The United Religions Initiative family is celebrating World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) around the planet. The United Nations has designated February 1-7 of every year as a time to celebrate interfaith peace and cooperation worldwide.
Stay tuned and keep checking this page for more URI celebrations, as we are adding new stories and photos every day!
Note: Click the yellow arrows on either side of the photos to scroll through the slideshows below.
View celebrations by region:
URI Cooperation Circles: Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia, URI Africa
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
URI-Africa, U-Day Festival, Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia (a URI Cooperation Circle) and African Ombudsman and Mediators Association, in partnership with the African Union Civil Society and Diaspora Directorate (CIDO), are organizing the Celebration of the 2018 World Interfaith Harmony Week under the theme “Interfaith Cooperation to Promote a Culture of Peace, Harmony and Human Dignity.” It will be held at the African Union Commission Conference Centre on February 2nd, 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The guest of honor of the event is H.E. Dr. Mualtu Teshome, President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Read more.
URI Cooperation Circle: Kasinje CC
When Malawi goes towards general elections, political and interfaith conflicts arise. Political party leaders castigate each other, which results in conflicts and these lead to injuries, loss of property, imprisonment and/or deaths. Denomination leaders consider politicians to be liars. As Malawi is on its course to general elections in 2019, castigations and insults have already erupted between people of different parties and or between religious leaders and politicians, and vice-versa. This has also affected our area, where three people were injured and property was damaged.
For this reason, Kasinje CC organised social, friendly football and netball matches between political leaders and religious leaders on 4th February, 2018 at Nthumbo ground, and on 7th February at Sharpe Valley ground. Political parties who participated were: United Democratic Front (UDF), Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Democratic Peoples Congress (DEPECO), Peoples Party (PP) and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The faith groups who participated were: Christianity, Muslim, Buddhism, Hinduism, Rastafarian, Judaism and Indigenous Traditions. The matches attracted over 7,000 people and ended 3 all draw (football) and politicians 18 - 16 religious leaders (netball). The second matches attracted over four thousand people and ended politicians 5 - 4 religious leaders (football) and pol 16- 22 RL (netball). Guest speakers: Reverend Fr. Majeza, Sheik Omar Asan and Inkosi Ganya for religious leaders and Dr Francis Mkungula (MP), Lucy Lunguzi and Nancy Chaola for politicians.
Castigations and insults were discouraged. Instead, love and peace were encouraged.
URI Cooperation Circles: Lilongwe Central Cooperation, Karonga Nthora, Mangochi Central West, Tigwirane Manja Cooperation Circle
Location: Lilongwe, Malawi
It is sometimes difficult for organizations to acknowledge United Nations days due to different reasons, but it is our priority to celebrate, acknowledge or observe Harmony Week and International Peace Day, amongst other UN days, because our history does not have a solid history of faith togetherness and tolerance. For instance, in 2015, people witnessed the serious violence between Muslims and indigenous people, which lead to several serious injuries - especially to children and women. After several meetings, we reconciled and realized that the root cause is misunderstanding, which commonly happens because of assumptions and wrong guesses about people of other religions. This promotes fear and fuels conflict.
It is against this background that the United Religions Initiative and Lilongwe Central CC (partnered with Karonga Nthora CC, Mangochi Central West CC, National Institute for Civic Education (NICE), and Interfaith Women Forum) have organized an interfaith tour to visit praying places in order to learn more from faith leaders. We will visit a mosque, an Anglican parish, a Hindu temple, and an Indigenous complex. Read about the visit from the URI Cooperation Circles and from the Nyasa Times article.
URI Participants: URI Southern African Office
Location: Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa
In collaboration with our CCs, we hosted two Compassionate Listening Workshops, one in Cape Town and one in Joburg. The Cape Town workshops were co-hosted by GOAL and Cape Town Interfaith Initiative CC’s. The Joburg workshop was hosted in partnership with United and Share for Peace and Prosperity (USPP) CC, and URI partner, the Turquoise Harmony Institute. This was an opportunity for members of our CCs as well as members our wider faith communities, to learn how to bring the powerful practices of compassionate listening into our daily lives, workplaces and communities.
Read more and see more photos in the PDF below.
URI Cooperation Circle: Sustainable Peace Through Social Development
Location: Beruwala, Sri Lanka
Sustainable Peace Through Social Development, a URI Cooperation Circle in Beruwala, Sri Lanka, partnered with Red Cross Sri Lanka to celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week 2018 (a United Nations observance on the first week of every February). The celebration was held under the theme "Change We Need" in Fasiyathul Nasriya Girls School, in Beruwala, on the 28th of January, 2018. Read more.
International Development Institute is a shelter home for orphaned children in Gurugram. Our team members and Mr. Sadanand Biswas visited the shelter to interact, share love, to offer the children sweets, and to spend time with them and encourage them. Read more.
URI Cooperation Circle: Sadbhawana Foundation
Location: Indore, India
On the occasion of Interfaith Harmony Week, Sadbhawana Indore organised three different programmes. The first programme was organised for Interfaith Harmony Week in the slums of Dewas Naka, where the women of the area gathered and were given information about small savings in daily life. The second programme was organised in Masih Kanya School, where the students of classes 9th to 12th formed a map of India using candles and prayed for the peace of the country, and pledged to do their bit in achieving it. In the third programme, a Speech Competition was organised by Sadbhawana, in collaboration with the Alumni Association of the college and the NSS Unit of the college, at Indore School of Social Work (ISSW). Read more.
