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id (int32)date (unknown)city (string)region (string)country (string)related_articles (sequence)title (string)content (string)latitude (string)longitude (string)
62
"2000-09-08"
"UNITED NATIONS"
""
""
[]
"Baha'i United Nations Representative addresses world leaders at Millennium Summit"
"UNITED NATIONS — Speaking in his capacity as the Co-Chair of the Millennium Forum, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations today addressed world leaders gathered at the Millennium Summit, urging them to join in a global partnership with civil society to create a peaceful and more prosperous world. "This historic Summit may well be remembered as having opened the door to a long-awaited era of peace, justice and prosperity for all humanity," said Techeste Ahderom, who led the Millennium Forum, which brought together some 1,350 representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at the United Nations last May to consult about humanity's future in anticipation of this week's Millennium Summit of world leaders. "This new era will, of course, require concrete deeds and not just words," Mr. Ahderom continued. "We in civil society stand ready to work with you and your governments, side by side, in a strong new partnership to create this new world. At the same time, civil society also stands ready to hold you to your commitments if you do not deliver on your words." In his capacity as Co-Chair of the Millennium Forum, Mr. Ahderom was the only Summit speaker who represented civil society at large. The Summit drew more than 150 world leaders, making it the largest gathering of heads of state and government ever held. In his address, Mr. Ahderom said that the Millennium Forum, which was organized by non-governmental organizations and held 22-26 May 2000 at the United Nations, was one of the most diverse and significant gatherings of civil society ever held. "The Forum was significant for its attempt to accelerate the process among NGOs of networking and coalition building across issue areas that has proved to be such a powerful force for change and social action in today's world," said Mr. Ahderom. "The Forum's focus was on six main issues: peace and security, the eradication of poverty, human rights, sustainable development and the environment, the challenges of globalization, and "strengthening and democratizing the United Nations." Mr. Ahderom asked Summit leaders to carefully review the Millennium Forum Declaration and Agenda for Action, a document that was drafted and adopted by NGOs and civil society organizations gathered at the Forum last May, who came from some 115 countries including a large number from the developing world. The Forum's Declaration, he said, "offers a bold vision for humanity's future and outlines a series of concrete steps that the United Nations, governments, and members of civil society themselves can take to address the global problems facing humanity today." In particular, Mr. Ahderom told world leaders, the Forum's Declaration condemns global poverty as a "violation of human rights," urges the immediate cancellation of Third World debt, calls for a "strengthened and democratized United Nations" with a reformed Security Council, invigorated through an enlarged membership, more democratic procedures, and eventual elimination of the veto. Mr. Ahderom also explained that the Forum's Declaration states that while globalization offers "significant opportunities for people to connect, share and learn from each other," in its currently unregulated form it increases "inequities between and within countries, undermines local traditions and cultures, and escalates disparities between rich and poor, thereby marginalizing large numbers of people in urban and rural areas." The Declaration, Mr. Ahderom said, urges governments to make serious "commitments to restructure the global financial architecture based on principles of equity, transparency, accountability, and democracy," stating clearly that the United Nations should be the preeminent international organization, overseeing the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO. Mr. Aherdom was selected as the Co-Chair of the Forum early last year after heading up an interim planning committee that emerged from the Task Force on UN Reform of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations (CONGO). In his position as Co-Chair of the Forum, he headed up the Forum's Executive Committee and directed the work of its Secretariat, all in the capacity of an unpaid volunteer. As the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations, Mr. Ahderom is mainly responsible for the Community's work on human rights issues at the United Nations. The Baha'i International Community was recognized as an international non-governmental organization at the United Nations in 1948. It represents the worldwide membership of the Baha'i Faith at the United Nations and in other fora. The Baha'i Faith has some five million members and has established communities in more than 235 countries and territories. In addressing the Millennium Summit, Mr. Ahderom sought to tell world leaders about the Millennium Forum and its results, emphasizing the important role civil society has played in promoting positive social change. "Throughout history, from the abolition of slavery to the recognition of the equality of women and men, most great social movements have begun not with governments but with ordinary people," Mr. Ahderom said. "In 1945, civil society again played an important role in shaping many of the key articles found in the Charter of the United Nations, especially in the area of human rights." "More recently," he said, "NGOs have played a leading role in shaping and supporting an International Criminal Court, in the movement for debt cancellation, and in the International Campaign to Ban Landmines." Mr. Ahderom called on world leaders to grant NGOs and civil society groups increased access to the UN General Assembly as a first step towards an invigorated partnership for the new century. Speakers at the Summit were limited to heads of state and government, foreign ministers, along with a few leaders of international, intergovernmental organizations, such as the League of Arab States and the Commission of the European Community. A few international organizations with observer status at the United Nations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, also spoke. Mr. Ahderom, however, was the only representative to speak who represented a wide association of civil society and non-governmental organizations around the world."
""
""
63
"2000-09-17"
"UNITED NATIONS"
""
""
[]
"Baha'is around the world host interfaith prayers for peace"
"UNITED NATIONS — Baha'is around the world -- from Cote d'Ivoire to Uruguay, from Thailand to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands -- hosted interfaith prayer gatherings in their homes, schools and community centers to mark the opening of the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, which was held at the United Nations 28-29 August 2000. The prayers came in response to a call, issued on 3 August 2000, for people everywhere to observe a Day of Prayer for World Peace on the Summit's opening day. The Summit brought together more than 1,000 spiritual and religious leaders representing every major world religion in an effort to "forge a partnership of peace." Among the local and national events hosted by Baha'is in support of the Summit were: -- The Baha'is of Dominica hosted a prayer gathering in an auditorium at the University of West Indies Centre in Roseau. Prayers from 13 of the religions represented at the Summit were read, and the program closed with a quotation from "The Promise of World Peace," a statement to the peoples of the world issued in 1985 by the Universal House of Justice, the international governing council of the Baha'i Faith. -- In Mauritius, the National Spiritual Assembly invited representatives of the Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu communities to a prayer gathering at the Baha'i Institute in Belle Rose. The event was covered by the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation radio and television services. "Some 50 persons fervently joined in with their prayers in a spiritual surge for the establishment of world peace," the Assembly reported. -- In Ireland, representatives of several of the world's major faiths gathered at the Baha'i Centre in Dublin, Ireland, on 28 August to participate in a devotional program of extracts from Baha'i, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Islamic, Zoroastrian and Sikh sacred texts. Each guest was presented with a flower blossom on arrival. After devotions and music, tea was served and the representatives of the various religions learned about each other's faiths and traditions in an atmosphere of goodwill. Irish Baha'is sponsored similar events in Cavan, Fingal (a suburb of Dublin), Co. Sligo, Shannon and Waterford. Mr. Patrick Dawson (Baha’i), Dr. D. N. Puri (Sikh), Professor A. N. Pandeya (Hindu), and Ms. Janice Johnston (Religious Society of Friends) at an interfaith devotional in the Baha’i Centre in Dublin, Ireland to mark the opening of the United Nations Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders in New York on 28 August 2000.-- In Cote d'Ivoire, the Baha'is of Abidjan and Dabou invited Animist, Jewish, Catholic and Muslim representatives to pray for peace at the Cocody Baha'i Center on 28 August 2000. The Ministry of Communication sent a representative. The invitation to the event was broadcast on the national radio, on the national television evening news, and in four articles in the main national newspapers. There were readings from the Old Testament, the Bible, the Koran and the Baha'i scriptures, followed by statements on world peace by the various religious representatives. Two major newspapers sent journalists to the event, and the following day the national radio broadcast an interview with the Baha'i, Christian and Muslim representatives. Similar events were held in Danan, in Bouak, where two Imams came and the local television filmed the meeting, and in Ferke, where the Baha'is arranged a one-hour program on the local radio. -- In the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Baha'is held a devotional gathering at the Baha'i community center in Port Blair, and invited representatives of the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh communities to chant and recite prayers for world peace. About 60 people attended, and the event was covered by local newspapers and announced on the local bulletin of All India Radio. -- In Thailand, the Santitham School, a Baha'i-run primary school in Yasothon, held a gathering of about 250 students, teachers and staff to pray for world peace on 31 August 2000. Three Buddhist monks, two Muslim representatives and three Catholic nuns were invited to share their prayers with the students. The Provincial Education Officer and the director of the District Education Office also attended. The Buddhist monks prayed in Bali for compassion toward all mankind and all living beings, and the Catholic nuns prayed that all mankind be safeguarded by the love of God. Several students recited Baha'i prayers for the unity of mankind. Local radio and television stations covered the event. -- In India, the State Baha'i Council of Sikkim organised a prayer gathering at the Hotel Rendezvous in Gangtok on August 28. Although they had only four days to organise the event, the Baha'is sent out more than 100 invitations to dignitaries and religious leaders. Nearly everyone agreed to participate. The Governor of Sikkim, Choudhary Randhir Singh, attended along with representatives of the Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Sikh, and Jain communities. News of the gathering was carried on the Sikkim cable television and several local and regional newspapers. Other prayer gatherings were held at the Baha'i House of Worship in Panama City, Panama, at the Baha'i Centre in Luanda, Angola, and at the Baha'i Center in Montevideo, Uruguay."
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""
64
"2000-08-29"
"OTAVALO"
""
"Ecuador"
[]
"Youth Congress in Ecuador dedicated to service and transformation"
"OTAVALO, Ecuador — More than 500 young people from South and Central America gathered here from 9 to 14 August for a Baha'i Youth Movement Congress dedicated to "Service and Transformation: The Challenge of this Generation." It was the latest in a series of large youth gatherings that have taken place this year throughout the Americas, beginning in Paraguay in January and in El Salvador, Dominican Republic and Canada in July. Their focus has been to galvanize the youth to become catalysts for the spiritual transformation needed to break through the protracted social conflicts that afflict the continent, such as race and class prejudice, corruption, violence, poverty, and social injustice. In a letter addressed to the youth of Latin America in January, the Universal House of Justice, supreme governing body of the Baha'i Faith, called on them to become "invincible champions of justice." "Be not dismayed if your endeavors are dismissed as utopian by the voices that would oppose any suggestion of fundamental change. Trust in the capacity of this generation to disentangle itself from the embroilments of a divided society," the letter stated. The Baha'i youth movement is a global social movement that draws inspiration from the heroes and martyrs in the early history of the Baha'i Faith, many of whom were in their teens and twenties and who consecrated their lives to the spiritual regeneration of mankind. In the century and a half since the Faith was established, each generation of youth has drawn strength from their example to strive for moral excellence, good character, and service to humanity. The first day of the Congress focused on how to accelerate the transformation of Latin American society by drawing on this rich spiritual heritage. "We had a wonderful talk from Eloy Anello in which he called on us to become the 'living martyrs' of the West, to follow in the steps of our 'spiritual forebears' …and perform heroic acts," Paola Dumet, a member of the National Youth Committee of Ecuador, reported. Mr. Anello is a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors in the Americas. The talk was followed with drama and other artistic presentations that called to remembrance the lives and deeds of the early martyrs of the Faith. The second day of the Congress focused on individual transformation and the establishment of a distinctive Baha'i way of life. Workshops were held on such themes as courtship and marriage, service and family life, striving for excellence in studies and professional life, and freedom from vices and addictions. The underlying message of these workshops was that Baha'i youth can best become catalysts for social change and influence their peers by exemplifying the highest standards of moral excellence in their own lives. As stated in the Baha'i writings, such things as "chastity, politeness, friendliness, hospitality, joyous optimism about the ultimate future happiness and well-being of mankind, should distinguish them and win over to them the love and admiration of their fellow youth." The remainder of the Congress focused on the many practical lines of action open to the youth in their individual or collective efforts. The youth of the Ruhi Institute of Colombia presented a workshop on the training process that has been used in rural areas for large-scale development of human resources and moral capacity. Workshops were presented on the use of the arts, study circles, year of service opportunities (where youth offer one or two years of full-time volunteer service), and pioneering (the practice of settling in another country to assist in the development of the Baha'i community). An exposition was held for representatives of each country to present information about their activities. "One of the objectives of the Congress was to share the experiences of the other countries and widen our vision of the Baha'i youth movement and understand that what we were doing in each country is part of the Movement," Ms. Dumet said. "We were able to feel as part of a single great movement in all of the Americas." A group of youth representing all the countries present met to draft a congress declaration that was symbolically ratified on the final evening as all the youth rose to their feet. The youth were named "Spiritual Chasquis" after the term used in the Andes for the messengers who ran from one city to another carrying messages for the Inca. "In this way we all pledged to carry the message of the Baha'i Youth Movement and share it with all our generation," Ms. Dumet reported. The next morning a closing festival was held to celebrate the unity in diversity of the Latin American youth. Some of the local authorities were present, including the mayor of Otavalo who is the first indigenous elected official in Otavalo. "[The mayor] was attracted by the great diversity of the youth and the artistic presentations of young indigenous Baha'is from Ecuador and Peru," Ms. Dumet reported. As the youth bade their farewells, groups were organized for post-congress outreach campaigns throughout the country. "I think for all of us, this historic event for the future of the Baha'i Youth Movement of the Americas was something unforgettable and affected the hearts of all the participants; and most importantly we all left inspired and with energy to take concrete action in our communities," she said. The youth movement has made extensive use of the Internet for organizing and exchanging information. The Congress Web site at http://come.to/congreso-ecuador contains the Congress declaration, workshop materials, and other links and follow-up materials. Other youth movement portals include www.ibyc2000.org, www.mjb.cl, www.bahaiyouth.org, and www.bahaiyouth.com."
"0.22276364999999998"
"-78.24542744351957"
65
"2000-09-08"
"ACCRA"
""
"Ghana"
[]
"Radio project to reach more than 1 million in Ghana's Volta region"
"ACCRA, Ghana — A radio project to introduce people in Ghana's Volta region to the history and teachings of the Baha'i Faith is expected to reach an audience of more than 1 million over the course of three months. The project, which began last year in the Greater Accra region and then moved to the Central region, has now moved to the Volta region with programs airing on the Volta Star FM station since late July. "This phase of the project, like the second one held in the Central region, features 12 topics on the history, teachings and principles of the Faith," said Mr. Micah Yeahwon, coordinator of the project. "The scripts have been translated into one of the local languages, Ewe, and are being presented by a member of the National Teaching Committee who resides in the region," he said. As part of the program, a phone-in talk show will be aired in late September. The organizers of the project have seen positive reactions to the broadcasts in Hohoe, one of the larger cities in the region, and surrounding villages. "In Hohoe recently, many people who listened to our programs were seen stopping the Baha'i van to inquire more about what they had heard on the radio," Mr. Yeahwon said. "A resident of Hohoe who heard the program followed up to inquire about the Faith and has since declared his belief in Baha'u'llah. Some residents of a village called Lolobe, about 12 kilometers from Hohoe, have requested the friends of Hohoe to take the Faith to their village." A Baha'i residing in Alavanyo, another town 16 kilometers away from Hohoe, wrote to request assistance in answering all the questions he had received from inquirers. The radio programs can also be heard in parts of the Eastern, Brong Ahafo, Ashanti and Greater Accra regions. "Our information is that we have an audience in neighboring Togo, mainly on the border towns of Aflao and Lome," Mr. Yeahwon said. "It is our hope that by the end of the three-month period, the name of Baha'u'llah or the Baha'i Faith will have been heard by over one million people with some declarations of faith.""
"5.5571096"
"-0.2012376"
66
"2000-09-15"
"HAY RIVER"
""
"Canada"
[]
"Canadian Baha'is offer sacred words as gift to Native peoples"
"HAY RIVER, Canada — On September 9 the Baha'is of Hay River hosted a feast to mark the release of a compact disk with selections of Baha'i sacred writings, set to music and translated into six languages spoken by the Dene peoples in Canada's Northwest Territories. The release of the CD was the latest phase of a project launched four years ago by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Canada to enable Native Canadians to listen to the Baha'i scriptures in their own languages. A CD in the languages of the Canadian Inuit was produced two years ago. The feast was held at K'atl'odeeche, the Hay River Dene Band Reserve, and opened with a drum prayer offered by the K'atl'odeeche drummers and a traditional feeding of the fire ceremony. Ms. Susan Lyons, a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Canada, present a copy of the CD on behalf of the Baha'is of Canada to Chief Pat Martel of the Hay River Dene Band. Chief Martel received the gift and addressed the gathering at length, and with obvious emotion, in his own language. He spoke from the heart about the universal power of prayer, regardless of what source it comes from. "When people are in pain you can help them by being kind," he said. "You can pray for people. It doesn't matter who says the prayer." One of the selections on the CD was a Baha'i prayer for the departed. As it softly played in the background, one of the readers and translators who worked on the CD recited the names of friends who had passed from the community over the years. The Hay River Baha'is then served a meal of moose and caribou stew, bannock, whitefish, salads and desserts. During the meal other guests received a copy of the CD. Then tables and chairs were folded and put away for a drum dance by the K'atl'odeeche drummers. About 100 people from the reserve came to the feast over the course of the evening. "It was a spiritually charged evening with many questions asked and answered and hearts touched," a participant reported. "Listening to prayers in any language stirs one's soul, but when we hear them in our own language it increases our knowledge and comprehension of God.""
"60.8155874"
"-115.7866099"
67
"2000-09-18"
"HAIFA"
""
"Israel"
[]
"Reception Center opens for Baha'i pilgrims to the Holy Land"
"HAIFA, Israel — A new Pilgrim Reception Centre has opened here to receive Baha'i pilgrims and visitors to the Baha'i holy places in Haifa and Acre and the Faith's world administrative headquarters on Mount Carmel. Every two weeks from October through July, about 150 Baha'is arrive in Haifa to participate in the nine-day pilgrimage program. Pilgrims pray and meditate at the resting-places of the Founders of the Faith and visit other sites associated with Their lives. Baha'is around the world consider pilgrimage to the Baha'i Holy Places a sacred obligation, which they strive to fulfil at least once in their lives. The Pilgrim Reception Centre is located near the Shrine of the Bab, the resting-place of the Herald of the Faith, and opposite the Monument Gardens, where members of the family of Baha'u'llah are interred. The Centre is housed in two historic buildings that formerly served as a clinic. The larger one was built during the time of the British Mandate and the smaller structure has a more Middle Eastern appearance, with patterned ceramic floors and stone arches. Remodeling of these buildings began in July 1998. The exteriors were restored and the interiors were completely remodeled to create large, functional spaces. A pedestrian walkway was built to connect the two buildings into one complex with a total floor area of 1,069 square meters. The complex contains a reception lounge, kitchen and dining facilities, and an auditorium with seating capacity for more than 300 and booths for translators. The first Baha'i Pilgrim House in Haifa was built near the Shrine of the Bab by a Persian believer in 1909 and continued to serve as the primary gathering place for pilgrims until the new facility was completed. The Founder of the Faith, Baha'u'llah, was banished to Acre, then a prison city under Ottoman rule, in 1868 and lived in the vicinity of Acre until He passed away in 1892. He visited Haifa on several occasions and ordained that the spiritual and administrative centers of the Baha'i Faith be established on Mount Carmel. He also indicated the precise spot on Mount Carmel where the remains of the Bab should be interred."
"32.8191218"
"34.9983856"
68
"2000-10-01"
"NEW YORK"
""
"United States"
[]
"President of Ethiopia's Unity College Named "Global Young Entrepreneur""
"NEW YORK — Dr. Fisseha Eshetu, the President of Unity College and a member of the Ethiopian Baha'i community, received a "Global Young Entrepreneur" award at the 7th World Summit of Young Entrepreneurs, held at the World Trade Center from 28 August to 1 September 2000. Dr. Eshetu was one of four young entrepreneurs recognized at the summit for the growth and creativity of their enterprises and the shared prosperity they have generated. Unity College, officially inaugurated in March 1998, was the first private college to be accredited by the Ethiopian Ministry of Education. In only two years, it grew to become the largest private college in Ethiopia and the second-largest institute of higher education in the country, after Addis Ababa University. It now has an enrollment of more than 8,000 and offers courses in accounting, business administration, marketing, personnel management, hotel management and hospitality, and language training in Amharic, English and Arabic. "Ethiopia was a country where there was no hope for thousands of young people to pursue their education at the tertiary level," said Dr. Eshetu. "Unity College came into existence in response to this huge need for education. Our mission is training, research and community service." The World Summit of Young Entrepreneurs was sponsored by the Institute for Leadership Development (ILD), a United Nations global partnership institute involving governments, multinational corporations, and United Nations agencies. It was co-sponsored by United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). More than 350 young entrepreneurs attended from 97 countries. The Summit was held on the eve of the United Nations Millennium Summit as a complement to Secretary-General Kofi Annan's "global compact," ILD Executive Director Sujit Chowdhury said at a UN press briefing on August 29. One of the goals of the Summit was to offer the young entrepreneurs opportunities for access to venture capital, global markets, and international joint ventures, in the belief that developing the private sector is a key component for achieving social progress and equitable globalization. Mr. Eshetu said the college is already self-sustaining and that he plans to upgrade it to a full-fledged university by 2004. He is committed to providing scholarships to 10,000 women from poor families, and already has partial commitments from donor organizations. In September 2000 the college launched a daily, non-political newspaper with a circulation of 10,000 that focuses on social development. About two months ago the college also launched an educational radio program that airs for 20 minutes six days a week."
"40.7127281"
"-74.0060152"
69
"2000-10-06"
"NEW DELHI"
""
"India"
[]
"Jodhpur Lancers' "Haifa Day" commemorated at Baha'i House of Worship in India"
"NEW DELHI — Every year on 23 September the Indian Army commemorates Haifa Day, when two Indian cavalry brigades fighting under British General Edmund Allenby during World War I helped liberate Haifa, Israel, from Turkish-German forces in 1918. The courageous uphill assault by the Jodhpur Lancers, which took by surprise the German and Turkish artillery and machine gun emplacements on top of Mount Carmel, is also commemorated by the Haifa Monument that stands at one of New Delhi's busiest intersections. This year, for the first time, a Haifa Day commemorative event was held at the Baha'i House of Worship in New Delhi, highlighting a little-known connection between the bravery of the Indian fighters and the early history of the Baha'i Faith. One of the residents of Haifa in 1918 was 'Abdu'l-Baha, the son of the Founder of the Baha'i Faith and designated by Him as His successor. The commander of the Turkish forces in Syria and Palestine, Jamal Pasha, had threatened to crucify 'Abdu'l-Baha and destroy the Baha'i holy places in Haifa and nearby Acre. With the liberation of Haifa, the threat to 'Abdu'l-Baha's life was lifted. This link between the Jodhpur Lancers and the life of 'Abdu'l-Baha first came to light in February 2000 when the architect of the Baha'i House of Worship, Fariborz Sahba, met with Union Minister for External Affairs, the Honorable Jaswant Singh. Mr. Singh's father was a member of the Jodhpur Lancers and fought under General Allenby. The event on 23 September was attended by the Home Minister, Mr. L. K. Advani; the Union Minister for Disinvestments and Planning, Mr. Aroun Shourie; the Ambassador of Israel, Mr. David Aphek; the Deputy High Commissioner of the United Kingdom, Mr. T. McCann; the Ambassador of the European Commission, Mr. Caillouet; and other high-ranking army personnel, diplomats, and heads of nongovernmental organizations. The rulers of the princely states of Jodhpur, Mysore and Hyderabad, whose cavalries have now combined to form the Indian Army's 61st Cavalry, were also invited. "The Jodhpur Lancers distinguished themselves with their equestrian and fighting skills and sheer courage ... and the day is a very important one in our annals," wrote the Maharaja Gajsingh of Jodhpur in response to the invitation. "The link between the Haifa Charge of 1918 and the life of 'Abdu'l-Baha is indeed interesting and adds a new dimension to the whole story of Haifa for us here at Jodhpur." The evening program consisted of a choir service in the Prayer Hall of the House of Worship and a gathering on the illuminated lawn surrounding the temple. Zena Sorabjee, a member of the Asian Continental Board of Counselors, spoke about 'Abdu'l-Baha's life of service and the spirit of service embodied by the 61st Cavalry."
"28.6138954"
"77.2090057"
70
"2000-10-18"
"APIA"
""
"Samoa"
[]
"Humor key ingredient in Samoan healthy cooking TV series"
"APIA, Samoa — "O le Kuka Samoa," Samoa's first television series dedicated to a healthy diet, was launched on 16 October 2000, World Food Day, at the residence of the New Zealand High Commissioner. Well-known Samoan comedian Sumeo, alias "O le King Kuka," will star as a master chef in the television cooking program, to be aired weekly on TV-Samoa starting 19 October. The show is produced by the Samoan Baha'i Charitable Trust for Social and Economic Development in collaboration with the Samoan Nutrition Centre. Other partners include the New Zealand High Commission in Samoa, New Zealand Official Development Assistance (NZODA), the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the FAO Pacific Regional Office, UNICEF, the Samoan Government's Health Department, and Television Samoa Corporation. "Promoting greater use of nutritious locally grown fruits and vegetables to improve the diet of children in Samoa is the essential aim," said a spokesman for the Baha'i Charitable Trust, "but the key ingredient to getting the message across is the humor masterfully ladled out by Sumeo. The show is also in the Samoan language and features interviews with local celebrities and sportspeople." A companion cookbook produced with the assistance of FAO and NZODA and featuring the recipes used in the show was also released at the launching ceremony. "The special guest for the evening was none other than King Kuka himself who demonstrated how to make two new recipes with laughter," said the organizers."
"-13.8343691"
"-171.7692793"
71
"2000-10-25"
"PORT VILA"
""
"Vanuatu"
[]
"Baha'is of Vanuatu celebrate fifth annual Bertha Dobbins Day"
"PORT VILA, Vanuatu — In recognition of their contributions toward the creation of a culture of peace and the promotion of religious tolerance, five grassroots level leaders were recognized by the Baha'i community of Vanuatu in its annual Bertha Dobbins Day commemoration. In ceremonies on 17 October 2000 at the National Baha'i Center in Port Vila, a local chief, several local ministers and a local community leader were presented awards for their "grassroots leadership" before an audience of some 200 people. Those recognized were: -- Mr William Sumbwe, from Malo, who has helped several local families to consult together and resolve problems -- Chief Peter Poilapa, of Mele village, who has worked tirelessly to solve disputes between families and villages on the island of Efate -- Pastor Dorothy Regenvanu, the only practicing woman pastor in the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu, who "through her patience and respect for others of different beliefs" has exemplified a "culture of peace." Also recognized were a group of trainee pastors and their teachers from the island of Santo, who have decided to promote better understanding between different religious groups by visiting them and joining them in worship. The occasion marked the 47th anniversary of the arrival in Vanuatu of Bertha Dobbins, who founded a well-known elementary school and played a key role in the establishment of the Baha'i community of Vanuatu. Baha'i youth from Erakor village dancing at the fifth annual celebration of Bertha Dobbins Day, Port Vila, Vanuatu.Mrs. Dobbins was a 58-year-old elementary school teacher in Medindie, South Australia, when she responded to a call for volunteers to travel abroad to help spread the Baha'i teachings. She set sail for the New Hebrides, as Vanuatu was then known, arriving in Port Vila in October 1953. As the first Baha'i there, she founded an elementary school, "Nur School," in 1955 and taught there until 1971. She remained in the New Hebrides until 1977, when she was 82 and the local Baha'i community elected its first National Spiritual Assembly, the national level governing body for Baha'i communities. In memory of her services to the people of Vanuatu, the Baha'i community here gives a series of awards each year in her name to people and organizations in the country who have rendered significant service to others. This year, the event was hosted by the Baha'i community of Mele village, who designed the program, constructed a temporary shelter to house the guests, and issued hundreds of invitations. They prepared of large quantities of island food and an exhibit depicting the life of Bertha Dobbins and the early days of the Faith in Vanuatu. After a brief welcome by the Master of Ceremonies, Saki Poilapa, and prayers in English, French and Bislama, Chief Willie Bongmatour, representing the chiefs of Vanuatu, expressed his gratitude to the Baha'is for recognising the role of the chiefs in fostering peace at a local level. Merelyn Tahi spoke of the advancement of women as a key element of peace-making. Payman Rowhani-Farid, representing the Baha'i community of Vanuatu, said that the peace process begins with individuals and families, and that the education of children is particularly important. Baha'i youth gave choral renderings of prayers and sacred scriptures between the presentations. The Awards were presented by Peter Kaltoli, the one of the first Baha'is in Vanuatu, and Charles Pierce, the Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Vanuatu. Mrs. Dobbins was one of the Baha'is who, beginning in the early 1950s, responded to a call to settle in areas where no Baha'is had lived before. As a result of their efforts, more than 100 countries and territories were opened to the Faith within the span of a few years. Following further musical selections and the closing prayers, a feast was set out for the guests in the Nur Institute Building, which formerly housed the Nur School, and the youth and children from the Baha'i communities on Efate performed a continuous stream of songs, dances and sketches. The event received coverage on Radio Vanuatu and the national television news."
