Beirut skyline captures religious rivalry and harmony

In Al Arabiya (English)

In Beirut’s rapidly evolving skyline, a newly built cathedral bell tower has risen next to the soaring minarets of a landmark mosque, symbolizing both religious coexistence and competition in a city split by sectarian war from 1975 to 1990.

The new bell tower of the 19th century Saint George Cathedral is Beirut’s tallest at 72 metres (236 feet) – the same height as the four minarets of the Mohammad al-Amin mosque that has dominated the city skyline since it was built over a decade ago.

Topped with an enormous cross that lights up at night, the bell tower was inaugurated at the weekend after a decade of construction.

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In Show Of Unity, Pope Francis Marks 500th Anniversary Of Protestant Reformation

In NPR

Pope Francis arrived in Sweden on Monday for services marking the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation that split Lutherans and Catholics.

He arrived in the southern city of Malmo, and is scheduled to attend an event withleaders of the Lutheran World Federation on Monday afternoon. He will also lead a service at a Lutheran Cathedral in the city of Lund, and a Mass at the arena in Malmo on Tuesday.

Sweden is a secular, majority-Lutheran country. Some 72 million people belong to the Lutheran church worldwide, according to the Lutheran World Federation. The Vatican estimates about 1.2 billion people have been baptized in the Catholic church.

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Nicholson and Makhzoumi Honored at Historic Westminster Hall

Last week in historic Westminster Hall, UK Parliament, we presented medals to two Business & Interfaith Peace award-winners who couldn’t make it to the Rio ceremony:Baroness Emma Nicholson (pictured on right) and Dr. Fouad Makhzoumi (pictured on left) with RFBF President Brian Grim.

The Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards recognize business leaders – current or past CEOs – who have demonstrated leadership in championing interfaith understanding, religious freedom and peace. The Awards are a partnership initiative of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF), and the United Nations Global Compact Business for Peace (B4P) platform, with collaboration from the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.

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Syria: Church Leaders Bring Children’s Call for Peace to European Leaders

From The Zenit

“The more we Christians are united in our defense of peace and in our support, in particular of children in need, the stronger our voice and the more effective our efforts”

Belgium, 10th to 12th October: Brussels (European Union) Present the children’s letters and pictures from Syria to the political leaders in Brussels.
Over the last few days, more than one million Syrian children in over 2,000 schools across the country have signed an appeal for peace, written letters to political decision makers and made drawings - see you pictures. 
As “Ambassadors of the Children”, Patriarch Gregorios III, the head of the Melkite Greek Catholic church, as well as Metropolitan George Abou Zakhem of Homs, who will represent the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, and Bishop Selvanos Boutros Al Nemeh of Homs of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate will travel together to Brussels and Geneva from 10 to 13 October to present the children’s letters and drawings to high-ranking representatives of the European Union and United Nations. Among others, the church representatives will meet with the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, and the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz. In Geneva, they will give the children’s messages to the High Commissioner for Refugees, Dr Filippo Grandi, and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Al-Huzain. 
On the lepft: His Beatitude Patriarch Gregorios III Laham, Metropolitan George Abdou Zakhem of Homs, Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Al-Neme, (second row) Mark von Riedemann, Marcela Syzmanski, Fr. Oliver Picquillon, the Secretary General of COMECE (Commission for European Bishops Conferences)

From Left To Right: Bishop Selvanos Boutros Al Nemeh, Metropolitan George Abou Zakhem And Patriarch Gregorios III

Acting as “Ambassadors of the Children,” three prominent Syrian Church leaders—Patriarch Gregorios III, the head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church; Greek Orthodox Metropolitan George Abou Zakhem of Homs; and Syrian Orthodox Bishop Selvanos Boutros Al Nemeh of Homs—are this week visiting EU and UN officials, respectively in Brussels and Geneva.

They are carrying close to a million Syrian school children’s signatures on a petition for peace in their country as well as countless drawings expressing the youngsters’ longing for peace, which were formally presented in the Belgian capital to the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, and the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz.

In Geneva, they will present the children’s messages to the High Commissioner for Refugees, Dr. Filippo Grandi, and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Al-Huzain.

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Keynote Speakers for the 2016 International Conference on Ethnic and Religious Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding, New York City

From The International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation

The International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation (ICERM) is holding its  2016 Annual International Conference on Ethnic and Religious Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding in New York City.  The conference, open to the public, will be held from November 2nd to November 3rd.

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The conference is open to the public. To register, please visit the conference website

‘ICERM believes that conflicts involving religion create exceptional environments where both unique barriers (constraints) and resolution strategies (opportunities) emerge. Regardless of whether religion exists as the source of conflict, ingrained cultural ethos, shared values and mutual religious beliefs have the ability to substantially affect both the process and outcome of conflict resolution.

