United Religions Initiative Europe

URI Europe Dialogue Letter

Issue No. 11          ***         July - August 2009

Dear Friends,  

URI Europe is growing.

A 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.

Today we are facing a turning point.

Today, 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.

Now more than ever we desire a stronger involvement with every CC.

Therefore 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.

I wish each of you a fruitful and rich URI working year. Each with His blessing.

Patrick Hanjoul
Chair URI Europe.  

URI Europe news

Save the date: URI Europe Conference in Turkey

A 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!
Plans are made to host a young leaders meeting before the Europan Assembly. After the conference there will be opportunities for sightseeing in Turkey.

Save the date: JCM Summer School in Ammerdown, UK - opportunity for young leaders in European URI CCs

From 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.
The JCM Summer School takes place in th English countryside in the very pittoresque Ammerdown Centre - see www.ammerdown.org.
Matthew Youde plans to organize a URI youth leadership seminar before the Summer School.

Golden Rule tour around Europe with Mussie Hailu and Lone Klemmensen

Plans 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 info@uridanmark.dk or +45 86361965. 
We will contact all CC´s in the near future when further details are known.

Activities of URI Co-operation Circles

Minorities of Europe – welcome a new Co-operation Circle in the UK

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:

  • To support and promote positive intercultural relations between minority and majority  communities.
  • To overcome mutual prejudice among minorities and majorities and the perception of powerlessness that minority young people often feel. 
  • To sustain the participation and integration of minority communities in Europe. 
  • To initiate and promote tangible projects and examples of community development between people of different faiths, cultures and traditions.

 MoE has launched numerous projects for interfaith and intercultural dialogue and education. Some are listed below. 


Swapping Cultures

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. 

Strasbourg 2005

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. 


 Swapping Cultures

Strasbourg 2005

Iran Exchange

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.


Read more and see more pictures

Contents of this edition:

URI Europe news:
* Save the date: URI Europe Conference in Turkey
* Save the date: JCM Summer School in Ammerdown, UK - opportunity for young leaders in European URI CCs
* Golden Rule tour around Europe with Mussie Hailu and Lone Klemmensen

Activities of URI Co-operation Circles:
* Minorities of Europe – welcome a new Co-operation Circle in the UK
* Religions for Humanity CC events, Moscow, Russia 
* DMLBonn CC, Bonn, Germany, co-organizes 21st Christian-Muslim Conference at Pentecost
* Women's Group Zwolle IJsselstroom CC discusses colours, Zwolle, The Netherlands
* Towards the One – on many different paths by the Unitheum CC, Germany
* The Celebration of the Golden Rule at the World Village Festival in Helsinki, Finland

Quick links:
URI Europe Homepage
Plans and Activities
European Interfaith CC News
Global Interfaith News
URI Charter
Join URI
Why join URI?
Found a Co-operation Circle

URI Europe Executive Committe:
Kiran Bali, United Kingdom
Sheikh Bashir Ahmad Dultz, Germany
Martin Gurvich, Belgium
Patrick Hanjoul, Belgium
Elisabeth Lheure, Catalonia/Spain
Deepak Naik, United Kingdom
Patrick Nickisch, Belgium/Germany
Karimah Stauch, Germany

European Co-operation Circles (CCs):

* URI Europe CC, Antwerp
Bond zonder Naam CC, Antwerp
* Convictions en dialogue CC, Septon

Bosnia and Herzegovina:
* Balkan as a Soul-Bridge CC, Sarajevo

* UNESCOCAT - Centre UNESCO de Catalunya / AUDIR - Associació UNESCO per al Diàleg Interreligiós CC

* URI Aarhus CC, Aarhus
* URI Copenhagen CC, Copenhagen

* Forum of Religions in Turku CC, Turku
* Religious Forum in Helsinki, Helsinki
* URI's Christian-Muslim Circle of Helsinki CC, Helsinki

* Pacific Teams CC / PISEF, Moissy Cramayel

* German Muslim-League Bonn CC / DMLBonn CC, Bonn
Unitheum CC, Bad Zwischenahn
* URI Berlin CC, Berlin
URI Germany CC, Bonn

* Building Real Interfaith Dialogue through Glocal Encounters (BRIDGE), Rome

* Interfaith Dialogue Utrecht CC, Utrecht
* Steering Committe URI the Netherlands, Amsterdam
* SNTL - Procesbegeleidersgroep Samenwerkingsverband Traumahulpverlening, Amsterdam 
* Women’s Group IJsselstroom Zwolle and surroundings, Zwolle

* URI Romania - Int'l Ecumenical Center CC, Bukarest

* Religions for Humanity CC, Moscow

* Center for Peace and Dialogue of Cultures, Dushanbe

* Society for Intercultural Research and Frienship (SIRF), Ankara

United Kingdom:
* Ahimsa for Quality of Life CC, London
* Faith2Faith CC, Huddersfield
* Minorities of Europe CC, Coventry
URI-UK CC, Keswick, Cumbria


Latest Activities of the "Religions for Humanity CC", Moscow

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. 

Dr. Guzel Strelkova at the Buddhist Temple of Norbulingka, India 

 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.  

 Gyuto Tantric University, Dharmashala, India

 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.

Read more and see more pictures

21st Christian-Islamic Conference at Pentecost, co-organized by the DMLBonn CC, Germany

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. 

   The invited speakers — Dr. Sabine Schiffer, Bedia Sam, Dr. Reinhard Kirste and Emina Corbo-Mesic — approached the theme from their respective areas of expertise and experience. Their presentations and dialogue with the other participants focused on points of discussion that were thought-provoking and fruitful, especially for younger attendees, students and educators. Providing a pleasing contrast to the discussions was dance instructor Chadigah Kissel’s program feature “Meditation des Lichtes im Tanz” (Meditation on the Light in Dance).

   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.

Read this article on the internet


Women's Group Zwolle IJsselstroom CC discusses colours in Zwolle, the Netherlands

Dear friends,

we had a beautiful day full of sunshine with the Women’s Group Zwolle IJsselstroom CC. 

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? 
We also talked about the strengths in the characters and natures of each of our members and how we can use it for the group. Everybody has her or his own “colour” or character and we discussed how this is, or can be, made fruitful for the whole.

We made plans and appointments for the coming year and talked about how we would like to express ourselves to the outside world. On the photo you can see the change of leadership, Lonneke Gunnink-v.d.Berg (on the right) takes over from Paule Bink-Wannemakers (on the left).

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.

We wish everybody a very nice warm summer and Peace!
With greetings from the Heart,

Johanna Vonk
IJsselstroom, Zwolle, Nederland

Read this article on the internet


Towards the One – on many different paths
by the Unitheum CC, Germany

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.
“Stop burying your heads in the sand of heaven!”

Read this article on the internet


The Celebration of the Golden Rule at the World Village Festival in Helsinki, Finland

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.


   The Forum of Religions CC also had the booth at the Festival in co operation with the Quakers. The Forum of Religions has taken part in the Festival at least 6 times in the past years. Peace and all good Heidi RautionmaaReligious Forum in Helsinki CC Helsinki, Finland  

Read this article on the internet

We thank you for your interest, participation
and for your good work for peace, justice and healing!

Karimah Stauch
URI Europe Co-ordinator

and the URI Europe Executive Committee:
Kiran Bali, United Kingdom
Sheikh Bashir Ahmad Dultz, Germany
Martin Gurvich, Belgium
Patrick Hanjoul, Belgium
Elisabeth Lheure, Catalonia/Spain
Deepak Naik, United Kingdom
Patrick Nickisch, Belgium/Germany


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)