"-17.7414972"
"168.3150163"
72
"2000-11-14"
"NEW DELHI"
""
"India"
[]
"President of Iceland visits Baha'i Temple in New Delhi"
"NEW DELHI — The President of the Republic of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, and his family visited the Baha'i House of Worship here on 29 October. He was the first head of state to visit the famous "Lotus Temple," as the House of Worship is popularly known, during an official state visit. The President was accompanied by a delegation of about 30 Icelandic dignitaries, including the Foreign Minister, Haldor Asgrimmson, and his wife. They were met by the Secretary-General of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of India, Ramnik Shah, the General Manager of the House of Worship, Shahin Javid, and a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors for Asia, Zena Sorabjee. The Icelandic delegation included a member of the Baha'i Faith, Vilhjalmur Gudmundsson, who is Director for Market Development for the Trade Council of Iceland. Mr. Gudmundsson was on the advance team that visited India at the beginning of September to prepare for the President's visit. The President of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, tours the Baha'i House of Worship in New Delhi during an official state visit to India. He is accompanied by Mrs. Zena Sorabjee, a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors for Asia."I really made a great effort in a very tight schedule to come to the Baha'i House of Worship and I was able to convince my partners, one from the Foreign Ministry and the other from the President's Office, to come along," Mr. Gudmundsson said. "When I came I was quite impressed and very much touched over the beauty of it. I mentioned to my partners that the President would appreciate to see this House of Worship, and that we had to find time in his very tight schedule to do so." The Indian Government has often included the House of Worship in the itinerary of visiting dignitaries, but this was the first time it was included in an official state visit by a head of state. The President's visit began with a briefing in the library on Baha'i social and economic development efforts in India, with an emphasis on recent efforts to contribute to a moral education curriculum for Indian schools. The delegation then visited the House of Worship's main hall for a brief prayer service. The entire visit lasted about 40 minutes. President Grimsson was presented with "Forever in Bloom," a book of photographs about the House of Worship. Completed in 1986, the Baha'i House of Worship has become one of the most visited buildings in the world, with an average of 3.5 million visitors each year. It's distinctive lotus-shaped design, with concrete "petals" sheathed in marble, has won numerous architectural and engineering awards."
"28.6138954"
"77.2090057"
73
"2000-11-24"
"NEW DELHI"
""
"India"
[]
"New approach to development combines science and religion"
"NEW DELHI — Noting the shortcoming of international development efforts to fully realize their goals of ending poverty and achieving social justice, speakers at a ground-breaking gathering of non-governmental, academic and religious organizations called for a new model of development that would emphasize spiritual and religious values as the missing ingredients in stimulating positive social change. Called the "Colloquium on Science, Religion and Development," the event was held 21-24 November 2000 at the India International Center, with opening day ceremonies at the Baha'i House of Worship. "Although there has been considerable evolution in development thinking over the past several decades, serious questions remain concerning present approaches and assumptions," said Bani Dugal Gujral of the Baha'i International Community's United Nations Office in an opening address on Tuesday. "The great majority of the world's peoples do not view themselves simply as material beings... but rather as social and moral beings concerned with spiritual awareness and purpose." "It has thus become evident that the mainly economic and material criteria now guiding development activity must be broadened to include those spiritual aspirations that animate human nature," Ms. Gujral continued. "True prosperity -- a well-being founded on peace, cooperation, altruism, dignity, rectitude of conduct, and justice -- requires both the 'light' of spiritual virtues and the 'lamp' of material resources." Co-sponsored by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the International Development Research Centre of Canada, Decentralised Training for Urban Development Projects, the Department of Secondary Education and Higher Education of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, the World Health Organization (WHO) and The Textile Association (India), the Colloquium was organized by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of India and the Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity, an agency of the Baha'i International Community. Participants included representatives from a wide range of NGOs, academic institutions and religious groups involved in development work, mainly from India but also from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Colombia and Bolivia. The Colloquium also featured participation by representatives of the World Bank, UNICEF, WHO, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). "Development practitioners have for a long time been looking for a missing link, to explain the shortcomings of the current model," said Dr. Behnam Ta'i, the Regional Representative for South Asia of the Netherlands-based Institute for Housing and Urban Studies, who participated in the Colloquium. "For a long time, we thought it was the environment. Now there is a perception that spirituality is the link and the key idea for changing the attitudes for decision-making in the processes of development." The Colloquium on Science, Religion and Development featured a panel session exploring the relationship between justice and development.| The panel members were (left to right seated at table) Mr. Soli Sorabjee, Attorney General of India; Dr. Erma Manoncourt, Deputy Director, UNICEF, India; and Mr. Miloon Kothari, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing. Ms. Bani Dugal-Gugral (standing), Director, Office for the Advancement of Women, Baha'i International Community moderated the session.Katherine Marshall of the World Bank said religious organizations have long played a "special role" in both understanding and helping the poor. "Yet their insights and their work are too little known in many development circles," she said. Ms. Marshall, who oversees the Bank's recently launched collaboration with religious organizations, known as the World Faiths Development Dialogue, urged a new partnership between religious groups and development specialists. "The idea should be to engage in a process that opens new windows of understanding, raises the bar of objectives, offers new insights and new visions, on all sides," said Ms. Marshall in an address on Tuesday. The Colloquium featured a mix of plenary sessions and workshops, and allowed for a wide range of discussion and consultation. One specific focus was on how capacity building in the four areas of governance, education, technology and economic activity can be assisted through the introduction of spiritual perspectives and values. In some respects, participants indicated, it raised as many questions as it answered. There was a wide-ranging discussion, for example, of what exactly constitutes "spirituality," "values," "religion," and "faith." Participants came from virtually every religious background, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, the Baha'i Faith -- as well as non-religious backgrounds. But in the end, participants agreed on the importance of a number of principles and points, which will be compiled in a final statement of findings to be issued by the Colloquium's secretariat in the future. Among the main points of agreement were: the importance of building new partnerships between religious organizations, NGOs, aid agencies and government offices concerned with development; the necessity of introducing moral or "values-based" curriculum in all educational endeavors; the significance of the principle of equality between women and men in all aspects of development; and the need to promote principles of good governance. One frequently stressed theme was the essential harmony of science and religion. "The formidable power of science and technology can benefit humankind only if we know how to temper it with humanism and spirituality," said M.S. Swaminathan, holder of the UNESCO Chair in Ecotechnology, in a talk on Wednesday at India International Centre, where the Colloquium was held. Likewise, Haleh Arbab Correa of the Colombia-based Foundation for the Application and Teaching of the Sciences (FUNDAEC), said development specialists must begin to see "science and religion as two complementary sources of knowledge." "The two systems are not as dissimilar as they are presented to be," said Dr. Arbab Correa. "Objective observation, induction, the elaboration of hypotheses, and the testing of predictions are important components of scientific methods. But they are also present in religious pursuits, albeit in different configurations and at different levels of rigor. "Similarly, faith does not belong exclusively to religion," Dr. Arbab Correa continued. "Science, too, is built on elements of faith, particularly faith in the order of the world and the ability of the human mind to explain the workings of that order." The centrality of justice to the development enterprise was also examined. "Creating a culture of justice," said the Attorney General of India, Mr. Soli Sorabjee, "is intimately bound up with a process of moral and spiritual development." As well, participants stressed the importance of the acceptance of religious diversity. Toward that end, many suggested that interfaith activities should be encouraged and increased as a means of promoting a wider understanding of the common basis of all religions. Participants ended the event by calling for more research on a number of these areas, including ways to create a set of development indicators that might assess the impact of a values-based approach to development and on identifying "best practices" of religiously inspired development efforts. "Our goal was to bring together a diversity of organizations and practitioners in the field of development to explore how scientific methods and religious values can work together to bring about a new, integrated pattern of development," said Matthew Weinberg, Director of the Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity, one of the Colloquium's organizers. "In many ways, this event was an experiment and a learning endeavor, since an integrated discourse on these three topics has really only recently begun to take shape in the world at large," said Mr. Weinberg, noting the efforts of the World Bank through its World Faiths Development Dialogue to promote a similar discussion. "The emphasis of this event was to involve national and grassroots level organizations in this dialogue. And we were pleased that a number of key points and possible lines of action were identified by the participants here for future consideration." For more information, contact: Farida Vahedi / Deepali Jones / Han Ju Kim-Farley in New Delhi at: (91) 11 3070513 or (mobile) (91) 98 11040575."
"28.6138954"
"77.2090057"
74
"2000-11-05"
"HANOVER"
""
"Germany"
[]
"500,000 people visit Baha'i exhibit at the Hanover Expo 2000"
"HANOVER, Germany — An estimated 500,000 people visited the Baha'i pavilion at the Hanover Expo 2000 from its opening in June 2000 to its closing last month. The 170 square-meter Baha'i exhibit, hosted by the Baha'i International Community and the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Germany, featured development projects in Colombia, Kenya and Eastern Europe that illustrate the importance of grassroots capacity-building, the advancement of women, and moral and spiritual values in the process of social and economic development. The exhibit was designed to resemble a lotus flower, with 3-meter-high acrylic glass "petals" in a semi-circular arrangement around a central space for reflection and contemplation. It was located opposite the entrance of the "Global House" -- an area designated as a forum and meeting place for organizations and policy-makers interested in sustainable development and the Agenda 21 process. Over the past months, several of the Baha'i development projects have been the subject of in-depth presentations in the Seminar Room of the Global House. On 9 September Shamil Fattakhov, a Russian TV journalist, presented "Stop and Act," a form of interactive theatre that he developed into a successful television program in Russia. The program features short sketches that present the audience with a conflict and a moral dilemma. As the conflict is about to erupt into violence, the presenter calls out "Stop!" and begins a discussion with the audience on the ways of resolving the situation. Through the collective exploration of the relevant moral principles, the audience arrives at a solution, which is then acted out. The program has been adapted to many audiences and media, including radio, theatre and schools, throughout Eastern Europe. Under the sponsorship of the Royamount Process, which was initiated by the European Union to "promote stability and good neighborliness" among the nations of Southeastern Europe, the show has been offered to governments in the region as a creative approach to conflict resolution and moral education. September 9 was also a "Global House Day," organized jointly by all the exhibitors in the hall, which attracted 11,000 visitors to the Baha'i pavilion alone. Ranzie Mensah, a Baha'i artist from Ghana and a princess of the Fanti tribe, gave a stunning musical performance as part of an on-going cultural program presented by the Baha'is in the Global House's One World Cafe. In the evening the Baha'i International Community hosted a reception for the commissioners of the Expo's national pavilions and other exhibitors and dignitaries to mark the release of the German translation of "Who is Writing the Future," a reflection on the 20th century and humanity's prospects for the future issued by the Baha'i International Community. Another seminar on 29 September focused on the role of traditional women's groups as catalysts for grassroots development and the power of combining self-directed village initiatives with the support of development organizations. These principles were illustrated through the Kalimani and Matinyani Women's Projects in Kenya's semi-arid Kitui District, which were selected as a "Worldwide Expo 2000 Project." The women in these villages consulted together, set realistic goals for village development, and enlisted the support of outside development organizations. They have managed a number of projects, including dam construction, a health center, a mango-drying scheme using solar energy, and a rug-weaving project to generate income. The presenter was Geraldine Robarts, a Baha'i artist living in Kenya who has supported the women of Kalimani and Matinyani with training in the arts. Ms. Robarts was also the designer of 20 outsize sails, each up to 15 meters high, that decorated the Hanover Expo's Africa Pavilion. Artists from all over Africa had been invited to submit their design for the pavilion in an open competition. The third development project highlighted in the Baha'i Pavilion was the University for Integral Development, established in Colombia by FUNDAEC, a Baha'i-inspired development agency that was also named a "Worldwide Expo 2000 Project." The University has a network of 40,000 students in Colombia's rural areas who receive systematic training through a distance learning system in the areas of agriculture, education, appropriate technology, economic enterprise and institutional development. Drawing on the tools and insights of both science and religion, the University strives to impart a twofold moral purpose: to take charge of one's own intellectual and spiritual growth, and to make significant contributions to the transformation of society. More than 250 Baha'i volunteers from around Europe received specialized training to staff the exhibit and answer questions from the public during the Expo's five months of operation. More information about Baha'i participation in the Hanover Expo is available on-line at www.bahai-expo2000.de."
"52.3744779"
"9.7385532"
75
"2000-11-07"
"LONDON"
""
"United Kingdom"
[]
"Baha'i Day held at London Millennium Dome"
"LONDON — London's Millennium Dome hosted a "Baha'i Day" on 21 October, as more than 2,000 Baha'is from around the United Kingdom came to the dome to commemorate a Baha'i holy day. About 30,000 people visited the Dome throughout the day. Baha'is were celebrating the Birth of the Bab, a festive occasion marking the birth of the Prophet-Herald of the Baha'i Faith. They presented a diverse program of artistic performances and entertainment, both on the main stage and in the dome's entrance hall, including juggling, clog dancing, a string quartet, singers, a Ceilidh band, dancers and a steel band. They also hosted an exhibit about the Faith just inside the main entrance, an Arts and Crafts area for children, and a Tranquillity Zone for prayer and meditation. The Management of the Dome placed a large banner announcing the Baha'i holy day behind the main stage and gave the Baha'is 1,500 badges to wear on which was written "Celebrating a Baha'i Holy Day." "Baha'is had traveled from all parts of the United Kingdom," said Iain Palin of the United Kingdom Baha'i Information Office. "They had been asked to bring flowers, and they brought so many flowers that the Management of the Dome had to send out for more pots to put them in. It was a magnificent turnout and a great spirit was in evidence throughout the day," he said. In the Faith Zone, one of the Dome's permanent exhibits, excerpts from the Baha'i scriptures are depicted on tall pillars along with those of other faiths co-existing in Britain, such as the Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and Zoroastrian faiths."
"51.5073219"
"-0.1276474"
76
"2000-11-10"
"JINJA"
""
"Uganda"
[]
"Baha'is take part in Uganda's national UN Day celebration"
"JINJA, Uganda — The Baha'is of Uganda showcased their achievements and activities in the areas of education, family health, moral training for children, publishing, and collaboration with other nongovernmental organizations at a national United Nations Day celebration held on 24 October 2000 at the Muguluka Primary School. The school's grounds, located 15 miles from Jinja on the Jinja-Kamuli road, were transformed into a festive fairground, with booths and tents representing a large variety of United Nations, government, and civil society organizations. The Baha'is erected a large white tent with a banner proclaiming "The earth is one country and mankind its citizens." Throughout the day hundreds of people toured the five information tables in the Baha'i tent, many lingering for extensive discussions and requesting follow-up contact. The Chief Guest for the day was Uganda's Minister of Information, Basoga Nsadhu, accompanied by the United Nations Resident Coordinator Dauda Toure. They were escorted through the Baha'i exhibits by George Olinga, Director of the Baha'i Office of External Affairs. Uganda's Minister of Information, Basoga Nsadhu, is escorted to the Baha'i exhibit at Uganda's national United Nations Day commemoration by Mr. George Olinga, director of the Baha'i Office of External Affairs.The Uganda Baha'i Institute for Development displayed curriculum guides and training materials for teachers and parents in the areas of health education and moral development. The Baha'i Publishing Trust displayed a wide range of Baha'i literature, including translations of Baha'i scripture into several indigenous languages. Another table handled nominations for a peace prize to honor individuals, groups or institutions for their contributions to a culture of peace in Uganda. The Baha'is are co-sponsoring the prize along with the government and several NGOs as part of the observance of the International Year for a Culture of Peace. Earlier in the week, on 22 October, the Baha'is held an observance of United Nations Day at the Baha'i National Center in Kampala that opened with a devotional program at the Baha'i House of Worship. The keynote speaker was A. M. Qureshi, representative in Uganda of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Association."
"0.5465468"
"33.224816860928684"
77
"2000-11-25"
"CANBERRA"
""
"Australia"
[]
"Art on Fijian bark cloth reflects unity in diversity"
"CANBERRA, Australia — Artists Robin White of New Zealand and Leba Toki of Fiji recently opened an exhibit at the Helen Maxwell Gallery here of collaborative works on tapa (bark cloth) that won widespread admiration for their uniqueness and harmonious blending of Western and Fijian artistic traditions. Ms. White and Ms. Toki are both highly regarded artists and members of the Baha'i Faith. Their collaboration was "not just a way of experiencing new forms of artistic expression," said Ms. White, "but also a way of demonstrating the potential for people from very different cultural backgrounds to work together in harmony, in a positive and creative manner." The opening of the month-long exhibit on October 20 was attended by the High Commissioner of New Zealand, Simon Murdoch, and the Counsellor of the Fijian High Commission, Akuila Waradi. Mr. Waradi spoke during the brief formal portion of the opening, and he expressed his pleasure at having the opportunity to view art work that was the product of collaboration and said the work was "very different and very beautiful." The three works, each approximately two meters by two and a half meters revolve around "tea" as a symbol of people coming together in a convivial atmosphere, a symbol which is common to English and Indian culture and has been incorporated into Fijian culture as well. The designs, integrating European and Indian imagery with traditional Fijian patterns, are based on the packaging of three well-known products: Punja's Tea and Rewa Milk, which are very commonly used in Fiji, and Chelsea Sugar, which is produced and sold in New Zealand from sugar grown in Fiji. "While for some, tea, milk and sugar might seem like a rather superficial expression of togetherness, we were interested in taking the idea of having a cup of tea as a means for conveying a deeper significance and investigating a broader theme, that is the possibility of different cultures being able to come together harmoniously, to honor and celebrate their diversity and to share in the pleasures and benefits of this world," said Ms. White. "The work is about the process involved in exploring the interface between cultures and arriving at a visual metaphor for the concept of unity in diversity." Tapa was chosen as the medium because it is inseparably associated with indigenous Fijian culture and other indigenous Pacific Island cultures. "By using tapa to convey designs that include recognizable Indian and European elements, we aimed at suggesting the possibility of one culture embracing, in a positive way, features of other cultures, and that this process generates change without necessarily compromising the essential values that form the basis of a secure sense of identity and belief," said Ms. White. "Leba and I wanted to produce a work that could not have been done by either of us on our own, something that sits at a fine balance between what is familiar and traditional and what is unexpected and new. In recognition of this goal, the set of three tapa have been titled 'Cakacakavata,' which means 'working together.'" Leba Toki and Robin White apply decorative elements to the tapa cloth in Robin's studio in Masterton, New Zealand.The project came about when Ms. White was visiting Ms. Toki at her home in Fiji about three years ago. "I questioned her about some samples of tapa that she had in her home. Leba explained that she had made them herself and that she came from the island of Moce, one of only two islands in Fiji where tapa is made," said Ms. White. "For some time I had been attracted by the particular aesthetic quality of Fijian tapa and had a long-held desire to experience the making of it. This prompted me to ask Leba if she would be interested in entering into a collaborative art project with me and she readily agreed." The set of three tapa has been purchased by the National Gallery of Australia."
"-35.2975906"
"149.1012676"
78
"2000-11-15"
"UNITED NATIONS"
""
""
[]
"UN agency's partnership helps Baha'i in quest to bridge the digital divide"
"UNITED NATIONS — While heads of state were meeting at the United Nations Millennium Summit, the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) announced a partnership with an organization founded by a young Baha'i to help people in developing countries make greater use of the Internet. At a New York press conference 7 September 2000, UNOPS announced the launch of the Digital Service Corps, a private-sector partnership with the nonprofit Global Technology Organization (GTO), whose founder and president is Neysan Rassekh. Digital Service Corps will send volunteers to developing countries and countries in transition, to conduct intensive training programs in the use of the Internet as a community development tool. Reinhart Helmke, executive director of UNOPS, introduced Mr. Rassekh as a "young social entrepreneur of the dot-com generation" who is bridging two "gaps" through the Digital Service Corps - the generation gap at the United Nations and the digital divide in the developing world. Now in his twenties, Mr. Rassekh was born in Portland, Oregon. His family left the United States when he was four years old to settle in West Africa, where they helped to strengthen the Baha'i communities in Senegal, the Gambia and Mali. He later attended Maxwell Baha'i School in Canada. Mr. Rassekh holds a bachelor's degree from the Wharton School of Business and a master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania, where he focused on the use of technology for development in Africa. President Alpha Oumar Konare of Mali speaks to the press in New York with Neysan Rassekh, President of GTO, on 8 September 2000 following a round-table discussion on public-private partnerships convened by UNOPS."My generation of Americans grew up taking computers for granted. By the time we got to college, most of us were regularly doing research on the Internet," Mr. Rassekh said. "To work in development at the grassroots, my family lives in Mali, one of the poorest countries on the planet. I have seen first hand how extreme the digital divide really is. I know there are thousands of people like me who would gladly give four to six weeks of their time to personally contribute to closing that gap. That is why I am sure that GTO's Digital Service Corps will be a success." UNOPS reported that in May, GTO completed a successful pilot project in Mali. A team of three professors and 30 students from the University of Pennsylvania, armed with refurbished computer equipment and the accessories needed to connect to the Internet, spent four weeks in Mali and trained 120 carefully selected professors, primary- and secondary-school teachers, students and teacher trainers. The team established four computer centers, now operated by the Victory Foundation, a Mali-based organization whose mission is to promote innovation in public education. The day after the press conference, Mr. Rassekh introduced President Alpha Oumar Konare of Mali at a roundtable discussion on public-private partnerships convened by UNOPS and Global Leaders for Tomorrow of the World Economic Forum. At a news conference after the roundtable, the president thanked the Global Technology Organization for its efforts and the impact it had in his country. Moreover, contacts at the United Nations Millennium Assembly and the State of the World Forum, which was also taking place in New York that week, afforded Mr. Rassekh the opportunity to meet with several heads of state and foreign ministers. Five of them invited Mr. Rassekh to look at implementing GTO projects in their countries in the coming months."
