RfPUK has been preparing to set up the UK chapter of Interfaith Youth Network and our European colleagues have been most graciously helping us along the way. On the 3rd December, the culmination of a long period of preparation work reached maturity and the summit at Taplow Court organised by the European Interfaith Youth Network, and the event heralded the inception of the UK Interfaith Youth Network.
The summit included representatives from many faiths coming from UK, Italy, France, Germany, Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria, Finland, Poland, and Israel. The wealth of knowledge and dedication of these young people will contribute greatly to the building up of the UK chapter and we are looking forward very much to the continuation of formation work in 2017.
The Buddhist participant Gabrielle Westhead, representative from Soka Gakkai International-UK (SGI-UK) – the lay Nichiren Buddhist organisation, writes:
….. (UKIYN is) still very much in its infancy, it is already a great cause for multireligious youth from organisations in the UK, including members of Soka Gakkai-UK, Coexister, Focolare, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, National Hindu Student Forum UK, Pandava Sena and the Student Christian Movement UK, to unite and contribute to coexistence and peace here in the UK. It will develop its vision into the new year and invites UKreligious and interreligious youth organisations to consider joining the network.
Zoroastrian participant Khushnuma Anklesaria from the Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe reports:
A brief introduction to Taplow Court and Soka Gokkai UK national centre was given by Robert Harrap. The Soka Gokkai Taplow Court centre is the sponsor for the Taplow Court Summit. SGI President Daisaku Ikeda conveyed the message that human encounter is a precious resource for us to develop ourselves.
This introduction was followed by Jehangir Sarosh (Secretary General of European Council of Religious Leaders / Executive Director of RfPUK) who presented his talk on “Religions for Peace – multi-religions share vision of peace.”
Mr Sarosh felt that developing trust after encounter will bring us to common ground and we can work towards bringing positive common action. He feels that the purpose of a new youth network is to motivate and mobilise the moderates to bring about Peace.
Jamie Cresswell (RfPUK Chairman / President of the European Buddhst Union) gave a presentation on “Religious imperative of welcoming the other.”
Mr Cresswell suggested that by welcoming the “other” we can create harmony amongst diversity. Religions should exist to serve people, people don’t exist to serve religion. We should acknowledge past mistakes that have been made in the name of religion and stand up to reject them, and we should promote toleranc
e and solidarity through which we can offer happiness and friendship.
Adam Deen (Managing Director of Quilliam Foundation) gave a speech on “Pathways of Extremism”
Mr Deen was previously a senior member of the Islamist extremist organisation Al-Mujajiroun and used universities as a key source of recruitment. He became disillusioned with extremists beliefs and soon broke away. Mr Deen is campaigning for a reformed understanding of Islam and has started a project called Extreme Dialogue which aims to build resilience against radicalisation among young people.