World Interfaith Harmony Week: Message from President Sampaio

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By ISABELLE | Published: 24 JANUARY 2012

Message from the United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations on the World Interfaith Harmony Week, From 1 to 7 February 2012

Dear Friends,

The UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) seeks to reduce tensions across cultural divides that threaten stability and peace among and between communities and societies. The Alliance welcomes efforts by states, civil society, and other actors to build trust and respect among diverse communities – including among religions.
We therefore welcome the UN General Assembly’s unanimous adoption on October 20th, 2010, of a Resolution establishing the World Interfaith Harmony Week, upon an initial proposal by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan on September 23rd 2010.
We note that the intent of the resolution is to be broad and inclusive, bringing together people of all religions, faiths, and beliefs.

We urge members of the Alliance of Civilizations, partners, civil society organizations, faith communities, universities, youth, and other sectors to visit the website established by the Jordanian government at www.worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com to learn more about the initiative and investigate ways in which they may promote the initiative, support it or get involved.

Furthermore, you will find below two notes prepared by the Secretariat of the Alliance that provides you with an overview of the initiative – please disseminate them to your own constituencies and partners. I thank you in advance for your kind collaboration.

Sincerely,

H.E. Mr. Jorge Sampaio, Former President of Portugal, United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations

Note 1: Background

World Interfaith Harmony Week, from 1 to 7 February 2012

On October the 20th 2010, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously established the World Interfaith Harmony Week through the adoption of a Resolution upon an initial proposal by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan on September 23rd 2010.

The UNGA Resolution on “World Interfaith Harmony Week” reaffirms that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace and it proclaims the first week of February of every year the World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs.

Therefore, it encourages all States to support, on a voluntary basis, the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s Churches, Mosques, Synagogues, Temples and other places of Worship during that week based on Love of God and Love of the Neighbor, or based on Love of the Good and Love of the Neighbor, each according to their own religious traditions or convictions.

“The World Interfaith Week Harmony” is underpinned by the idea that there is a lot to be done by:
(1) ‘Co-ordinating and uniting the efforts of all the interfaith groups doing positive work with one focused theme at one specific time annually, thereby increasing their collective momentum and eliminating redundancy.
(2) Harnessing and utilizing the collective might of the world’s second-largest infrastructure (that of places of worship — the largest being that of education) specifically for peace and harmony in the world: inserting, as it were, the right ‘software’ into the world’s religious ‘hardware’.
(3) Permanently and regularly encouraging the silent majority of preachers to declare themselves for peace and harmony and providing a ready-made vehicle for them to do so. Moreover, if preachers and teachers commit themselves on the record once a year to peace and harmony, this means that when the next inter-religious crisis or provocation occurs, they cannot then relapse into parochial fear and mistrust, and will be more likely to resist the winds of popular demagoguery.’

Your help is very much needed. Specifically, we need and gratefully ask you to:
(1) Write a personal email or letter of support for this initiative and post it at www.worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com at the appropriate place.
(2) Forwarding an email to all those on your email list who you think might be interested in it and them to their friends and so on as much as possible.
(3) Posting any resources you think would be important to the theme of the World Interfaith Harmony Week at www.worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com at the appropriate place.
(4) Organizing an event as simple as a sermon or a lecture or an event on the first week of next February on the theme of Interfaith Harmony.
(5) Recording your event at www.worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com at the appropriate place according to your own country.
(6) Consult the United Nations’ Alliance of Civilizations website (www.unaoc.org) to find inspiration to develop your own project for the 2012 world interfaith harmony week.

Note 2: Get involved!

The World Interfaith week Harmony between all religions, faiths and beliefs aims at celebrating Love of God and Love of the Neighbor or Love of the Good and Love of the Neighbor, each according to the various religious traditions or convictions.

By uniting all interfaith groups and faith communities — those consisting of hundreds of members as well as those of very few — but also by binding together all the world’s citizens of good will and by uniting our efforts between East and West, North and South, our combined efforts will have a greater impact for good.

From 1 to 7 February 2012, let us
– Use the second largest historical infrastructure on earth – places of worship – to help cement religious leaders in promoting interfaith harmony.
– Use schools – all kinds and levels – and classrooms to help disseminate among youth a culture of peace, respect, tolerance, harmony and human dignity.
– Use public zones of encounter – market places, parks, libraries, museums, community centers – to celebrate interfaith harmony and world peace.
– Use the workplace to organize a common event to enhance people’s knowledge, more tolerant attitudes and mutual respect.
– Use new technologies of information and communication, media and new media to help disseminate stories on the implementation of this initiative and make the headlines.
– Use this week to demonstrate that people from different communities can come together in harmony to serve a common humanity
– Use any other opportunities to implement this initiative and contribute to enlarge its scope.

Plan and organize your event and register it on the website
www.worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com

For additional information, please contact Helena Barroco, High Representative for UNAOC’ office in Lisbon, hbarroco@netcabo.pt

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