""
""
79
"2000-11-30"
"HAIFA"
""
"Israel"
[]
"Reshaping "God's holy mountain" to create a vision of peace and beauty for all humanity"
"HAIFA, Israel — Many of the visitors who will soon wander the nearly completed gardens and terraces that extend almost a kilometer up the side of Mount Carmel are perhaps unlikely to notice what sort of stones lie at the bottom of the fountains. But the fact that the color of the stones in a series of cascade pools almost perfectly matches the beige stonework of the surrounding ornaments reflects the enormous attention to detail surrounding the completion of a project that some say is destined to become a much visited wonder of the modern world. In their shape and size, the stones are almost perfectly ovoid in contour and slightly larger than a human heart -- aspects which further harmonize with the style and scheme of the project, a succession of 19 majestic terraces and associated gardens that have virtually reshaped the north slope of what has been known since ancient times as the "Mountain of the Lord." It took some eight months of searching to find the stones, a quest that took place in three countries and ended on a remote beach in Cyprus. "I wanted stones that had the same color and natural characteristics of the other elements of this project," said Fariborz Sahba, the architect behind the project. "This is an example of the simple things that make the difference." Yet the attention to such details is but one sign of the great importance given to this project by the Baha'is of the world, who have sacrificially contributed some US$250 million to build it over the last decade. Scheduled to be opened to the world during public ceremonies in May 2001, the terraces and gardens are being offered to the world as a reflection of the Baha'i standard of beauty, peace and harmony. Those who have had an advance look say the project will undoubtedly take its place alongside the other great spiritual monuments constructed throughout history. "You can go on a spiritual journey just looking at the gardens [on Mount Carmel] which are the equivalent of any great icon, great tantra, or any other of the great recognized works of religious art or architecture," said Martin Palmer, the author of several books on comparative religion, the most recent of which is entitled Sacred Gardens. "The Baha'is have created a vision, literally, of what it means to understand the Baha'i Faith in both its historic setting and its contemplative spiritual message." Spiritual and Administrative Center Collectively known as the Mount Carmel Projects, the effort involves not only the construction of the 19 garden terraces on Mount Carmel -- terraces that bracket the Shrine of the Bab, the second-most holy spot in the world for Baha'is after the Shrine of Baha'u'llah -- but the completion of two majestic new administrative buildings, which are also set high on the face of the mountainside. These two buildings, known as the Center for the Study of the Texts and the International Teaching Center, have been built alongside the International Archives building, which houses relics, writings and artifacts associated with the lives of the Faith's central figures, and the Seat of the Universal House of Justice, the headquarters of the international governing body of the Baha'i Faith. For Baha'is, the completion of the Mount Carmel Projects is the realization of a century-long dream to create a spiritual and administrative center, commensurate with the beauty of the Baha'i teachings, that will fully and fittingly represent the Faith's position as an independent world religion, now the second-most widespread geographically after Christianity. "Architecture is a language, and these projects carry a message," said Albert Lincoln, Secretary General of the Baha'i International Community. "As a worldwide community, we believe we are the bearers of a very important message. And these gardens and new buildings offer an enduring testimony to the importance of this message -- which, in its most fundamental form, is that God has sent a new Revelation aimed at addressing the problems of the modern age and ushering in an era of peace and justice for all humanity." Certainly, for the world at large, the completion of the Mount Carmel Projects offers a glimpse of the type of world that Baha'is are working for: one that expresses in its harmonious blend of architectural and horticultural styles the principle of unity in diversity, emphasizes in its beauty the precedence of spiritual values over materialism, and, in its open invitation to all, embraces all peoples and cultures. "I think it is really becoming a landmark, not only in Haifa, but also one of the spots in Israel that is a must-see," said Mirko Stefanovic, Yugoslavia's ambassador to Israel, who has visited the Baha'i World Center many times. "It is something of an oasis in the desert. As everyone knows, the Middle East is a hectic place, full of contrasts and conflict. The Baha"i gardens are kind of like an island of tranquility and peace." Ma'ariv, Israel's second-largest newspaper, reports that the project has earned the appellation "the eighth wonder of the world." The Significance of Mount Carmel As far back as 1600 BC, Mount Carmel was mentioned as a "holy mountain" in Egyptian records. In the Bible, it is the site of Elijah's confrontation with the worshippers of Baal. It was also sacred to the early Christians and is where the Carmelite Roman Catholic monastic order was founded in 1150. "Mount Carmel and Elijah have a very important place in both the Christian and Jewish traditions," said Moshe Sharon, a professor of Middle East Studies who holds the Chair of Baha'i Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "Elijah is supposed to come before the Messiah, and there are hundreds of traditions and stories connected with Mount Carmel, which give it a unique place in more than one religious tradition." For Baha'is, the mountain was given supreme significance when Baha'u'llah visited it in the early 1890s and revealed an important tablet designating Mount Carmel as the site of the Faith's spiritual and administrative center. The development of the Baha'i World Center, as the complex of buildings, gardens and holy places here is officially known, has proceeded slowly over the last century. Significant events include the construction of the Shrine of the Bab and the interment of the Bab's sacred remains in its mausoleum in 1909; the completion of the golden-domed superstructure of the Shrine in 1953; the erection of the International Archives building in 1957; and the completion of the Seat of the Universal House of Justice in 1983. With the construction of the gardens and terraces that now surround the Shrine of the Bab, along with the other administrative buildings on Mount Carmel, Baha'is believe a major goal of their Faith has been fulfilled. "Our scriptures tell us that the very construction of these facilities for housing these institutions will coincide with several other processes in the world," said Douglas Samimi-Moore, director of the Baha"i International Community"s Office of Public Information. "One of these processes is the maturation of local and national Baha'i institutions. The other is the establishment of processes leading to political peace for humanity, and we feel this synchronicity is obvious if you look broadly at the way things are going in the world." Baha'is believe the completion of the terraces and gardens and new administrative buildings on Mount Carmel offers a reflection of the spiritual principles that must be applied to world problems if humanity is to create a truly peaceful world. "Baha'is have gone about building these structures from a spiritual motivation, stemming from an underlying belief in the benefits to the world at large that they think will come from them," said Mr. Samimi-Moore. "They believe these new structures will contribute to the unification of the planet." Gardens and Terraces Without doubt, the most striking feature of the new projects is the series of terraces and associated gardens that now run from the foot to the crest of Mount Carmel, entirely reshaping its countenance. In all, the gardens cover some 200,000 square meters of land. After May 2001, they will be open to people of all religious beliefs, background and nationalities, like other Baha'i holy places. Since the 1950s, the golden dome and gleaming white marble superstructure of the Shrine of the Bab, located almost exactly halfway up the north slope of Mount Carmel, has been a familiar landmark in Haifa, Israel's third largest city. The 19 terraces -- one on the same level as the Shrine of the Bab, nine extending above it and nine extending below it -- form a grand series of brackets, which accentuate the Shrine's position in the heart of the mountainside. Architect Sahba compared the new structures to the setting for a precious jewel. "If a diamond is not set properly, its value does not show," said Mr. Sahba. "The terraces provide both physical and spiritual setting for the Shrine. Everything directs your eyes towards the Shrine." The terraces are designed with a series of stairs running from the base of Mount Carmel almost to its summit. The staircase, made of beige-colored local stone, is flanked by two streams of running water, forming a man-made brook that gently cascades down the mountainside, pausing in shallow pools -- containing the ovoid stones mentioned above. Mr. Sahba said he had teams search in Israel, Italy and India, before finding stones in Cyprus that met his vision for that particular detail. "It has not been our aim just to build beautiful architecture, or merely beautiful, landscaped gardens," said Mr. Sahba, who also designed the widely recognized lotus shaped Baha'i House of Worship in New Delhi, India. "There are so many beautiful gardens in the world. The whole aim was to create beautiful, spiritual gardens; gardens that touch the spirit, so that a visitor may pause and think, "This place is different, there is something special about it." Mr. Sahba said he sought to express a sense of spirit through the interplay of light, water and color. "At night, it is as if waves of light are emanating from the Shrine, which is the center of illumination," Mr. Sahba said. "During the day these movements are created by sunlight filtering through the lines of cypress trees, and reflecting on the curved parallel surfaces of the emerald green lawns. "Another element is water," he continued. "As you walk down the terraces, water accompanies you. The oasis of water attracts birds, and in harmony with the song of the birds creates the best camouflage for the noise of the city, gives the space the tranquility that one needs to be separated from the day to day reality of life." The terraces, which feature decorative stone balustrades, fountains, benches and statues, are intensively cultivated. The gardens on each terrace feature plants and flowers indigenous to Israel. "If one wants to imagine what the Hanging Gardens of Babylon must have looked like, come to Mount Carmel and you will see something more nearly than anything else on earth to what we understand they were like," said Mr. Palmer, who is also secretary general of the Alliance on Religion and Conservation. The formality of the design of the gardens merges into the mountain's natural environment on either side of the central axis defined by the staircase. "Nature is very ordered near the center of the path -- but the further you move away from it, it becomes more wild, more natural," said Mr. Palmer. "So you have this fascinating model of bringing order out of chaos. There is also a sense that the wilderness is a place where you can find God, so as you move away from the center, you find larger trees and bushes and you can lose yourself spiritually." Many of the terraces are cut into the mountainside in such a way that, when one is standing on one, the other terraces -- as well as the buildings on either side -- cannot be seen. For the most part, the only visible reference points are the sky, the blue waters of the Bay of Haifa below, the surrounding gardens, and the Shrine itself. "It is an amazing use of perspective," said Mr. Palmer. "Everything else is cut out. You don't see the streets above or below. You are in a sense caught up in the seventh heaven. It is as though you have left earth and been transported to paradise." Mr. Palmer also noted that the gentle sound of the water gurgling down the two sides of the central staircase drowns out the sounds of the outside world. "For me, this is symbolic," said Mr. Palmer, who is a Christian. "To quote from my Scriptures: you need to hear the 'still small quiet voice' of God, which is what Elijah himself heard on Mount Carmel. And with the trickling water, gently drowning out the urban hubbub all around, hearing that voice becomes possible." For Baha'is, the whole design is evocative and symbolic. "When you ascend the terraces from the bottom, the Shrine of the Bab, which is your goal, is always visible, right in your line of sight, at the center of your devotion," said Lasse Thoresen, a renowned Norwegian composer who has spent much time in the gardens as part of a commission to write a symphony for the opening ceremonies. "This is a beautiful kind of contemplative feature." "At the same time, for me, the waters coming down from the top of the mountain symbolize the living water that is the grace of God, that is God's vitalizing energy, spoken of in the Baha'i writings and in the Bible and other scriptures, that descend from Heaven," said Dr. Thoresen. Suheil Bushrui, who has visited Haifa off and on since his childhood and who currently holds the Baha'i Chair for World Peace at the University of Maryland, USA, said he believes the gardens and terraces offer a new model for sustainable development. "These projects on Mount Carmel provide an example of man's shaping of the physical environment in accord with a religious teaching that emphasizes the importance of the natural world and upholds the value of beauty and the virtue of excellence," said Prof. Bushrui. "They show a glimmer of the extent to which material and spiritual elements can complement each other, to the mutual benefit of each, and with favorable consequences for the environment." New Administrative Buildings While the terraces are without doubt the most visible feature of the new developments on Mount Carmel, the completion of two new nearby administrative buildings are for Baha'is of equal significance, inasmuch as they signalize the formal emergence of two important institutions designed to assist the Universal House of Justice in providing guidance and governance for the rapidly growing worldwide Baha'i community. Together with the Seat of the Universal House of Justice and the International Archives building, the International Teaching Center and the Center for the Study of the Texts form an arc on the face of the mountainside. As one faces the mountain, that arc sits slightly to the left of the axis defined by the central stairway of the terraces. The Center for the Study of the Texts building will house an institution of scholars, whose role is to study the Baha'i sacred writings. "The Baha'i writings are extensive, encompassing more than 100,000 documents," said Mr. Samimi-Moore. "The Center stands to serve the needs of the Universal House of Justice by researching the sacred writings, historical documents and other related materials. It will also translate texts, prepare compilations, and draft commentaries as required." The International Teaching Center building will house a body of appointed individuals who function collectively to assist the Universal House of Justice and also to provide guidance to the worldwide Baha'i community through a network of fellow "Counsellors" who reside around the world. "They promote the ideas of the Faith, which include unity and education," said architect Hossein Amanat, who designed the two new buildings, as well as the Seat of the Universal House of Justice. Like the Seat of the Universal House of Justice, the two new buildings were designed in a classic Greek style that harmonizes with the design chosen roughly 50 years ago for the International Archives building. "Originally, I thought there might be a kind of contemporary style which could fit into the environment there," said Mr. Amanat, who started designing the Seat of the Universal House of Justice in 1972 at age 30 after winning a design competition for a major monument and associated complex in his native Iran. He noted, however, that Shoghi Effendi, who headed the Baha'i Faith from 1921 to 1957, had chosen classic Greek style because it had proved enduringly beautiful through the ages. "I saw how nicely the classic style fits into this surrounding of serene gardens," continued Mr. Amanat. "The reason is this: in our modern life, we are rushing everywhere. And there is no time for looking at the details of a classic building. But the classic style is meant for a society that is more relaxed, that is taking time to meditate and pray. Modern buildings evolved after the industrial revolution, which is when the material life took over from the spiritual. But we Baha'is think beauty is an important factor in design, because beauty is so important to the human soul." Although both of the new buildings rise some three stories above ground level, much of their structure is tucked into the mountain slope. "The idea is that the buildings are pavilions adorning this garden," said Mr. Amanat. "They should not impose on it." The total floor area of the two new buildings combined is some 35,000 square meters, reflecting their importance as administrative centers for the more than five million Baha'is around the world. "Essentially, the people who will work in these buildings have the goal of serving a growing worldwide community," said Mr. Samimi-Moore. The funds for the completion of the two new buildings, the terraces and all of the other structures on Mount Carmel came entirely from members of the Baha'i Faith. "No money has come from outside," said Secretary General Lincoln. "And we are not a community that is rich. The funds for these projects have come from donations by thousands upon thousands of individuals, who have given sacrificially over many years. "Three-quarters of the worldwide Baha'i population resides in the third world," added Dr. Lincoln. "It is not unusual to visit a mud hut in an African village and find a photograph of this project on the wall, along with a receipt for some small contribution." -- END OF MAIN STORY -- ACCOMPANYING STORY: The Baha'i Faith and its Connection to Israel Founded in Iran, the Baha'i Faith today has its spiritual and administrative center in Israel because of historic forces that led to the exile of its Founder, Baha'u'llah, to the city of Acre, located across the bay from Haifa. After a series of banishments from His native Iran, Baha'u'llah, along with His family and a small group of followers, was sent in 1868 to Acre, then a bleak penal colony under Ottoman rule. Although prisoners, the Baha'is eventually came to be regarded as a respected religious community in Acre. Over time, Baha'u'llah was granted limited freedom and, during a visit to Haifa in 1891, He designated Mount Carmel as the site for the world headquarters of His Faith. Baha'u'llah also directed that the remains of the Bab, the Faith's Herald and a Prophet in His own right, be buried on Mount Carmel. With Baha'u'llah's passing and burial in the vicinity of Acre in 1892, the location of the spiritual center of the Baha'i Faith was likewise fixed. Baha'u'llah's burial place at Bahji, north of Haifa near the city of Acre, is the holiest place on earth for Baha'is. In 1909, the Bab's remains were interred in a stone mausoleum on the side of Mount Carmel. In 1953, the golden-domed, white marble superstructure was erected over the mausoleum, completing the Shrine that is the second holiest place for Baha'is. Over the years, Baha'is have built a series of gardens, encompassing other holy monuments, as well as other administrative buildings in the Haifa/Acre area. All are funded entirely by contributions from the worldwide Baha'i community. Today, more than 800 Baha'is serve as volunteers at the Baha'i World Center. They come from all over the world, serving for specified periods of time, and are engaged solely in the care of the Baha'i Holy places and the internal administration of the Baha'i world community. The city of Haifa and the government of Israel have welcomed the Baha'i presence and the new construction. The Mayor of Haifa, Amram Mitzna, recently wrote that the nearly completed Gardens and Terraces for the Shrine of the Bab offer "unforgettably stunning panorama" for the "appreciation of all beauty lovers.""
"32.8191218"
"34.9983856"
80
"2000-11-29"
"BURYATIA"
""
"Russia"
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"In Buryatia, a struggle against AIDS and substance abuse"
"BURYATIA, Russia — In response to rising rates of alcoholism, drug use and AIDS among youth in this Siberian republic, Baha'is here have created a "Youth Center for Social Initiatives" to promote a healthy lifestyle among youth and teenagers and to train teachers and other specialists to do prevention work with youth. Deaths from AIDS have increased 33-fold in Buryatia since the beginning of the year, a symptom of the general moral crisis afflicting much of the region. "No prevention work is effective without the development of a sustainable system of moral values among the youth and offering them channels for individual growth and self-fulfillment through community service," said Oxanna Dorzhieva, director of the Youth Centre. "Our principal tasks are the development of young people's awareness of their personal dignity and the need for spiritual independence, development of a volunteer movement for prevention work, training of teachers and other specialists in prevention education, and cultivation of a positive lifestyle among youth and teenagers." The Youth Center is an outgrowth of a Baha'i project for youth in Ulan-Ude known as the "Young Lions" social project, which provided alternative youth activities, training in moral leadership, and popular social activities for the youth of the Ulan-Ude region. "Many prevention projects organized by Young Lions, such as "Youth Against Drugs," "Be Sober in the New Millennium," "Our City," and seminars on AIDS, have won serious attention from the government of Buryatia and popularity among youth in Ulan-Ude and neighboring communities," said Ms. Dorzhieva. The local administration of Ivolga, a region with the highest rates of drug use among youth and of alcohol and drug-related crime in recent years, approached the Young Lions for assistance in organizing prevention activities for the whole region. "We wanted to extend our work with this key segment of the population and assist them in addressing these problems through the creation of the Youth Center for Social Initiatives," said Ms. Dorzhieva. "We are trying to build a network together with teachers and other specialists, parents, administration, the police, media and possibly other institutions, to protect youth from alcohol and drug use. The experience gained from this project will start spreading all over the Republic within a year." The Youth Centre also works to develop regional, national and international collaboration in prevention work, and courses, seminars and workshops on moral leadership and prevention of AIDS and substance abuse. The Centre is working with specialists from the AIDS Centre of Buryatia to create a youth and teen prevention program that will include materials on moral education. The program will be submitted to the Ministry of Education of Buryatia for inclusion in the school curriculum for children aged 12 to 15."
"52.7182426"
"109.492143"
81
"2000-11-22"
"NEW DELHI"
""
"India"
[]
"Amjad Ali Khan, master of classical Indian music, performs at the Baha'i Lotus Temple"
"NEW DELHI — Earlier this year the Baha'i House of Worship received a letter from the eminent master of the sarod, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, expressing his desire to perform on the premises of the Temple. "I have had a dream for sometime now, which I want to share with you," he wrote. "I have wished to perform, most humbly, with the Baha'i Temple in the background." Amjad Ali Khan's dream was fulfilled yesterday when he performed with his two sons, Amaan and Ayaan Ali Bangash, with the lotus-shaped House of Worship glimmering in the moonlight behind him. They played the sarod, a classical Indian instrument resembling the lute, with an ensemble of traditional Indian musicians. The concert was held as part of the opening ceremony for the international "Colloquium on Science, Religion and Development" organized by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of India and the Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity (see related story). When asked about the significance of playing, as a devout Muslim, at a Baha'i House of Worship, Amjad Ali Khan said, "I feel connected to every religion of the world. Water, air, fire, flowers and music have no religion, but their beauty is universally acknowledged. I feel drawn to any religion that is not fanatical in its approach but teaches love of other humans." The concert was the tenth in a series of performances given by Amjad Ali Khan under the title "Sarod for Harmony.""
"28.6138954"
"77.2090057"
82
"2000-12-06"
"UNITED NATIONS"
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[]
"UN General Assembly expresses concern over treatment of Baha'is in Iran"
"UNITED NATIONS — For the 15th time in 16 years, the United Nations General Assembly has expressed "concern" over human rights violations in Iran, once again specifically mentioning the "unabated pattern of persecution" against the Baha'i community of Iran, that country's largest religious minority, and calling for its complete emancipation. In a resolution passed on 4 December 2000, the Assembly called on Iran to "eliminate all forms of discrimination based on religious grounds or against persons belonging to religious minorities" and decided to continue its examination of the human rights situation in Iran for another year. Approved by a vote of 67 to 54, with 46 abstentions, the resolution followed release of a UN report that stated that some 11 members of the Baha'i community of Iran currently face death sentences because of their religious belief and that the community as a whole continues to experience discrimination in areas education, employment, travel, housing and the enjoyment of cultural activities. That report, issued on 8 September 2000 by Maurice Copithorne, the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, said there had been recent reports of "situations of discrimination and persecution" against Baha'is, including "acts of intimidation carried out in order to prevent Baha'is from participating in religious gatherings or educational activities." In its resolution, the Assembly expressed concern that Iran has failed "to comply fully with international standards in the administration of justice, the absence of guarantees of due process of law, and the absence of respect for internationally recognized legal safeguards with respect to persons belonging to religious minorities." "We are pleased that the United Nations most representative body, the General Assembly, has once again taken note of the ongoing persecution of our co-religionists in Iran," said Techeste Ahderom, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations. "Like the United Nations, we remain concerned at a wide range of human rights violations directed against the Baha'is of Iran by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran," said Mr. Ahderom. "As we have stated numerous times, the Baha'i community of Iran is entirely non-partisan in its nature and poses no threat to the Government. The Baha'is in Iran only wish to be allowed to practice their religion fully, in accordance with the numerous international human rights covenants that Iran is a party to." Since 1979, when the Islamic Republic of Iran was formed, more than 200 Baha'is have been killed or executed, hundreds have been imprisoned, and thousands of been deprived of jobs, education or property. Background information on the situation of the Baha'is in Iran may be found at www.bahai.org/article-1-8-3-6.html."
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83
"2000-12-15"
"UNITED NATIONS"
""
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[]
"Human Rights Day program at the United Nations focuses on upcoming World Conference Against Racism"
"UNITED NATIONS — Featuring a nine-city videoconference that gave it global reach, a commemoration of Human Rights Day held here on 7 December focused on preparations for next year's World Conference Against Racism, with speakers stressing the worldwide nature of racism and intolerance and the need to find new approaches that will promote the acceptance of human diversity. Speakers included Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Jyoti Singh, Executive Coordinator of the UN World Conference Against Racism; Techeste Ahderom, Chairman of the NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) Committee on Human Rights and a Baha'i International Community representative to the United Nations; and Pitso Montwedi, Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of South Africa to the UN. "My central message for the World Conference is that we are all one human family, regardless of race, color, descent, ethnic or social origin, and that for too long diversity has been regarded as a threat rather than a gift," said Ms. Robinson, who spoke from Santiago, Chile, where she was taking part in a regional preparatory meeting for the upcoming World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which is scheduled to be held in Durban, South Africa, from 31 August to 7 September 2001. "It is time that we refocus our understanding and allow diversity to be a potential for mutual enrichment and benefit," continued Ms. Robinson, who is also Secretary-General of the Racism Conference. "I believe, therefore, there is a need to generate a constructive, positive, forward-looking approach to the possible outcome of the World Conference against Racism, the first of its kind to be organized by the United Nations in the post-cold war and post-apartheid era." Pitso Montwedi of South Africa, also speaking from Santiago, expressed his hopes for next year's conference and for the efficacy of the outcome document, which will be known as the Durban Declaration and Platform of Action. "We, as the hosts of the World Conference, believe that racism is a global problem," said Mr. Montwedi. "We would like to see the widest possible participation from governments, NGOs and civil society because everyone has a stake in this issue." Mr. Ahderom, speaking in New York, addressed the concerns of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the upcoming World Conference. "NGOs are already going to the substance of the issues to be presented at the Conference," said Mr. Ahderom, noting that NGOs have been extensively involved in preparatory meetings for the Conference. "There is an effort to try to pass from the mere articulation of the problems to true implementation of a solution. "Racism is a stubborn foe with roots that run deep in the human psyche," Mr. Ahderom added. "Racism is very tenacious because it is not confined to its political manifestation. It is enduring because it takes place in the hearts and minds of individual people." The videoconference linked participants in Bogota, Chicago, Geneva, Mexico City, New York, Rome, San Francisco, Santiago and Vienna. It also enabled participants in those cities and on the Internet to ask questions and join in the discussion. In that discussion, participants expressed concern about a wide range of issues related to racism and intolerance, from the exploitation of indigenous peoples, migrant workers, the mentally ill, and refugees to the concerns of specific groups like the Dalits in India. Renata Bloom, a participant in Geneva, asked, for example: "How do we go beyond the naming of the issues to the real matter of seeing diversity as a gift?" Addressing this question, Mary Robinson said there was a need for a positive approach to teach the acceptance of the value of diversity and stressed the need for education at the primary school level. "Racism is a value system that is learned," she said. Schools should get involved by sponsoring essay contests and other such competitions to engender greater tolerance and appreciation of cultural and ethnic differences. "Racial hatreds are the fruits of ignorance," added Mr. Ahderom. "In the absence of spiritual values, people have a need to elevate one group over another." Like Ms. Robinson, Mr. Ahderom called for a far-reaching educational campaign as the answer to racial intolerance, and said that NGOs and civil society should be in the forefront of such an effort, building on the "beautiful consensus" they have already achieved in many respects. The provisional agenda of the World Conference Against Racism is grouped around five themes: (1) sources, causes, forms and contemporary manifestations of racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance; (2) victims of racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance; (3) measures of prevention, education and protection aimed at the eradication of racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance at the national, regional and international levels; (4) provision for effective remedies, recourses, redress, and other measures at the national, regional and international levels; and (5) strategies to achieve full and effective equality, including international co-operation and enhancement of the United Nations and other international mechanisms in combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia."
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84
"2001-01-18"
"JERUSALEM"
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[]
"Baha'i Chair at Hebrew University hosts conference on modern religions"
"JERUSALEM — Some 54 scholars of religion -- Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Mormon and Baha'i-- gathered in December at the Hebrew University to discuss the impact of modernism on their traditions. The conference, co-sponsored by the Chair in Baha'i Studies at the Hebrew University's Faculty of Humanities and Landegg Academy, has advanced Baha'i studies as an independent field of academic study and enriched the dialogue on the core values common to the monotheistic faiths. The First International Conference on Modern Religions and Religious Movements in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and the Babi and Baha'i Faiths, was held from 17 to 21 December 2000 and focused on common approaches within Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Baha'i Faith toward the philosophical, social and psychological challenges of modernity. "Religious studies often deal with the origins or history of religions. For example we study the origins of Islam or medieval Judaism," said Yair Zakovitch, Dean of the Hebrew University's Faculty of Humanities. "But the study of religion in modern times is so relevant, so important to the lives of people. It was very significant that these scholars, despite the delicate political situation, were able to gather in Jerusalem to discuss their commonalities and appreciate their differences. People are generally suspicious, and the walls of suspicion collapsed." The President of the Hebrew University, Menachem Magidor, described to the conference participants his vision of making the Hebrew University into a preeminent center for the study of religion, with research centers devoted to each of the monotheistic faiths. "The Chair in Baha'i Studies is the first link in this chain," he said. Moshe Sharon, the holder of the Chair in Baha'i Studies and co-convenor of the conference, said that the field of Baha'i studies is emerging as an independent area of academic inquiry and that this was the first conference convened by a major international university for the study of the Baha'i Faith and its relationship to its sister faiths. "Through this conference," said Dr. Sharon, "the Hebrew University has declared its interest in Baha'i studies and its recognition of the importance of this field alongside Jewish, Christian and Islamic studies." The other co-convenor of the conference was Hossain Danesh, the Rector of Landegg Academy, a Baha'i-sponsored institution of higher education in Switzerland. Dr. Hossain Danesh, Rector of Landegg Academy, and Dr. Moshe Sharon, holder of the Chair in Baha'i Studies at the Hebrew University, convenors of the conference on modern religions held at the Hebrew University on 17-21 December 2000."The conference focused on fundamental issues that are common to religions, held in a city and at a time when religious conflict in political terms was considerable," Dr. Danesh said. In his keynote address Dr. Danesh reviewed the common elements of the monotheistic religions that have made them cornerstones of civilizations, as well as some of the teachings and principles of the Baha'i Faith that address challenges unique to the modern age. He presented President Magidor with a volume of fine pen and ink drawings of Baha'i holy places in the Old City of Acre by the Persian architect and draftsman Hushang Seyhoun. Other presentations and panel discussions were grouped around themes such as "Religion in Modern Times: Philosophical, Social and Psychological Reflections," "Mysticism and Messianism," "Eschatology and Ethics," "Tradition, Renewal and Reform," and "Religion and the Realm of Science." Most of the panelists spoke on aspects of Judaism or the Baha'i Faith, but there were also contributions on Sufism, the Wahhabi movement, modern Islam, and Mormonism. The participants came mainly from the United States and Israel, but also from Canada, Denmark, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. Prof. Degui Cai from China's Shandong University gave a presentation on the fundamental principles of the Baha'i Faith and their relevance to Chinese society. The final panel discussion, on "Contemporary Meeting of Ultimate Differences," featured presentations about African Christians in Israel and about the Baha'i Faith, Christianity and indigenous religions in the Pacific islands. The panel closed with a presentation by Dr. Amnon Netzer of the Hebrew University on "The Jews and the Baha'i Faith." A Jew of Iranian background, Prof. Netzer spoke about the conditions that led as many as ten percent of Iran's Jews to convert to the Baha'i Faith. "The courteous talk, in which Dr. Netzer showed great respect for those who converted, created an atmosphere of interfaith reconciliation for the audience, which included several Israeli Jews with Baha'i relatives," said Robert Stockman, Coordinator of the Institute for Baha'i Studies in Wilmette, Illinois. Another significant element of the conference was the participation of many young scholars alongside well-known and outstanding professors and scholars in the field of religious studies. "The juxtaposition of youth and experience was very insightful and promising for the future of religious studies. It demonstrated that there are fine minds coming up, and this augurs well for the emergence of new insights into the role of religion in the development of civilization," said Dr. Danesh. The conference also featured a number of cultural activities. The opening day closed with a program of classical music by the King David String Ensemble, one of the foremost chamber music groups in Israel. Among the selections they performed was a piece well known to Baha'is, "Dastam Bigir Abdu'l-Baha," which the composer had arranged especially for the occasion. Kiu Haghighi, a Persian Baha'i and master of the santour, closed the conference with a virtuoso performance of an original piece he composed for the event. On the final day of the conference, 21 December, the participants made a special trip to the Baha'i World Center in Haifa and Acre. They visited the Shrine of the Bab and toured the nearly completed garden terraces stretching above and below the Shrine on the slopes of Mount Carmel. After a luncheon at the Seat of the Universal House of Justice, they visited the Shrine of Baha'u'llah and the Baha'i holy places in Acre. A compilation of articles based on the proceedings of the conference will be published during the coming year, and many of the papers will be made available through the Landegg Academy Web site, www.landegg.org. The Hebrew University and Landegg Academy have agreed to sponsor annual conferences of this nature, with the venue alternating between Jerusalem and the Landegg campus in Wienacht, Switzerland. The overarching theme of this series of conferences will be "Religion and Science." The next conference is planned for late January 2002 at Landegg. The Chair in Baha'i Studies at the Hebrew University was established in 1999 as the first academic chair in the world devoted to the study of the Baha'i Faith. Other academic centers and programs, most notably the Baha'i Chair for World Peace at the University of Maryland's Center for International Development and Conflict Management, have been established to study Baha'i perspectives on and contributions to other academic disciplines. "The systematic study of Baha'i religion, history and literature was introduced into the Hebrew University in the 1990s," wrote Prof. Sharon in the published proceedings of the dedication ceremonies for the Baha'i Chair, held at Mount Scopus and at the Baha'i World Center in Haifa in June 1999. "The magnitude of the material involved, and the vast scope of research which has already been done in the field persuaded the University of the necessity of creating a proper framework for research and teaching designed to accommodate the future development of the field within the academic vision of the University of forming a cluster of research centers dedicated to the study of the major religions of the world.""
