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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Consultation on Interfaith Diapraxis Calls for Building Communities of Solidarity

Source: RDRS Bangladesh

A three-day Consultation on Interfaith Diapraxis: Building Communities of Solidarity and Mutual Interest across Faith Boundaries concluded with a "Dhaka Statement" on 10 September. The consultation was held during 8-10 September 2009 at the Centre for Development Management (CDM) in Rajendrapur, near Dhaka, Bangladesh. Organised by the Lutheran World Federation/Department for Mission & Development (LWF/DMD), the event was hosted by RDRS Bangladesh in cooperation with Bangladesh Lutheran Church (BLC) and Bangladesh Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church (BNELC). A total of fifty representatives from different religious communities (Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Buddhist) in Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Korea, Nepal, Singapore and Switzerland participated in the consultation.
The main objective of the consultation was to reflect on and affirm the importance of religious freedom in any process of peaceful coexistence. Key topics included: freedom of religion and recognition of others; building communities of solidarity and mutual interest across faith boundaries in Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Buddhist perspectives; new and creative ways of strengthening inter-religious relations and cooperation; promoting peaceful co-existence and diapraxis; the role of religious leaders in enhancing commitment to respect and value people of diverse faiths; theological foundations for diapraxis; practising diapraxis in Asian society, religious freedom in inter-communal relations; intra-communal strategy for interfaith cooperation.
At the inaugural session on 8 September, LWF Vice President Bishop Dr Munib A Younan and LWF Deputy General Secretary Rev Dr Chandran Paul Martin welcomed the participants. Bishop Younan called upon the participants to use this opportunity to issue a common statement for the rest of the world. Bishop Younan and Rev. Martin conveyed greetings from the President and the General Secretary of LWF.
Bishop Younan spoke on the role of religious leaders in enhancing commitment to respect and value people of diverse faiths. He urged religious leaders to use the power of religion to speak the truth and promote justice instead of using religion for politics.
Rev Dr Chandran Paul Martin presented the keynote paper on "Freedom of Religions and Recognition of Others'. He called on the participants to share their experiences of abuse and protection in various faith interactions and also to discuss their views on the issues.
Mr Kamaluddin Akbar, Executive Director of RDRS Bangladesh, thanked the participants and expressed gratitude to the Almighty Allah the most merciful and beneficient for this opportunity for people of all faiths to gather for the Interfaith Diapraxis. He thanked LWF as well as other organisations and individuals who worked tirelessly for holding this consultation.
Mr Kamaluddin Akbar of RDRS and Dr Dennis D Datta, Executive Director of KOINONIA Bangladesh, spoke on promoting peaceful co-existence and practising diapraxis.
Ms Sally Lim, LWF Regional Expression Coordinator for Asia, presented a vision statement and an Aide Memoir.
Prof. Dr M Shamsher Ali and Rev Martin Adhikary from Bangladesh; Dr Prabhakar Bhattacharyya from India and Dr Parichart Suwanbubbha from Thailand presented elaborate papers on the theme from Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Buddist perspectives as an affirmation to the concept of interfaith dialogue and interfaith diapraxis.
After detailed deliberations, four working groups formulated a statement which was issued at the end of the consultation. Titled as The Dhaka Statement, it appeals to faith communities to develop methodologies for interfaith diapraxis in educational institutions. It calls upon LWF to establish a networking platform in Asia for initiating and exchanging good practice of diapraxis. It calls upon the media to play a supportive role and upon governments and global bodies to engage faith communities in bringing about peace and justice.
In the concluding session, the participants expressed their common desire and commitment to implement the recommendations in their respective working areas.
he consultation ended with a clarion call to all religious and community leaders, governments and global bodies to make faith communities a driving force for achieving justice, tolerance, peaceful coexistence and reconciliation in all spheres of life.

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