The role of interfaith education in promoting religious tolerance

Remarks made at the OSCE’s Human Security Committee meeting, Vienna, 5 June, 2018.

 

Your Excellencies, distinguished participants, thank you for the invitation….

 

I read with interest the concept note which was circulated prior to this meeting, the emphasis on preventing intolerance stood out and gave me an opportunity to reflect on the journey that the organisation which I work for, the Faith and Belief Forum, has been on over the last 20 years.

 

I was invited here to provide some context as to how interfaith can be a tool for promoting inter-religious tolerance, however, I would like to begin by telling the story of the organisation as in many ways that illustrates the challenges and opportunities presented by interfaith education work.

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Nine months in the life of 3FF

Who would have thought that nine months could go by so quickly! It seems like only yesterday that Rachel Silveira and I were discussing her hand over to me, and now, well, now the roles are reversed and come early September Rachel will be back in post as Deputy Director.

One of the things that I was responsible for while in post was collating our latest Annual Report which will shortly be with the Charity Commission, and rather than rehashing the highlights featured in that report, I thought it would be nice idea to share with you some of my personal highlights of the last nine months. So, in no particular order here come my top five as not featured in the Annual Report. Continue reading

Working for change locally and internationally

Last month I was fortunate to be a delegate at the seventh annual United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Global Forum having been selected to share my reflections of the UNAOC Fellowship programme of which I am an alum and you can read about my travels at my blog, here. The Global Forum is an annual event which brings together individuals, organisations, Government Officials and academics working on questions of Intercultural dialogue for three days of meetings, workshops and discussions. If nothing else, it is a fascinating opportunity to gauge where the sector is up to and to reflect on the place of 3FF in the sector. Continue reading

Bound for Baku

I am sitting in Istanbul airport sipping cherry juice (from a can, nothing too exotic or decedent), waiting for my connecting flight to Baku. It should be leaving in about two hours.

 

I am on my way to the grandly named Baku Forum which is an initiative of the UNAOC (it’s the seventh of these jamborees for those who are interested).

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How can interfaith help when tragedy strikes?

“It’s a condition of the times, this compulsion to hear how it stands with the world, and be joined to the generality, to a community of anxiety. The habit’s grown stronger these past two years; a different scale of news value has been set by monstrous and spectacular scenes. The possibility of their recurrence is one thread that binds the days. The government’s counsel – that an attack in a European or American city is an inevitability – isn’t only a disclaimer of responsibility, it’s a heady promise … Just as the hospitals have their crisis plans, so the television networks stand ready to deliver, and their audiences wait. Bigger, grosser next time. Please don’t let it happen. But let me see it all the same, as it’s happening and from every angle, and let me be among the first to know.”
                                                                                                    Saturday, Ian McEwan

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Reflections Post Paris

Friday was the end of my second week since taking up the post of Deputy Director; it had been a long and busy week – attending planning meetings for our Arts and Culture programme, strategy sessions with the team, writing funding proposals for new work, in many ways a typical week. By the time I went to sleep that evening though it was becoming clear that the week was anything other than typical. Continue reading