"31.79592425"
"35.21198075969497"
85
"2000-09-19"
"RIO DE JANEIRO"
""
"Brazil"
[]
"Peace Monument in Brazil receives final earth samples"
"RIO DE JANEIRO — Nearly a decade after being inaugurated, an hourglass-shaped monument in Rio de Janeiro now contains soil samples from nearly 150 countries, a symbolic representation of the oneness of humanity and the global cooperation needed to achieve lasting peace. In a ceremony on 19 September 2000, the final earth samples from 26 nations were deposited in the Peace Monument, which was built by the Baha’i International Community and the Baha’i Community of Brazil in 1992 for the 1992 Earth Summit. "Peace is the paramount need of humanity today," said Bani Dugal-Gujral, a Baha’i International Community representative to the United Nations, who was the keynote speaker at the ceremony. "The soils that have been contributed by some 150 nations are at the heart of the monument. Each of these soils came with a testimony for peace." Also in attendance were representatives of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO), several diplomatic missions in Brazil, local authorities, members of several Brazilian NGOs, as well as representatives of the Baha’i Community of Brazil. To deposit the final 26 soils, a human chain was formed and each of the samples of soil was passed from hand to hand to the top of the monument, where a street child, who happened to be passing by at that moment, placed it in the monument. The street child was the only youth present, and he brought a very special symbolic effect to the ceremony. A "human Chain" is formed to deposit earth samples from 26 nations in the Peace Monument in Rio de Janeiro, bringing the total number of nations represented to nearly 150.Designed by the renowned Brazilian sculptor Siron Franco, the five-meter concrete and ceramic monument is located near the entrance to the Santos Dumont Airport in Rio de Janeiro, just north of Flamengo Park and the site of the 1992 Global Forum, the parallel conference of non-governmental organizations held during the 1992 Earth Summit, which was formally known as the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. The monument is composed of two pyramids, one inverted on top of the other, creating an hourglass shape that serves as a reminder that time is running out for humanity to unite in a spirit of global cooperation. Etched in four languages on the four sides of the upper pyramid is a quote from Baha’u’llah, who wrote more than a century ago: "The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens." The quote is displayed in English, Portuguese, Chinese and Terena, an indigenous language of Brazil. The soil of 42 nations was deposited in the monument at its inauguration on 14 June 1992, held as one of the closing ceremonies of the Earth Summit and Global Forum. The Baha’i International Community had requested the soil samples from the government delegations attending the Earth Summit, and many of the samples were taken from sacred or historic sites. Soil from Iceland, for example, was taken from the site of Iceland's first parliament, considered the country's most sacred and historic spot. In the years since then, Baha’is have continued to solicit soil samples from other nations and have held several ceremonies to deposit the samples in the monument. Ms. Dugal-Gujral said the monument serves as an enduring symbol of the spirit of global understanding and world citizenship that is characterized by the Earth Summit and the Global Forum. "The Earth Summit fundamentally changed the world's understanding of and approach to social and economic development, linking it inextricably with environmental presentation," said Ms. Dugal-Gujral. "The monument's symmetry indicates that sustainable development requires a balanced approach to the challenges of conservation and development. This symmetry also suggests that men and women must, as equals and in partnership, work to bring about peace, justice and sustainable development.""
"-22.9110137"
"-43.2093727"
87
"2000-12-27"
"HAIFA"
""
"Israel"
[]
"Israel Postal Authority to issue commemorative stamp for the opening of the Terraces of the Shrine of the Bab"
"HAIFA, Israel — The Philatelic Service Department of the Israel Postal Authority will issue a commemorative stamp to mark the completion of the Terraces of the Shrine of the Bab. The nine-centimetre-long stamp will be released in April 2001, shortly before the official opening of the Terraces in May. The Terraces, stretching above and below the Shrine of the Bab on the north slope of Mount Carmel in Haifa, have been built as a majestic path of approach to one of the holiest sites of pilgrimage for members of the Baha'i Faith (see related story). A souvenir leaf containing the stamp and a description of the Shrine of the Bab and the Terraces will be released by the Philatelic Service Department on the day of the official opening of the Terraces. As collectors' items, the souvenir leaves will be printed only once."
"32.8191218"
"34.9983856"
88
"2000-12-24"
"BETHESDA"
""
"United States"
[]
"New Book from University Press of Maryland Explores Baha'i Views of Governance and Globalization"
"BETHESDA, United States — A new book from the University Press of Maryland by sociologist Nader Saiedi examines the philosophical and theological underpinnings of the concepts of world order and governance found in the writings of Baha'u'llah. In "Logos and Civilization: Spirit, History, and Order in the Writings of Baha'u'llah," Dr. Saiedi argues that Baha'u'llah's writings, despite the great diversity of their styles and the topics they address, are animated by the common purpose of establishing the oneness of humanity in all spheres, whether spiritual, ethical, legal, or social. "There has been a tendency among some scholars to perceive the writings of Baha'u'llah as a chaotic phenomena with internal contradictions and no overall unity," said Dr. Saiedi during a recent interview. "The book is structured to show the overall harmony of Baha'u'llah's writings, which were revealed in roughly three stages, addressed first to the mystics, then the divines and religious leaders, and finally to the kings and rulers of His day. He used different languages: the language of the mystic, the truth-seeker or the law-giver - but in all stages, the animating purpose was the same." More than a century ago, Baha'u'llah wrote about the appearance of a new social order of global dimensions. "The world's equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating influence of this most great, this new World Order," He wrote. "Mankind's ordered life hath been revolutionized through the agency of this unique, this wondrous System, the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed." Dr. Saiedi examines Baha'u'llah's conception of the three component terms of the phrase 'new world order,' arguing that they correspond to the three stages in which Baha'u'llah revealed his major works. "Baha'u'llah's early ethical and mystical works contain His idea of the necessary conditions for the possibility of order," said Dr. Saiedi. "The term 'new' reflects the historical consciousness found in His later hermeneutic and theological writings. The fundamental characteristic of 'newness' in our age is the global nature of the challenges facing humanity. Therefore the term 'world' defines Baha'u'llah's basic position toward history and present day society and corresponds to the final phase of His revelation when he revealed laws of personal and social conduct." Dr. Saiedi discusses the philosophical premises of Baha'u'llah's concept of globalization, emphasizing its qualitative difference from both Middle Eastern and Western political philosophy and showing that it represents a new conception of civil society and state. "The solution to any problem in our age has to be global," said Dr. Saiedi. "Take for example the question of citizenship. This has been largely ignored in discussions of social injustice, which have focused instead on questions of race, class or gender. Yet today one's national citizenship is one of the greatest determinants of one's access to social justice. This accident of birth determines one's entitlements and perpetuates a system of global inequality." The book's initial chapters sketch the background context, in Islamic Sufism, of Baha'u'llah's early mystical works and explore the structure of Baha'u'llah's mystical treatises, the Four Valleys and the Seven Valleys, which describe the stages in the spiritual journey of the human soul. Later chapters discuss the Kitab-i-Iqan (The Book of Certitude), Baha'u'llah's principal hermeneutical work, and the Kitab-i-Badi (The Most Wondrous Book), which reaffirms the foundational principles of the Kitab-i-Iqan and is largely unknown to Western audiences. The final chapters investigate the structure and constitutive principles of the Kitab-i-Aqdas (The Most Holy Book), regarded as the charter or book of laws for a global civilization. Dr. Saiedi received his M.S. degree in economics from Pahlavi University in Shiraz, Iran, and his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin."
"38.98127255"
"-77.12335871396549"
89
"2000-12-05"
"NEW DELHI"
""
"India"
[]
"Baha'i Temple in India continues to receive awards and recognitions"
"NEW DELHI — The Baha'i House of Worship here, long recognized as an architectural triumph and one of India's most visited sites, has received several more popular and professional recognitions and awards in recent months. In China, the House of Worship, which is also known as the Lotus Temple due to its distinctive lotus-shaped design, was recognized by the Architectural Society of China as one of 100 canonical works of the 20th century in the recently published "World Architecture 1900-2000: A Critical Mosaic, Volume Eight, South Asia." The book is one of a series of ten volumes organised by the Society and endorsed by the International Union of Architects, in co-ordination with the XX World Architects Congress convened in June 1999 in Beijing, China. According to the editor, Mr. Rahul Mehrotra, the book is intended to "reflect and document architectural achievements in a multicultural world background, as represented by 100 canonical works of this century." The selections, based on a process of nominations by architects from around the world, include works by master architects such as Le Corbusier, Edwin Lutyens and Louis I. Khan. The House of Worship, which appears as the book's cover illustration, is described as "a powerful icon of great beauty that goes beyond its pure function of serving as a congregation space to become an important architectural symbol of the city." Mr. Fariborz Sahba, architect of the Lotus Temple in India, and Dr. Hans Kung, a Catholic theologian known for his work on a "global ethic," receive the GlobArt Academy 2000 award at a ceremony in the Pernegg cloister, Austria.| From left to right: Dr. Angerer, resident Abbot of Pernegg Church; Mr. Sahba; Dr. Kung; and Mr. Bijan Khadem-Missagh, well-known violinist and president of GlobArt Academy.In Austria, the GlobArt Academy in Vienna presented its "GlobArt Academy 2000" awards to the architect of the Lotus Temple, Fariborz Sahba, and to Catholic theologian Hans Kung for their work in overcoming religious barriers. The awards were presented on 3 September 2000 at a ceremony in the church of Pernegg cloister attended by ambassadors and cultural attaches of Canada, Germany, Switzerland and India as well as representatives of the Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and Baha'i communities of Austria. Mr. Sahba received the award in recognition of "the magnitude of the service of [this] Taj Mahal of the 20th century in promoting the unity and harmony of people of all nations, religions and social strata, to an extent unsurpassed by any other architectural monument worldwide." A model of the Temple, brought specially for the occasion from the museum of the World Center for Peace in Verdun, France, was on public display for one month in the nearby town of Horn. In France, the magazine "Actualite des Religions" published a four-page article on the Lotus Temple in the fall of 2000 in a special edition called "Les religions et leurs chef-d'Ouvres" (Religions and Their Masterpieces). In Spain, the Centro Andaluz de Fotografia published "Arquitectos de Unidad," a coffee table book featuring photographs of the House of Worship. In India, national newspapers recently carried a 2-page advertisement for IndiaTimes with an image of the Lotus Temple and the legend: "One of the most visited sites in India. The Baha'i Temple, an architectural landmark. Through these gates millions of people enter, and find what they are looking for." The House of Worship was dedicated to public worship in 1986 and has since become one of the most visited buildings in the world, with an average of 3 million visitors each year. In the first few years of its existence, the House of Worship won numerous architectural and engineering awards, including a "special award" from the Institution of Structural Engineers of the U.K. in 1987; the "Excellence in Religious Art and Architecture 1987" First Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects; and an award in 1990 from the American Concrete Institute recognizing it as one of the finest concrete structures of the world."
"28.6138954"
"77.2090057"
90
"2000-12-18"
"OSLO"
""
"Norway"
[]
"Interfaith dialogue participants meet with King of Norway"
"OSLO, Norway — Participants in a national interfaith dialogue project met privately with King Harald V of Norway on 11 December 2000 to present the results of the year-long project and discuss their commitment to extending and broadening the dialogue into the future. Last year, the King was the guest of honor at the launching of the interfaith dialogue project, held at the University Aula with Professor Hans Kung and the Bishop of Oslo, Mr. Gunnar Stalsett, as the keynote speakers. Six dialogue groups - on the issues of religious freedom; family life; cohabitation, sexuality and equality; environmental issues; violence and non-violence; and religious and values education - were formed at the event and have continued to meet throughout the year. "The personal interest shown by His Majesty in interfaith dialogue was deeply appreciated by all the participants and has lent weight to the project," said Mrs. Britt Strandlie Thoresen, who represented the Baha'i Faith at the meeting. "In the year since we launched this effort, we have formed bonds of fellowship and understanding among Norway's various faith communities, which we hope will contribute to an atmosphere that welcomes diversity in our increasingly multicultural country." The interfaith dialogue project was sponsored by Norway's Commission on Human Values and the Cooperation Council on Religious and Life-stance Communities, one of Norway's principal interfaith organizations. According to a government press release, the Commission on Human Values was appointed in January 1998 with a three-year mandate to "contribute to a broad mobilization for human values and socio-ethics," to "enhance positive joint values, and strengthen the responsibility for the environment and community" and "to work against indifference, and promote personal responsibility, participation and democracy." The representatives who met with the King were Mr. Dag Hareide, member of the Values Commission and main initiator of the project; Mr. Egil Lothe, head of the Buddhist organization in Norway; Mr. Inge Eidsvag, member of the board of the Values Commission; Mrs. Nazim Riaz of the Islamic Council of Norway; Rev. Ornulf Steen of the Church of Norway; Mrs. Barbro Sveen, coordinator of the Cooperation Council for Religions and Life-stance Communities; and Mrs. Thoresen, member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Norway. The half-hour meeting with the King took place at the Royal Castle in Oslo. Mr. Hareide gave an overview of the work of the six dialogue groups in the year since the opening event at the University Aula. "This led to a broad conversation about the importance of interfaith dialogue, its possibilities and limits, and its importance as a step toward the removal of prejudices, toward mutual respect and deep tolerance, leading in the end to a peace-building process," Mrs. Thoresen reported. "His Majesty told us about his school days and preparation for religious confirmation and said that he had been given broad information about other religions as early as in 1953. He found this very valuable, he said, because Norway is now a multicultural and multi-religious country and he represents all inhabitants of Norway. The King stated the importance of listening to each other, and not using the dialogue project as a platform for persisting in one's own viewpoints." Because the mandate of Values Commission expires at the end of December 2000, the Cooperation Council on Religious and Life-stance Communities will take on the task of carrying forward the dialogues."
"59.9133301"
"10.7389701"
91
"2001-02-05"
"PERTH"
""
"Australia"
[]
"Full-length feature film, inspired by the Baha'i writings, premieres in Australia"
"PERTH, Australia — A tale of love and oppression, set in Australia's Outback in the 1890s and focusing on the story of an Aboriginal girl and a group of Lutheran missionaries, had its world premiere at the Perth International Arts Festival today. The full-length feature film, entitled "Serenades," was written and directed by Mojgan Khadem, an Iranian-born Baha'i from Adelaide, South Australia. The film received a glowing review ahead of its release in an industry publication, Screen International, where critic Frank Hatherley described it as an international gem." "Sandra Levy's production is a small miracle, with exquisite landscape cinematography by Russell Boyd and a moving cross-ethnic soundtrack," Mr. Hatherley wrote. Shot on location in the South Australian outback, Serenades is Ms. Khadem's first feature film. It stars Alice Haines and Aden Young. Producer Sandra Levy and director of photography Russell Boyd both have a long list of major films to their credit. "Serenades" is set in the 1890s when German Lutheran missionaries were trying to bring Christianity to South Australia's Aboriginal people. It tells the story of a young woman who has an Afghan father and an Aboriginal mother. "The film does have a love story at the very center of it," said Ms. Khadem. "It's basically a journey of one woman through very diverse cultures and religions. And it's a journey where she is desperately searching for identity, for a sense of love." Ms. Khadem said she found her inspiration for the story in the Baha'i writings. "One day when I was reading the Book of Certitude, I came across a quote from Baha'u'llah, which made it very clear what my film needed to be about. It needed to be about oppression, and what that oppression meant," she explained. "At the centre of that idea was an Aboriginal girl who felt this grave oppression that Baha'u'llah speaks about, where she looks everywhere for God, but she can't find Him," Ms. Khadem said. The passage that inspired her was this: "What 'oppression' is greater than that which hath been recounted? What 'oppression' is more grievous than that a soul seeking the truth, and wishing to attain unto the knowledge of God, should know not where to go for it and from whom to seek it? For opinions have sorely differed, and the ways unto the attainment of God have multiplied." Ms. Khadem's family left Iran in 1978, and settled in Spain as refugees before migrating to Australia three years later. Her interest in film developed from a passion for theatre and, later, photography. She graduated from the prestigious Australian Film, Television and Radio School in Sydney, New South Wales, in 1991. The film cost $3.7 million Australian dollars to make. More than half the funding came from Australian government's Film Finance Corporation. The rest came from the private Southern Star company and the South Australian Film Corporation. Palace Films has purchased the Australian distribution rights. After screening for two weeks at the Perth Festival, the film is expected to open across Australia in April. -- Reported by Susan Couhbor"
"-31.9527121"
"115.8604796"
92
"2001-03-21"
"GENEVA"
""
"Switzerland"
[]
"Baha'is release statement on racial tolerance"
"GENEVA — In observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, observed 21 March each year, the Baha'i International Community released the following statement, which was presented to Mary Robinson, the High Commissioner for Human Rights: "The coming together of the peoples of the world in a harmonious and creative relationship is the crucial need of the present hour. In the wake of advances in human knowledge which have deepened bonds of interdependence and contracted the planet, the central task now before all its inhabitants is laying the foundations of a global society that can reflect the oneness of human nature. Creating such a universal culture of collaboration and conciliation will require a return to spiritual awareness and responsibility. "More than a century ago, Baha'u'llah declared that humankind was entering a new era in its history when accelerating processes of unification would soon compel recognition that humanity is a single people with a common destiny. In appealing to humanity to accept the central truth of its oneness, and to set aside the barriers of race, religion and nationality which have been the principal causes of conflict throughout history, Baha'u'llah urges, 'regard ye not one another as strangers. Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch.' There is, He said, no possibility of achieving world peace until the fundamental principle of unity has been accepted and given practical effect in the organization of society: 'The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.' And: 'Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship...So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.' "The unity that must underpin a peaceful and just social order is a unity which embraces and honors diversity. Oneness and diversity are complementary and inseparable. That human consciousness necessarily operates through an infinite diversity of individual minds and motivations detracts in no way from its essential unity. Indeed, it is precisely an inhering diversity that distinguishes unity from homogeneity or uniformity. Acceptance of the concept of unity in diversity, therefore, implies the development of a global consciousness, a sense of world citizenship, and a love for all of humanity. It induces every individual to realize that, since the body of humankind is one and indivisible, each member of the human race is born into the world as a trust of the whole. It further suggests that if a peaceful international community is to emerge, then the complex and varied cultural expressions of humanity must be allowed to develop and flourish, as well as to interact with one another in ever-changing patterns of civilization. 'The diversity in the human family,' the Baha'i writings emphasize, 'should be the cause of love and harmony, as it is in music where many different notes blend together in the making of a perfect chord.' "From this basic principle of the unity of the earth's peoples is derived virtually all concepts concerning human liberty and well-being. If the human race is one, any notion that a particular racial, ethnic, or national group is in some way superior to the rest of humanity must be dismissed; society must reorganize its life to give practical expression to the principle of equality for all its members regardless of color, creed or gender; and all individuals must be given the opportunity to realize their inherent potential and thereby contribute to 'an ever-advancing civilization.' "For too much of history, the evil of racism has violated human dignity. Its influence has retarded the development of its victims, corrupted its perpetrators and blighted human progress. Overcoming its devastating effects will thus require conscious, deliberate and sustained effort. Indeed, nothing short of genuine love, extreme patience, true humility and prayerful reflection will succeed in effacing its pernicious stain from human affairs. 'Close your eyes to racial differences,' is Baha'u'llah's counsel, 'and welcome all with the light of oneness.' "Clearly, the promotion of tolerance and mutual understanding among the diverse segments of the human race cannot be a passive or rhetorical exercise. All forms of provincialism, all insularities and prejudices must be directly confronted. The implementation of appropriate legal measures that safeguard the rights and opportunities of all and the adoption of educational initiatives that foster human solidarity and global citizenship should be among the first practical steps taken by all nations. "The moral leadership provided by religious communities must undoubtedly be a key component of any such effort. To ensure a constructive role for religion, however, the followers of all faiths must acknowledge the strife and suffering caused by those who have appropriated the symbols and instruments of religion for their own selfish purposes. Fanaticism and conflict poison the wells of tolerance and represent corrupt expressions of true religious values. The challenge facing all religious leaders is to contemplate, with hearts filled with the spirit of compassion and a desire for truth, the plight of humanity, and to ask themselves whether they cannot, in humility before their Almighty Creator, submerge their theological differences in a great spirit of mutual forbearance that will enable them to work together for the advancement of social justice and peace. In His exhortation 'to observe tolerance and righteousness,' Baha'u'llah affirms that it is possible to both believe in God and to be tolerant. "The path of unity and reconciliation is the only path available to the human family. A world in which all nations, races, creeds and classes are closely and permanently united is not a utopian vision but an inevitable and vital necessity. 'Illumine and hallow your hearts; let them not be profaned by the thorns of hate or the thistles of malice,' Baha'u'llah warns. 'Ye dwell in one world, and have been created through the operation of one Will. Blessed is he who mingleth with all men in a spirit of utmost kindliness and love.' ""
"46.2017559"
"6.1466014"
93
"2001-04-19"
"UNITED NATIONS"
""
""
[]
"Baha'i International Community issues statement on the spiritual dimension of sustainable development"
"UNITED NATIONS — The Baha'i International Community today issued a statement, entitled "Sustainable Development: the Spiritual Dimension," for the first session of the United Nations Preparatory Committee of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Scheduled to be held 30 April-2 May at the United Nations in New York, the Preparatory Committee meeting will provide direction for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which is scheduled to be held next year in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Summit will focus on reviewing environmental progress made worldwide since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Here follows the complete text of the statement, which was issued by the United Nations Office of the Baha'i International Community: Some nine years ago, over the course of the Earth Summit process, the governments of the world, with significant contributions from global civil society, crafted Agenda 21, a remarkably forward-looking strategy for the achievement of sustainable development worldwide. Some nine years later, the work of determining the next steps in the evolution of Agenda 21 has been placed upon the shoulders of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. The Summit has been called to "identify major constraints hindering the implementation of Agenda 21" and to "address new challenges and opportunities that have emerged since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development." It is in identifying these major constraints, challenges and opportunities that the Summit's Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) must necessarily come face to face with spiritual issues. "No matter how far the material world advances," the Baha'i Writings state, "it cannot establish the happiness of mankind. Only when material and spiritual civilization are linked and coordinated will happiness be assured... for in material civilization good and evil advance together and maintain the same pace." The Baha'i International Community is convinced that unless and until spiritual issues become central to the development process, the establishment of a sustainable global civilization will prove impossible. For the vast majority of the world's people the idea that human nature is fundamentally spiritual is an incontrovertible truth. Indeed, this perception of reality is the defining cultural experience for most of the world's people and is inseparable from how they perceive themselves and the world around them. It is, therefore, only by bringing a focus on the spiritual dimension of human reality that development policies and programs can truly reflect the experiences, conditions and aspirations of the planet's inhabitants and elicit their heartfelt support and active participation. On the one hand, the governments of the world have, collectively, begun to acknowledge a spiritual dimension to development. This can be seen in the global action plans that emerged from the great world conferences held in the 1990's by the United Nations. Agenda 21, for example, calls for "social, economic and spiritual development," recognizing that "individuals should be allowed to develop their full potential, including healthy physical, mental and spiritual development." Subsequent declarations and action plans have reinforced this call and gone further. For example, in the Copenhagen Declaration the governments of the world unambiguously affirm that "our societies must respond more effectively to the material and spiritual needs of individuals, their families and the communities in which they live... not only as a matter of urgency but also as a matter of sustained and unshakeable commitment through the years ahead." In the Beijing Platform for Action they agree that "[r] ligion, spirituality and belief play a central role in the lives of millions of women and men, in the way they live and in the aspirations they have for the future." And in the Habitat Agenda, the world's governments commit to "achieving a world of greater stability and peace, built on ethical and spiritual vision." On the other hand, beyond such general statements and commitments, these global agreements offer little understanding of what the terms "spirituality," "spiritual vision," and "spiritual development" mean in principle or in practice. If, indeed, spirituality is as crucial to sustainable development as these global action plans have avowed, then it is time to move beyond generalities, to explore, in depth, the spiritual principles at the heart of development and to consider fully their ramifications for all stages of the development process. This exploration of spiritual principles is completely in line with the PrepCom's mandate to "identify major constraints hindering the implementation of Agenda 21" and to "address new challenges and opportunities that have emerged" since the Earth Summit. Any strategies for overcoming such constraints and challenges as war, poverty, social disintegration, extreme nationalism, greed, corruption and apathy, which do not take into account spiritual principles will prove ephemeral, at best. In considering new opportunities for overcoming these constraints and challenges, the PrepCom should look to the remarkable development of interfaith relations and the expansion of interfaith initiatives. Religious and spiritual traditions are increasingly coming together to foster friendliness, fellowship and understanding among their diverse communities. They are also increasingly working together on policies, programs and initiatives with secular bodies ranging from private enterprises and organizations of civil society, to governments and international institutions. In such work, religious and spiritual value systems are viewed not as separate from "real world concerns," but as vital sources of knowledge and motivation, as wellsprings of values, insights, and energy without which social cohesion and collective action are difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. This blossoming of interfaith work can be seen in such initiatives as the World Faiths Development Dialogue; the World Conference on Religion and Peace; the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC); the Parliament of the World's Religions; and the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders. It can be read in the numerous joint declarations and agreements in which the religions have articulated a common vision of humanity's future based on such universal principles as love, justice, compassion, moderation, humility, sharing, service, peace and the oneness of the human family. In seeking to incorporate spiritual principles into its deliberations, the PrepCom should take advantage of this new stage in the relations among the world's religions. It might do so by making the topic "Sustainable Development: the Spiritual Dimension" one of the "main themes for the Summit." It could then initiate a major review of international agreements, proclamations and statements which focus on religious and spiritual values, particularly as they relate to and impact the development process. This review should begin with the global action plans of the world conferences of the 1990's, since it was here that the governments of the world publicly acknowledged the importance of spiritual values in development. It should then be expanded to include major interfaith declarations and agreements and other relevant initiatives. While this review is being conducted, the PrepCom could facilitate a series of consultations involving both representatives and leaders of various religious and spiritual traditions. These consultations, which might be held before the next PrepCom, should focus on spiritual principles as they relate to Agenda 21 and sustainable development. A series of regional consultations followed by an international consultation might be held, or, if that is not feasible, then, at the very least, an international consultation should be organized. The results of these consultations and of the "documents review" should be issued as a UN document for use by the PrepCom in its deliberations. Although these proposed efforts are modest, the world's governments would, by supporting them, be sending a clear message that they are serious about their previous commitments to incorporate spiritual considerations into the development process. More important, however, the "documents review" and the global consultations would undoubtedly produce innovative ideas and approaches and might possibly generate a powerful vision based on spiritual principles - principles which, because they resonate with the human soul, have the power to motivate the sacrifices and changes that will be needed if humanity is to overcome the seemingly intractable problems it faces. Ultimately, the creation of a peaceful and just global civilization, in which the diverse peoples of the world live in harmony with one another and with the natural world, will require a significant reorientation of individual and collective goals and a profound transformation in attitudes and behaviors. Such far-reaching changes will come about only by addressing the non-material dimension of reality and drawing on humanity's vast spiritual resources. end - To read the statement with footnotes, go to: http://www.bic-un.bahai.org/01-0430.htm"
""
""
94
"2001-04-15"
"HAIFA"
""
"Israel"
[]
"Opening of Baha'i terraces on Mount Carmel to be available live around the world by satellite"
"HAIFA, Israel — Coverage of ceremonies inaugurating a series of majestic terrace gardens extending nearly one kilometer up the side of Mount Carmel will be available live by satellite around the world on 22 and 23 May 2001. More than 3,000 Baha'is from some 170 countries are expected to attend the outdoor event on the evening of 22 May, which will feature an original oratorio, performed by a symphony orchestra and choir assembled at the base of the terraces. At the height of the ceremony, the kilometer-long terraces will be dramatically illuminated. They extend from the base to the crest of a mountain that has been considered holy throughout recorded history. The ceremonies will mark the end of a 10-year, US$250 million project to complete key elements of the spiritual and administrative center of the Baha'i Faith. Two major administrative buildings have also been completed on Mount Carmel during the project. On 23 May, following concert and inauguration, indigenous performers will lead a devotional program, and the thousands of celebrants, many in colorful national dress, will ascend the terraces for the first time. This event will also be carried live by satellite. "Given the universal character of the Faith and its vision for global unity and peace, it makes sense that coverage of these events is available worldwide, " said Douglas Samimi-Moore, director of the Office of Public Information at the Baha'i World Centre. "This celebration tells a story of sacrifice, of transformation from deprivation and darkness into beauty and light. That such a diverse and widespread community could complete these tasks and share them with the people of the world should give us all confidence for the future." The celebration of the opening of the gardens will last through the week. The festivities precede the opening of the gardens to the public in June, when visitors and tourists of all backgrounds and beliefs will be able to enjoy the gardens, everyday, free of charge. Satlink Communications Ltd will be transmitting the events from 13.30 – 17.30 GMT on 22 May, and from 05.30 – 08.30 GMT on 23 May. Inside Israel, the events can be seen on the EUTELSAT W1 and on television channel 9. Outside Israel, coverage will be on EUTELSAT-W1 (Israel, Europe and the Middle East), INTELSAT 604- (Africa Coverage), ASIASAT 2 (Asia Coverage), TELSTAR 6 (North America), NSS 806 (South America), and NSS 803 (USA). The Israel Broadcasting Authority is also preparing a full-length live radio broadcast of the May 22 event on its flagship music station, Kol Israel (Voice of Israel), with narration. The IBA will also act as the sponsoring station to carry the program to the European Broadcast Union and thereby to national radio outlets in many member countries. More information about the satellite up-link of the opening of the Terraces is available at http://terraces.bahai.org/satellite.en.html."
