Spain to host Saudi-proposed inter-faith forum

Saudi Arabia and Spain have agreed to hold an interfaith dialogue of Muslims, Jews, and Christians to be held next month in Madrid. King Abdullah had called for the dialogue. The event will take place by the Saudi-based World Muslim League on July 16th-18th. The dialogue will include Prominent figures among followers of the divine messages will take part in dialogue concerning life in human societies, international cooperation, human rights, and issues of security, peace and living together in the world.

Archbishop of Canterbury to host Muslim dialogue

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, convened the seventh Building Bridges Seminar in Rome this week. The interfaith dialogue event has brought together Muslim and Christian scholars since 2002, when hosted at Lambeth Palace by Dr George Carey, the then Archbishop of Canterbury. The seminar studied Biblical and Qur’anic texts, with a view to exchanging not just theological ideas, but scholarly techniques. A spokesperson for the Archbishop of Canterbury said: “What we see with the Muslims is they actually get quite excited about how we do our theology. You see them playing with an idea and it really is fascinating.” The seminar, which is organised in partnership with Georgetown University, ran from Tuesday to Thursday.

Muslim TV channel stages interfaith game show

Britain’s first interfaith game show is to be launched, pitting Jews against Muslims, Sikhs against Christians and Hindus against Buddhists, with contestants competing for cash prizes. Faith Off, the working title of a series on the Islam Channel, will attempt to promote good relations and mutual respect between Britain’s religious communities. Two teams of four will go head to head in each episode, answering quick-fire and general knowledge questions in the eight-part series hosted by the Muslim comedian Jeff Mirza. There will be a multiple choice current affairs segment in addition to a home or away round, where contestants can answer questions on their own faith or the opposing team’s for further points. Players will also have to identify religious figures, such as the Dalai Lama and the Pope, from blurred footage. The programme is likely to have all the elements of a traditional gameshow – a garish set, flashing lights, puns and loud buzzers – plus the added twist of headscarves, turbans and yarmulkes. Participants in the show, the makers say, will have varying degrees of knowledge. Some of the contestants responded directly to online adverts on Muslim websites, while others were found via the Islam Channel’s networks. The show is not aimed at theologians or scholars, said its producer, Abrar Hussain, who also produced the programme Model Mosque, a national competition to find Britain’s best mosque. Hussain said: “We’re living in a multifaith, multicultural society. I know a bit about Christianity but nothing about Judaism.

CAIR Partners With ‘20,000 Dialogues’

CAIR, a prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group announced that it will partner with the 20,000 Dialogues campaign to bring together Americans from different faiths in communities across the country. 20,000 Dialogues is a project of the Unity Productions Foundation (UFF), and will use films about Muslims to stimulate discussion and promote understanding. The initiative is envisioned as a way to empower everyday people to take part in a dialogue to understand Muslims and Islam through interfaith dialogue. UFF launched 20,000 Dialogues in August 2007 with a program on PBS. At present, hundreds of dialogues have been conduced across the United States.

Indonesia warns Dutch anti-Islam film can disturb interfaith harmony

The Indonesian foreign ministry warned Dutch lawmakers to forbid the release of an anti-Islam film, saying it could destroy interfaith harmony. Ministry spokesperson Kristianto Legowo said at a press conference that “(The film) will be an obstacle to attempts that we and other countries have initiated. We do not want this to occur. The Indonesian Council of Churches has also asked the Protestant Church in the Netherlands to lobby the Dutch prime minister to intervene, so as to prevent very great problems that may arise after the film’s release. The Protestant Church sent Wilders a letter in January asking to meet with him, but has not yet received a reply. In a statement on March 5th, the church said “Freedom of speech is great, but when we see what immense consequences Wilder’s film could have, also and especially abroad, then surely he has to consider not releasing the film.”

Vatican: Historic Catholic-Muslim meeting planned

Catholic and Muslim representatives will meet in Rome, in either February or March to begin a historic interfaith dialogue. Pope Benedict XVI proposed the encounter as part of his official response to Christian leaders in October, by 138 Muslim scholars. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran did not give an exact date for meeting, but said that it would take place in the spring.

UK’s first regional youth interfaith council launched

16 young people drawn from seven different faith communities in Yorkshire and Humber was officially launched as founding members of _United Faiths’, the UK’s first Regional Interfaith Youth Council this week. The group has been brought together by the Yorkshire and Humber Faiths Forum (YHFF) as part of its work to provide a voice for young people. The launch was a highlight of the YHFF’s annual conference on Thursday at the Thornbury Centre in Bradford and focused on working in partnership to create harmonious communities. Members from the Youth Council also lead a workshop at the conference on listening and engaging with young people at a local and regional level. They will continue to have an active role in the Forum’s through events such as the ‘Faith in the Media’ conference planned for April 24th 2008 which aims to challenge misconceptions and negative faith stereotypes in the media [Full-text here.->

Brussels plays home to conference on religious coexistence

An initiative for an international conference on interfaith dialogue towards global peace approved at Peace Embassy, in Brussels, Belgium. Announcing the formation of a permanent committee for inter-faith cooperation involving NGO’s, religious scholar’s, members of various religious communities, and the media to discuss such topics as extremis, intolerance, conflict resolution, terrorism, justice, and human rights. Two organizations — the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) and the Belgian and European think tank Institute of Peace and Development (INSPAD) jointly affirmed their commitment to cooperatively in launching the conference.

Religious Leaders Condemn Terrorist Acts: Fiqh Council of North America issues fatwa

Washington — Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders in the United States have joined together in an interfaith peace-building effort to condemn terrorism and the violence it causes. In supporting this initiative, the Fiqh Council of North America issued a fatwa, or religious edict, saying “there is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism.” Merle D. Kellerhals Jr. reports.

Vatican to accept Muslim dialogue call soon

The Vatican plans to respond positively to an appeal by Muslim scholars, in an unprecedented dialogue between Christians and Muslims. As of yet, the Catholic Church has not officially answered the call made last month by Muslim scholars, already hailed by many other Christian leaders. Cardinals in Rome and Vatican City asserted that Catholic leaders wanted a serious dialogue with Muslim leaders to help overcome misunderstandings. This is an opportunity the Lord has given us and put into the hearts of people to work together, said Cardinal Oswald Gracias from Mumbai. The Vatican is expected to invite a small group of scholars who signed the appeal for exploratory talks and interfaith discussion. Aref Ali Nayed, a signatory of the appeal, said Muslims understood the Vatican took time to respond and that a positive response “would be a clear sign of hope for the world.”