Social Cohesion Minister highlights Guyana’s religious diversity
World Interfaith Harmony Week
By Devina Samaroo
Social Cohesion Minister Amna Ally, in her message to the nation in observance of World Interfaith Harmony Week 2016, charged all Guyanese to embrace their cultural and religious diversity in order to overcome the various hurdles in life with the aim of achieving the highest levels of social cohesion.
Social Cohesion Minister Amna Ally
Interfaith Harmony Week provides the ideal opportunity for interfaith and other groups of goodwill throughout the world to demonstrate what a powerful movement they are in effecting change within their communities.
The Social Cohesion Minister, in her charge to the nation, commended those local organisations that have embarked on initiatives in observance of the World Interfaith Harmony Week 2016 and have contributed year-round to promoting unity.
Ally noted that Guyana has always been a country with a deep reverence for God and as the country continued to develop, there was an increasing role for religion and goodwill in fostering social cohesion.
“We know once social cohesion as an approach to development is advanced, there would be greater opportunities for citizens to be included in processes. Their participation would enable them to have a sense of belonging to their communities and by extension to Guyana,” she said.
On that note, the Minister underscored that the faith-based organisations and other interfaith partners in Guyana, therefore, had significant roles in advocating for and taking action to advance communities.
“I urge you to be active as agents of change at the local and national levels, for the benefit of your respective gathering, congregations, members, constituents…,” she said.
Moreover, Ally addressed the current discourse on prayers in schools and reiterated that Government respected the right of all persons to worship God as they please.
“It is a constitutional right. Our dynamics are particularly peculiar in Guyana, because of the myriad of cultures, religious persuasions, ethnicities and all those variables, which cause us to be diverse. There would be a conclusion to this discussion and I am sure, here again you have roles to play as Guyana’s interfaith community,” Ally stated.
World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the United Nations General Assembly on September 23, 2010, and was subsequently unanimously adopted by the United Nations.
It had its genesis in “The Common Word Initiative”, which in 2007, called for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in dialogue based on two fundamental religious principles and by extension Commandments – Love of God and Love of the Neighbour. It was agreed on with the understanding that neither side would compromise any of its religious tenets.
The theme, “Love of the Good and Love of the Neighbour’ is commonly used and embraces fundamental theological principles, and, therefore, all mankind of goodwill can be included in the observances.
World Interfaith Harmony Week is celebrated from February 1-7 every year.