"32.8191218"
"34.9983856"
96
"2001-05-02"
"HAIFA"
""
"Israel"
[]
"Live web cast of opening ceremonies of Baha'i terraces on Mount Carmel"
"HAIFA, Israel — The opening ceremonies of the Baha'i terraces on Mount Carmel will be carried on a live, on-demand Web cast on 22 May 2001 at 15:00 GMT. The Web cast will enable the public and many of the world's five million Baha'is to watch the proceedings from their homes. The ceremonies will mark the end of a 10-year, US$250 million project to complete key elements of the spiritual and administrative center of the Baha'i Faith. The majestic garden terraces now stretch one kilometer from the crest of the mountain to the base, and surround the gold-domed Shrine of the Bab, a well-known symbol of the city of Haifa. More than 3,000 Baha'is from 170 countries are expected to attend the open-air event on the evening of 22 May, which will feature specially commissioned music by contemporary composers from Norway and Tajikistan. At the height of the ceremony, the terraces will be dramatically illuminated. The free Web cast will be accessible on the Baha'i World News Service at www.bahaiworldnews.org in Real Media format and will be archived for future access. Other Web sites are free to establish links to this site for the Web cast. The Web cast is copyrighted and may not be used for commercial purposes. An official set of VHS tapes will be available for sale at a later date."
"32.8191218"
"34.9983856"
115
"2001-05-15"
"HAIFA"
""
"Israel"
[]
"High excitement and lofty expectations for Baha'is heading to Israel for terraces inauguration ceremony"
"HAIFA, Israel — When Henrietta Josias arrives here at the end of the week, it will be her first time in Israel -- and only the second time in her life to travel outside of her native South Africa. Like an estimated 3,000 other Baha'is who will be coming for the inauguration of a majestic series of garden terraces on Mount Carmel here on 22 May, Ms. Josias comes with high excitement and lofty expectations for what she believes will be one of the highlights of her life. "To me, it is a phenomenal thing that is happening to me," said the 45-year-old mother and flea market sales lady from Cape Town. "Prior to becoming a Baha'i, I would never have had any idea about traveling to Israel, or anywhere else for that matter, coming from a very disadvantaged community in South Africa. "But being a Baha'i opens your vision to the world around you," said Ms. Josias, who became a Baha'i nine years ago. "I feel I'm part of this great process where people are trying to become citizens of this whole wide world and so that we see one another as brothers and sisters." That sentiment -- to help foster the processes of world peace and human unity -- indeed underlies the construction of the kilometer-long terraces on Mount Carmel, which is sacred not only to Baha'is but also to Christians, Jews and Muslims. Built over 10 years at a cost of some US$250 million, the terraces and two new adjacent administrative buildings are designed in part to offer to humanity at large a vision of peace and harmony. Dedication ceremonies will begin at dusk on 22 May 2001 with an open-air world premiere concert, which will be available live worldwide by satellite and Internet webcast. On 23 May, indigenous musicians will perform and the thousands of celebrants, many in colorful national dress, will ascend the terraces for the first time. The diversity of the gathering will itself reflect the ideals of the Baha'i Faith, which aims to enlist people everywhere, from all races, religions and nationalities, in a common endeavor to build a just, peaceful and ever-advancing civilization. There are about five million Baha'is and the Faith is the second-most widespread independent religion after Christianity, with communities in more than 200 countries and territories. "It will be like a 'preview' of how the world will become in the future, showing a cross-section of humankind coming together in unity," said Nogol Rahbin, a 20-year-old medical student, who will be among the delegation from Sweden. "To me, this will be a chance to experience the vision that the founder of the Baha'i Faith, Baha'u'llah, gave to humanity about 150 years ago." Baha'i communities from more than 170 countries are planning to send delegations. And the list of delegates likewise spans the gamut of professions, social and economic class, and racial and religious backgrounds. Attendees range from a New York investment banker to a young woman from the Fulnio people in northeastern Brazil; from a Nepalese journalist to an architectural student from Belarus. "To me, this event will show how a great many people, from all different locations and backgrounds, can come together in unity, to help create something as close to perfection as I can think of," said Alexandar Sawka, a 17-year-old student from St. Johns, Antigua, West Indies. "The completion of a project of this magnitude is a great step forward for any religion." The delegates were chosen by various means to represent their countries at the inauguration ceremonies by their National Spiritual Assemblies, the nation-level governing bodies in the Baha'i Faith. Limited to 19 delegates each, National Spiritual Assemblies around the world used different methods to choose their delegations. Some Assemblies gave weight to individuals who had given exemplary service over the years while others simply held a lottery. Sara Nobre, like other members of the delegation from Portugal, was chosen by lot. The 24-year-old staffing manager from Lisbon feels incredibly lucky. "The event is the end result of many years of hard work from Baha'is everywhere," said Ms. Nobre, who, like millions of other Baha'is, contributed funds to the project, which was built entirely with donations from Baha'is around the world. "It is the fruit of perseverance and love." Jean Scales, one of the delegates from the United States of America, feels honored to have been selected. "I couldn't believe it at first," said Jean Scales, a 71-year-old retired English professor who now lives in Durham, North Carolina. "I have no idea why I've been chosen. I guess it is because I've been active over the years." Dr. Scales has served the Faith on a number of levels since becoming a Baha'i in 1960. Last year, for example, she toured South Africa and Swaziland with her husband, Jay, to promote the Faith's ideals. Like others selected to travel to Haifa, she views the inauguration of the terraces as a once-in-a-lifetime event, one that she believes will likewise showcase the Faith's message and teachings. "The construction of these gardens is a reason for humanity to have hope," said Dr. Scales. "So many people just don't see any hope in the world today, between wars and rumors of wars. But this shows that humankind can come together." Dr. Scales believes that the beauty of the gardens -- she has seen numerous photographs of them -- reflects the harmonious blend of spiritual and material attributes that Baha'is believe is needed in the world. "Around the world, Baha'is are asked to engage in social and economic development projects to do things that will help their communities," she said. "They don't just pray. Rather, they seek to combine the material and the spiritual." Dr. Scales and others also believe that the completion of the Baha'i projects on Mount Carmel, which include the construction of two new administrative buildings, also represent a significant fulfillment of prophecy, both for Baha'is and others. "I do know that Mount Carmel is important in Christian and Jewish history, and that the Holy Land itself is important to many of the religions in the world," she said. "In the main Christian prayer, they speak of 'Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.' To me, this is a fulfillment of that prayer in that we Baha'is believe we are helping to build the Kingdom of God on earth.""
"32.8191218"
"34.9983856"
117
"2001-05-20"
"HAIFA"
""
"Israel"
[]
"Seeing Mount Carmel terraces for the first time, Baha'is feel as if they are in "paradise""
"HAIFA, Israel — Like so many others among the some 3,000 Baha'is arriving here today and seeing for the first time a series of magnificent gardened terraces on Mount Carmel, Salomeea Romanescu of Romania could only compare her experience to visiting "paradise on earth." "The sound of the water is like a divine song," said the 37-year-old educator from Bucharest. "Combined with the smell of the flowers and the harmony of the colors, all these sensations, they give you a feeling of plentitude and peace. "I was wanting all my life to feel such a feeling of peace and harmony and I am very happy now to be able to come here and experience it," she added. Arriving today for a week-long program of activities in celebration of the inauguration of the terraces were Baha'i delegations representing more than 180 countries. They came with high hopes and great expectations, eager to get a look at a project that, over the last ten years and at a cost of some $250 million, has virtually reshaped Mount Carmel. "It has been my dream to come here, and now my dreams have come true," said Jaipal Bali Singh, a 42-year-old businessman from Srinagar, Kashmir, India, who has been a Baha'i since 1986. "For me, this is the holiest place on earth." Indeed, Mount Carmel, which is sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims, also looms large in Baha'i history and prophetic expectations. Baha'u'llah, the Faith's Founder, chose Mount Carmel as the site of the spiritual and administrative center of His cause in the 1890s when He was a prisoner here of the Ottoman Empire and the mountain slope was covered with little more than rocks and shrubs. He prophesied much greatness for Mount Carmel in the future. Now, the fact that such extraordinary gardens, as well as two majestic new administrative buildings, have arisen from those humble beginnings is a source of great pride to Baha'is, who raised the funds for their completion entirely from among themselves. "When I arrived, I came here directly from the bus and tears just came to my eyes because of the beauty and spirituality of these terraces," said Jean-Marie Nau, a delegate from Luxembourg. "This is a fulfillment of the prophecies of our Faith, that these structures would be built here." The celebration of the completion of these projects begins on Monday with a devotional visit by the 3,000 Baha'is assembled here to the resting place of Baha'u'llah, at Bahji, located across Haifa Bay in the city of Acre. On Tuesday, 22 May, the delegates will assemble for a concert at the base of Mount Carmel to officially inaugurate the terraces, which extend nearly one kilometer up the mountainside. The concert will feature the premier of two orchestral works composed especially for the occasion. Hundreds of Baha'i communities in other countries are expected to watch the concert and inaugural ceremony through a live satellite feed and Webcast. On Wednesday, the 3000 delegates will ascend the mountain as a group, climbing the stairs towards the Shrine of the Bab, which is the focus of the terraces and the second-most holy place to Baha'is after Bahji. On Thursday and Friday, further cultural, informational and devotional programs will be held on Mount Carmel and at the nearby Haifa Convention Centre. "Over the course of the next few days, the Baha'is gathered here from around the world will celebrate what we feel is a significant achievement in the creation of these terraces," said Douglas Samimi-Moore, Program Coordinator for the inaugural events. "One of the themes to the overall program will be a look back at the growth and development of the Baha'i Faith in the 20th century -- and a look ahead at the future. "The people gathered here represent the kind of world we are working for as Baha'is, a unified community of people from every nation, religion, race, ethnic group and culture," said Mr. Samimi-Moore. "And they are people, by and large, who have been working towards this goal, whether in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe or other regions of the world." Many of the participants arriving today indeed felt that the diversity of the gathering itself is very much a fulfillment of Baha'u'llah's vision for humanity. "To meet so many brothers and sisters, from different countries, speaking different languages, it brings me great happiness," said Claudio Limachi, a member of the Quechua people who is part of the delegation from Bolivia. "I feel like I am next to God, with people of different colors, from different places, and that we are flowers of one garden." Peter Wathum Onega, a 48-year-old farmer from a remote village in northwestern Uganda, also said that the combination of beautiful gardens and diverse people was his idea of heaven. "When you see this place, you see that peace can come in the world," said Mr. Onega. "The beauty here, it can bring people together. It is, like the Bible says, the Kingdom of God on earth.""
"32.8191218"
"34.9983856"
118
"2001-05-21"
"HAIFA"
""
"Israel"
[]
"Complex challenges for Baha'is in putting on an outdoor celebration for thousands"
"HAIFA, Israel — Gry Kvalheim worked behind the scenes on logistical arrangements for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and also the 1992 Baha'i World Congress, which brought some 30,000 Baha'is from around the world to New York. She nevertheless counts the inauguration of a series of majestic garden terraces tomorrow on Mount Carmel as one of the most complex undertakings she's ever been involved with. Among other things, the celebration this week entailed making travel and hotel arrangements for 3,000 Baha'is from more than 180 countries, the construction of a 4,000-seat temporary amphitheater, and the coordination of a musical program that brings together a symphony orchestra from Israel, a choir from Romania, and soloists from around the world. More than 60 buses have been hired just to shuttle participants around. "This is one of the biggest events in Israel this year, and certainly one of the biggest in Haifa ever," said Ms. Kvalheim, who is Managing Director of the Inaugural Events Office, which has organized the celebration. "We've essentially had to book every hotel room in Haifa and in surrounding cities, from Nahariyya on the other side of Acre to Zichron Ya'acov in the south." Ms. Kvalheim, who has been a Baha'i since 1959, also feels the assignment is the most significant she has ever undertaken. "As a Baha'i, I don't think you can even fathom the importance of this event," she said, noting that the scriptures of the Baha'i Faith promise that such structures would one day grace the slope of Mount Carmel. "For us, it is prophecy fulfilled." Built at a cost of some $250 million, the 19 garden terraces and two nearby administrative buildings are being offered up to the world this week as a demonstration of how diverse peoples can come together in peace and harmony. The worldwide Baha'i community of some five million people from virtually every background and nation have sacrificed and labored in a spirit of love and unity over the last decade to fund and complete the project. Today, in celebration of the project's completion, the 3,000 Baha'is gathered here visited the Shrine of Baha'u'llah, the Founder of the Baha'i Faith. Located in the city of Acre, across the bay from Haifa, the Shrine of Baha'u'llah is the most holy place in the world for Baha'is. The program featured prayers and devotional elements designed to spiritually prepare them for the week ahead. On Tuesday, the terraces will be formally inaugurated with a world premiere concert of two orchestral works composed specifically for the occasion and the reading of a message from the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Baha'i Faith. The concert and ceremonies will be available worldwide by satellite and webcast. Dozens of representatives of the international media have expressed a desire to attend and cover the event. Making logistical arrangements for the concert and inaugural ceremonies, which will continue until Friday, has been a huge undertaking, made more complex because the concert will be held outside, at the base of Mount Carmel. The Inaugural Events Office has arranged for the construction of a massive 4,000-seat temporary amphitheater around the plaza that forms the first terrace on the mountainside, at the top of Ben Gurion Avenue. This has necessitated closing the intersection of Ben Gurion Avenue and Hagefen Street, one of the city busiest locations, to automobile traffic for two weeks. The Inaugural Events Office has collaborated closely with the City of Haifa throughout the project. "We consider the gardens a gift to us," said Moshe Tzur, managing director of the Haifa Tourist Board. "We hope it will become one of the main tourist attractions in the world. And the people of Haifa, they understand and are more than happy about it." Jack Lenz, music director for the event, said the holding of such a concert outside, in a temporary amphitheater, entailed numerous special musical concerns. "We're not doing this with the natural acoustics of a hall, and the challenge is how do you make it sound good outside," said Mr. Lenz, who is himself a well-known composer, artist and producer in Canada. One potential problem is excess wind, which could create unwanted noise. To counter that, wind socks will be put on all microphones. "You plan and do what you can do and then you leave the rest up to God," said Mr. Lenz. "I'm assuming the weather will be great and the wind will be low." As well, said Mr. Lenz, concerts held outside often lack the fullness of sound that is heard in a concert hall, where the sound waves are reflected off the walls and ceiling. To compensate, they will put individual microphones on each instrument in the orchestra, instead of at just a few locations, and then add reverberation or other effects at the mixing console. Like Ms. Kvalheim, Mr. Lenz feels that an extraordinary sense of history and importance surrounding the inauguration. "This is a unique event in the Baha'i dispensation," said Mr. Lenz. "The terraces will be here for hundreds of years. The mountain itself has been celebrated in the Judeo-Christian religious tradition for thousands of years. In the Bible, for example, Isaiah talks about songs of "everlasting joy" on Mount Carmel. "More than 75 percent of the program on Tuesday night is music," added Mr. Lenz. "So that fits in with the whole prophetic vision of the mountain." In addition to the participation of more than 3,000 Baha'is from around the world, several hundred dignitaries are expected to attend the concert tomorrow. The list of confirmed attendees includes a number of government ministers, several Israeli Supreme Court justices, ambassadors and members of the Israeli Knesset. "The project and its completion has provoked an unexpectedly enthusiastic response within Israel," said Albert Lincoln, secretary general of the Baha'i International Community. Dr. Lincoln said during Passover, for example, the number of Israeli visitors to the gardens that immediately surround the Shrine of the Bab, which have long been open to the public, exceeded 12,000 visitors on one day. Previously, he said, visits to those gardens ran from 1,000 to 2,000 on Jewish holy days. "Likewise, the response to the invitations sent out for the opening ceremonies has been far beyond anything anticipated by professional events organizers or any previous experience we've had," said Dr. Lincoln. In anticipation of the thousands more who will want to visit the terraces, which will be opened to the public on 4 June, a special computerized reservation system has been set up and a new group of tour guides have been trained. Ultimately, it is expected that more than a million people a year will visit the terraces. The tours will be offered at no charge."
"32.8191218"
"34.9983856"
119
"2001-05-22"
"HAIFA"
""
"Israel"
[]
"Statement of the Universal House of Justice for the opening of the Terraces on Mount Carmel"
"HAIFA, Israel — Statement of the Universal House Justice on the occasion of the official opening of the Terraces of the Shrine of the Bab, 22 May 2001 As delivered by Dr. Albert Lincoln, Secretary General of the Baha'i International Community: With joyful and thankful hearts, we welcome all who have come from near and far to join us on this auspicious occasion for the Baha'is of the world. We acknowledge with deep appreciation the presence of so many distinguished guests. A century and a half have passed since that unspeakable tragedy in the northwest of Persia when the Bab faced the volley fired at Him from the rifles of 750 soldiers. The soldiers had followed the orders of the highest authorities in the land. The Bab's mangled body was then thrown on the side of a moat outside the city, abandoned to what His cold-blooded persecutors thought would be a dishonourable fate. They had hoped thus to put an end to the growing influence of His teachings on masses of people throughout the country. These masses had accepted, in the face of intense persecution, the Bab's claim to prophethood, and their lives were being transformed spiritually and morally as He prepared them for what He said was the dawn of a new age in which a world civilization would be born and flourish. The expectations that stirred countless hearts were heightened even more sublimely by the Bab's announcement that One greater than He would soon arise, One who would reveal the unparalleled character of the promised world civilization that would signify the coming of age of the entire human race. We are met not to lament the tragedy of the Bab's martyrdom and the persecutions that followed; rather have we come to celebrate the culmination and acknowledge the meaning of an unprecedented project that had its beginning over a century ago. It was then that Baha'u'llah, Whom the Ottoman authorities had banished to Acre to serve out His days in confinement, visited Mount Carmel and selected the spot where the remains of His Herald would be interred. We humbly trust that the wondrous result achieved by the completion of the nineteen terraced gardens, at the heart of which rises the Shrine of the Bab, is a fitting fulfilment of the vision initiated by Baha'u'llah. The sufferings sustained by the Bab so as to arouse humanity to the responsibilities of its coming age of maturity were themselves indications of the intensity of the struggle necessary for the world's people to pass through the age of humanity's collective adolescence. Paradoxical as it may seem, this is a source of hope. The turmoil and crises of our time underlie a momentous transition in human affairs. Simultaneous processes of disintegration and integration have clearly been accelerating throughout the planet since the Bab appeared in Persia. That our Earth has contracted into a neighbourhood, no one can seriously deny. The world is being made new. Death pangs are yielding to birth pangs. The pain shall pass when members of the human race act upon the common recognition of their essential oneness. There is a light at the end of this tunnel of change beckoning humanity to the goal destined for it according to the testimonies recorded in all the Holy Books. The Shrine of the Bab stands as a symbol of the efficacy of that age-old promise, a sign of its urgency. It is, as well, a monument to the triumph of love over hate. The gardens which surround that structure, in their rich variety of colours and plants, are a reminder that the human race can live harmoniously in all its diversity. The light that shines from the central edifice is as a beacon of hope to the countless multitudes who yearn for a life that satisfies the soul as well as the body. This inextinguishable hope stems from words such as these from the Pen of Baha'u'llah: "This is the Day in which God's most excellent favours have been poured out upon men, the Day in which His most mighty grace has been infused into all created things." May all who strive, often against great odds, to uphold principles of justice and concord be encouraged by these assurances. In reflecting on the years of effort invested in this daunting project, we are moved to express to the people of Haifa the warmth of the feeling in our hearts. Their city will for all time be extolled by the Baha'is everywhere as the place in which the mortal remains of the youthful Prophet-Herald of their Faith finally found refuge, and this after half a century of having to be secretly moved for protection from one place to another in His native land. The patience and cordiality shown towards the Baha'is throughout the most difficult years of the construction work exemplify the spirit of goodwill in which so much of the world stands so greatly in need. Haifa is providentially situated on Mount Carmel, with its immortal associations with saintly visionaries, whose concern throughout the ages was largely focused on the promise of peace. May Haifa achieve wide renown not just as a place of natural beauty but more especially as the city of peace. Let the word go forth, then, from this sacred spot, from this Mountain of the Lord, that the unity and peace of the world are not only possible but inevitable. Their time has come."
"32.8191218"
"34.9983856"
120
"2001-05-22"
"HAIFA"
""
"Israel"
[]
"With a dramatic flourish, Baha'is unveil majestic garden terraces on Mount Carmel"
"HAIFA, Israel — In an expressive and emotionally powerful ceremony featuring a symphony orchestra, a 70-voice choir, a specially built 4,000-seat amphitheater, and the setting sun, Baha'is from more than 180 countries and their guests celebrated today the inauguration of a majestic series of garden terraces on the face of Mount Carmel. For Baha'is here, and for co-religionists around the world who watched via satellite and internet webcast, it was a momentous event, marking the completion of a complex of buildings and gardens on what throughout history has been called "the Mountain of the Lord." The Universal House of Justice, in a statement read during the ceremony, offered the project, the celebration surrounding it, and the golden-domed Shrine it glorifies, as sources of hope against the "turmoil and crises of our time." "That our Earth has contracted into a neighborhood, no one can seriously deny," said the statement of the Faith's international governing body, which oversaw the construction of the project. "The world is being made new. Death pangs are yielding to birth pangs. The pain shall pass when members of the human race act upon the common recognition of their essential oneness. "There is a light at the end of this tunnel of change, beckoning humanity to the goal destined for it according to the testimonies recorded in all the Holy Books. The Shrine of the Bab stands as a symbol of the efficacy of that age-old promise, a sign of its urgency. "It is, as well, a monument to the triumph of love over hate," continued the statement. "The gardens that surround that structure, in their rich variety of colors and plants, are a reminder that the human race can live harmoniously in all its diversity." The temporary amphitheater here, erected over the last week at the base of Mount Carmel, was packed with more than 3,000 Baha'is, more than 650 dignitaries from Israel and international embassies, and at least 100 representatives of the news media from around the world. The Terraces of the Shrine of the Bab illuminated at the climax of the “Terraces of Light” oratorio.The dignitaries present for the ceremony included several Israeli Government ministers and deputy ministers, three Israeli Supreme Court justices, and more than 30 ambassadors to Israel from around the world. Members of the Israeli Knesset and local officials, including the Mayors of Haifa and Acre, were also present, as were local and regional religious leaders. The ceremony featured two orchestral works composed especially for the occasion. Towards the end of the second composition, and just as dusk was falling, the lights on the 19 newly constructed terraces, which extend nearly a kilometer up the north face of Mount Carmel, were gradually turned on, illuminating the mountainside in a dramatic climax. "For the Baha'is gathered here, this was a profound act, an inauguration ceremony for a set of sacred gardens and new administrative buildings that mark the completion of our world center, an event we have worked towards for years," said Douglas Samimi-Moore, Director of the Office of Public Information of the Baha'i International Community. "This in a sense represents the coming of age of the Baha'i world community, which is emerging around the planet with the aim of helping to reshape and revitalize the social and spiritual life of humanity," said Mr. Samimi-Moore. The focus of the terraces, and today's celebration, is the Shrine of the Bab, a golden-domed, white marble structure that is the second-most holy place to Baha'is in the world. It is the final resting place of the Bab, the Herald of the Baha'i Faith, who was born in Iran in 1819 and executed in 1850 at the order of religious authorities, who were challenged by His claim to prophethood and the rapid growth of His followers. Much of the program today celebrated the ultimate triumph of the Bab and His message, in that there are now some five million Baha'is around the world, forming a community capable of financing and constructing the US$250 million complex of terraces, gardens and two major new buildings that have virtually reshaped the north face of Mount Carmel. "Today we commemorate a sacred history of unexampled love, supreme sacrifice and divine vision," said Matthew Weinberg, Director of Research for the Baha'i International Community's Office of Public Information, in a speech to participants before the ceremony. "It is a narrative prefigured in the pronouncements of the great Seers of the past. "As we stand awestruck at the majestic structures and the 'tapestry of beauty' now defining the face of God's Holy Mountain, and ponder the mysterious processes responsible for the remarkable transformation of this once barren domain, the words of Isaiah echo on all sides: '...Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the splendor of our God,' " said Mr. Weinberg. Both of the orchestral works composed for today's inauguration are deeply connected to this theme. The first piece of music in the program was "O Queen of Carmel!," a cantata in three movements, written by Tolib Shahidi, a composer from Tajikistan. The second piece, "Terraces of Light," was composed by Lasse Thoresen, who is one of Norway's best known classical composers. Mr. Shahidi's piece is based on a eulogy by Shoghi Effendi, who led the Baha'i Faith from 1921 to 1957, to "the Queen of Carmel," as Baha'is sometimes refer to the Shrine of the Bab. Lyrical and melodic, it made for a serene opening work. Mr. Thoresen's composition is an oratorio in five movements, corresponding to the five paragraphs and essential themes found in the stirring Tablet of Carmel, a key piece of Baha'i scripture, which was written by Baha'u'llah about the role that Mount Carmel plays in religious history and as the world center of His Cause. Its modern rhythms and complex intensity were stirring. Both pieces were performed by the Israel Northern Symphony Haifa, under the direction of Stanley Sperber, with support from three Canadian soloists -- mezzo-soprano Patricia Green, tenor Stuart Howe and baritone Brett Polegato. Also featured were Austrian violinists Bijan Khadem-Missagh, his son Vahid and daughter Martha, and the Transylvania State Philharmonic Choir of Cluj, Romania. The interplay of human voices and the orchestra, in an outdoor setting at the foot of Mount Carmel, with the audience facing upward toward the beautifully illuminated Shrine of the Bab, was a moving experience for many of the participants, most of whom had been selected by their national Baha'i governing bodies to represent their country at this event. The musical climax of "Terraces of Light" was timed to occur just after the sun had set, and as the music reached its crescendo. The 19 terraces were lit up one-by-one in a brilliant flourish that will be remembered by participants for a lifetime. "It was stunning," said Nancy Oloro, a delegate from Zambia. "I felt myself in a different world. In the Baha'i writings, it is said that music gives wings to the soul. And I felt that." The terraces themselves were also designed to glorify the Shrine of the Bab, said architect Fariborz Sahba, who designed them and oversaw their construction. "In principle, whatever we have done on this mountain aims to provide an approach to the Shrine, to complement it and pay tribute to it," said Mr. Sabha, who also designed the world renowned Baha'i House of Worship in New Delhi, India. "Our intention has not been merely to build just a beautiful garden. Beautiful gardens are everywhere. But these gardens are spiritual gardens." He explained that they were designed principally with Baha'i pilgrims in mind, so that as they walked up the terraces towards the Shrine, believers could detach themselves from the outside world and focus on their own relationship with the Creator. "Baha'is have made a tremendous sacrifice to build these monuments," Mr. Sahba said, explaining that donations for their construction came entirely from Baha'is, "dollar by dollar." On 4 June, the terraces will be opened to the public. Because of the overwhelming interest in the terraces, a computer reservation system is being set up to take requests for guided tours, which will be offered at no cost. "This extraordinary work of art that we are seeing on the mountain is a visible expression of inspiration that comes only from the Creator," said Albert Lincoln, Secretary General of the Baha'i International Community. "It is the same spirit of faith that built the great cathedrals of Europe and the great mosques, monasteries and religious monuments of the East. "We think the world should consider the great vitality of this force and consider setting aside some of the negative stereotypes which have in this modern era come to characterize religion," said Dr. Lincoln. "In other words, we see these terraces and this event as an opportunity to see the positive force of faith at work.""