URI Cooperation Circles: Joy Foundation, United Religions Initiative Pakistan
Joy Foundation & Youth for Human Rights Pakistan organized a seminar to address World Interfaith Harmony Week 2018. The program was organized in collaboration with United Religions Initiatives Pakistan (URI). The program was organized in Grace Charity School, Toba Tek Singh and all the student and teachers participated in it. Mr. Yaqoob Sadiq (Director, JF), Mrs. Shazia Yaqoob (Chairperson, JF) and the staff of Joy Foundation and Youth for Human Rights were present in the program. At the end of the program, Mr. Victor Sammuel (Principal, Grace Charity School) thanked JF & YHRP for organizing the program in their school and giving their school children an opportunity to learn about peace and promote interfaith harmony.
URI Cooperation Circle: Nuwaraeliya
Location: Sri Lanka
URI Sri Lanka celebrated World Interfaith Harmony Week 2018 by gathering the leaders of all 13 URI Cooperation Circles in Sri Lanka for a conference in Nuwaraeliya Pedro Scout Camp. This was held 2-4 February 2018. It was hosted by Nuwaraeliya Cooperation Circle. Over 50 leaders of different faiths came together to show solidarity and peace. On the 4th of February, Sri Lanka celebrates its 70th Independence Day, so we were also happy to see all URI leaders and promoters of interfaith harmony under the one roof.
The workshop included:
- Spiritual Activities.
- URI Vision mission and action .
- Religion as a human right.
- How you should organize URI project activities under the CC's theme.
- Branding and funding.
- Current situation in Sri Lanka.
- Feedback of URI Sri Lanka CC activities.
- Film screening about a successful story in Trincomalee CC.
- Celebrating Sri Lanka 70th Independence Day 2018.
We all get together with greetings for a happy World Interfaith Harmony Week 2018 and praying for peace, harmony and coexistence around the world. "May Peace Prevail On Earth."
URI Cooperation Circle: Karickam International Public School
Location: Kottarakara, Kerala, India
Karickam International Public School, in partnership with Cosmic Community Centre, Karickam, Kottarakara, Y.M.C.A, Balajana Sakhyam, Kerala Kavyakala Sahithy, Cosmic Music Centre, Odanavattam, Kollam St. Mary's Public School, Mulakuzha, Chegannoor, is hosting a Harmony Week Celebration with about 100 volunteers, serving over 5,000 community members, over 20 hours for all the events in 7 days.
See the full story, with photos, in the PDF below.
URI Cooperation Circle: Palki Peace Circle
Location: Kolkata State, West Bengal, India
Palki Peace Cooperation Circle gave a free meal to 7,000 people and distributed clothing and blankets to the needy. Read more.
URI Participants: URI North India and Afghanistan Regional Team
Location: New Delhi, India
The URI North India and Afghanistan Regional Team organized UDAAN 2018, a World Interfaith Harmony Celebration involving 18 organizations, 350 children, and 8 different faith and religion leaders, for a day filled with joy and happiness. See the video teaser and read the press release.
Read the full story behind this event, which invited children from all backgrounds; under-privileged, differently-abled, orphaned, HIV-affected; to step out of their ordinary lives and join an extraordinary time of dance, music, puppets and beatboxing.
More coming soon!
LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
URI Cooperation Circles: Campinas, Brasil URI MCC
Location: Campinas, Brazil
The city of Campinas, Brazil is promoting a forum for the culture of peace. As URI, we are coordinating the interreligious part. We will have a large stand with all traditions, talks and artistic presentations, connected to each tradition. We will have the great presence of Arun Gandhi. He will be giving a speech. A very famous actor from Brazil will be also participating.
URI Cooperation Circles: Fé-minina CC, Grupo Inter-Religioso de Sào Paulo CC
Location: Sao Paulo, Brazil
The Fé Menina URI Cooperation Circle invited all religions, spiritual and indigenous groups and the public in general to make together a Circle of Meditations and Prayers on February 5, 2018, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. to celebrate the World Interfaith Harmony Week with the motto "The Planet is Sacred and wants Peace" and in accordance with the phrase "there will only be peace in the world if there is peace between religions." The brothers and sisters of the World Organization Brahma Kumaris welcomed us with a tasty snack.
We began at 7.30 pm, with the welcome of the host organization representative, Juliana Vilarinho, who passed the lead to Marly Pedra, Fé Menina CC Coordinator. Each participant presented itself briefly, we talked about the purpose of that meeting. We presented the Proclamation Letter "The Planet is Sacred and it wants Peace" - all taking care of the sustainable common house (www.casadasreligioesunidas.com.br) initiative of the United Religions Initiative and the House of the United Religions for adhesion and electronic signature, initiated in 01 Feb 2018. Then we had a wheel of meditations and prayers, including sacred songs. Moments of rare Beauty, Harmony and Brotherhood. At 9:00 p.m. we finished with a moment of fraternization and brotherhood and a snack was offered again. At this moment we recorded testimonials of each leadership on "What is the value of the World Interfaith Harmony Week for you and your institution." See more on the Facebook page.
