|United Religions Initiative Europe|
URI Europe Dialogue Letter
Issue No. 11 *** July - August 2009
Europe is growing.
tremendous amount of work has been done since the founding in April 1997.
The past was pioneering, with a small team and few resources, but with all
the more drive and passion. With a few strongly motivated people we have
never stopped believing in a growing and dynamic European network for URI.
we are facing a turning point.
more than at any time to date, there is a future for URIE. A lot has changed
since Karimah Stauch joined us. Karimah has the correct approach, many fine
qualities and is strongly motivated to expand URI Europe. She therefore
receives the full support and trust of the URIE Board.
more than ever we desire a stronger involvement with every CC.
we would also like to stimulate you to undertake innovative local
initiatives. The greatest challenge of the 21st century is
shaping the multi-cultural and multi-religious society so that ‘living
together’ becomes possible for people who truly differ from one another,
which is precisely why they have a lot to offer one another. Being different
really should not be a threat, and it can instead become an unexpected
enrichment. Diversity is not the
problem, but the solution.
wish each of you a fruitful and rich URI working year. Each with His
URI Europe news
URI Europe Conference is planned in Istanbul, Turkey, in the last week
of October 2010. Semsettin Türkan of the SIRF CC has agreed to be
our partner in Turkey for the conference. We are sure it will be a beautiful
opportunity to meet, learn and exchange!
July 7 - 13, 2010, the next Jewish Christian Muslim Summer
School will take place in Ammerdown, South England. The DMLBonn CC has been
co-organizing this biannual event since 1991. In 2010 DMLBonn will
support approx. 6 young leaders of European Cooperation Circles (CCs) to
attend the JCM Summer School. Forms will be made available for
applicaion. This support is possible thanks to the URI Bill Bowes Award.
are in process to bring the golden rule around Europe in 2010, arranged by Mussie Hailu (Etiopia) and Lone Klemmensen (Denmark)
- members of the URI golden rule CC - in cooperation with URI Europe. Anyone who wants to join helping to set up events around Europe are most welcome to contact Lone on firstname.lastname@example.org or +45 86361965.
On June 8, 2009, Minorities of Europe (MoE) was approved as a new Co-operation Circle (CC) of the United Religions Initiative (URI). Minorities of Europe is based in Coventry, United Kingdom. A warm welcome to MoE!
MoE was established in 1995 as a result of the Council of Europe's campaign against racism, anti-semitism, xenophobia and intolerance across the continent of Europe.
Among its aims and objectives are the following:
MoE has launched numerous projects for interfaith and intercultural dialogue and education. Some are listed below.
MoE's discussion based activity, "Swapping Cultures," is a tool to help break down barriers and forge links between people of diverse background and belief. It has been put into action in schools, colleges and communities across the UK and has reached many thousands of people. It has been acclaimed by the UK's Institute for Community Cohesion as a ground-breaking programme.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the European Council anti racism campaign "All Different, All Equal," MoE in partnership with Women for Minorities, organised a 10 day conference in Strasbourg for over 100 young people from all over Europe and the Caucasus, to reflect on the achievements of the Campaign and how its achievements could be taken forward into the future.
In 2004 MoE led a youth exchange between young people from Iran and the U.K. The programme saw each group of young people taking it in turns to host the other in their own country. Together the young people used art as a medium to explore their commonalities and differences.
Activities of URI Co-operation Circles:
European Co-operation Circles (CCs):
by Dr. Guzel Strelkova
14 July 2009
In the last few months, from March to early July 2009, our Co-operation Circle (CC), whose members are mainly teachers and students of Moscow State University and some other Institutes, met several times to discuss the religious situation in our country and abroad and some special and general religious topics.
One of the meetings was held in March, shortly after the return of Dr. Gyuzel Strelkova from India, where she visited Dharmashala and the Buddhist Convent in
Nirbulinga. Gyuzel Strelkova described how the life of the young generation of Tibetan Buddhists, who were born and live in emigration, unfolds in India, in Delhi and McLeodganj.
This year, in 2009, they commemorate 50 years, since Tibetan Buddhists were forced to leave their Motherland and settle in India. Dr. Strelkova visisted the main Buddhist temple and the residence of the Dalai Lama in Dharmashala. She participated in one of the Sunday events for supporting political prisoners in Tibet.
By Taufiq Mempel, translation into English by Yahya Orr
This year’s “Christlich-Islamische Tagung am Pfingstfest” (Christian-Islamic Conference at Pentecost) took place from May 29 to June 1, 2009. The theme of the event was “Vorbilder: Inspiration, Ermutigung, Wegweisung. Welche Leitbilder brauchen wir in unserer Gesellschaft?” (Role models: Inspiration, Encouragement, Direction. What kind of images are needed in today’s society?). The sold-out conference, which took place for the second time in the town of Nordwalde, an idyllic setting near the Dutch border, once again attracted people from around the nation.
Conference participants also made the most of the wonderful weather, enjoying strolls in the surroundings, in addition to the delicious food provided by the kitchen staff.
On Saturday evening, in what has become a tradition at the Pentecost conference, Sheikh Bashir Ahmad Dultz offered an introduction to the spirituality of Islam, leading the “dhikr” of the Sufi Tariqah as-Safinah and accompanied by the music of “Duo Morgenwind”.
After the Christian service on Sunday to mark Pentecost, including well-received insights from a Muslim’s perspective by guest speaker Sabri Hoffmann, the participants turned their attention to the program’s workshops and a spontaneous evening of relaxation and entertainment. It was hard not to feel how fast the weekend was coming to an end. On Monday morning the speakers’ program was brought to a satisfying close with a very interesting talk by Leila Donner-Üretmek of the Islam Conference Berlin.