"32.8191218"
"34.9983856"
121
"2001-05-23"
"HAIFA"
""
"Israel"
[]
"Thousands of Baha'is climb Mount Carmel as new terraces are inaugurated"
"HAIFA, Israel — Thousands of Baha'is from every race, nation and religious background today streamed up the face of Mount Carmel in a prayerful ascent toward the Shrine of the Bab, the second-most holy place in the Baha'i world. The climb, made up a stately stone stairway that runs through the heart of a series of recently completed garden terraces, was an act of deep spiritual significance to the participants here. Coming this week from some 180 nations to celebrate the inauguration of the terraces, which extend nearly a kilometer up the mountainside, those who made the climb said they were moved and uplifted by the experience. They will count it as one of the most meaningful of their lives. "It was really soul-stirring," said Samuel Benjamin Obura, a 65-year-old sugarcane farmer from Kenya. "First of all, there was the beauty of the gardens and the Shrine. It gave one to think of many things. "I thought of the suffering of the Bab," Mr. Obura continued. "He was put in prison and He was mocked and He was martyred and everyone thought that was the end. "But now we see the glory that surrounds His Shrine and the adoration people feel when they visit it," he added. The event today was part of a week-long program to celebrate the completion of a $250 million complex of buildings, gardens and terraces at the Baha'i World Centre. The terraces were built over the last 10 years with voluntary donations from the five million member worldwide Baha'i community. Baha'is view completion of the project as marking a major stage in the emergence of the Baha'i Faith on the world scene. The Congo Baha'i Youth Choir singing at a devotional program at the base of the Terraces on Mount Carmel prior to the ascent of the Terraces by thousands of Baha'is from around the world."The significance of this event is that it represents a kind of culmination of the development of the Baha'i World Centre on this mountain," said Penny Walker, a member of the International Teaching Centre here, a key Baha'i institution that focuses on advising national Baha'i communities on their growth and development. "At the same time, we see that the Baha'i Faith is established in every country and territory of the world, bringing together an incredible cross-section of the human race, who are all committed to bringing people everywhere into one human family," said Dr. Walker. The diversity of the worldwide Baha'i community was evident today as delegates made their way up Mount Carmel in a spirit of devotion. Many wore traditional native costumes and the procession was a showcase of the human garden, resplendent in all its races and colors. The climb led Galina Iefremova, a 23-year-old teacher from Belarus, to think about the human race at large and its desire for peace. "The idea that more than 3,000 people can come together to do this, it is an example that can show the way the world can be, without any problems or prejudice," said Ms. Iefremova, who became a Baha'i in 1993. "All over the world, people are waiting for this." Maria Pancham, a 41-year-old airline personnel officer from Suriname, thought of how she will rededicate her life to seeing the positive side of life in all things, and to serving humanity when she returns home. "How to you put it in words?" she said when asked about her experience. "It is a feeling of peace and relief and joy. It makes you want to serve humanity. "I can't say I'm transformed, because right now I feel I am in a different world," she added. "So all I can do is pray that I will be able to take these feelings back home and not fall into the routine." Leslie Serrano, a 20-year-old student from Mexico, said she also thought about the need to serve humanity and to make sacrifices in life to do so. "I felt climbing those stairs was a reflection of what life represents when you begin at the bottom and you gradually have to take steps upward," Ms. Serrano said. "Sometimes it is hard and it takes sacrifice to get you where you are going." Her dominant thought, however, was about the Biblical prophesy of Isaiah. "I thought of where it says, 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it,' " she said, reciting the passage from memory. "And when I saw all those people from all these nations, climbing up Mount Carmel, I felt that was the fulfillment of that prophesy," said Ms. Serrano. "It is a privilege without words to be part of that.""
"32.8191218"
"34.9983856"
122
"2001-05-25"
"HAIFA"
""
"Israel"
[]
"Focusing on the future, Baha'is head home after a week of celebration and reflection on Mount Carmel"
"HAIFA, Israel — Inspired and invigorated after a week celebrating the completion of essential elements of their world center, Baha'is gathered here from some 180 countries prepared today to head out to the four corners of the globe. They go with their gaze set firmly towards the future. "Everything has been really wonderful, a source of encouragement and inspiration," said Mandu Assam, a 25-year-old business school graduate from Nigeria, about the program that inaugurated a kilometer-long series of 19 garden terraces and two new administrative buildings on Mount Carmel. "It has been a driving force to move ahead," Ms. Assam added, saying she will now throw herself ever more eagerly into her Baha'i work at home, which has involved leading moral and spiritual education classes for children and involvement in campaigns to spread the Baha'i teachings. Ms. Assam's feelings were echoed by others, especially by the younger generation gathered here, who were the focus of a message from the Universal House of Justice on Thursday night. Delivered to 3,000 participants, the message from the Baha'i Faith's international governing council noted that the great majority of humanity remains engulfed in heartbreaking "suffering and deprivation." "Humanity's crying need will not be met by a struggle among competing ambitions or by protest against one or another of the countless wrongs afflicting a desperate age," said the message. "It calls, rather, for a fundamental change of consciousness, for a wholehearted embrace of Baha'u'llah's teaching that the time has come when each human being on earth must learn to accept responsibility for the welfare of the entire human family. "Commitment to this revolutionizing principle will increasingly empower individual believers and Baha'i institutions alike in awakening others to the Day of God and to the latent spiritual and moral capacities that can change this world into another world," the statement said. "We demonstrate this commitment by our rectitude of conduct towards others, by the discipline of our own natures, and by our complete freedom from the prejudices that cripple collective action in the society around us and frustrate positive impulses towards change." The Universal House of Justice said these standards hold "particular implications" for youth, inasmuch as they are blessed with "the enviable advantages of high energy, flexibility of mind and, to a great extent, freedom of movement." "Their challenge is to understand the real condition of humanity and to forge among themselves enduring spiritual bonds that free them not only from racial and national divisions but also from those created by social and material conditions, and that will fit them to carry forward the great trust reposed in them," said the statement. Many youth were among the 3,000 participants. All delegates gathered Friday morning along a semi-circular path in the gardens that link two recently completed administrative buildings and the majestic Seat of the Universal House of Justice. And young participants said the message -- and the entire week of activities -- had indeed taken them to a deeper level of faith and commitment. "There is a great responsibility on our shoulders to change this generation," said Jude Dogley, 23, of the Seychelles. "Going back, I will try to live the Baha'i life and to set a good example and to explain to others how the Baha'i principles can solve the problems of our age." He said the gathering together of Baha'is from virtually every race and nationality had proved to him that peace and unity among all humanity is possible. "There are a lot of divisions in the world out there," said Mr. Dogley, who has been a Baha'i since 1996. "But we can show people that even if you are from different backgrounds and different cultures, you can still live like brothers and sisters." Virginie Montiel, a 25-year-old medical student from Belgium, said the week's activities had also proved to her that it was indeed possible for everyone to treat each other -- and to be treated by each other -- equally. "In the Baha'i Faith we always say that we are one," she said, describing how encounters with so many people from so many different cultures had changed her. "We saw this in practice here, with all these different people from different backgrounds working for the same thing. We saw that it is possible for everyone to be equal." The gathering today outside the two new buildings, the International Teaching Centre and the Centre for the Study of the Texts, marked another historic moment for Baha'is here and around the world inasmuch as it celebrated the completion of the administrative headquarters of the Baha'i World Centre. Along with the two other buildings set high on Mount Carmel, the Seat of the Universal House of Justice and the International Archives Building, these edifices house essential institutions and artifacts -- and their completion is for Baha'is the realization of a century-long dream to create a spiritual and administrative center that will fully and fittingly represent the Faith's position as an independent world religion, now the second-most widespread geographically after Christianity. The Center for the Study of the Texts houses scholars and researchers whose role is to study the vast body of the Baha'i sacred writings, translate them, prepare compilations, and draft commentaries on their relationship to current world problems. The International Teaching Center building houses a body of appointed individuals who assist the Universal House of Justice and provide guidance and encouragement to the worldwide Baha'i community on its growth and development. Altogether, the terraces -- which were inaugurated with a world premiere concert on Tuesday, 22 May, before 4,000 people in Haifa and a worldwide audience by satellite and webcast -- and the two new buildings cost some US$250 million to complete. The money was raised entirely from within the worldwide Baha'i community through voluntary donations. The architect who designed the new buildings, Hossein Amanat, along with the architect who designed the garden terraces, Fariborz Sahba, were given warm appreciation in an evening program Wednesday, 23 May, the highlight of which was the showing of a new 38-minute video documentary on the roughly 15-year-long construction process for the new structures. Titled "Not even a lamp," the documentary detailed the immense challenges faced in working on the slope of Mount Carmel. The architects had to work carefully so as not to disturb neighbors, the surrounding gardens and buildings, or the precious golden-domed Shrine of the Bab. "This was not an ordinary project," Mr. Amanat told the gathering. "This was a kind of sacred task for us. We really looked on it as a prayer." Mr. Amanat said the buildings were designed to last for 500 years: "Every detail, when implemented, was done with a great amount of research as to what kinds of materials we should use, what technology we should use, so that these buildings will last as long as possible." Throughout the week, music was a crucial element in the celebration. Tuesday evening saw the world premiere of two orchestral works written especially for the occasion of the inauguration of the terraces on Mount Carmel. On Wednesday and Thursday, a wide range of Baha'i artists from around the world took to the stage to inspire and uplift. Among those performing were the Congo Youth Choir from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; The Tabarsi Group, a group of Roma musicians from Spain; Vivek Nair, a singer from India; Kevin Locke, a Lakota flutist from the United States; and Atef Sedkouai, a Tunisian vocalist from Paris. Collectively, these performances showcased a tremendous depth of talent and creative expression, giving new meaning to the term of "world music." "We wanted the performers to represent a wide diversity," said Alex Frame, who produced the week's program. "And we brought together people who didn't know each other, and people who in some cases didn't even speak the same language. "Yet within minutes of coming together, even in their dressing rooms, they started jamming together," said Mr. Frame. "It was natural and spontaneous and, without impediment, they began to create new kinds of music." On Thursday evening, the program used a dramatic narrative to explore the growth and development of the Faith over the last century, exploring how events and trends in the world at large converged or coincided with the evolution of the Baha'i community. Drawing on "Century of Light," a new book published by the Baha'i World Centre, the narrative chronicled such events as the visit of Abdu'l-Baha to America, the crusade to spread the Faith around the world in the 1950s, and the persecution of the Baha'is in Iran in the 1980s. The drama brought to life with colorful characterizations how people's lives have been transformed by the Faith. "Our idea was to juxtapose news events happening in the world at large with dramatic episodes from the Faith's history, and how the Faith offers hope to the world," said Ann Boyles of Canada, author of the drama. "For example, in the opening section, we talked about the atrocities committed in the Congo at the turn of the century under King Leopold, when more than a million Congolese were killed, starved or worked to death. "On the other hand," she added, "we had here this week this vibrant youth choir coming from the Congo, with great hope and optimism about the future.""
"32.8191218"
"34.9983856"
123
"2001-05-31"
"HAIFA"
""
"Israel"
[]
"Amidst much anticipation, the Baha'i World Centre prepares for public opening of garden terraces on Mount Carmel"
"HAIFA, Israel — After a week in which Israeli and world news media gave extensive coverage to the inauguration of a series of majestic garden terraces on Mount Carmel here, the Baha'i World Centre is preparing for an expected onslaught of tourists and local residents who wish to visit them. More specifically, the Centre has established a reservations system in collaboration with the Haifa Tourist Board and worked with other organizations in Haifa to train extra tour guides for the terraces, which will open officially to the public on Monday, 4 June. Set to start up slowly with 400 slots per day, the guided tour program could be expanded to handle more than a million visitors a year. "We know that there is a lot of built-up anticipation on the part of Israelis and foreign tourists to visit the new terraces," said Douglas Samimi-Moore, director of the Baha'i International Community's Office of Public Information here, which will oversee the guided tour program. "We have been getting many, many calls already from people asking, 'When can we visit the gardens, when can we walk on the terraces,' " said Mr. Samimi-Moore. "And our goal is to accommodate this overwhelming public desire as quickly as possible, while at the same time ensuring their experience matches the kind of care and dignity that went into creating the site." In ceremonies on Tuesday, 22 May, before more than 3,000 Baha'is from 180 countries, some 650 Israeli dignitaries, and an estimated 100 members of the world's news media, the terraces were formally inaugurated. Featuring the world premiere of two orchestral works commissioned especially for the occasion, the inauguration ceremonies were seen around the world by satellite and webcast. Along with two major new administrative buildings, the terraces were built over the last decade at a cost of some US$250 million, all from voluntary donations that came exclusively from the five million member worldwide Baha'i community, who see the completion of the project as the fulfillment of religious prophesy. Yet while the terraces and associated gardens are sacred in character, Baha'is have always intended that they be shared with the world at large. Accordingly, like other Baha'i Shrines and holy places in the Haifa-Acre region, the terraces will be open to the public with no admission fee. Because of the great interest in the project, however, it was decided to establish a program of pre-reserved guided tours, said Mr. Samimi-Moore. These free tours will be the only way that visitors can actually walk through the terraces from end to end. Drop-in visitors will, however, be able to enjoy three special viewing areas located at the base, the peak and roughly in the middle of the terraces, which extend nearly a kilometer up Mount Carmel. "We know that one reason people are so attracted to our terraces is because of their beauty, their orderliness and their cleanliness," said Mr. Samimi-Moore. "And so we felt a guided tour program would be the best way to preserve that atmosphere." In the face of the anticipated demand for visits, the Centre reached out to the Haifa Tourist Board and to the Beit Hagefen Arab-Jewish Cultural Center for assistance with the logistics of organizing the tour program. The Haifa Tourist Board will manage the reservations system, which will begin as a telephone-only system and then expand later to an on-line system. The Beit Hagefen Center, which already sponsors a wide range of cross-cultural tours and events in Haifa, has been given the task of recruiting and training tour guides. "What's happened is we realized we were facing a potential deluge of visitors," said Albert Lincoln, Secretary General of the Baha'i International Community, whose office has also been heavily involved in setting up the guided tour program. "And as we came to grips with the scale of the program needed, we realized we didn't have the manpower or the know-how to do the whole job, so we reached out to these two local organizations." Dr. Lincoln said a public opinion survey done in February and March indicated that some 95 percent of Haifa residents intend to visit the new terraces "in the near future" -- and that an astounding 75 percent of those surveyed throughout Israel had similar plans. The city of Haifa, indeed, has made the project a centerpiece of its efforts to promote tourism in the region. The city has worked closely with the project's architect and his staff throughout the construction phase and it has linked to the project the renovation of the historic German Templer Colony district, which runs along Ben Gurion Avenue from the base of Mount Carmel to the sea. "We consider the gardens a gift to us," said Moshe Tzur, managing director of the Haifa Tourist Board. "We hope it will become one of the main tourist attractions in the world." For its part, Beit Hagefen is bringing in both Jewish and Arab guides, mostly drawn from the students of Haifa University. The first batch of guides, for example, is composed of about 30 Jewish students and 25 Arab students, said Hani El Far, Beit Hagefen's deputy general director. "Our aim as an organization is to convey the importance of the coming together of every community in Haifa, Jewish, Arab, Baha'i and others," said Mr. El Far, explaining why Beit Hagefen has taken on this project. "And these aims are parallel to the aims of the Baha'i community." People wishing to reserve a place on a guided tour of the terraces should call, in Israel, 04-831-3131."
"32.8191218"
"34.9983856"
124
"2001-06-15"
"LONDON"
""
"United Kingdom"
[]
"London tribute to Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum Rabbani honors her contributions to conservation and the arts"
"LONDON — The late Madame Ruhiyyih Rabbani, the preeminent international dignitary of the Baha'i Faith, was honored at a tribute here on 15 May 2001. In attendance were some 150 prominent people, including HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Organized by the Arts for Nature, a 13-year-old organization that seeks to draw leading artists and performers into the environmental vanguard, the tribute was held at Canada House in Trafalgar Square. It featured an evening of music and drama, much of it produced especially for the occasion and using the writings of Madame Rabbani. "We can be convinced academically and intellectually that conservation is important, but what's also important is that we are involved in this issue emotionally," said Prince Philip in extemporaneous remarks at the end of the evening. "Madame Rabbani made a huge contribution to raising awareness in this field, and this has been a marvelous experience and a splendid evening." An author, filmmaker and lecturer who cared deeply for the environment and indigenous peoples, Ruhiyyih Rabbani passed away on 19 January 2000. She was, further, a Hand of the Cause, the highest position occupied by individuals in the Baha'i Faith, and she played an important role in promoting the unity and integration of the Baha'i community over the years. The evening tribute was organized largely by the Duchess of Abercorn, the chair of the Arts for Nature. The event began with dinner and a viewing of some of Prince Philip's private collection of nature paintings, in particular the work of Canadian wildlife artists. In addition, architectural drawings by the distinguished Canadian architect, William Sutherland Maxwell, Madame Rabbani's father, were displayed. The main focus of the evening was a theatrical performance entitled "A Life So Noble," which had been inspired by Ruhiyyih Khanum's life. Written by Canadian-born actress/writer Beverley Evans and directed by Annabel Knight, the show took four major aspects of Khanum's life and character and personified them in four women actresses, who told her story using words taken from Ruhiyyih Khanum's own lectures and writings. The actresses -- Maria Friedman, Beverley Evans, Sarah Clive and Kerry-Ann Smith -- conveyed with extraordinary power and emotion the breadth of Madame Rabbani's achievements. There were deeply moving moments, including a scene depicting the funeral of Shoghi Effendi when thousands of flower petals rained down upon the stage from above. In direct contrast, Ruhiyyih Rabbani's great world travels were portrayed with wit and verve, while a list of her pets and favourite animals caused great amusement. The cast of performers at an Arts for Nature tribute honoring Madame Ruhiyyih Rabbani, held 15 May 2001 in London at Canada House. The event featured not only a dramatic narrative produced especially for the occasion but also several musical numbers.The actresses were supported by four other women - from Botswana, Macau, Bolivia and Iran -- who wove a floral tapestry as the story unfolded, a metaphor for the rich and varied tapestry that was Madame Rabbani's life. Other high points included a musical performance of a composition by William Lovelady, set to the words of a poem by Ruhiyyih Khanum, "This is Faith." The evening ended with Ruhiyyih Khanum's own recorded voice, speaking at a meeting in Belfast, where she had told the audience how much she disliked saying goodbye. The Duchess of Abercorn told the audience that Madame Rabbani had left the world a better place than it was when she had come into it, urging them, like Madame Rabbani, to contribute their "special thread" to the tapestry of life. "I hope that everyone here will pick up their own thread of creativity and quality of spirit and heart, and bring it into every aspect of our lives, because that's what the world is desperately in need of," she said. Among the guests was Violette Nakhjavani, who accompanied Ruhiyyih Khanum when she traveled and has recently written a book about her life. "I thought it was beautifully done," Mrs. Nakhjavani said of the dramatic narrative. "I was very surprised at the warm response of the audience to the personal details of Ruhiyyih Khanum's life but I felt that she would have approved of presenting Baha'i ideas in such an audacious way." Born Mary Maxwell in New York City in 1910, Madame Rabbani was the widow of Shoghi Effendi, who headed the Baha'i Faith from 1921 to 1957. As such, she was for Baha'is the last remaining link to the family of 'Abdu'l-Baha, who headed the Faith from 1892 to 1921 and was the eldest son of the Faith's Founder, Baha'u'llah. In her role as a Hand of the Cause, Madame Rabbani traveled extensively, visiting some 185 countries and territories to encourage the spiritual and moral development of Baha'i communities. She also sought throughout her life to promote environmental conservation. She was, for example, a founding member of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, a major interfaith organization that promotes the involvement of religious groups in the conservation efforts. Madame Rabbani also gave support to the first Arts for Nature event, which was held 26 October 1988 at Syon House in London. Madame Rabbani gave the keynote address, alongside Prince Philip, at the Syon House event, which was organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature-UK and the Baha'i International Community. Diana Jervis-Read, the Canadian cultural attache, said the commission had been delighted to host the event at Canada House, especially given that Madame Rabbani was raised in Canada. Every guest received a brochure produced for the event by Peter Maguire and George Ballentyne of UK Baha'i Publishing, as well as a specially compiled illustrated anthology called "Sacred Earth," and a copy of Madame Rabbani's book, "Prescription for Living." Funds raised at the evening event went towards the Mendelssohn on Mull festival and the Canada House Arts Trust. "There are lots of charity evenings that can be very glitzy, but this was completely different," said Marita Crawley, co-chair of the event, who also wrote a song honoring Madame Rabbani for the event. "Some of the people here knew Madame Rabbani personally, while others were aware of her extraordinary work, but there were people in the audience who were hearing about her for the very first time this evening. "The play was genuinely thought-provoking and caught the personality of Madame Rabbani, who was truly somebody whose work made the world a better place -- and I think everyone who came tonight left with something very special." -- Reported by Corinne Podger and Rob Weinberg"
"51.5073219"
"-0.1276474"
129
"2001-06-16"
"WASHINGTON"
"D.C."
"United States"
[]
"Firuz Kazemzadeh reappointed to US Commission on International Religious Freedom"
"WASHINGTON — Firuz Kazemzadeh, former Secretary for External Affairs of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States, has been appointed to a second term on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Dr. Kazemzadeh, a Professor Emeritus of History at Yale University, was appointed by US Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle. His term lasts until 14 May 2003. Dr. Kazemzadeh previously served on the Commission from 15 May 1999 to 14 May 2001, acting as its vice chairman from 15 May 2000 to 14 May 2001. His first appointment was made by US President Bill Clinton. Created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, the nine-member Commission exists to monitor religious freedom in other countries and to advise the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress on how best to promote such freedom. "I am pleased to have been appointed to a second term on the US Commission for International Religious Freedom that defends an essential human right that is only too frequently violated," said Dr. Kazemzadeh. "The Commission's mandate to monitor the status of religious freedom throughout the world and to advise the President and the Congress raises the level of concern with religious freedom. "The struggle for religious freedom, like the struggle for the abolition of slavery or the exploitation of child labor will be a long and difficult one, but the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will triumph and the Commission will contribute to their eventual triumph," Dr. Kazemzadeh said. Dr. Kazemzadeh currently serves as a senior advisor to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States, the national governing body for the U.S. Baha'i community, an institution on which Dr. Kazemzadeh served for more than 35 years until his retirement last year. During his tenure at Yale, which lasted from 1956 to 1992, Dr. Kazemzadeh also served variously as Director of Graduate Studies in Russian and Eastern European Studies; Chair of the Committee on Middle Eastern Studies; Director of Graduate Studies in History; and Master of Davenport College. He is the author of "The Struggle for Transcaucasia, 1917-1921," and "Russia and Britain in Persia, 1864-1914," as well as the co-author of several other books relating to Russia and Central Asia. Since 1966 he has served as editor of World Order Magazine. Dr. Kazemzadeh was born in the Iranian Embassy in Moscow, where his father served for many years, came to the United States in 1944, and received his academic training at Stanford University and Harvard University. The US Congress passed the International Religious Freedom Act to promote religious freedom as a U.S. foreign policy goal and to combat religious persecution in other countries, according to the Commission's website. The law created an Office of International Religious Freedom in the State Department, headed by an Ambassador-at-Large. That office is responsible for issuing a report on religious freedom and persecution in all foreign countries by 1 September of each year. On the basis of that report, the State Department designates "countries of particular concern" on the basis of their "systematic, ongoing, and egregious" violations of religious liberty. The law identifies the wide range of diplomatic and economic tools that the President can apply to those countries. To assist the President, the law recommended creation of a special advisor on international religious freedom as part of the National Security Council staff. The law also created the Commission on International Religious Freedom and required it to issue an annual report each 1 May. The Commission expires in May 2003. Other Commissioners include prominent leaders of the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities. More information about the Commission can be found at its website at http://www.uscirf.gov."
"38.8950368"
"-77.0365427"
130
"2001-02-27"
"GABORONE"
""
"Botswana"
[]
"President of Botswana praises publication of Baha'i books in native Setswana language"
"GABORONE, Botswana — In a book launch ceremony, President Festus Mogae of Botswana hailed the publication of two Baha'i books in the native Setswana language, saying it would help encourage the country's people to maintain their native language. Speaking at a reception held on 27 February to introduce the two books, which are collections of Baha'i prayers and scriptures, President Mogae said the volumes "are a welcome contribution to the development of Setswana literature". "Many young people struggle to read Setswana fluently and would rather read English," said President Mogae. "Unfortunately, the situation is exacerbated by the fact that there is only a handful of Setswana literature available in book shops." Titled "Dithapelo tsa Baha'i" and "Mafoko a a Subilweng," which mean respectively "Baha'i Prayers" and "The Hidden Words," the books are published by the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Botswana. The prayers and sacred verses they contain are intended to provide inspiration to the followers of all religions and to be a contribution to Setswana literature. The translators spent many years of work to ensure that the Setswana of these translations is beautiful and fluent. This was a difficult task because the prayers and scriptures in English are written in an elegant literary style using very poetic language. The Setswana translation had to reflect the beauty of the original without changing its meaning. With the help of a computer, the translators produced seven draft versions of Dithapelo tsa Baha'i before they were satisfied with their work. President Mogae also said the translation and publication of the two books was an important reflection of the country's commitment to religious freedom. Mrs. Lally Warren (left) introducing President Mogae of Botswana to Mr. Gerald Warren (right).| Mr. and Mrs. Warren worked on translations of Baha'i scripture into the native Setswana language. In the background is Enos Makhele, a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors in Africa."They are being published in an atmosphere in which there is respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms of the individual including the right to worship," said President Mogae. "Freedom of religion is one of the rights entrenched in the Constitution of Botswana." "The publication of Dithapelo tsa Baha'i and Mafoko a a Subilweng constitutes a significant milestone in the history of the Baha'i Faith in Botswana," added President Mogae. "The two books are a manifestation of the steady growth of Baha'i in this country and underline the importance of the universal character of spirituality. God speaks to all humanity in the languages that they understand." Both books use Setswana idioms and figures of speech. They are written in a style that readers find appropriate for holy scriptures. As an assistance to readers, each book contains a glossary of difficult Setswana words. The book of prayers, which has the full title of "Dithapelo tsa Baha'i tse di Senotsweng ke Baha'u'llah, Bab le 'Abdu'l-Baha," ("Baha'i Prayers revealed by Baha'u'llah, the Bab and 'Abdu'l-Baha") brings together a selection of Baha'i prayers revealed by the Central Figures of the Baha'i Faith. Although a few of the prayers are specifically for Baha'is, the majority are inspirational for all readers. For the life of the spirit there are prayers for spiritual growth, detachment, forgiveness, assistance, protection, praise and gratitude; for special times of the day there are dawn prayers, morning prayers, evening prayers and prayers for those about to set out on a journey. There are also prayers for children, youth, families, marriage and a section of prayers specially for women; there are prayers for the departed, for healing and for tests and difficulties. At the end of the book an attempt has been made to translate one short prayer into fifteen of the other languages spoken in Botswana. "Mafoko a a Subilweng a ga Baha'u'llah," known as "The Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah" in English, is a collection of short, inspirational verses written by the Founder of the Baha'i Faith, Baha'u'llah. The title is taken from a tradition in Islam that the Angel Gabriel uttered these beautiful verses for the grieving daughter of the Prophet Muhammad to comfort her upon the passing of her illustrious Father. The tradition states that these words of spiritual comfort would remain as a "hidden book" until the coming of the Promised One. Amongst the signs that would identify the Promised One is that He would reveal this hidden book to mankind. Each verse in the book reveals spiritual truths and offers guidance by which we should live our lives. Three translators worked together to produce the two books: Stella "Mumsie" Moncho, Lally Warren and Gerald Warren. All are members of the Baha'i Faith and residents of Botswana. Ms. Moncho was born into the royal family of the Barolong ba ga Tshidi. Her late husband was a school inspector, first for the Bechuanaland Administration and then, later, for Government of Botswana. At the age of 92, Ms. Moncho has absorbed a Setswana vocabulary that can only be described as encyclopaedic, as well as developing a refined sense of what elegant Setswana should sound like. Lally Warren was born in Serowe, Botswana, and is the daughter of Ms. Moncho. She has inherited much of her parents' knowledge and love for Setswana. Although a nurse by profession, for the past fifteen years she has traveled widely in her role as a Continental Counsellor of the Baha'i Faith. Her motivation to get involved in translation work was her desire to see the beauty of the Baha'i prayers and scriptures in English rendered befittingly into Setswana. She is currently co- authoring with Desmond Cole, former Professor of African Languages at Wits University in South Africa, a comprehensive Setswana-English dictionary, which is set for publication in 2002. Gerald Warren is a primary-school teacher who came to Botswana in 1979. Married to Ms. Warren, he collaborated in the translation work and was largely responsible for checking the spelling, proofreading and typesetting the final work."