For the general public, the energy generated was of very positive impact with joy for the opportunity of the meeting and respect for the participation of diverse religions in favor of harmony and peace; some were moved by tears. There was a lot of receptivity. Awareness of the interfaith network that took notice of the event through messages. The present Interreligious Community, sensitized by the vibration, with the clarity that that vibration generated by the loving union united with others for the cooperation of the interreligious harmony, declared willingness to hold other meetings of similar format. To me it has especially impacted me strongly (it is challenging to put into words), by the strong feeling of unity, of love, and that we are one family and love nature; we commit ourselves to celebrate the union, to honor and to take care of the Life on the planet and of the reinvigoration of the union and attraction of other Institutions! And we are going to perform this rhythmic activity every 3 months.
Partners included: Brahma Kumaris World Organization, House of United Religions
URI Cooperation Circles: Circulo De Cooperación para el Diálogo CC
Location: Caracas, Venezuela
Members of Para el Diálogo CC (Circle of Cooperation for Dialogue) met to hold an Interreligious Prayer for peace and harmony in Venezuela, as part of the celebration of the Week of Interreligious Harmony. "It was a very appropriate moment because our country, Venezuela, needs a lot of peace, healing and light." Read more.
URI Cooperation Circle: Los Descendientes de Guatemaya
Location: Sololá, Guatemala
On Monday, February 13, 2018, as an event to celebrate the Interreligious Harmony Week, approximately 25 people gathered for a Ceremony of Gratitude for the good fortune that Mother Earth has given us. The ceremony began at 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. A sacred fire was performed, permission was requested from the four directions, offerings were given to the grandfather Fuego, dances and lunch were shared with brothers who attended from the Guatemalan capital to Sololá, department where our Circle of Cooperation Los Descendientes de Guatemaya is located. The Students of the University of Guatemala were our partners in this event.
This ceremony allows the cohesion in the Cooperation Circle with the community. Through gratitude, bonds are created between the brothers and Mother Earth.
URI Cooperation Circle: Quinaroa Cooperation Circle
Location: Lagunillas, Mérida, Venezuela
In the Andean lands, it is customary to celebrate until the first week of the month of February the birth of the baby Jesus. So the Parade of the Child Jesus coincides with Interfaith Harmony Week. There are interactions between indigenous people and non-indigenous people, and people of faith and no faith. By sharing food, we have learned that "we are happier to give than to receive," says Yelitza Rangel, primary coordinator of Quinaroa Cooperation Circle. Read more.
URI Cooperation Circle: Foro Espiritual de Santiago para la Paz CC (Spiritual Forum of Santiago for Peace CC)
Location: Quito, Ecuador
Pastor Victor Rey, a member of Foro Espiritual de Santiago para la Paz CC who is currently in the process of creating the URI Circle in Quito-Ecuador, led an Interreligious Meeting for Harmony, in which 20 people participated in the New Life Camp in La Merced, Quito. The people who participated in that meeting came from different strands of Christianity, the Bahá'í Faith, the Muslim and the Quichua people. In the meeting, the central theme was about the life in harmony of the different confessions and spiritual traditions, songs, meals, games and laughter were shared.
The experience was very rich and expectations were generated to get back together regularly and the Nueva Vida Foundation, which is very central in the city of Quito, was chosen as a place for future meetings. We appreciate the materials sent to us by the Latin America & the Caribbean Regional Coordination Office of URI and the motivating emails to promote this activity.
Community of Reflection and Ecumenical Spirituality (CREE) was our event partner. This meeting had a positive impact for the community because it showed the type of activities that Cooperation Circles can carry out to work for interreligious dialogue and peace. From this activity I believe that the new CC will be created in Quito.
URI Cooperation Circles: Of the Indigenous People of Argentina CC, Cosmic Community Centre CC
Location: San Miguel, Argentina
Religious conversions of Indigenous Peoples have been accompanied by changes in the life and identity of Indigenous communities. The change of religious affiliation, characterized by the transition from traditionalist Catholicism to non-Catholic creeds, has been the main element of intra-community tension for decades. The transformation of community life inherently includes struggles and confrontations between the definitive separation of Indigenous Protestants and Catholic natives. The empowerment of the religions in the Indigenous communities has allowed criticism of other aspects, such as witchcraft, shamanism, healing rituals, etc. The response to the criticism has been use of violence again. Then, the conflict between religions and the Worldview of Indigenous Peoples, in most cases, extends to the social, cultural and power in Indigenous communities. Interreligious dialogue was one of the preambles to the resolution and peaceful transformation of religious and cultural conflicts with the purpose of rebuilding harmonious relationships, of coexistence, and of acceptance of other religious beliefs.
