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Goff names NZ delegation to inter-faith dialogue

Hon Phil Goff Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

3 December 2004

Goff names NZ delegation to inter-faith dialogue

Ten eminent New Zealanders will travel to Indonesia next week to take part in an inter-faith dialogue aimed at fostering cooperation and countering destructive religious extremism, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

“Community and religious leaders from 14 countries in the region will meet in Yogyakarta next Monday and Tuesday to consider practical ways of strengthening relations between faiths,” Mr Goff said.

"The great religions of the world share many common values and a common concern for the betterment of humanity. We must not allow a minority of extremists to turn religious differences into a clash of civilisations and to highjack religion to make it a rallying call or intolerant and violent.

"This meeting will encourage leaders to come together to discuss how they, and we, can promote tolerance, mutual respect and harmony between people of difference religion, cultures and ethnic origins.

“The 10 New Zealanders who will take part in this gathering are well qualified to make a strong contribution. They include religious leaders and also people with practical experience in fostering inter-community relations.” Mr Goff said the dialogue developed from an Indonesian and Australian initiative raised at an ASEAN meeting in July during a discussion about terrorism. It had since developed into a broader exercise aimed at fostering inter-faith cooperation and understanding.

“This dialogue represents the first time that so many countries in our region have come together for such a discussion. We hope it might become part of a bigger and possibly broader, regular inter-faith dialogue that will involve other New Zealanders with skills and wisdom to offer,” Mr Goff said.

New Zealand's delegation is: Dr Ghazala Anwar, Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Canterbury University; Mr Joris de Bres, Race Relations Commissioner; Dr Ashraf Choudhary, MP; Dr Manuka Henare, Associate Dean of Maori and Pacific Development, University of Auckland; Mr Javed Kahn, President, Islamic Associations in New Zealand; Professor Paul Morris, Professor of Religious Studies, Victoria University; Rt Rev Richard Randerson, Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland; Rev Bob Scott, Anglican Church, Auckland; Rev Sylvia Tongotongo, Methodist Church, Auckland; Rabbi Michael Weisser, The Progressive Jewish Congregation of Auckland.

ENDS

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