"-24.6581357"
"25.9088474"
131
"2001-01-16"
"HAIFA"
""
"Israel"
[]
"Gathering in Holy Land marks milestone in the development of the Baha'i Faith"
"HAIFA, Israel — As one of nearly 1000 regional community advisors in the worldwide Baha'i community, Iwassa Bolinga's duties normally entail consulting with local Baha'i institutions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo about the application of Baha'i teachings to the needs of their communities and encouraging individuals in the region to acquire a greater knowledge of their Faith and a greater capacity for social action. However, in order to attend an historic gathering of his colleagues from around the world, held here 14-16 January 2001, his position required him to travel some 560 kilometers by outboard motorboat, dugout canoe, and on foot from the remote Equateur region of his native land. And that was just to catch the plane to Israel -- a land to which he had never traveled before. Mr. Bolinga, who serves on an entirely voluntary basis as an Auxiliary Board member, as Baha'i community advisors in his category are known, began his journey by hiring an outboard motor boat to take him 560 kilometers down river from Boende to the provincial capital of Mbandaka, where one flight leaves every two weeks for Kinshasa. When the motor boat ran out of fuel some 40 kilometers out of Boende, Mr. Bolinga conviced a local fisherman to take him to Mbandaka. That meant paddling for ten days and ten nights in a dugout canoe. When they arrived in Mbandaka, Mr. Bolinga immediately set out again, this time on foot, to cover the last 5 kilometres to the airport. He arrived just minutes before the plane left. In Kinshasa he joined 12 of his colleagues from around the Congo for a flight to Adis Ababa, where Board members from throughout central, west and east Africa met for the final leg of the journey to Tel Aviv. The meeting in the Adis Ababa airport was a dramatic moment for Mr. Bolinga and his colleagues, since the on-going civil war in the Democratic Republic Congo had kept them from meeting with other Auxiliary Board members in recent years. "Once we got checked in and went through to the departure lounge, the reality of this extraordinary event started to become clear," said Susan Sheper, a Board member serving in Kinshasa. "We saw the five Board members from the east and north of the Democratic Republic of Congo -- people who we had had no contact with for the last three years because of the war, and who we didn't know were dead or alive. What a reunion! We were laughing, crying and hugging all at once." The purpose of all that effort was to attend an historic conference to inaugurate the International Teaching Centre Building, the headquarters of an international institution of appointed officers charged with stimulating and nurturing the development of the Baha'i community. Participants in the conference to inaugurate the International Teaching Centre building on their historic first ascent of the Terraces of the Shrine of the Bab on Mount Carmel on 14 January 2001.The conference marked the first gathering of the entire membership of this institution, known as the Institution of the Counsellors, which operates parallel to the system of elected assemblies that govern the Baha'i Faith at the local, national and international levels. Nine International Counsellors serve on the International Teaching Centre at the Baha'i World Centre in Haifa. Eighty-one additional Continental Counsellors serve around the world, and they in turn appoint 990 grassroots advisors known as Auxiliary Board members. Culmination of a century-long effort The Board members arriving from 172 countries were coming to witness, first and foremost, the consummation of a century-long effort to build the Baha'i Faith's world spiritual and administrative center on Mount Carmel, in Haifa. In the 1890's the Faith's Founder, Baha'u'llah, had declared from the crest of Mount Carmel that the barren mountainside would be transformed and become the focal center of His Faith. In 1909 the remains of Baha'u'llah's martyred Forerunner were laid to rest in a simple mausoleum on a spot Baha'u'llah had selected mid-way up the slope. The colonnade and golden dome added later make the Shrine of the Bab one of Haifa's best-known landmarks. During the 1930s and 40s, a broad arc-shaped path and gardens were laid out adjacent to the Shrine, along which the headquarters of the Faith's senior institutions were to be built. An International Archives Building was completed in 1957 in the classic Greek style, setting the tone and scale for the remaining buildings. In 1983, the governing body of the Faith, the Universal House of Justice, occupied its permanent seat in an imposing marble building faced with 57 Corinthian columns at the top of the arc-shaped path. The final two buildings, built on either side of the Seat of the House of Justice, were completed in 2000: the Centre for the Study of the Texts and the International Teaching Centre Building. Construction of the International Teaching Centre Building began in 1987 and was completed in October 2000. The edifice has 9 floors with a total floor space of more than 19,000 square meters. Only three floors, surrounded by an elegant semi-circular marble colonnade, show above ground, fulfilling architect Hossein Amanat's intention that the building blend into the mountain landscape "like a pavilion in a garden." The conference began on 14 January with a devotional program commemorating the completion of the buildings on the Arc. In addition to the two new buildings, work was nearly completed on 19 majestic garden terraces extending above and below the Shrine of the Bab from the foot to the crest of the mountain. The buildings and terraces had taken more than a decade of intensive effort to build, at a cost of $250 million drawn entirely from the voluntary contributions of the 5 million Baha'is around the world. In the morning, in a profoundly reverent act, the Counsellors and Board members were the first to ascend the terraces leading from the base of Mount Carmel to the Shrine of the Bab mid-way up the mountain. They circumambulated the Shrine in a prayerful attitude and continued across the Arc Path for a tour of the International Teaching Centre Building. A Board member from Taiwan, Dana Hudson, recalled, "When each of us started to ascend we had no choice but bow our heads in utmost humility. It was a feeling which most of us had to express in the form of tears." In the afternoon a member of the International Teaching Centre opened the conference by reminding the participants of the deep historical and spiritual significance of the completion of the structures on Mount Carmel. The scriptures of the Faith foreshadowed this achievement and prophesied that it would coincide at the end of the 20th century with two other significant developments, one within the community of believers and the other in the world at large. The first would be the emergence of vibrant, self-governing Baha'i communities in all parts of the world, and the second would be the laying of the foundations of international peace through agreements among the nations of the world. In a message addressed to the conference, the Universal House of Justice stated that "the occupation of the International Teaching Centre of its permanent seat on the Mountain of the Lord marks the beginning of what future generations will regard as a splendid chapter in the annals of our Faith." The House of Justice also addressed the unique role that the Institution of the Counsellors can play in shepherding humanity through a dark, transitional phase of history toward the emergence of a global, just civilization. "You hail from far-flung geographic regions and cultural backgrounds that make you truly representative of a cross-section of the human family," the House of Justice stated. "The world's crying need for the divine prescriptions is made plain by the ills afflicting society at every level in all parts of the planet. We must be swift in ministering to this need." A new level of unity For the previous four years the Institution of the Counsellors had been engaged in a vast project of systematising the training of large numbers of believers in the spiritual, moral and social teachings of their Faith. The goal was to raise up the human resources needed to establish a distinctive Baha'i way of life and contribute to social advancement. Over the course of the four years, Board members had helped establish more than 300 of these training institutes around the world, reaching into the very fabric of Baha'i community life through a decentralised system of tutors, study circles, and sequences of courses based on the sacred writings of the Faith. Much of the remaining two days of the conference were dedicated to consultations on the successes and challenges of this task, and many participants were struck by the remarkable unity of thought they achieved almost spontaneously among themselves. "What I found most wonderful about these consultations was that everyone had had different experiences, but we all spoke the same language," said Mrs. Sheper, a Board member from the Congo. "In other words, since we were all Board members, every one of us was somehow involved in the institute process, many of us intimately, we all encouraged individual initiative in teaching and were working to systematise our teaching efforts. So even though we came from the farthest reaches of the earth and our individual experiences differed, our overall experience and understanding was united." Just prior to the inaugural conference, the Counsellors had held a series of meetings to consider the next phase of this training effort, which was projected to last five years. In a message to the gathering of the Counsellors, the Universal House of Justice called for building on the strength of the training institutes by focusing on specific geographic areas -- for example a cluster of towns -- where conditions were ripe for creating a rich and vibrant Baha'i community life. "Among the initial goals for every community should be the establishment of study circles, children's classes, and devotional meetings," the House of Justice stated. Further, these efforts should be "open to all the inhabitants of the locality" with the goal of producing a positive impact on the well-being and cohesiveness of society at large. Once these basic elements of community life are in place, the House of Justice suggested that "small projects of social and economic development -- for example a literacy project, a project for the advancement of women or environmental protection, or even a village school" could be introduced. First in plenary sessions with participants from around the world, and later in continental meetings that focused on regional challenges and collaboration, the Board members shared their experiences and plans for the future. "What were the consultations like? They were full of joy and excitement because they reflected a new culture in the Baha'i community," recalled Martina Donovalova, a Board member from Slovakia, "and the joy of having the blessings of the training institutes and their priceless value for us. The friends from the whole world rose to say what their experiences were, how the work of the Faith was rapidly progressing, how they were learning many new things, and how they were able to support and extend the growing number of Baha'u'llah's followers. "At the European continental meeting we had much discussion on the directive from the House of Justice that study circles, devotional meetings and children's classes should be open to all the inhabitants in the area," said Ms. Donovalova. "We had several wonderful examples of this happening in Germany, Russia, Ireland, Ukraine, Belarus, and England and of the impact it has had on the growth and development of the Faith." At the Asian continental conference Counsellor Jabbar Eidelkhani shared the experience from Bangladesh, where 11,000 people recently entered the Faith and 8,000 of them had been introduced to the Faith by tutors active in the institute process. A great deal of emphasis was placed on the moral and spiritual education of children and their full integration into the life of the community. "There were two main things I got out of the meetings," said Dana Hudson from Taiwan, "and that was the importance of the institute process in educating our community in Taiwan and the immediate and demanding urgency for our children. There must be classes for our children to learn from and become the spiritual giants that we read about in our rich history. Our children are blessed with such capacity if it is only mined and nurtured." Many areas of the globe were first opened to the Faith during the 1950s and 60s by "pioneers", or Baha'is who left their home countries to settle in regions where the Faith had not yet been established. The fact that most countries were represented by indigenous believers rather than pioneers was seen by many as a sign of the coming of age of the global Baha'i community. Also significant was the participation of approximately equal numbers of women and men. In fact women exceeded men among the representatives from the Americas and Europe. P.G. Chandrarathna, a Board member from Sri Lanka, was deeply impressed by the significance of this diversity. "I sighted people from almost all races, all colors and all religious backgrounds, but the wonder of it was that all of them were united in their thoughts and united in their goals, that is, to work for the unity of humankind," he said. "They did not gather to find solutions to their differences, but to see how they could work in cooperation." A moving climax The Baha'i sacred writings explain that the Faith's development would fall into three evolutionary stages: a heroic, a formative and a golden age. The first, lasting from the birth of the Faith in 1844 until 1921, was a period of extreme trial and persecution when thousands of early believers were martyred because of their efforts to establish the new religion. The second age now unfolding is expected to lead through a series of epochs marking the achievement of significant milestones. Much later, possibly hundreds of years from now, the Faith would reach its golden age, coinciding with the emergence of a just and peaceful global civilisation. Since 1921 the Faith has progressed through four epochs of its formative age. In the closing session of the conference, the Universal House of Justice referred to "signs that the Faith had arrived at a point in its development beyond which new horizons open before us." Among the indicators of this new level of maturity the House of Justice cited the change of culture in the Baha'i community as training institutes emerged, the completion of the construction projects on Mount Carmel, and the synchronisation of these developments with the accelerating trend toward world peace. These indicators had been "crystallised into a recognisable reality," the Universal House of Justice stated, by the "extraordinary dynamics at work throughout the conference." Then came a dramatic declaration. "With a spirit of exultation we are moved to announce to you: the Faith of Baha'u'llah now enters the fifth epoch of its formative age." "The realisation that we were all there at that moment of history - making history - was truly overwhelming. After devotions, everyone filed out of the Seat, congratulating each other on the new epoch. There was such a celebratory air," said one participant. For many, the announcement sparked questions about the significance of an epoch in the unfoldment of the Baha'i Cause, and about the new perspectives and possibilities opened up in their individual and collective lives. "This new milestone is so near to us that we can grasp its significance only in the future," said Ms. Donovalova from Slovakia. "But what is happening to us? What is the change? What is new?" Ms. Donovalova answered her own questions by citing a favorite passage from a letter of the Universal House of Justice describing the new "culture of growth" characterizing the Baha'i community: "So enkindled do their hearts become with the fire of the love of God that whoever approaches them feels its warmth. They strive to be channels of the spirit, pure of heart, selfless and humble, possessing the certitude and the courage that stems from reliance on God.""
"32.8191218"
"34.9983856"
132
"2001-06-25"
"UNITED NATIONS"
""
""
[]
"Baha'i International Community issues statement to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS"
"UNITED NATIONS — The Baha'i International Community has issued the following statement, entitled "HIV/AIDS and Gender Equality: Transforming Attitudes and Behaviors," for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS, which took place at the United Nations in New York 25-27 June 2001: The relationship between the AIDS pandemic and gender inequality is gaining recognition globally. New HIV/AIDS infections are now increasing faster among women and girls than among males; therefore, last year half of all new cases occurred in females. At the recent 45th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, where HIV/AIDS was one of the main thematic issues, the complexity of the challenges in addressing the issue were underscored by the undeniable association of AIDS with such an intractable problem as sexism. There is no denying the importance of research, education and cooperation among governments and civil society. However, awareness is growing that a profound change of attitude -- personal, political, and social -- will be necessary to stop the spread of the disease and ensure assistance to those already infected and affected. This statement will focus on two of the more significant populations who need to be represented in these global discussions: men, because of the control they have traditionally exercised over women's lives; and faith communities, because of the power they have to influence the hearts and minds of their adherents. In order to curtail the spread of HIV/AIDS among women, concrete changes need to occur in the sexual attitudes and behavior of both men and women, but especially men. Fallacious notions about the naturally voracious sexual appetites of men must be addressed. The real consequences to women -- and men -- of the practice of satisfying one's sexual desires outside of marriage must be fully understood. Educating women and girls is critically important, but the current power imbalance between men and women can prevent a woman from acting in her own interest. Indeed, experience has shown that educating women without educating the men in their lives may put the women at greater risk of violence. Efforts are needed, therefore, to educate both boys and girls to respect themselves and one another. A culture of mutual respect will improve not only the self-esteem of women and girls, but the self-esteem of men and boys as well, which will lead toward more responsible sexual behavior. The denial of equality to women not only promotes in men harmful attitudes and habits that affect their families, the workplace, political decisions and international relations; it also contributes substantially to the spread of HIV/AIDS and retards the progress of society. Notice how culturally accepted social inequalities conspire with economic vulnerability to leave women and girls with little or no power to reject unwanted or unsafe sex. Yet, once infected with HIV/AIDS, women are often stigmatized as the source of the disease and persecuted, sometimes violently. Meanwhile, the burden of caring for people living with HIV/AIDS and for children orphaned by the disease falls predominantly on women. Traditional gender roles that have gone unquestioned for generations must now be re-examined in the light of justice and compassion. Ultimately, nothing short of a spiritual transformation will move men -- and women -- to forego the behaviors that contribute to the spread of AIDS. Such a transformation is as important for men as it is for women, because "As long as women are prevented from attaining their highest possibilities, so long will men be unable to achieve the greatness which might be theirs." Because the cultivation of humanity's noble, spiritual core has always been the province of religion, religious communities can play an important role in bringing about the change of heart and the consequent change in behaviors that will make possible an effective response to the AIDS crisis. The leaders of faith communities are especially equipped to address the moral dimension of the AIDS crisis both in terms of its prevention and its treatment. The spread of HIV/AIDS would be significantly reduced if individuals were taught to respect the sanctity of the family by practicing abstinence before marriage and fidelity to one's spouse while married, as underscored in most faith traditions. Religious leaders and people of faith are also called to respond with love and compassion to the intense personal suffering of those either directly or indirectly affected by the AIDS crisis. However, a tendency on the part of society as a whole to judge and blame those afflicted has, since the onset of this disease, stifled compassion for its victims. The subsequent stigmatization of individuals thus afflicted with HIV/AIDS has fostered a profound reluctance on the part of infected individuals to seek treatment and of societies to change cultural attitudes and practices necessary for the prevention and treatment of the disease. Such judgments can be particularly pronounced in religious communities struggling to uphold a high standard of personal conduct. One of the seeming paradoxes of faith is the individual obligation of believers to adhere to a high standard of personal conduct while loving and caring for those who fall short -- for whatever reason -- of that same standard. What is often forgotten is that "moral conduct" includes not only personal restraint but compassion and humility as well. Faith communities will need to strive continually to rid themselves of judgmental attitudes so that they can exert the kind of moral leadership that encourages personal responsibility, love for one another, and the courage to protect vulnerable groups in society. We see signs of hope in increased interfaith dialogue and cooperation. Among faith communities there is a growing recognition that, as Baha'u'llah states, "the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God". It is, indeed, the transcendent nature of the human spirit, as it reaches toward that invisible, unknowable Essence called God, which galvanizes and refines mankind's capacity to achieve the spiritual progress that translates into social progress. As dialogue, cooperation and respect among religious communities increase, cultural and religious practices and traditions that discriminate against women, no matter how entrenched, will gradually give way. This will be an essential step toward retarding the spread of HIV/AIDS. Indeed, it is in the recognition of the oneness of the human family that hearts will soften, minds will open, and the attitudes of men and women will be transformed. It is out of that transformation that a coherent, compassionate and rational response to the worldwide HIV/AIDS crisis will be made possible."
""
""
133
"2001-08-25"
"DURBAN"
""
"South Africa"
[]
"Baha'i International Community issues statement to World Conference against Racism"
"DURBAN, South Africa — The Baha'i International Community has issued the following statement to the United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, scheduled to be held in Durban, South Africa, from 31 August 2001 to 7 September 2001: Racism originates not in the skin but in the human mind. Remedies to racial prejudice, xenophobia and intolerance must accordingly address first and foremost those mental illusions that have for so many thousands of years given rise to false concepts of superiority and inferiority among human populations. At the root of all forms of discrimination and intolerance is the erroneous idea that humankind is somehow composed of separate and distinct races, peoples or castes, and that those sub-groups innately possess varying intellectual, moral, and/or physical capacities, which in turn justify different forms of treatment. The reality is that there is only the one human race. We are a single people, inhabiting the planet Earth, one human family bound together in a common destiny, a single entity created from one same substance, obligated to "be even as one soul." Recognition of this reality is the antidote to racism, xenophobia and intolerance in all its forms. It should, accordingly, be the guiding principle behind the discussions, deliberations and ultimate output of the World Conference against Racism. A proper understanding of this fact of existence has the capacity to carry humanity not merely past racism, racial and ethnic prejudice, and xenophobia but also beyond intermediate notions of tolerance or multi-culturalism -- concepts that are important stepping-stones to humanity's long-sought goal of building a peaceful, just and unified world but insufficient for the eradication of such deeply rooted afflictions as racism and its companions. The principle of human oneness strikes a chord in the deepest reaches of the human spirit. It is not yet another way of talking about the ideal of brotherhood or solidarity. Nor is it some vague hope or slogan. It reflects, rather, an eternal spiritual, moral and physical reality that has been brought into focus by humanity's collective coming of age in the twentieth century. Its emergence is more visible now because, for the first time in history, it has become possible for all of the peoples of the world to perceive their interdependence and to become conscious of their wholeness. The reality of human oneness is fully endorsed by science. Anthropology, physiology, psychology, sociology and, most recently, genetics, in its decoding of the human genome, demonstrate that there is only one human species, albeit infinitely varied in the secondary aspects of life. The world's great religions likewise uphold the principle, even if their followers have, at times, clung to fallacious notions of superiority. The Founders of the world's great religions have all promised that one day peace and justice would prevail and all humanity would be united. The contemporary realization of humanity's collective oneness comes after a historic process in which individuals were fused into ever greater units. Moving from clans, to tribes, to city-states, to nations, the next inevitable step for humanity is nothing less than the creation of a global civilization. In this new global civilization, all people and peoples are component parts of a single great organism -- an organism that is human civilization itself. As stated by Baha'u'llah more than 100 years ago, "The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens." Further, as explained in the Baha'i writings, the oneness of humanity "implies an organic change in the structure of present-day society, a change such as the world has not yet experienced.... It calls for no less than the reconstruction and the demilitarization of the whole civilized world -- a world organically unified in all the essential aspects of its life, its political machinery, its spiritual aspiration, its trade and finance, its script and language, and yet infinite in the diversity of the national characteristics of its federated units." In considering the themes of the World Conference against Racism, a proper understanding of the reality of the oneness of humanity holds a number of implications. It implies that any law, tradition or mental construct that grants superior rights or privileges to one grouping of humanity over another is not only morally wrong but fundamentally at odds with the best interests of even those who consider themselves to be in some way superior. It implies that nation-states, as the building blocks of a global civilization, must hold to common standards of rights and take active steps to purge from their laws, traditions and practices any form of discrimination based on race, nationality or ethnic origin. It implies that justice must be the ruling principle of social organization, a corollary principle that calls for widespread measures on the part of governments, their agencies, and civil society to address economic injustice at all levels. The Baha'i writings call for both voluntary giving and government measures, such as the "equalization and apportionment" of excess wealth, so that the great disparities between the rich and the poor are eliminated. The Baha'i writings also prescribe specific measures, such as profit-sharing and the equation of work with worship, that promote general economic prosperity across all classes. Issues of xenophobia before the Conference in relation to contemporary problems of minority diasporas, the uneven application of citizenship laws, and refugee resettlement can likewise best be addressed in the light of humanity's oneness and, as Baha'u'llah indicated, the concept of world citizenship. Further, the principle of the oneness of humanity exposes any attempt to distinguish separate "races" or "peoples" in the contemporary world as artificial and misleading. While racial, national and/or ethnic heritage can be considered as sources of pride and even a backdrop for positive social development, such distinctions should not become a basis for new forms of separation or superiority, however subtle. Over the years, in statements to the United Nations, the Baha'i International Community has supported or called for specific actions in support of human oneness and the fight against racism, including: -- The widespread promotion of international educational campaigns that would teach the organic oneness of humankind, urging specifically that the United Nations itself facilitate such an effort, involving national and local governments, as well as non-governmental organizations. -- The widespread ratification of -- and adherence to -- international instruments, which represent humankind's collective conscience, that might contribute to a comprehensive legal regime for combating racism and racial discrimination, especially the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. -- The worldwide promotion of human rights education, with the aim of creating a "culture of human rights." The Baha'i International Community has also sponsored or participated extensively in activities aimed at the eradication of racism and racial discrimination. Working largely through its national affiliates, which currently number 182, the Community has for example sponsored numerous public meetings, conferences, educational programs, newspaper articles, radio programs and exhibits that specifically seek to combat racism. Further, drawing on the creative spirit of grassroots participation, Baha'is in a number of countries have established race unity committees, with multiracial membership, which have developed programs to combat racial prejudice and to create bonds of mutual respect among peoples of different races in their local communities. These committees have attempted to assist Baha'is to free themselves of their own racial prejudices and, beyond that, to contribute to the elimination of racial prejudice in society at large through extensive collaboration with leaders in government, education and religion. More specifically, Baha'i communities around the world have sponsored numerous youth workshops that promote racial unity, held thousands of public "race unity day" observances, launched television and video campaigns to promote race harmony, sponsored neighborhood race unity dialogues, and participated in various national commissions to combat racism. Those seeking to understand more fully how the oneness of humanity can be brought into practice might find it useful to examine the experience of the Baha'i International Community itself, which offers a continuously advancing model for how diverse individuals can live together in harmony and unity. With a membership of more than 5 million, the worldwide Baha'i community is composed of individuals from virtually every background. More than 2,100 different racial and tribal groups are represented, as are individuals from virtually every nationality, religious background and social class. Despite this great diversity, which is reflective of the world's population at large, the worldwide Baha'i community is among the most unified bodies of people on earth. This sense of unity goes beyond a shared theology. Individuals from many of these backgrounds have intermarried, for example, something which is promoted in the teachings of the Baha'i Faith, and/or they work together closely in local Baha'i communities, serving together on its local- and national-level governing institutions. A careful examination of the worldwide Baha'i community will reveal a surprisingly widespread and yet singularly committed body of people who are consciously creating a global culture, one that emphasizes peace, justice and sustainable development, and puts no group in a position of superiority. Baha'is believe that their own success at building a unified community stems solely from its inspiration by the spiritual teachings of Baha'u'llah, who wrote extensively about the importance of unity, the reality of oneness, and the imperative need for creating a peaceful world civilization. More than 100 years ago, He wrote the following, which stands as a cornerstone of Baha'i belief: "O Children of Men! Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest.""