And then it was time, as in past years, for Chadigah to lead the “farewell circle,” a highly emotional ending that clearly touched the participants’ hearts. And the children at the event also charmed us with an appearance at this point, together with the two young ladies who had accompanied them during the entire long weekend, ensuring that the littlest participants had lots of fun — and that the parents had ample time to take part in the program.
Then, all too quickly, it was time to pack and begin the homeward journeys. Addresses and telephone numbers were exchanged, with everyone already looking forward to the next Christian-Islamic Conference at Pentecost, which will take place, in sha'Allah, from May 21 to 24, 2010, in Nordwalde.
The conference is sponsored by the German Muslim-League Bonn CC, the Evangelische Akademie Villigst and the Bendorfer Forum. The event was founded 21 years ago by Sheikh Bashir Ahmad Dultz, Chadigah Kissel, the Reverend Horst Eisel and Father Dieter Kittlauß. It has taken place every year without interruption since then.
The topic we discussed during our meeting was colour: Are there colours which have a special significance in our religions and traditions? Do you have a personal connection with a colour?
In Zwolle we have an initiative called “Roots, Reli and Rage”, which is planning an event “East meets West” in
September 2009. Maybe we can co-operate with them this year and by this also promote URI and let people now we are there.
By Zamyat Gramann and Kaivan Plesken
At the 32nd Protestant Kirchentag in Bremen, Germany, Zamyat Gramann and Kaivan Plesken of the Unitheum CC also spent one day at the information desk of the Sufi Order International providing information on the Unitheum. This led to many profound, moving and inspiring talks with people who visited the information desk. The spiritual message of Hazrat Inayat Khan as such and the specific concern of the Unitheum were of great interest even to Protestants with religious zeal who were eager to convince others of their point of view. Nevertheless, some interlocutors tried to point out the exclusiveness of their own belief, sometimes behind the old fear of hell and damnation.
On the other hand, a clergyman from Kenya, for example, who first erroneously thought we were representatives of a Protestant church, showed an open mind and open heart. Having overcome communication difficulties caused by lack of proficiency in English on both sides, we agreed that God is above all names and forms and the common background to all religions.
We were delighted that Sidi Sabri W. Hoffmann, a member of the board of the German Muslim League Bonn (DMLBonn) and Chairman of the Christian-Islamic Society (CIG), which is the oldest and biggest German association for Christian-Muslim dialogue, visited our desk and offered to help us make contact with the Reisu-l-ulema of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Dr. Mustafa efendi Cerić.
Very informative, too, was the talk with a small delegation of Kurdish Yezidis. One of their pirs and his interpreter visited us to remind of the tradition we have in common and to express the wish for a closer dialogue. Yezidism is an approximately 4,000 year old monotheistic religion, which in Persia later assimilated the teachings of the great Sufis. Today there are approximately 800,000 Yezidis, who are strongly persecuted in their countries of origin. Pir Dima presented to us an illustrated book he wrote about his religion and its main temple in Lalish and asked for a book by Hazrat Inayat Khan in return.
On another day we had the
opportunity to attend some
accompanying cultural events. Thousands of people listened to the famous
musical message delivered by the clarinetist Giora Feidman to reconcile the
Abrahamic religions with one another. And we also were among the listeners
at an excellent overtone concert — unfortunately of a very small scope —
with Reinhard Schimmelpfeng and Uli Beckerhoff (one of the most excellent
German jazz musicians) and the actor Rainer Iwersen (Bremer Shakespeare
Company) reading texts critical of religion by Nietzsche and others. Here
ideals based on dogmatic lip service were shattered on the rock of truth,
and a spirituality of the future bound up with Mother Earth was celebrated.
Over 65 000 people, representing cultures from all over the world, met in Kaisaniemi Park and on the Railway Square in Helsinki, Finland, on May 23 and 24, 2009, for the World Village Festival. The festival offered world views and possibilities as well as music, circus, dance, theatre, art and activities.
The events presented new perspectives on tolerant multiculturalism, development cooperation, global issues and expanding one's possibilities for affecting everyday life.
The Forum of Religions in Helsinki CC, Helsingin Uskontojen Foorumi, organized a celebration of the Golden Rule with a Peace Pole on Mekong Stage at the Railway Square.
Nearly all the large world religions are represented at the Forum of Religions in Helsinki. During the performance, representatives of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Baha'i, Hinduism, the Unitarian Church, Christian Science, the Mother Amma movement, the Ananda Marga movement and the New Humanist movement carried flags decorated with their own religious and traditional symbols, and briefly recited the golden rule in its form taken from their respective religions and traditions.
The presentation was also a pre-parliament event for the Parliament of the World´s Religions, which will take place in Melbourne, Australia, from December 3 to 9, 2009.
The main organiser of the World Village Festival is the Service Centre for Development for Cooperation - KEPA. It is the umbrella organisation for over 270 development organisations or other NGOs working on issues concerning development and globalisation. KEPA itself is a politically and ideologically non-aligned organisation that operates with funding from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
Over 300 other partners were involved in the festival – some 200 NGOs as well as educational institutions, museums, public authorities and businesses.
thank you for your interest, participation
the URI Europe Executive Committee:
We unite in responsible cooperative action to bring the wisdom and values of our religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions to bear on the economic, environmental, political and social challenges facing our Earth community.
Ne unim în acţiunea responsabilă de cooperare spre a aduce înţelepciunea şi valorile religiilor noastre, expresiilor spirituale şi tradiţiilor specifice, să ţină piept provocărilor economice, ecologice, politice şi sociale cu care se confruntă comunitatea Pămîntului nostru. (Romanian)