United Religions Initiative Europe



URI Europe Dialogue Letter


Issue No. 13          ***         August 2010 - October 2010


Dear Friends,

Next week URI Europe will have its interfaith assembly in Istanbul, Turkey, from October 27 to 31, 2010.

An inspiring group of people from almost 20 countries will come together. It will surely be an energizing event that will move the interfaith movement in Europe forward.

Please include this gathering in your thoughts and prayers and bless it with your spiritual support.

Enjoy the articles and news from our network!

URI news

Upcoming URI Europe Assembly in Istanbul, October 27-31, 2010

Dear friends,

warm greetings to you!

We are working hard to make the URI Europe Assembly happen in Istanbul from October 27 to 31, 2010.

There will be a beautiful group of people, and it will surely be an inspiring gathering. Below you will find information that I just sent to a media contact in Turkey.

Please keep us and this gathering in your prayers. Thank you!




URI Europe (United Religions Initiative Europe) will hold its 7th Regional Assembly from October 27 to 31, 2010, in Istanbul, Turkey. The conference title is "Walking the talk - bringing interfaith action to each town in Europe".

Approximately 55 participants will come from 17 countries all across Europe, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

URI Youth Ambassadors and special guests will come from Australia, Lebanon, Morocco, the UAE and the USA.

The participants belong to a variety of religions and worldviews and have a passion for interfaith cooperation for peace, justice and healing.

This is particularly important at a time of economic difficulty, where in many European countries easy judgments and the stigmatisation or exclusion of whole groups are on the rise.

In response to this situation, URI's interfaith circles are working on a daily basis to promote respect, friendship, mutual understanding and community cohesion.

URI is so pleased to be graciously welcomed in Istanbul, a city that bridges the continents and is a European Cultural Capital 2010.

The programme will include the creation of an action plan for promoting interfaith work across Europe. As URI aims to expand its network and deepen the impact of its work, special training on how to create and carry out new interfaith activities will be offered.

United Religions Initiative (URI) is a global interfaith network of over 450 interfaith Cooperation Circles in 75 countries on all continents. It has consultancy status at the United Nations (UN) with representatives at UN headquarters in New York and at the UN in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was founded in 2000, when the URI Charter was launched in Pittsburgh. URI Europe is registered in Antwerp, Belgium.

URI 10th Anniversary and UN IDP Celebration in Barcelona,

September 25, 2010

Dear friends,

On 24th and 27th September 2010, the URI Europe board met in Barcelona (Catalonia/Spain), graciously hosted by Elisabeth and the UNESCOCAT/AUDIR CC. It was a very successful meeting, including:

- board meetings with strategic planning, planning for the URI Europe Assembly in Istanbul at the end of October,
- a lunch meeting with the Catalonian network of interfaith organisations, coordinated by UNESCOCAT/AUDIR,
- the URI 10th Anniversary and UN IDP (International Day of Peace) celebration by UNESCOCAT and URI Europe.

The URI 10th Anniversary and UN IDP celebration took place at a public library in the centre of Barcelona with a beautiful view of tropical garden scenery. About 150 people participated, with people standing as there was not enough room for them all, despite the fact that it was a special holiday weekend.


An interfaith choir sang wonderful songs from different faith traditions.

Several people gave short speeches:
- Felix Marti, Founder and Former President of UNESCOCAT, who signed the URI Charter in Pittsburgh in 2010,
- Nathalie Reverdin, President of AUDIR, who participated in a Latin American URI Assembly,
- Karimah Stauch, Kiran Bali, Martin Gurvich and Sheikh Bashir for URI Europe.
Francesc Torradeflot led the programme. He first participated in URI at the URI Europe Assembly in Budapest, Hungary 2000.


URI Europe awarded UNESCOCAT/AUDIR a certificate of recognition for their excellent work for peace, justice and healing.

We are deeply grateful to ELISABETH LHEURE and UNESCOCAT/AUDIR, whose hospitality was just fantastic!!!

Warm greetings

Activities of URI Co-operation Circles

Finland's Golden Rule Award 2010

The 2010 Golden Rule Award, Kultainen sääntö- palkinto, has been awarded to Finland's President Tarja Halonen. President Halonen has meritoriously contributed to the dialogue between cultures and religions in Finland as well as internationally.


resident Halonen convened the leaders of the so-called Abrahamic Faiths after the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks. Finnish religious leaders have been meeting regularly on the President's initiative since 2001.

