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World Faith: The Interfaith Service Network

Christians in Middle East foster Inter-Religious Dialogue for Peace 11 May , 2011

Christians in Lebanon and Syria are concerned about what is happening between Christians and Muslims in Egypt and its impact on the region, says a Lebanese Presbyterian educator.

“Stories from Egypt scare us that a focus on religious issues will create enmity between peoples,” says Najla Kassab who works with a church-based education programme serving parishes in Lebanon and Syria.

Kassab believes that violence in Egypt on Saturday – when 12 Christians were killed by Muslims and two churches burned – raises the need for churches to play a role in reconciliation and dialogue in the wake of the revolutions that are sweeping countries in the Middle East.

“We are at a time of questioning how change can happen in our diverse countries in a healthy way,” Kassab says. “Churches can help create opportunities for change through dialogue rather than violence.”



Turkish Cultural Center in Metairie Promotes Dialogue, Communication

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James Conrad knew nothing about the country of Turkey or its culture until he was invited to participate in an intercultural dinner at the Turkish Cultural Center in Metairie.

“I’m very interested in other countries, but my knowledge of Turkey was limited at the time,” said Conrad, a resident of Algiers Point and a history instructor at Delgado Community College. “After going to the center just one time, I was overwhelmed by the hospitality of the Turkish people, their culture and their food.”

Conrad was so fascinated that he became a volunteer at the center. And last year, he went on one of the center’s 10 annual trips to Turkey.

The Turkish Cultural Center, operated by the Atlas Foundation, is located at 3435 West Esplanade Ave., Metairie. It is a nonprofit organization established in New Orleans in 2002 by the Turkish-American community and other volunteers.



Pakistanis, Indians share peace prize 24 February , 2011

The Acha Star Awards for 2010 have been presented to two Pakistanis and four Indians for their work — Dr. Mohammad Arif (Varanasi), Jatin Desai (Mumbai), Ashfaq Fateh (Toba Tek Singh), Faisal Khan (New Delhi), Dilafrose Qazi (Srinagar), and Awais Sheikh (Lahore).

The awards, instituted by the Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (Acha), were initiated as the annual Acha Star Awards in 1996. They are now given every two years after a selection process that begins with inviting nominations (self-nominations are not accepted).

Acha is a 17-year old Oregon-based non-profit, non-political organisation that monitors peace and harmony work around the globe and also works to promote peace and interfaith harmony.

Ashfaq Fateh has been engaged since 1992 in efforts to bring together Muslims and Christians in Pakistan. As chairperson for the Harmony Foundation and principal of a high school he has inspired and organised programmes in schools to promote peace, gender equality, and religious harmony. In June 2010, he led a group of students to the Wagah border as part of the Aman Ki Asha Peace handkerchiefs initiative.


From the Huffington Post: Evangelicals and Muslims Loving God, Each Other, and the World Together? 23 February , 2011

If asked to identify factions clawing at each other’s religious throats on the American and world stage, who would you cite? Protestants vs. Catholics? Muslims vs. Jews and Hindus? In popular consciousness, Evangelical or evangelistically minded Christians and Muslims are two plausible contenders. Controversial publicity alleges unwelcome proselytizing by the U.S. military in Afghanistan. Christians in Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and elsewhere fear for their homes, worship spaces, and very lives, sometimes ostensibly converting to Islam in hopes of procuring greater safety. Zealous political pundit Pat Robertson observes, “The entire world is being convulsed by a religious struggle … whether Hubal, the Moon God of Mecca, known as Allah, is supreme, or … the Judeo-Christian Jehovah God of the Bible is Supreme.”

Is conflict inevitable? Fighting and fighting words aside, relations between Evangelicals and Muslims are far from uniform. More quietly but no less significantly, Evangelicals and Muslims are seeking sacred flourishing together and collaborating to alleviate human suffering.



Eboo Patel via Washington Post: From 9/11 to January 25th 16 February , 2011

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A few years ago I did a cable television interview on the youth bulge in majority-Muslim countries. It’s a huge group, I told the anchor, and they have the potential to make a really positive contribution to the world.