Relying on various case studies, research findings, and practical lessons learned, the 2016 Annual International Conference on Ethnic and Religious Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding aims to investigate and promote the shared values in the Abrahamic religious traditions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The conference is intended to serve as a proactive platform for a continued discussion on and dissemination of information about the positive, prosocial roles that religious leaders and actors with shared Abrahamic traditions and values have played in the past and continue to play in strengthening social cohesion, peaceful settlement of disputes, interfaith dialogue & understanding, and the mediation process. The conference will highlight how the shared values in Judaism, Christianity and Islam could be utilized to foster a culture of peace, enhance the mediation and dialogue processes and outcomes, and educate the mediators of religious and ethno-political conflicts as well as policymakers and other state and non-state actors working to reduce violence and resolve conflict.’

Read more on ICERM’s conference here→

Evangelical Christian, Muslim Translator Publish Quran With 3,000 Bible References

From The Christian Post

Safi Kaskas (R) and Dr. David Hungerford (L).

Looking to dispel the notion that Islam is an inherently violent religion, a Muslim entrepreneur and an evangelical doctor have come together to create a new translation of the Quran that includes over 3,000 references to the Bible in an attempt to show Americans the commonalities between Islam and Christianity.

Safi Kaskas, a Muslim Lebanese-born strategic management executive and co-founder of East-West University in Chicago, and Dr. David Hungerford, a Christian orthopedic surgeon with over 38 years experience at Johns Hopkins University and The Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, released The Qur’an — With References to the Bible: A Contemporary Understanding earlier this year.

As both Kaskas and Hungerford have deep knowledge of their respective religious texts and serve on the board of the Bridges to Common Ground organization, they felt the need to show that the Quran does not encourage Muslims to senselessly kill non-Muslims in the name of Allah but rather calls on Muslims to find a way to coexist with non-Muslims in peace.

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Local Malaysian governments told to support interreligious forums

From The Jakarta Post

Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo (right) talks about electronic identity cards (E-KTP) at the Ombudsman headquarters in Jakarta

MALAYSIA- Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo has urged regional administrations to provide more room for the involvement of the Inter-Religious Harmony Forum (FKUB) in the decision-making processes of in their respective regions.

“The [FKUB] should always be involved in discussions and their advice should always be heeded in the process of public policy making at the local level,” Tjahjo said at a FKUB national coordination meeting on Thursday.

Strengthening cooperation between various religious communities in public policy making is important, both to ensure religious harmony and to anticipate possible conflicts, Tjahjo said.

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Interfaith Prayer Service in Westfield, New Jersey Draws Hundreds

From TAP into Westfield

WESTFIELD, NJ

About 600 people attended the third annual Union County Day of Prayer

Nearly 600 people attended came to the Parish Community of St. Helen, in Westfield New Jersey,  Wednesday evening, October 5 for “Day of Prayer and Reflection: Honoring People of All Faith Communities” sponsored by Union County Interfaith Coordinating Council and Community Access Unlimited, an organization that provides community access through person-centered support services for adults and adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities and at-risk youth.

Members of the clergy offered prayers and encouraged participants to look at each other as brothers and sisters and to stand up against bigotry and intolerance. Dr. Mohammad Ali Chaudry of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge urged everyone present to sign a pledge to “stand up for the other” that reads:

While interacting with members of my own faith or ethnic community, or with others, if I hear hateful comments from anyone about members of any other community, I pledge to stand up for the other and challenge bigotry in any form.

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Durga Puja 2016, Happy Navratri

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Mother Durga (Maa Durga), the Divine Shakti (Feminine Energy/Power) represents the power of the Supreme Being. She preserves moral order and righteousness in the creation.  She protects mankind and her devotees from evils, negative forces, and safeguards them.

Mother Durga was created by Lord Vishnu as a Warrior Goddess to protect good people (devas) for fighting the demons. She received blessings by various gods in the form of weapons and emblems (mudras). Therefore, Her Divine Shakti/power contains the combined energies of all the gods.

Her 8 hands carrying different kinds of weapons which represent Her 8 Golden teachings:1. Dharma/Righteousness
2. Happiness
3. Discrimination
4. Character & Moral Values
5. Detachment
6. Love, Devotion & Surrender
6. Courage
8. Forgiveness & Her Blessings

Goddess Durga is the removal of our miseries and pains and giver of Shakti, Bhakti and Mukti- Power, Love and Liberation. Let’s pray to Her asking to remove all of our imperfections and faults, purify our minds and hearts (Self-purification), and develop divine qualities (Self-Transformation). Thus we become receptacles of Mother Druga’s Grace and Her blessings of ultimate health, happiness, peace & abundance and experience Her Divine Shakti – Anandamayi Shakti (Self-Realization).
Courtesy of Jai Mata Ji