Among other things President Tarja Halonen has also given her strong support to the work of The Alliance of Civilizations Forum. The two main aims of this dialogue project, which was started at the government level of Spain and Turkey, are to improve the strained relations between the Western and Muslim worlds and to strengthen the multilateral international system.

"President Tarja Halonen has brought up the question of gender in her speeches and has thus reminded world leaders to consider the importance of the status of women in dialogue processes. Recognizing the role of women also expresses remarkable respect to grassroots activity. Women around the world do tremendous work for common good in their communities," says Heidi Rautionmaa, Finland’s Interfaith Dialogue Network Coordinator. Rautionmaa adds that if we really want to build good social cohesion in our increasingly multicultural communities, society's support of grassroots interfaith dialogue activities is needed today.

The Golden Rule Award was presented by the Interfaith Dialogue Network, which consists of the Forum of Religions and Convictions of Helsinki CC of The United Religions Initiative (URI), Religions for Peace Suomen naisverkosto (Religions for Peace Women of Faith Network in Finland), Kaupunki yhteisönä ry. and international Uskot ilman rajoja (Faiths Without Borders). The Network works in fellowship with the Parliament of the World's Religions, which has named Helsinki as one of its Cities of Peace.

Professor Emeritus Reijo E. Heinonen, who was awarded the Golden Rule Award last year, sees the Award as a drop in the ocean of awakening global ethical awareness. He received the Golden Rule Award for his engagement of promoting Global Ethic.

The Prize will be awarded during Interfaith Dialogue Week, on the United Nations International Day of Peace, September 21st. The hope is that all wars and conflicts will cease for Peace Day, and citizens are urged to work for peace and justice.

The Golden Rule, after which the prize has been named, calls on people to treat others as they would like to be treated.

Read this article on the internet

Bond zonder Naam featured on URI's Real People Real Stories Real Change online fundraising campaign

Bond zonder Naam (BzN) was featured on URI's Real People Real Stories Real Change online fundraising campaign. The importance of steaching living values to children is so important and deserves broad replication. 


Imagine a world where children are tought to think not only of themselves when making choices, but also of the impact of those choices on others and the world as a whole. In 2006, looking for an innovative solution to violence and other challenges faced by schools, Bond zonder Naam Cooperation Circle in Belgium worked with seven schools to pilot the Living Values Education Program (LVE), involving whole school communities in learning positive values and building cultures of respect. Developed by an international community of educators in 1997, the curriculum had had enormous success in reducing conflict and dropout rates in schools around the world. BzN has trained 700 educators since the start of the program and inspired other schools in Belgium to take it on.

Read this article on the internet

Social Forum in Finland

by Heidi Rautionmaa (Forum of Religions in Helsinki CC)

The Social Forum in Finland took place from 24th to 25th April 2010, in Helsinki at Arbis. The NGO Living together in Cities/ Kaupunki yhteisönä ry organized an interfaith seminar in co- operation with The Forum of Religions in Helsinki, URI and The Ecumenical Working Group in Helsinki. People of several religions talked about how religions are seen/ unseen in the city. Panelists gave their opinions about discussions of religious symbols, customs, buildings, minarets etc. Also, the Charter of Compassion was introduced to the participants. The new interfaith group Religions for Peace Finnish Women of Faith Network was present. This seminar was also a side event in the partnership programme of the Parliament of the World´s Religions.

Women in dialogue in a Finnish newspaper

An article about women in dialogue and the Forum of Religions (Paula and Heidi) was published in the Finnish newspaper “Kirkkojakaupunki”. There is a picture of both women on the cover of this paper, which was taken in Helsinki.


Heidi and Paula are surrounded by the heart of leaves. The title on the cover is: “The sisters of faith”. The picture and the article (on page 12f. in Finnish) can be found at: http://www.kirkkojakaupunki.fi/nakoislehti/2010/kirkko-kaupunki-22/primapaper/1 

New interfaith group from Hungary plans to join URI

Govardhana das, currently a URI Supporting Member, has informed us that the interfaith group from Hungary, to which he belongs, decided to be part of URI Europe and to register as a CC in Budapest. The website of this interfaith group can be found at: http://www.vallaskoziparbeszed.hu  and their blog is at: http://vapata.blogspot.com  They participate in regular interfaith events and meet every month. They have Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Baha'i, Muslim, Jewish, Brahma Kumaris and Krishna (Hindu) members, occasionally Buddhist also.

