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Geneva inter-religious weekend "Religious identities: for better or for worse?"

27 October 2005

Does the quest for religious identity, evident in many places around the world today, lead inevitably to opposition to other religious traditions? And how, in contexts of religious and cultural plurality, can we move beyond tolerance to positive respect between religions?

During the weekend of 12-14 November, a series of events - public panel discussion, youth forum, international colloquium, inter-faith celebration, cultural exhibition - will offer the Geneva public an opportunity to explore avenues towards better mutual understanding and acceptance of religious and cultural diversity.

Various prominent Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim personalities in the field of inter-religious dialogue, as well almost 100 young people from all over Europe and the Middle East, have been invited to attend the events, jointly organized by the Geneva Inter-religious Platform and the World Council of Churches (WCC).

Entitled "My neighbour's faith and mine. Religious identities: for better or for worse?", the three-day weekend has been designed in an effort to respond to contemporary criticisms of religions, accused of neglecting the spiritual and being at the root of numerous conflicts.

The weekend will include the following events:

- Public panel discussion on the theme of religious identities

Saturday 12 November, 20:00, Salle Frank-Martin

Speakers include Ruth Dreifuss, former president of Switzerland; Rabbi Marc-Raphael Guedj, former chief rabbi of Geneva; Larbi Kechat, Algerian sociologist and rector of the Adda'wa mosque in Paris; Jean-Claude Basset, Geneva Inter-religious Platform founder; and Lama Nèldjorpa Wangchouk, a Tibetan monk.

- Two-day youth interfaith forum: "Generations talk about identity"

Saturday 12 November, 09:00-18:00,& Sunday 13 November, 10:00-16:00, Ecumenical Centre

For young people between the ages of 18-35 from Geneva, Europe and the Middle East. Speakers include French rap singer Abd Al Malik and Perry Schmidt-Leukel, Glasgow University theology professor.

- Interfaith celebration

Sunday 13 November, 18:00,Saint Peter's Cathedral

Open to the general public, the celebration will feature a Bosnian multi-faith choir "Pontanima", Hindu classical dance and music, symbolic acts, and a pledge to promote peace and dialogue.

- International colloquium: "An end to tolerance?"

Monday 14 November, 09:15-17:30, Ecumenical Centre

Speakers include Rita Gross, a Buddhist from the USA; Mahinda Deegalle, a Buddhist from Sri Lanka; Larbi Kechat, a Muslim from France; Rashied Omar, a Muslim from South Africa; Ravin Ramdass, a Hindu from South Africa; Anant Rambachan, a Hindu from Trinidad/USA; Samuel Kobia, WCC general secretary; and Hans Ucko, WCC programme executive for Inter-religious Relations and Dialogue.

- Performance by Konya whirling dervishes from Turkey

Monday 14 November, 20:00, Salle Frank-Martin

A background text on the challenges of religious pluralism, "Fortresses into wellsprings. Soothing the thirst for spirituality, affirming human dignity", identifies dangers and resources for "a spirituality that would nourish and sustain our lives in the complex, pluralistic and ever-changing world," and includes a number of affirmations and "acts of commitment".

Both the WCC and the Geneva Inter-religious Platform are active in Geneva, and have a mission to foster dialogue and understanding among different faiths. Since 1992, the Platform has been providing an informal meeting space for the many traditions and confessions which live side by side in the Geneva area while the WCC has been involved in the field of inter-religious dialogue for over thirty years.

The inter-religious weekend is being organized with the support of Pictet & Cie.

More information on the 12-14 November inter-religious encounter, including the programme and the background text, is available on the WCC website at:

wcc-coe.org/wcc/what/interreligious/vivre-ensemble.html

Media contact: Elisabeth Wilson  41-79-434-2744