A Statement from the Executive Committee
PREJUDICE AND DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PEOPLE FROM MINORITY FAITH AND ETHNIC BACKGROUNDS
A statement by the Executive Committee of the Northern Ireland Inter-Faith Forum
The Northern Ireland Inter-Faith Forum, in keeping with other interfaith movements around the world, exists in order to encourage understanding and mutual respect between persons and groups from different religion and belief backgrounds. We have been concerned at recent statements made via the media which display negative and unsympathetic attitudes towards members of minority faith communities and challenge their rights as citizens in this society. We recognise that this is in part due to ignorance and limited educational opportunities to learn about our culturally diverse society, but we also acknowledge with deep regret the influence of international events that appear to promote exclusive forms of nationalism. At their worst these influences often result in racist and sectarian smears and sometimes in criminal activity such as attacks on mosques or synagogues or graveyards, or on people’s homes.
We believe in a shared and intercultural society in which members of all ethnicities, and of all faiths or none, can take part in their own community activities without fear of discrimination or attack and thereby more confidently share between communities.
We would strongly encourage people from all backgrounds to visit less familiar places of worship, and to this end we commend initiatives such as the Mosque Open Day at the Belfast Islamic Centre and similar shared events at which members of different faiths can communicate, ask questions and learn together about each other. Interfaith meetings, such as those organised by the Northern Ireland Inter-Faith Forum, the Council for Christians and Jews, Interfaith North-West and similar organisations are also excellent opportunities for cross-cultural learning.
This week (February 1st-7th) is the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week. It would be an excellent time to begin the journey of interfaith encounter and to make a positive statement to counter the negative and discriminatory voices that too often dominate public life.
6th February 2017
Harmony and Healing
Tuesday 7th February 2017 at 7.30 pm at Grosvenor Hall, Glengall Street, Belfast.
A public meeting of the NI Inter-Faith Forum in association with the Four Corners Festival 2017.
This will be an evening of interfaith encounter and celebration, focusing on music from several faith communities. The Four Corners Festival (which this year has the theme of "Our Wounded and Wonderful City") coincides with the UN World Interfaith Harmony Week.
Can musical harmony give us any clues as to the ways we can develop greater harmony in our interfaith relationships?
Please come and invite others too!
MULTI-FAITH QUIET ROOM AT BELFAST CITY AIRPORT
Hindu Temple Meeting
Members of the Northern Ireland Inter-Faith Forum joined members of the Indian Comunity for their Hawan Ceremony on 23rd February 2014, followed by an intorductory talk in the Hindu Temple and a vegetarian meal together. It was an informative occasion and an excellent opportunity for Forum members and Hindu friends to meet and share.
Inter-Faith Forum members look on during the Hindu Hawan Ceremony.
Members of the Forum learn about the Hindu Temple.
Exploring Our Faiths Together
A programme of meetings and visits during 2013-14 to renew and extend the awareness and relationships between some of the faith communities present in Northern Ireland.
Starting just after Inter-Faith Week in November 2013 the Northern Ireland Inter-Faith Forum has been marking its 20th anniversary by setting out on a series of visits to local faith communities and, where possible, to their places of meeting and worship. As in the very early period of the Forum’s existence, members of the Forum will explore the various traditions represented in membership through this combination of talks and visits. It is also as an opportunity to renew our commitment to inter-faith communication and dialogue and to renew relationships between the various faith communities present in Northern Ireland.
Each visit will take its own format, but most will include an introduction to the faith community, input from one or more speakers, opportunity for questions to a panel of members of the community and general questions and discussion.
The next meetings in this series are outlined below, with fuller details to be confirmed when available. This information will be sent out from the Forum in its regular email communications and also notified on the website.
In some cases the visit to the faith community can be combined with a visit to a place or worship or community centre, in other instances a talk and a visit may take place on separate occasions, according to the situation of each particular faith community.
Meetings that have already taken place are:
BELFAST ISLAMIC CENTRE - November 2013
INDIAN COMMUNITY CENTRE AND HINDU TEMPLE - February 2014
25th March: THE BAHA'I COMMUNITY - Venue: All Souls Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church, Elmwood Avenue, Belfast 9
7th May: THE JEWISH COMMUNITY - Venue: Belfast Synagogue, Somerton Road, Belfast 15
June (date to be confirmed): THE BUDDHIST COMMUNITY
Autumn 2014 meetings - dates to be notified
THE SIKH COMMUNITY
THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY INTER-FAITH RELATIONS IN NORTHERN IRELAND
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The latest news from the Northern Ireland Interfaith Forum.