On Saturday, February 3, from noon to 7 pm in the afternoon, we met different representatives of Indigenous organizations, leaders and leaders of the Kolla, Diaguita, Aymaras, Guaranies and neighbors of the Intihuasy Library, people of religion Christian (Catholics and Evangelists). This meeting counted approximately 15 indigenous and non-indigenous people of religions (Catholics and Evangelical Baptists) and indigenous traditions (Diaguita, Kolla, Aymara and Guarani). The meeting was held at the Intihuasy Library of San Miguel, province of Buenos Aires (31 km from the City of Buenos Aires). We chose this place as a tribute to the recently, tragically-deceased indigenous leader Pedro Moreira. Pedro, a Kolla leader of 80 years, was recognized by indigenous and non-indigenous, a founder of the Intihuasy Library, was declared an "Illustrious Citizen" of the municipality of San Miguel, worked promoting dialogue between Indigenous and non-indigenous people, and collaborated with ENDEPA, Christian Institution that helps to the Indigenous Peoples in Argentina. We began the meeting with a healing of the place (cleaning with incense, an Indigenous tradition), then the older ones started the meeting with reflections and expressing themselves in their own beliefs and religions.
For our Cooperation Circles: Indigenous Peoples of Argentina and the Cosmic Community, it was a very interesting and risky experience, since the issue of religions is still very difficult to deal with in Indigenous Peoples. There are still open wounds and pains of religious imposition. We think that the URI is a great door for the dialogue between the religions, this is the space for the healing of the wounds and the way for the understanding. We thank everyone, the region with its coordinator Enoé Texier, the Indigenous Peoples, the Councilors, the religious people, URI and especially our ancestors, who accompanied us to make the two activities possible. Our event partners included Organization Storm, Cooperation of Potters of Jujuy, and indigenous referents.
URI Cooperation Circles: Of the Indigenous People of Argentina CC, Cosmic Community Centre CC
Location: The coast of Buenos Aires, Argentina
On Sunday, February 11, on the Coast of the Province of Buenos Aires, within the framework of the celebration of the anatas (a woodwind instrument), and following with the Interfaith Harmony Week, we performed an indigenous ceremony to the sea. There were approximately 20 people, and people from the passing public joined. The ceremony began by remembering the present Indigenous people, the Week of Interreligious Harmony, and pointing out the resolution 65 / 5 (which formed World Interfaith Harmony Week). The community was encouraged to express themselves freely with their religious prayers. This was a very important moment, and a challenge to fundamentalism, both religious and non-religious.
For our Cooperation Circles, Indigenous Peoples of Argentina, and the Cosmic Community, it was a very interesting and risky experience, since the issue of religions is still very difficult to deal with for Indigenous Peoples. There are still open wounds and pains of religious imposition. We think that the URI is a great door for the dialogue between the religions. This is the space for the healing of the wounds and the way for understanding. We thank everyone, the region with its coordinator Enoé Texier, the Indigenous Peoples, the Councilors, the religious people, URI and especially our ancestors, who accompanied us to make the two activities possible. "Event partners included: Organization Storm, Cooperation of Potters of Jujuy, and indigenous referents.
URI Cooperation Circle: Círculo de Cooperação URI Goiás
Location: Goiania, Brazil
We held " Walking together: The Importance of Interfaith Dialogue as a Path to Understanding." It was a beautiful and harmonious walk in one of the most beautiful and well-known parks of Goiania. The goal was to bring together people from the most diverse faiths; spiritual, religious and non-religious traditions for friendly conversation and sharing of spiritual practices. At the end, a sharing wheel of the sacred was made in which each one was able to speak, manifest his faith and share his experience. Dances and songs of various religions were sung. Besides the people who went there for the walk, other people joined it on the way. It was beautiful.
The impact of this activity was to bring together people from different denominations and to conclude that each one seeks peace, contentment, and solidarity with the suffering of human non-human beings. The participation of children brings us the hope of an egalitarian and unprejudiced world.
URI Cooperation Circle: Rio Inter-Religious Movement CC (MIR)
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
January 21 is the National Day to Combat Religious Intolerance in Brazil. For this reason, we started our celebration of the World Interfaith Harmony Week on this day. The date was chosen because it was also the death day of Ialorixá Mother Gilda, of the Terreiro (African Brazilian Religious Temple) Axé Abassá de Ogum (Bahia), who suffered a heart attack after being attacked in newspapers of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, accused of charlatanism, witchcraft and black magic. Her accusation was a clear act of religious intolerance, motivated only by the fact that Ialorixá was practicing a religion of African origin. A homage was made to Mother Gilda, where our gratitude and respect was shown.
We enjoyed the participation of many religious leaders and institutions: Bhaktivedanta, Baha'i, Buddhist, Catholic, Gypsies, Spiritualists, Daimists, Spiritists, Evangelicals, Great White Brotherhood, Hare Krishnas, Indigenous, Jews, Muslims, Native Americans, Native Traditions, Umbandists, Wiccans. Institutions: B'nai B'brith, FIERJ, KOINONIA, MIURA, MUDA, OCA, and URI. Artists that donated their work to the show: Ogan Genário e Zoatabaque, Respeitem Meu Canto, Ás de Ouro, Cocada Carioca, Vacite and Encanto Cigano.
The ceremonies in the Outeiro da Glória Monumental Municipal Park were simple, harmonious and beautiful. The purpose of working through interreligious dialogue was to work together among people of different traditions, the characteristic of the religious matrix in Brazil. Read more.