URI Affiliate participates in a gastronomic intercultural dialogue and shares the peace message on stage

by Tatomir Ion-Marius (URI Affiliate, Member of URI World Peace Prayer Society, Representative for Romania and Hungary Global Harmony Board Member)
The annual international event "Kulturen bitten zu Tisch" took place on 17th June 2010 at Vienna’s Sigmund Freud Park, with the participation of people from 19 nations (Argentina, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Greece, India, Israel, Jordan, Croatia, Cuba, La Reunion, Mongolia, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Turkey, and Hungary). Each of these nations had a tent with meals and products specific to their countries, and maps and different things for the attending people. On a stage nearby, traditional dances and songs were performed by dancers and singers from different countries. Every year about 4,000 people attend this gastronomic intercultural dialogue. Also, there is tremendous coverage by the press and television stations. The main organizer of this event was the World Public Forum, an international peace initiative. 


Contents of this edition:

URI News:

Upcoming URI Europe Assembly in Istanbul, October 27-31, 2010   
 *URI 10th Anniversary and UN IDP Celebration in Barcelona, September 25,2010

Activities of URI Co-operation Circles: 

*Finland's Golden Rule Award 2010
*Bond zonder Naam featured on URI's Real Stories Real Change online fundraising campaign 

 *Social Forum in Finland
  *Women in dialogue in Finnish newspaper
 *New interfaith group from Hungary plans to join URI   
*URI Affiliate participates in a gastronomic intercultural dialogue and shares the peace message on stage
*Interfaith Toolkit book for educators to be published
 *15th Interreligious Prayer in  Dortmund, Germany
*Symposium "I make the difference - difference in education" - Steering Commitee CC, Netherlands
*Events organized by the Faith2Faith CC, Huddersfield, UK

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 
Louis Mentens, Belgium
Deepak Naik, United Kingdom
Patrick Nickisch, Belgium/Germany
Karimah Stauch, Germany 

European Co-operation Circles (CCs):

Basque Country/Spain:
* GUNE, Gipuzkoa

* URI Europe CC, Antwerp
Bond zonder Naam CC, Antwerp
* Convictions en dialogue CC, Septon
*  VPiD (Vlaams Partnership voor Interlevensbeschouwelijke Dialoog - Flemish Partnership for Inter Religious Dialogue)

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

* 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


I attended this event and while looking at the tents, each displaying the flag and country name, I had an idea to ask the organisers of this event to allow me to invite people to join in saying “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in their native languages. I was fortunate to find a way to speak personally with Mr. Walter Schwimmer, president of the international committee of coordination of the World Public Forum, a very kind, peace loving person. I introduced myself and told him that I was representing the World Peace Prayer Society and briefly explained its mission, the spreading of “May Peace Prevail on Earth”, the Peace Poles Project, and that we have Representative at the UN. And I asked him for permission to invite people to join in saying May Peace Prevail on Earth. He agreed and was very kind. I was very touched and drank a glass of water before going on the stage. I think there were between 700 and 800 persons in the park at that moment. When my name was announced I greeted the people in English and asked them to join in saying “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in their native languages. Then I said MPPOE in German, English, Romanian, Hungarian, Spanish, Indonesian, Hebrew, Arabic and Italian. I am glad, that I was able to share the Peace Message in Wien during this event. May Peace Prevail on Earth, in Harmony and Unity!



Interfaith Toolkit book for educators to be published 

By Heidi Rautionmaa (Forum of Religions in Helsinki CC)


I am happy to announce that the first Toolkitbook of Interfaith in the Finnish language is on its way to be published.

There are several articles written by educators, teachers, youth workers from several faiths and spiritual traditions and also there are some training lessons/workshops for practical use in this book.

The name of the book is “Interfaith dialogue - educating to the intercultural encounter”.

