuals can take bold steps to further understanding and dialogue between us to help heighten our peacemaking potential

 

 

The story of the Imam and the Pastor shows that strong ethical commitment in religious traditions can sharpen identity politics but more importantly can form the basis of inter and intra faith collaboration.  Thus religious pluralism can not only lead to an absence of violence mainly due to better understandings and interaction but it opens a space for discussion, dialogue and engagement.  In short, we must learn to listen closely to one another, not simply because it is polite, but because it is just possible that we might learn something important about ourselves, and build a better global village in the process.

 

 

Undertaking this offers an antidote to sectarianism and the polarisation of different faiths in multi-cultural societies . This will never be easy, but remains vitally important for creating the very ‘ideas and institutions that will allow us to live together as the global tribe we have become’.  This is perhaps the greatest lesson we can get from the story of the Imam and the Pastor.

 

 

 

 

 

Event Report:One Day International Conference: Moving Beyond the Rhetoric

Event Report:One Day International Conference: Moving Beyond the Rhetoric

he Cordoba Foundation along with Forward Thinking and  Global Peace and Unity organised a one day conference entitled ‘Moving Beyond the Rhetoric: Increasing Trust between Faiths, Beliefs, Cultures and Communities’ which brought together academics, faith leaders, practitioners and activists to share their experiences, knowledge and expertise on building bridges between communities in the context of promoting understanding and dialogue.

 

The aim of the conference was to:

 

* highlight problems cause by fear and mistrust of different faiths, beliefs, cultures and communities

 

* encourage and highlight advantages of increasing trust, respect and understanding

 

* promote best practice between stakeholders

 

* provide a space for contentious issues to be discussed

 

Panel discussions were divided into the following geographical regions:

 

* UK

 

* USA and Europe

 

* Africa

 

* Asia

 

*The Middle East

 

Panellists included:

* Pastor Bob Roberts (USA)

* Mustapha bargouti (Palestine)

* Daniel Levy (USA / Israel)

* Dr Ram Puniyani (India)

* Shams Deen (NIgeria)

* Dr Salauddin Atbani (Sudan0

* Prof Tariq Ramadan (UK)

* Anas Altikriti (UK)

* Ebrahim Rasool (RSA)

* John Ging

 

The conclusions of the conference included sharing ideas of best practice and emphasising the need for local grassroots initiatives to be supported and encouraged in order to ensure trust between communities is built.

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Event Report: World Muslim Leadership Forum: The Muslim World in the Face of the New Economic Order

Event Report: World Muslim Leadership Forum: The Muslim World in the Face of the New Economic Order

The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) sponsored and facilitated the World Muslim Leadership Forum co-hosted by Faith Regen Foundation and ASLI (Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute) and chaired by H.E Shaukat Aziz, Former Prime Minister of Pakistan.

 

The forum was designed to bring together key thinkers and practitioners around a table to share ideas on the following subject

 

1) Enhancing the relationship between the West and Muslims – Strengthening Ties and Promoting Dialogue

 

2) How to promote sustainable development in Muslim Societies

 

3) Islamic Finance

The CEO of TCF was also a panellist on the discussions regarding ‘Enhancing Relationships between the West and Muslims’

 

Giving the key note address, ‘Bridging the Muslim and Western World for Peace and Development’, HRH Raza Shah, Crown Prince of Perak said that ‘organised dialogue between the   two sides will need to focus on what needs to be made right on both sides’.

 

The foreign minister of Malaysia also participated at the conference which was launched at the House of Lords.

 

 

 

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