URI Cooperation Circle: Rio Inter-Religious Movement CC (MIR)
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
On February 2, we held a political-cultural event for the celebration of the Yemonja deity, the touches of the Ketu, Jeje, Angola and Umbanda Nations, valuing Afro-Brazilian culture, through its popular expressions, customs, and traditions of a People. It happened in Pier 1, Barra da Tijuca, Amores Beach in Rio de Janeiro in the Monument to Lemonja, Queen of the sea. This was an action that also contributed to the fight against religious intolerance and the fight for respect. The depredation of the image of Lemonja in 2012, points to the urgency of actions, which in partnership with public agencies and organized society, establish effective policies to combat religious intolerance and racism.
Everyone in the "Fight for Respect! For the Nationalization of the Day of Lemonja!" event programming began Feb. 1-15 "Walk through the Waters" and walk out of the Nowa Cumig Center (Cosme Velho) towards Pier 1 of Barra. At 9:00 pm the vigil took place in the Barra da Barra. On February 2, at 8:00 am, breakfast at the Ile Omo Ejá followed Carreata starting at Rua Porto Carrero, 350, near Cordovil station. At 10 o'clock the Wheel of Talk took place with the important theme "Conserving the home of the Queen of the Sea". Participants: Thanks to Nascimento (Inter-Religious Movement of Rio de Janeiro - MIR), Eku Abo Environmental Education Project, Athamis Barbara (Nowa Cumig Center), Christiane Aires (environmentalist), presentation of the Senhores dos Mares Project. According to Ifa, in the Cuban tradition, read the letter of the year.
At 2pm Xirê in praise of the Queen of the Sea (Ketu, Jeje, Angola and Umbanda) Ogan Xambá. There was a 15h Touch of Shaman Drums and ancestral songs by the Nowa Cumig Center Native Traditions Center, guided by Athamis Bárbara, Center coordinator. When 4:00 p.m. came, in addition to a baptismal ceremony, we witnessed the Delivery of the Water previously blessed and coming from various sources in Rio de Janeiro and other states and countries too ... to the sea!!! 5pm was the delivery of the balloons of Yemonjá on the high seas. There was social time, Ojinxé songs and dances, Afoxé Omo Ifá and Roots of Truth. Integration and Participation of the Nowa Cumig Center of Native Traditions of Rio de Janeiro - Walk Ceremony for the Waters. The Nowa Cumig Center for Native Traditions joined the people of Yemonja to celebrate the Queen of the Sea on their day, February 2.
Following an ancient tradition of the Anishnabe nation, one of the original peoples of North America, members of the Nowa Cumig Center and its spiritual counselor, Athamis Barbara, left on their way from the headquarters of the Center in Cosme Velho to Pier da Barra, clean waters of river, waterfall, rain, spring. After the night of February 1, spent in vigil and prayer, these waters were offered to the sea in ritual. The survival of peoples originating in the Americas depends on the continuity of their cultures, which are inseparable from the preservation of the environment. The earth and the waters are the food for the body and also the spiritual connection with all that is sacred. Brazil is coveted by the great supply of water and minerals that exist under the earth, under its forests. The neglect and unbridled exploitation of Brazil's riches are leading to suffering. And we should not think that this issue does not concern us because we live in the city. The waters that bathe our city are also sick, contaminated by garbage and sewage. Human beings, fauna and flora are sacred, as are the sources of life. The waters are sacred. We are born from the waters. We invite all those who watch over our survival to join the Nowa Cumig Center in this idea in defense of our waters.See more on the Facebook page.
URI Cooperation Circle: Rio Inter-Religious Movement CC (MIR)
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
With an interreligious dialogue at the foot of the statue of Christ the Redeemer, on the Corcovado Hill in Rio de Janeiro, on January 23, 2018, the State Plan for the Promotion of Religious Freedom and the State Council for the Defense of Promotion of Religious Freedom, the first of its kind in the country. The event also marked the National Day to Combat Religious Intolerance, celebrated on Sunday (21). According to the Secretary of State for Human Rights and Policies for Women and the Elderly (SEDMHI), the plan will establish public policies for the promotion of religious freedom throughout the state. Secretary Attila Nunes said that the actions will be permanent and programmatic, with recommendations for the application of the principle of secularism of the State and the guarantee of freedom of belief and worship in public and private spaces.
Since Brazil is Brazil, there is religious intolerance, and there is socio-ethnic-racial prejudice. But at this moment, the authorities of the state of Rio de Janeiro take a pioneering step, in the sense that it is the first federative unit that launches a plan of this proportion, which covers such axes as education, health, public safety, culture , both in order to raise the awareness of the operators of law, the public agents, as well as to delimit the areas and the scope of the laity of the state, which is a great patrimony of our constitution.