 I served as the editor and you can just imagine how many photos taken during these 10 years of my interfaith work are in this book.

The book contains many beautiful pictures, it has a very fresh and bright outlook. Raisa Suuronen, the graphic designer has done a great job. There are also some photos taken by her. She is a professional photographer and a follower of Mother Amma. 

The cover of the book is very beautiful. I see it as a picture about friendship and the walk that is taken together. My younger daughter´s hand is on the cover. 

The oldest person who contributed an artickle to this book is around 85 years and the youngest writers are Paula´s and my daughters,  Mina and Tarina, who are 15 and 14 years old.

The grand old lady who wrote about peace education is the humanist Helena Kekkonen who received the first UNESCO peace award in the 1980s. 

This book will be presented to the President of Finland as well when we meet her. President Tarja Halonen gave a speech before the panel discussion in New York, at the seminar organized by the Clinton Foundation. Amongst other topics she spoke about the importance of educating teachers. 

I agree: education is the key.

15th Interreligious Prayer in Dortmund, Germany

On 14th September, 2010, the 15th Interreligious Prayer was held in Dortmund, Germany. Ari von Buuren (Chair of The Steering Committee URI the Netherlands) and Leo Lebendig participated amongst others in this interfaith prayer.This year’s celebration of the interfaith prayer in Dortmund has been combined with the twin project “The light of peace of the religions”, in which Leo Lebendig and Ari van Buuren were involved. It was this project that provided inspiration to hold the 15th interfaith prayer in the city hall of Dortmund. Being an interfaith project, it inspired the idea of combining it with the interreligious prayer of Dortmund. All the Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Baha’i – were represented in the prayer. Due to this cooperation the interfaith prayer thematically included the meaning of light and the use of the light symbol in the religions. Readings from the different scriptures were given in this context.

The interreligious prayer has always been a prayer for peace: for peaceful and just coexistence, for people of different faith living together in peace all over the world.

Symposium "I make the difference - difference in education" - Steering Committee CC, Netherlands

By Bart ten Broek (Steering Committee URI Netherlands CC)

"I make the difference - difference in education"

The above is the title of a symposium, held on 17th April in Soest in the Netherlands.

The Conference was organized by five different movements for religious freedom, peace and dialogue. One of them was the CC Steering Committee of the Netherlands.

It is important to say, that the cooperation between the organizations is getting much stronger and they present themselves also more cohesively in Dutch society.

Several speakers explained how you can contribute from your inner inspiration to good social development, especially in education.

Bart ten Broek of URI spoke about interreligious education and (world)citizenship!

He has had the great experience of directing a Christian primary school, which turned into an interreligious school where Muslim and Christian parents sat on the board. Now he is the president of a foundation: WijDeWereldschool (Wide(we)TheWorldschool).This foundation presents a certificate to schools that show how they apply an integrated model of interreligious education, citizenship and working with heart, head and hands.

Rita Ramrooching spoke about how “Top Teachings”(her concept) can come into existence, when in education-innovation you create more time for rest, room and religion (spirituality).

Mijke Jetten of Radboud University Nijmegen is searching for the effects of the interreligious dialogue. Is this “Sense or Nonsense”. The Hindu pandit Sewnath offered very amazing and practical philosophical thoughts.

Anneke Tan (URI) did social work in the interreligious school in Ede (Netherlands). It is very important to build a good relationship with the parents about innovations at the school.

Wil van Meeber, president of the Foundation Oecumenical Women group is studying differences in power between men and women in the religions and how this affects education. How can we work on change in the interreligious process?

It was beautiful symposium with many interesting stories and examples and very inspiring throughout!

Events organized by the Faith2Faith CC, Huddersfield, UK


International Women's Day


Interfaith Cricket match




Interfaith celebration of British Indian identity


Many thanks to the coordination and photographs to Kiran Bali, coordinator of Faith2Faith CC.

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
Louis Mentens, Belgium
Elisabeth Lheure, Catalonia/Spain
Deepak Naik, United Kingdom
Patrick Nickisch, Belgium/Germany


We unite to celebrate the joy of blessings and the light of wisdom in both movement and stillness.


Unimo-nos para celebrar a alegria das bênçãos e a luz da sabedoria, seja no movimento, seja na quietude. (Portuguese)