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SGI News: Global activities for peace, education and culture

Three Faiths Community Project

photo The launch of the Three Faiths Community Project  [Edilaine di Muro]

In response to issues facing U.K. society--Islamophobia, polarization between Christianity and Islam and tensions between white and black people--SGI-UK embarked in January of this year on a project that seeks to create friendship based upon dialogue, to facilitate the forging of bonds of trust at the deepest level between people of different faiths.

The Three Faiths Community Project, involving 24 young Muslims, Black Christians and SGI Buddhists from South London aged 18-26, was initiated by the SGI-UK external relations committee and is supported by a grant from the Home Office under its Community Cohesion program. The aim has been to develop a respectful framework in which young people can transcend differences and create a new and dynamic kind of active citizenship.

The participants have met regularly over the past six months in workshops that include reflections on themselves, their backgrounds and the nature of their faith, and frank discussions of stereotypes and assumptions they had about each other. This enabled them to develop joint visions of how to transform their communities, workplaces and colleges.

For the participants it has been a life-changing experience, which has motivated them into organizing a conference on community cohesion in the autumn of this year.

"Getting to know people from different backgrounds and religions helps sever the negative stereotypes and assumptions I had about them," stated one participant, a Christian woman. A Muslim participant affirmed: "This process enabled me to strengthen my own faith and identity as a Muslim man whilst at the same time reaching out and embracing both Christian and Buddhist traditions. I did not have to compromise or deny myself." And an SGI participant commented: "What I have learned from this project is community togetherness means being a protagonist and protecting the whole community."

The minister responsible for Community Cohesion, Parmjit Dhanda MP, invited the group to the Houses of Parliament to discuss the project, exploring their experiences, insights and thoughts on community cohesion.

The final aspect of the project will be a conference organized by the group to open up further discussion on three themes: young people and crime; young people, schooling and education; and community cohesion.

A short DVD is available from David Woodger: d.woodger@gold.ac.uk.

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