Representatives of the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) and the Public Ministry of the State of Rio de Janeiro (MPE-RJ) also participated in the event. According to the MPE Human Rights and Minorities Advisor, Eliane Pereira, said that the Public Prosecutor's Office has monitored the measures that preceded the launch of the plan and the council and plays the role of promoting good public policies. The rector of the Sanctuary of Christ the Redeemer, Father Omar, praised the initiative and said that the site symbolizes the integration and alignment of values for work, since the statue, which represents the city, and the sun, which was very strong during the ceremony, are symbols of all. "In doubt, in the face of the different, of a different thought, we open our arms, like Christ the Redeemer, and certainly we will be fulfilling our mission of love, which is what should be the basis of all religious practice." Also participating in the launching of the State Plan for the Promotion of Religious Freedom were representatives of the evangelical religions, Anglican church, MIR inter-religious movement, Hare Krishna, Judaism and Muslim, besides the first dana of the state, Maria Lúcia Horta Jardim.
Many people have participated in this trajectory. We have been going through the management of 14 state secretaries of Rio de Janeiro since 2007. The present administration congratulates me for recognizing that the conquest only happened because all the previous administrations participated of this construction of the possible form, according to its marks of government. On behalf of all the people who are today and those who have passed through GTIREL, I thank Cláudio Nascimento who (in the first moment) managed to add a group of determined people who are in the service of the cause. We honor all the ancestors who enlightened, protected and gave encouragement to always move forward towards the purpose of continuing the process of building the right to religious freedom. We go forward making the dream of many people to come true: Dignity and Respect to the right of being of every human person. See more photos here.
URI Participants: URI Latin America & the Caribbean Team
Location: Bahia, Brazil (where the letter began in October 2017)
In celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week, URI - América Latina & Caribe invites you to sign the Proclamation Letter: "The Planet is Sacred and Wants Peace." (You can find an English and Spanish version at the website as well.) Sign on here.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
URI Cooperation Circles: TRUST WIN, Mada CC, Women Reborn CC
Location: Furedis, Israel
Local Muslim women, at the Center for Hagar and Sarah in Furedis, welcomed 35 Druze, Christian, and Jewish women from neighboring towns with food and celebration. We learned about strong women from each religion who demonstrated interfaith harmony and are examples for us today. We co-created a joint art project that was combined with the report about the teachings from these women of different faiths, which can be used in schools and discussions to feature women as leaders of interfaith harmony. We closed with singing and dancing in Hebrew and Arabic demonstrating our own interfaith harmony. See the Facebook page.
URI Cooperation Circle: Hope for Palestinian Kids
Hope for Palestinian Kids Cooperation Circle celebrated World Interfaith Harmony Week from 1-7 February 2018 by doing the following activities:
- Arranging fun activities for handicapped children in Al Arroub Camp.
- Arranging a play performance called Matches Seller.
- Arranging a visit to Al Hussein Hospital in Beit Jala and distributing gifts to kids who suffer from cancer.
The children said they were well satisfied and asked us to do these activities more. Great thanks to URI and our volunteers.
URI Cooperation Circle: The Abrahamic Reunion CC
Location: The Negev and Gaza region near the Israel border
On February 4th, 70 people joined the Abrahamic Reunion South journey to meet religious, peace and ecology leaders in communities in the Negev and Gaza border region. Joining us were Jews, Christians and Muslims, rabbis and sheikhs, men and women, including Palestinians who came from East Jerusalem, Nablus, Jericho, Bethlehem and Hebron, Israelis from Jerusalem, and the Negev, and students from an international conflict resolution course at Tel Aviv University. The event was in honor of World Interfaith Harmony Week, and in observance of 'Tu Bishvat', the Jewish 'New Year of the Trees' holiday. Read more.
URI Participants: Middle East and North Africa Regional Office
On the occasion of World Interfaith Harmony Week, URI MENA Office organized an "Art for Peace" workshop on Saturday, 3 February 2018.
Art provides a unique experience of healing and restoration, also it offers a valuable space for inner reflection and expression. We chose arts and peace as both are connected with creativity and spirituality. Art is a powerful mean to inspire a culture of peace and harmony. Muslims, Christians and Bahá'ís of all ages worked together, hand by hand, to express their ideas of peace and interfaith harmony with paint and collage. Most of them tried new techniques that got them out of a rut and into a more spontaneous way of working.
Moreover, a group of Jordanian Bahá'ís arranged an art exhibition at the venue on the theme of how art can contribute to religious and social harmony.
THE URI MULTIREGION
Cooperation Circle: Euphrates Institute
Location: Khartoum, Sudan (and worldwide)
We plan interfaith dialogue between Sudanese and persons from the West, of different religious backgrounds, via the internet. We are collaborating with Euphrates HQ to make this possible.
Location: New York, NY, USA
In concert with the UN Committee on Religions and the UN Department of Public Information, we announce a WHIW event in which the entire representing URI Team at the United Nations helped to plan and execute.
Cooperation Circle: CARAVAN
Location: Glen Ellyn, Illinois, USA
BEYOND BRIDGES is pioneering East-West interfaith exhibition of 21 acclaimed Arab, Persian and Jewish artists of Muslim, Christian and Jewish faith traditions focusing on what we hold in common. In the midst of the increasing chasm of discord and misunderstanding that exists between the Middle East and the West, and between their creeds and cultures, BEYOND BRIDGES, brings together renowned and emerging artists of Middle Eastern origin, using art as a bridge for intercultural and interreligious dialogue. In this exhibition, BEYOND BRIDGES, 21 Arab, Persian and Jewish artists are focusing on what they hold in common through their cultures and creeds. With the widening divide that exists between the faiths and peoples of the Middle East and the West, this exhibition calls for a whole new kind of movement: one that builds on what we hold in common. It is more critical than ever that “creative bridges of dialogue” be built enabling us to walk across to meet our neighbor on “the other side”.