The images played on the screen during my interview were of young people doing training exercises at a terrorist camp – images in total contradiction to my message. I was livid. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then everything I was saying was totally drowned out. When I brought it up with one of the staff he just shrugged and said it was likely just the B-roll most readily available.
That’s when it hit me. This isn’t just a problem with the type of B-roll cable television has handy, this is a problem with the B-roll most readily available in our minds. The images that come up in too many people’s heads when they hear the terms “Muslim” or “Muslim youth” or “the Muslim world” is of suicide bombers or planes flying into the World Trade Center.

Eighteen days in Egypt changed all that.



From HuffPost: Brian D. McLaren: The Egyptian Revolution and Theological Reformation

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It’s risky to make historical comparisons. If we say, “This event is exactly the same as that event,” our comparison blinds us to the uniqueness of a historical moment. But if we say, “This event is in some ways like that event,” our comparison can help us see meaningful resonances and patterns of historical, theological, and spiritual significance.

I’ve heard a few folks offer comparisons regarding the amazing events that have unfolded in Egypt over the last few weeks, including the Tea Party (the original one in Boston, that is), the fall of the Iron Curtain, and the struggle against Apartheid. But I’ve been especially interested in comparisons to the Protestant Reformation.



Ashley Makar via CNN BeliefBlog: My Take: Why Egypt’s Christians are hopeful but nervous 10 February , 2011

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Photos from Cairo show triumphant hands in the air – some raising up Coptic Christian crosses, others holding up Qurans.

Egyptian Christians and Muslims gathered together this week to pray for those who’ve died in the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

Muslims formed a protective circle around Christians as they prayed in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Monday, just as Christian protesters had done for Muslims during last Friday’s prayers.


Frank Fredericks of World Faith: The Egyptian revolution: An interfaith movement 3 February , 2011

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Seeing the Egyptian protests on American media may lead you to believe that this is an Iranian-style revolution, with a probable result being an Islamic regime. However, when you look at the details of what is happening on the ground, this is an interfaith movement.

Since 2006, I have been frequenting Egypt, spending a month or more at a time staying and working with locals in Cairo and Alexandria. It was in Egypt when I got inspired to found World Faith, and it’s become a second home for me.

Broken messages from my Egyptian friends spiked an unparalleled mix of awe, fear and excitement. While a popular revolution was only a matter of time, the somewhat minute ignition was surprising to say the least. As we’d say, if Egypt was full of Iranians, they would have revolted 10 years ago.



Alao-Akala Calls for Religious Tolerance 2 February , 2011

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Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo State has called for mutual cooperation among all Nigerians in the effort to nip the raging sectarian crises in some parts of the country in the bud.

The governor made this call in Ibadan on Tuesday while delivering his address at the quarterly meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) meeting, held at Mapo Hall, Ibadan.

Mr Akala warned against allowing the effect of the crises to truncate the new democratic session and diminish the reputation the country has built for itself over the last few years.

“By slowing religious and communal strives to scuttle democracy and good governance, our avowed commitment to freedom at all levels will be a fluke,” he said.



Christians, Muslims Gather to Build a Common Future 5 November , 2010

Christian and Muslim leaders are gathered in Geneva for a high-level interfaith dialogue on how to build strong and sustainable relationships between the two groups and how the religious communities can use their resources to transform their communities.

The four-day event titled, “Transforming Communities: Christians and Muslims Building a Common Future,” is inspired by the historic 2007 letter by 138 Muslim scholars called, “A Common Word.” Dr. Muhammad Ahmed Al-Sharif, general secretary of the World Islamic Call Society, and His Royal Highness, Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal of Jordan, the initiator of the letter, are attending the event that is being hosted at the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Center.

“The central theme of our conference affirms that dialogue is important but that we also need to address issues of common concern and act together – putting the common good at the heart of our joint initiative so as to promote ‘dialogue in action,” said the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, in his welcome address on Monday.