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National interfaith forum

11 February 2005

National interfaith forum to consider initiatives to reduce conflict

A major national interfaith forum in Auckland this weekend will consider how interfaith groups can work with governments to reduce conflict.

The forum, which is being organised by the Auckland Interfaith Council, is being held in four separate venues: the Shri Swaminarayan Hindu Temple and Cultural Complex in Avondale, the Auckland Baha'í Centre in Glen Innes, the Ponsonby Mosque and the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Parnell. The forum will culminate with a public festival of religions and cultures in the Cathedral forecourt on Sunday afternoon.

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said that he and other delegates to last December's regional Dialogue on Interfaith Cooperation in Indonesia will report to the forum about the outcomes of the meeting.

"The delegates had positive discussions on the Indonesia dialogue with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Hon Phil Goff, last week. We will be presenting a number of recommendations from this meeting to the forum in Auckland for consideration," Mr de Bres said.

The recommendations include:
* Continuing a process of regional interfaith dialogue with Asian and Pacific governments to address the causes of religious conflict;
* Establishing a New Zealand process for ongoing dialogue at the regional and national level;
* Creating a forum dialogue between the government and interfaith groups;
* Developing a national statement on religious tolerance.

Mr de Bres said Mr Goff had encouraged dialogue and endorsed the establishment of an interfaith network that could engage with government agencies. Mr de Bres said he would put those proposals to this weekend's forum.

"The Human Rights Commission has a statutory role to encourage the maintenance and development of harmonious relations between individuals and among the diverse groups in New Zealand society. Facilitating government and interfaith cooperation to reduce religious conflict is consistent with that role", Mr de Bres said.

Last December's regional dialogue on interfaith cooperation was attended by interfaith delegations from New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Vietnam.

The New Zealand delegation comprised Dr Manuka Henare (delegation leader), Dr Ghazala Anwar, Joris de Bres, Dr Ashraf Choudhary, Javed Khan, Professor Paul Morris, Bishop Richard Randerson, Rev Bob Scott, Rev Sylvia Tongotongo, and Rabbi Michael Weisser.


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