'These 21 participating artists from Muslim, Christian and Jewish faith backgrounds through BEYOND BRIDGES are making the case for using that which we have in common as the foundation for the future of our world. The ultimate objective of the exhibition is for it to serve as an “encounter point”, encouraging and enabling new interfaith relationships to be made across religions and cultures. The 21 artists represented in BEYOND BRIDGES cover a geographic area of 11 countries. Participating artists are from the three primary monotheistic faith backgrounds (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) and include women and men, from premier contemporary artists to emerging younger artists, and artists that use a variety of artistic mediums. For the opening event, religious leaders from each of the local Abrahamic faith communities are participating as special speakers. Read more.
Cooperation Circle: CARAVAN
Location: Bond Chapel, University of Chicago, Illinois, USA
Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler will give a presentation at University of Chicago's historic Bond Chapel in celebration of the World Interfaith Harmony Week on the all-embracing spirituality of Khalil Gibran, the early 20th century Lebanese-American poet-artist and mystic. He will share how Khalil Gibran, a supreme East-West figure, can be a compelling and much-needed interreligious guide for our times, related to peace, harmony and the building of bridges between the cultures and creeds of the Middle East and West. As Khalil Gibran wrote: “I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are [children] of one religion, and it is the Spirit.”
Cooperation Circle: CARAVAN
Location: Jackson, Wyoming
A strategic visual art exhibition featuring 31 acclaimed Middle Eastern women artists from Muslim and Christian backgrounds from 12 countries celebrating the rich, diverse and pivotal contribution that Middle Eastern women make to the enduring global quest for harmony and peace.
The I AM exhibition organized by CARAVAN is exhibited at The Center for the Arts in Jackson, Wyoming. The local partner in Jackson by thinkWY | Wyoming Humanities. As the world’s attention is focused anew on respecting women’s rights, and while there is an increasing need for developing understanding and encouraging friendship between the peoples of the Middle East and West, I AM is an interreligious peacebuilding exhibition that is a visual celebration of the crucial role that Middle Eastern women play as guardians of peace, celebrating their strengths and rich and diverse contributions in the enduring global quest for a more harmonious and peaceful future. Designed to address stereotypes and challenge misconceptions of the "other," the I AM exhibition showcases the insights and experiences of Middle Eastern women as they confront issues of culture, religion and social reality in a rapidly changing world both in the Middle East and West. The I AM exhibition is guest curated by Janet Rady, a specialist in Middle Eastern contemporary art, and features 31 acclaimed women artists of Middle Eastern heritage from 12 countries. It will be exhibited at The Theater Gallery of The Center for the Arts in Jackson, Wyoming through February 25, 2018. An exciting schedule of programs and events are accompanying the I AM exhibition to stimulate discussion, dialogue and education, promoting further understanding.
The 31 women artists participating in I AM are premier artists of Middle Eastern origin from Muslim and Christian backgrounds and cover a broad geographic area from 12 countries. Some noted emerging artists have also been selected for participation. Each artist was invited to create one original two or three-dimensional work in any still art medium for this exhibition: painting, drawing, collage, photography, digital art, mixed media and sculpture. Read more.
Cooperation Circles: Interfaith Works, Women Transcending Boundaries
Location: Jamesville, NY, USA
This event is a collaboration between InterFaith Works, Women Transcending Boundaries and local faith communities to help spread a message of harmony and understanding by showcasing and celebrating the many faith traditions in Central New York. Hundreds of people attended last year’s event and the attendance is expected to be the same this year. The World Interfaith Harmony Assembly, which occurs during the United Nations’ World Interfaith Harmony Week, affirms that mutual understanding and interfaith dialogue help foster a culture of peace. The assembly provides an opportunity for the community to appreciate the beauty and diversity of our varied faith traditions, and to discover the many commonalities present among different faiths. There is no fee to attend the event, and a reception will follow. The temple’s upper parking lot is for handicap parking, and the lower two lots are for general parking. Overflow parking is available at Pebble Hill Presbyterian Church with a shuttle to the Synagogue that starts at 5:30 p.m. Further information can be found on the InterFaith Works’ website.
InterFaith Works of Central New York, through education, service, and dialogue, affirms the dignity of each person and every faith community and works to create relationships and understanding. Founded in 1976, InterFaith Works addresses deeply embedded social divisions leading to community action and policy change. InterFaith Works’ social service programs address the needs of and empower people who are vulnerable, low income and targets of oppression, including refugees, the elderly and the institutionalized, through direct service and educational programs. InterFaith Works is committed to the belief that all people are deserving of dignity and respect regardless of ethnicity, faith tradition, social circumstances or age. Key programs include the Ahmad & Elizabeth El-Hindi Center for Dialogue, Center for New Americans, Interfaith Initiatives and Senior Services. Women Transcending Boundaries is an egalitarian community of women from many faith and cultural traditions. Through programs, events, and social interactions, we seek to nurture mutual respect and understanding by sharing information about our diverse beliefs, customs, and practices and by working together to address our common concerns in this post-9/11 world. Our further intent is to share our personal and collective experiences with the wider community, to educate, and to serve.
Cooperation Circle: Tri-City Interfaith Council
Location: Fremont, CA, USA
Participants from over 10 faith groups will gather. There will be an information fair with booths from each tradition, There will also be small group listening circles and ethnic finger foods. Partners include: Alameda County Human Relations Commission, Fremont Human Relations Commission, and Union City Human Relations Commission. See more.
Cooperation Circle: Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County
Location: Walnut Creek, CA, USA
Come welcome and connect with our Interfaith brothers and sisters gathering from across Contra Costa County in our Sanctuary for this special service during World Interfaith Harmony Week (established by the UN General Assembly to promote harmony for the world through interfaith gatherings and dialogues). Enjoy music, prayer and short testimonials of how individual’s faith traditions have enhanced and transformed lives. Don’t miss this opportunity to contribute to harmony and draw inspiration from our shared love of Spirit through the many honorable paths. If you like, bring a 3-minute story of Interfaith harmony from your life to share. Service at 7:00pm followed by snacks and fellowship in the CommUnity Room. Partners include Unity Walnut Creek. See more.
Cooperation Circle: University of Rochester Interfaith Chapel
Location: Rochester, New York, USA
University of Rochester students will prepare a hot meal and take it to a local emergency homeless shelter to serve the residents. The REACH shelter is a temporary shelter organized by various faith communities in Rochester to provide housing for the most chronically homeless residents of Rochester who would otherwise be on the street or in tents. The REACH shelter provides housing and support services throughout our harsh winter. The students gather at the university to prepare the food and to dialogue about their shared value of service and hospitality and then go together to serve the food and interact with the residents. The students represent the variety of religious traditions that are part of our Interfaith Chapel including Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu.
This is an event that we do at least once each semester. The students find it very rewarding to engage in the dialogue amongst themselves about how their own religious or spiritual tradition informs their desire to serve those who are homeless and living in poverty. They also find it rewarding to spend time with the residents of the shelter. They serve the food and then join with the residents to enjoy the meal and engage in conversation or play games of checkers or chess or simply chat with the residents. This community service activity is one of our more popular interfaith events each semester.
SOUTHEAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
Cooperation Circles: URI Southeast Asia & the Pacific Region
Location: Mill Park, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
In the spirit of harmony, the Darebin Interfaith Council and the Whittlesea Interfaith Network are joining with thousands of partners around the globe to jointly host our UN World Interfaith Harmony Week event.
- Theme: “The Power of Love - Paying it Forward”
- Date & Time: Thursday, 8th February 2018, from 6pm–9pm
- Venue: Mill Park Library, 394 Plenty Rd, Mill Park, Vic, 3082
- Catering: Light refreshments provided
- Parking: Library car park, and along Bottlebrush Drive, The Link, and Bundy Place.
- Public transport: Bus 386, 387
Free event for the whole family. In recognition of the imperative need for interfaith relations among different faiths to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people, the United Nations proclaims the first week of February every year the World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs.
Our event will showcase several performances. There’ll be a presentation on Albert Einstein's letter to his daughter, as well as a fun interactive audience performance by the renowned Melbourne Playback Theatre Company in which people are invited to share their stories that are then instantly translated into performance. The event’s sponsors are: Darebin Interfaith Council, Whittlesea Interfaith Network, Al-Siraat College, Beacon of Hope, Darebin Ethnic Communities Council, United Religions Initiative, and the Yarra Plenty Regional Library After-dark Program. This FREE event is open to the community. All invited.
URI Cooperation Circle: Interfaith Peace Building on Natural Resources Management
Location: Oddormeanchey Province, Cambodia
Interfaith Peace Building on Natural Resources Management Cooperation Circle (CC) is part of Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT). Cambodia celebrated World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) this year from 2nd-4th February 2018 at Samroung, Oddormeanchey Province. The theme for this year was “Protect Forest, Protect Life” to promote Interfaith cooperation in Sustainable Development. This year, 2018, our topic was “Protect Forest, Protect Life.” We traveled from Phnom Penh to Oddormeanchey. On the way, we reflected on the current situation of Cambodia such as: Political, Social, Economic, Labor, Agriculture, Land grabbing, Deforestation, Drugs and other related issues. The participants raised the issues and tried to find out how to get involved in improving those issues.
The second day, we departed from Samroung Town to the Rukawan Forest and celebrated in the forest. We celebrate this event as we work on interfaith cooperation. We are willing to promote what the global network is doing, and Cambodia is part of this celebration. Ven Bun Saluth, a Monk activist, shared experiences and challenges from his movement to protect the forest. After that, the representative of each faith from Buddhist, Christian, and Muslim faiths shared their religious perspectives, which illustrated that each faith had their willingness to project, love, and care for nature. After lunch in the forest, we traveled by forest truck to visit the God Forest Care Hut, which protects forest animal life and their places for drinking water, and other forest flooding areas with guiding from the soldiers who protect the forest there. We spent about seven hours in the forest and visited the canal visit that the monk dug to protect the forest from people who would try to grab the community forest land. Read more.