"-29.861825"
"31.009909"
134
"2001-08-30"
"HAIFA"
""
"Israel"
[]
"More than 54,000 have toured Baha'i Terraces on Mount Carmel since June opening"
"HAIFA, Israel — More than 54,000 people have taken pre-reserved guided tours of the cascading garden terraces surrounding the Shrine of the Bab on Mount Carmel since they opened in June, indicating that the site may soon become one of the top tourist draws in Israel. In addition, thousands more have visited the three sections of the gardens that are open to drop-in visitors. In all, more than 400,000 entries have been recorded since 4 June 2001, when the terraces were officially opened to the public, and at this rate the number of entries per year will add up to more than 1.5 million. "The remarkable thing about the high volume of visitors is that it is coming at a time when tourism in Israel has dropped by 30 per cent in the last six months. In contrast, in Haifa we've seen only an 8 per cent drop," said Moshe Tsur, General Manager of the Haifa Tourist Board. "There is no doubt the Baha'i gardens have had a big role in saving Haifa's tourism industry." The vast majority of the visitors are Israelis, coming to Haifa from other parts of the country. "This is 95 per cent domestic tourism," said Mr. Tsur. "The number of day visitors has tripled since the gardens opened. Many others are staying in local hotels with a package deal that includes a tour through the gardens." There are no fees for entry into the gardens or for the guided tours, but Mr. Tsur estimates that other spending, such as on food, refreshments and transportation, has contributed millions of dollars to the local economy since the gardens opened. The effect of this economic vitality is particularly visible in the evenings, after the gardens close and the dramatic nighttime illumination of the terraces and Shrine is turned on. Along Ben Gurion Avenue, which runs in a straight line from the base of the Terraces to the Haifa port, sidewalk cafes and restaurants are now bustling, even on mid-week evenings, whereas just a few months ago the area was largely quiet after dark. The lighted terraces rise above the avenue, which runs through the historic German Templer Colony. The whole neighborhood, including A group of tourists listens to an explanation of the history of the Shrine of the Bab during a guided tour of the Baha'i Terraces on Mount Carmel.rows of red-tiled homes built by German settlers in the late 19th century, has recently been restored by the city of Haifa. The Haifa Tourist Board is located in one of the Templer homes and runs the booking system for the guided tours of the Terraces. Five telephone operators work full time to take calls on the tour reservation lines. "The lines are continually jammed, and people complain that they can't get through," said Mr. Tsur. "The demand for the tours is certainly not slowing. We have more than 70,000 people registered for the coming months, and we are almost fully booked through December." Two different guided tours are offered: the first goes down the top nine terraces from the crest of the mountain to the Shrine mid-way down the slope, and the second tour goes from the Shrine down the lower nine terraces to the Entrance Plaza on Ben Gurion Avenue. There are 19 terraces altogether, extending one kilometer from the crest to the foot of Mount Carmel. The Terraces and two adjacent administrative buildings were recently completed after 10 years of work at a cost of some $250 million in voluntary donations from the worldwide Baha'i community of five million believers. The terraces were built primarily as a path of approach for Baha'i pilgrims to the Shrine of the Bab, the second-most holy spot for Baha'is. The Terraces also offer a symbol of peace and hope to the world at large, and the guided tours come with a message: that harmony and co-existence are possible. In groups of 40 to 50 at a time, tourists are led by Israeli guides who are recruited and trained by the Beit Hagefen Centre, an Arab-Jewish cultural center that is well known in Haifa for its programs to promote coexistence among all the ethnic groups in the city. Many of the guides are university students and they represent a great diversity of backgrounds: Christians, Druze, Jews, Muslims, Russian immigrants, and others. Hila Naftali is a student at Haifa University who responded to an advertisement posted at the university last March to become a tour guide on the Terraces. She now guides up to four tours per day. During a pause between tours this week, she said she believes that the camaraderie fostered among the tour guides from many different backgrounds is one of the hidden effects of the terraces. "I actually get to talk with a lot of people who I otherwise would not have a chance to meet," said Ms. Naftali. "One of my friends now is another guide, a Druze from the Golan. We have reached a completely different level of understanding, based on friendship rather than politics." One of the supervisors of the tour guides, Gad Zorea, reiterated that having guides from many backgrounds working together adds to the appeal of the gardens. "Haifa is a special, unique place in Israel. People know this city for the coexistence of Jews and Arabs, and also Christians, Druze and Baha'is," said Mr. Zorea. "The visitors can see our guides working together, and they remark on this." "Israel is a difficult country. People are stressed and nervous because of the things that are happening," he said. "Our guides are the first people they encounter when they enter the gardens, and slowly we try to show them a different perspective, give them a glimpse of the way the Baha'is view the world -- in a way educate them that the world can be a better place." About 35 guides have been recruited and have gone through an intensive three-day training session to become a guide on the terraces. The training program, which will be repeated periodically as new guides are recruited, included sessions with the architect of the terraces, Fariborz Sahba, and the caretaker of the Baha'i Holy Places, Jamsheed Ardjomandi. Ms. Naftali said she was deeply touched during the training program, and that nearly all the guides share her sense that what they are doing is much more than a job. "It was so meaningful when Mr. Ardjomandi described the significance of these Holy Places, when he told us of Baha'u'llah's dialogue with the mountain [in the Tablet of Carmel] " said Ms. Naftali. "After that I felt: this is a mission. I started caring more, doing more. These gardens touch people's souls." Two of the visits she had guided particularly stuck in her mind: a group of retarded adults and a group of young soldiers on leave from their duty in the Gaza. "While I had to speak at a different level for the retarded adults, it was a joy, maybe because they feel things more deeply, more truthfully. The soldiers -- they were maybe 18 to 20 years old -- came in joking and daring each other to race to the bottom. But the minute they walked into the gardens, they relaxed and seemed ready to listen." The guided tours are giving many Israelis their first glimpse of a religious community that has maintained a remarkably low profile during its century-long presence on Mount Carmel. From the time in 1868 when the Founder of the Baha'i Faith was brought to the neighboring city of Acre as a prisoner under the Ottoman Turks, the community has observed a strict policy of not seeking or accepting converts in the Holy Land, a policy that has continued to the present day. As a result, virtually the only Baha'is who live in Israel are the staff of the Baha'i World Centre, some 800 adherents from more than 75 countries who offer temporary volunteer service here. On a recent afternoon, standing on the bridge over Hatzionut Street which links the upper terraces to the Shrine, one could see a tour group making its way down from the crest of the mountain, another group approaching the bridge from the upper terraces, and a third group approaching from a side gate to begin the lower terraces tour. The upper and lower terrace tours intersect on this broad, garden-covered bridge, which crosses one of Haifa's busiest thoroughfares. More than 20 tours, each lasting 45 minutes to an hour, begin or end here each day. One of the visitors, pausing on the bridge with several family members, was Lynn Taubkin, a Haifa resident for 22 years. "The gardens are a wonderful contribution to the city," said Ms. Taubkin. "If I may speak as a representative of the people of Haifa, I have never heard anything but positive remarks about the gardens. And knowing that it is all based on voluntary contributions and the work of volunteers adds to our appreciation." "There is beauty here -- harmony, balance and symmetry -- and there is a spiritual element that even those of us who do not belong to the religion can pick up on," she said. "The gardens have a personality that seems to personify the religion." Another visitor, Orit from Kadima, agreed that the explanation she had heard about the Baha'i Faith reinforced the impression given by the gardens. "The impression of symmetry, order and neatness was intertwined with the presentation of the Baha'i religion. The harmonious, unifying principle is very pronounced in the gardens. It is beautiful and very inspiring," she said. Reuven Gover, one of the tour guides, observed that visitors often remark on how carefully the gardens are maintained. "They see the young Baha'is who come from all over the world to volunteer in the maintenance of the gardens, and their dedication and attention to detail. It is a wonderful example for Israelis to see something that is so beautifully kept and looked after," he said. Another tour guide, Yohai Devir, gathered his group about him on the bridge, speaking through a small portable amplifier carried on his waist. He pointed to the imposing marble buildings to the left of the upper terraces and described their functions as the international administrative center of a world religion. Looking up at the terraces, he pointed out the three distinct zones of the gardens -- the formal central axis, surrounded on either side by informal gardens and drought-resistant ground covers, blending finally into the natural wooded cover of the mountain -- and described the high-tech water conservation methods used in the gardens. Mr. Devir, a student of electrical engineering at Haifa's Technion University, then led the group down around the side of the Shrine of the Bab to a shady area where he told the story of the Bab -- His declaration of a new revelation from God in mid-19th century Iran, the dramatic impact of this declaration on Persian society, His execution by a firing squad in 1850, and how His remains had been hidden by His followers for nearly 60 years until they were brought for burial in a mausoleum on the slopes of Mount Carmel. He spoke of Baha'u'llah, the promised Messenger foretold by the Bab, who had arrived in the Holy Land in 1868 as a prisoner under the Ottoman authorities, had indicated the precise spot where the Bab's remains should be buried, and had chosen Mount Carmel as the future center of His Faith. The group continued down through the informal gardens and crossed on to the central staircase of the terraces just below the Shrine. They paused again on the bridge over Abbas Street, four terraces above the base of the mountain. Here Mr. Devir described the basic principles of the Baha'i Faith, its international activities, and its focus on promoting the oneness of humanity and the elimination of all forms of prejudice. The visitors, particularly the young people, then peppered him with questions: how do they cut the grass on these steep slopes? How much does it cost to maintain the gardens? What other gardens in the world can these compare with? Who is buried in the Shrine? Why is it here in Israel? What is the meaning of the calligraphic symbols on the Shrine? One of the visitors, Susan Soto from Karmi'el, a village about 45 minutes north of Haifa, said she came on the tour because she had seen the gardens on television. "These gardens have become famous. They are beautiful and very impressive. Baha'is believe in good things. They believe in one God, in peace. It's good for everyone," she said. Another visitor was Inbal Shabtai, who had come with her parents from Ashdod, about a two-and- a-half hour drive from Haifa. "It's charming," she said. "Whatever attracts the eye, attracts the heart. It is very attractive. Here is a religion that accepts the equality of men and women. The beliefs are good for modern life." As the group exited the gardens, four newlywed couples were having their wedding photos and video taken in the plaza surrounding the fountain at the base of the terraces, a practice which has become very common among newlyweds in Haifa."
"32.8191218"
"34.9983856"
135
"2001-08-05"
"KAMPALA"
""
"Uganda"
[]
"Baha'i Community of Uganda celebrates its 50th anniversary"
"KAMPALA, Uganda — In a week-long celebration that opened to the joyous beat of African drums -- and which went on to feature a statement by Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the Ugandan Baha'i community commemorated in early August the 50th anniversary of its founding. The Ugandan Baha'i community was established on 2 August 1951 when a small group of Baha'is from Great Britain and Iran arrived in Uganda with the intention of bringing the teachings of the Baha'i Faith to people here. The principles of unity and social progress offered by the Faith soon won acceptance from individuals in every region of the country and most of the major tribal groups. Within two years the community had expanded to nearly 300 members in some 25 localities who represented 20 tribes. Today, the Baha'i Faith has an estimated 105,000 members in Uganda, organized into some 200 local governing councils and established in more than 2,800 localities. Its members represent virtually every tribal and religious background. "You will find we have Baha'is in all regions of the country, in the western, northern, eastern, southern and central regions of Uganda," said George Olinga, Director of External Affairs for the Baha'i Community of Uganda. "And you will find that the diversity of all Uganda is clearly seen in the Baha'i community and in our activities." Praise for the Faith's record of promoting harmony and development in a country that has often been divided by tribalism was a main message of President Museveni's statement, which was read on 2 August 2001 by Captain Michael Mukula, State Minister for Health, before a crowd of some 2,000 people at the Baha'i House of Worship in Kampala. "In Uganda we are constantly fighting against ethnic and religious sectarianisms and our politics was played out and polarized along those major fault lines for a very long time," wrote President Museveni, explaining that his government has sought to "bring all the people together irrespective of their faith, race, color or ethnicity." Captain Michael Mukula, Uganda's State Minister for Health, reads a statement from the President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni at a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Baha’i community of Uganda, held at the Baha’i House of Worship near Kampala on 2 August 2001. (Photo: Ryan Lash)"We have been doing what you in the Baha'i Faith began to do a long time ago," President Museveni stated in prepared remarks. "Yours is a very useful message and can contribute greatly to nation building." President Museveni's statement went on to highlight the need to fight the evils of corruption and the necessity of reducing poverty -- goals which he said he and his government share with the Baha'i community. President Museveni also said his government shares a commitment to bring about equality between women and men. "I appeal to members of the Baha'i Faith, who hold the equality of rights and opportunities for women and men as an act of faith and as their basic principle, to join in our crusade for the empowerment of women," stated President Museveni. Among other highlights of the week-long celebration, which began on 31 July in Kampala and ended on 5 August in Tilling, Kumi District, in Eastern Uganda, were the presence of four of the six founding members of the community, the attendance of various officials in the Ugandan government, and extensive coverage of the celebration in the Ugandan media. Among the founding members of the community in attendance was Mr. 'Ali Nakhjavani, who is currently a member of the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Baha'i Faith. He spoke at several events during the week, on the theme of "The Spiritual Destiny of Africa." Before some 2,500 people on 5 August in Tilling, for example, Mr. Nakhjavani said that when he came to Uganda in 1951, the Faith was like "drops of water here and there." "Now the Baha'is are like a lake," Mr. Nakhjavani said. "They should now transform that lake into an ocean." He added that Africans -- and all of humanity -- are from a single lineage and that we should "see ourselves as one family" in the world. Philip Hainsworth, another of the six founders who returned for the celebration, told how the fledgling Baha'i community of Uganda became an important nucleus for the spread and expansion of the Faith to neighboring countries in the 1950s and 1960s, through the hosting of various international conferences and, in 1957, with the start of construction on the first Baha'i House of Worship on the continent. Completed in 1961, the nine-sided Ugandan Baha'i House of Worship is now a well-known landmark in Kampala. In recent years, the Baha'i community of Uganda has sponsored a number of social and economic development projects. The Faith operates two primary schools, in Odusai in Pallisa District and in Tilling in Kumi District. With about 1,000 students and a solid reputation for excellence, the school in Tilling is now considered to be the top school in the district. In the 1990s, in some 30 villages in the Kumi and Soroti Districts in Eastern Uganda, the Uganda Baha'i Institute for Development (UBID) undertook a project to train and support local volunteer community health workers, whose effectiveness at improving basic health and sanitation in the region has been documented by several outside organizations. A Baha'i-inspired non-governmental organization (NGO), UPLIFT, has also recently started a literacy project in the northern region of Uganda, where literacy rates are low. Focused around the town of Packwach in Nebbi District, the project serves about 200 people in some six communities. Government officials present at Jubilee events commended the Ugandan Baha'i community's contribution to the country's development. At the opening ceremony on 31 July, the Honorable Zoe Bakoko Bakoru, the Minister of Gender, Labor and Social Development, was the featured speaker. Ms. Bakoko Bakoru praised the Baha'is for their unity and for their support of equal rights for women. She urged the Baha'i community to work harder to spread such teachings and to undertake more development work. The Minister was also present on 5 August at the closing event in Tilling. At a Jubilee event on 3 August at the Baha'i Center in Bweyeyo, Luwero District, the guest of honor was Edward Masiga, the Resident District Commissioner for Luwero. The local Baha'i community there operates a community school with about 40 students. Mr. Masiga urged the Baha'is to spread their principles "aggressively," adding that he hoped they would undertake more development projects like the school. At least three major television stations (CTV, UTV and WBS) carried two- to three-minute segments on their evening news broadcasts. The government newspapers "The New Vision" and "Etop" carried articles with color photographs of Jubilee events. The newspapers "Monitor" and "Sunrise" and numerous radio stations also covered the Jubilee. Like most other Ugandans, the Baha'i community suffered in the 1970s during the repressive regime of Idi Amin. The Faith, along with many other religious groups, was banned in 1977. After Amin was ousted in 1979, however, the Faith was legally reconstituted and, after a period of political instability, the community has continued its expansion. "The time from 1977 to 1981 was a period of great trials for the Ugandan community generally, and there are stories of many heroic feats and sacrifices by Baha'is during this time," said John Anglin, Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Uganda, the national Baha'i governing council. "But the 1990s were a period of re-building our former capacity and strength." "Now, over the next ten years, we expect to see steady growth both in numbers and also in capacity and maturity," Mr. Anglin continued. "The successful conclusion of the Jubilee events is one of the signs of this new capacity and new willingness to achieve.""
"0.3177137"
"32.5813539"
137
"2001-10-01"
"NEW YORK"
""
"United States"
[]
"Worldwide, Baha'i communities respond to terrorist attacks in the U.S. with prayers and offers of service"
"NEW YORK — At the international, national and local levels, Baha'i communities around the world responded to last month's terrorist attacks in the United States with prayers, voluntary acts of service, donations and messages of condolence. Many of the world's 182 Baha'i National Spiritual Assemblies issued statements, messages of condolence, and calls for prayer meetings. In New York City itself, some members of the local Baha'i community rushed to the site of the World Trade Center complex and offered help. Several individuals donated time working in restaurants to help prepare food for rescue workers. Other Baha'is donated blood or items like clothing or food. Baha'is in all four boroughs of New York City held prayer services immediately after the attack. The New York Baha'i Center, which is located on 11th Street, was inaccessible to the general public for much of the week because it is below 14th Street, in the area cordoned off by police. However, by Friday, 14 September, that area was opened and the community sponsored a service at the Center as part of a national day of prayer and mourning. On the same day, in cities large and small, thousands of Baha'is in hundreds of communities gathered to pray, light candles, and remember the thousands of people who died in the attacks. In the Baha'i House of Worship for North America, located outside of Chicago, 800 people gathered on Friday for a noon prayer service."
"40.7127281"
"-74.0060152"
138
"2001-10-14"
"WIENACHT"
""
"Switzerland"
[]
"In Switzerland, Landegg International University passes an important milestone, winning a new level of recognition from the Gove"
"WIENACHT, Switzerland — Although an African herself, Njeri Mwagiru was turned off by brochures from top universities in the United States and Canada that touted special clubs for Africans, Indians and other major ethnic and racial groups. "There just seemed to be a lot of separation on those campuses," said the 20-year-old Kenya native, discussing her decision to come instead to Landegg International University, a Baha'i-inspired institution of higher learning in the foothills of the Swiss Alps. "It seemed to me that things were designed so that people of different cultures could stay apart." "But here at Landegg, the emphasis is on having people of different cultures get together -- and that is what I was looking for." Entering her third year in Landegg's Bachelor of Arts program, Ms. Mwagiru is happy with her choice -- a choice made somewhat venturesome by the fact that Landegg's degree programs are only five years old. But she has indeed found the kind of unity amidst diversity that she was seeking, and Ms. Mwagiru also believes she is receiving a topflight education, one with a distinctive approach. "It aims to combine various disciplines of study so that they make more sense and the education is more applicable to life," said Ms. Mwagiru, enrolled in a program that brings together the fields of psychology, human development and education. "And it has delivered everything in terms of the education I expected," she continued. "We have lots of contact with the professors and many in-depth discussions. The school has a general belief in the uniqueness of the individual -- and at the same time the unity of all." Ms. Mwagiru's description of her experience at Landegg quite accurately matches the university's stated goals, which are to develop and practice a new "integrative" approach to education that combines modern scientific thinking with spiritual and ethical values in a way that meets the needs of an interdependent and global civilization. "Our curriculum seeks to make sure that the students not only receive the latest academic and scientific information about what they are studying, but that they will also be exposed to the various ethical considerations that pertain to it -- and that they will then learn how to apply it in the real world," said Hossain Danesh, president of Landegg. On 20 September 2001, Landegg received an important new level of recognition for its approach, when it was formally registered by the cantonal and federal authorities as a private university in Switzerland. To achieve that, the university had to meet the rigorous criteria set by the government at both the canton and federal levels. "One of the most significant implications of Landegg's new status is that the Swiss Government has recognized the legitimacy of an approach to education that is global in reach and that has as its basis the idea of applied spirituality within a framework of integrated studies," said Michael Penn, who served as vice rector at Landegg from 1998-2000 and is currently an affiliate professor. "It is a recognition of the idea that an institution of higher learning can, in an academically rigorous way, apply principles of ethics to the interrogation of social problems in the world," said Dr. Penn, who is professor of psychology at Franklin and Marshall University in Pennsylvania, USA. Landegg is also winning recognition in other important ways. A high percentage of its graduate students have gone on to prestigious doctoral programs at universities like Stanford and Cambridge. And it has launched a major peace education project in Bosnia and Herzegovina that is winning high praise from government officials. A Gradual Evolution Landegg's evolution into a full-fledged university has been a gradual process. Located on some 31 acres on a hillside overlooking Lake Constance in the rustic Swiss village of Wienacht, Landegg International University was previously known as Landegg Academy, and it was used primarily as a conference center. In that role, Landegg was the venue of a number of significant meetings, including a series of "International Dialogues on the Transition to a Global Society." The first such Dialogue was held in September 1990 and included the participation of Federico Mayor, then UNESCO's Director- General; Karan Singh, a leading Indian author and diplomat; and Bertrand Schneider, then secretary-general of the Club of Rome. In addition to such high-level gatherings, Landegg was also host to a number of international programs, focusing on peace and world order studies for young people. Currently comprising some nine buildings, the campus was originally built as a holiday retreat in the 19th century. The campus was acquired by a Baha'i family in 1982 and the properties were donated to a newly established Landegg International Baha'i Foundation, operating under the aegis of the Baha'i community of Switzerland, which undertook the renovation of its main buildings and established it as a conference center. In the mid-1990s, the Foundation decided that Landegg's role as a center of learning should become formalized, and Landegg's functions were transferred to an independent board, whose charter states that the university will be operated as an independent university, directed by an international governing board. Among the most important responsibilities of the board is to ensure the academic excellence and independence of the university. In September 1997, Landegg formally inaugurated a new program of graduate studies, offering a Master of Arts Degree in eight areas, including conflict resolution, psychology, education, and religion. In 1998, Landegg began to offer undergraduate degrees as well and by 2000, the school began seeking formal recognition as a university. Over the years, Landegg has opened active scholarly exchange programs with a number of universities worldwide, including the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Beijing University in China, the State University of Sergipe in Brazil, and the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, in the USA. Currently, Landegg offers undergraduate degrees in four areas: economics and international development; political science and international relations; psychology, human development and education; and the integrative study of religion. Students may also design their own area of concentration, with the guidance of the academic office, from among courses offered. Graduate degrees are offered in six areas: consultation and conflict resolution, moral education, applied ethics, the integrative study of religion, leadership and management, and spiritual psychology. A certificate program in Information Technology has also been launched this year. The way in which areas of degree concentration combine fields of study across various disciplines gives but a glimpse of how the school seeks to provide an integrative approach. The cornerstone of that integrative approach, Dr. Danesh explained, is to first study all of the relevant theories and models that currently exist in a given field. Professors and students themselves are then encouraged to create a new model, based on the new insights into human nature and those universal ethical and spiritual principles that are present in the spiritual and philosophical heritage of humanity, and to see if such a model can have a practical application. "For example, if we are studying conflict resolution, we first study all of the different theories and models of conflict resolution," said Dr. Danesh. "And we keep them. But we have also developed our own model, which we call 'conflict-free conflict resolution.'" [CFCR] The new CFCR model, Dr. Danesh said, does not accept that conflict or aggression is necessarily an inevitable feature of human nature. "Rather, our new theory suggests that conflict is a reflection of the different stages in human development and evolution and that it reflects the absence of unity," said Dr. Danesh, whose own work in psychology and spirituality has helped to lay the foundations for the new model. Dr. Danesh said the theory of conflict-free conflict resolution indicates that the best way to overcome conflict is by seeking higher and higher levels of unity. Based on the CFCR model, Landegg has developed a subsidiary program, called "Education for Peace," which seeks to help war-torn communities incorporate peace education into the standard public school curriculum. Currently, Education for Peace (EFP) operates a pilot project in six schools in three different communities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, reaching some 6,000 students. Global Campus Although the Landegg campus is relatively small, with a current capacity of approximately 100 full-time, on-campus students, its reach is global. At any given time, only about one third of the school's students are on campus. The rest study from afar, using an array of distance-learning technologies but principally email and the World Wide Web. The global diversity of the student body is another hallmark of the Landegg experience. For example, the 30- some young people in the undergraduate program come from 20 different countries. The graduate student population of approximately 120 students is as diverse. "We have students from countries as diverse as Mongolia, Russia, the United States, Venezuela, Canada and China," said Graham Hassall, associate dean of undergraduate studies. "This is one of the wonderful things about Landegg, the global nature of our very small campus." Nyambura Mwagiru, 21, Njeri's sister, said she also felt one of the best things about Landegg is the global diversity of its student body. "Just being able to sit down and talk with people from so many different places is one of the best things about Landegg," said Nyambura, who, like her sister, is in the psychology, human development and education program. "We learn from each other, and have time to reflect and grow." Nyambura said she was on her way to King's College in London when she stopped with her sister to visit Landegg. She was so taken with the atmosphere that she stayed, even though it meant giving up on a degree from a school that is much better known around the world. "It was a big decision but I don't believe I made the wrong decision," said Nyambura. "It is exciting to be part of something that is growing and that is so different." The faculty of Landegg is similarly global in its diversity. Of its more than 70 professors, many who are affiliated with other colleges and universities around the world, only about 10 are on campus at a given time. Nevertheless, the ability to draw on well-respected academics from more than 20 countries contributes greatly to the internationalism of the educational process at Landegg. The school has also had a surprising degree of success in placing its graduates. Although only about 30 students have so far received graduate degrees from Landegg, a number have gone on to prestigious graduate programs. Jenni Menon of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, for example, has been accepted this year into a doctoral studies in psychology and education at Stanford University in the USA; Tania Sargent of Zimbabwe is currently in her second year at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania in the USA; and Mieko Bond went on to do a master's degree in criminology at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. "Landegg was instrumental in helping me get into my current PhD program," said Ms. Menon, who received an MA in Moral Education from Landegg earlier this year. She cited two key factors in Stanford's acceptance: her experience as one of the coordinators in the pilot phase of the Education for Peace project in Bosnia and, second, the "close, caring and thoughtful attention and advice" she received from her professors at Landegg. "As a student at Landegg I feel I was simultaneously exposed to a rigorous theoretical and practical service- oriented type of learning," said Ms. Menon. "Of course, many universities promote this theoretical-practical approach to learning, but a unique aspect of Landegg is that this approach occurs through an effort to integrate the scientific and the ethical/moral and spiritual aspects of knowledge and investigation. I think that this unique integrative approach sounded appealing to Stanford, indicating to me that [they] are seeking fresh approaches." Ms. Sargent likewise feels her experience at Landegg contributed greatly to her acceptance as a PhD candidate at the University of Pennsylvania last year. "It is quite a hard school to get into," said Ms. Sargent, who finished her course work at Landegg towards an MA in moral education a year ago. "And I think one reason I was accepted was some of the academic writing I had done at Landegg." She wrote a paper entitled "Cultivating the Chinese Intelligence: Costs and Benefits of Chinese Achievement Motivation," which she believes was critical in her U Penn application. "I was still very surprised when I was accepted and given a good scholarship offer," said Ms. Sargent. "Some people used to ask me, 'Why are you going to such a new school, don't you need to get real credentials?' But getting an MA from Landegg obviously doesn't hinder you from going somewhere else." Ms. Bond likewise found that some of her friends questioned her decision to go to Landegg to get a master's degree in conflict resolution in 1996. "They would say, 'Will it be recognized by an established university? Will it look good on your CV?,'" said Ms. Bond, who is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Manchester. "But I thought it would be an exciting place to study. And in the end, I did end up at Cambridge. So now my friends have changed their minds.""
"47.0813346"
"8.9792851"
139
"2001-09-06"
"CINCINNATI"
"OHIO"
"United States"
[]
"Baha'is participate in interreligious dialogue on faith and ecology"
"CINCINNATI — Reflecting the increasing Baha'i involvement in interfaith dialogue and consultation about major social issues, the Baha'i view on the environment was presented at an interreligious conference on religion and ecology at Xavier University in September. Held 5-6 September 2001, the Symposium on Religion and Ecology was the first major program of the Brueggeman Center for Interreligious Dialogue, which was inaugurated last year. The program included the presentation of Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish and Native American perspectives on the environment and its relationship to religious faith. The Baha'i presentation was made by Dr. Roxanne Lalonde, faculty lecturer in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and Mr. Peter Adriance, liaison with non-governmental organizations for the National Spiritual Assembly in its Office of External Affairs in Washington. In a joint presentation, Dr. Lalonde spoke on the spiritual principles underlying the Baha'i approach to the environment, while Mr. Adriance spoke about Baha'i efforts internationally to advance those principles. In her presentation, Dr. Lalonde noted that the Baha'i Writings speak of nature as a reflection of the Divine and see all life as interconnected and interdependent. The Baha'i teachings uphold principles of moderation, humility and respect for ecological balance. "The Baha'i vision of a civilization that extends thousands of years into the future implies that human beings have a profound responsibility for stewardship of God's creation," Dr. Lalonde said, adding that a global vision is essential to carry out such stewardship. She noted that the Baha'i teachings clearly make humanity's acceptance of the principle of the oneness of the human family a prerequisite for achieving sustainable development, citing Baha'u'llah's injunction: "The well- being of mankind, its peace and security are unattainable, unless and until its unity is firmly established." Mr. Adriance's presentation focused on three examples of Baha'i efforts internationally to advance such spiritual principles: Baha'i involvement in the '92 Earth Summit; Baha'i contributions toward the development of the Earth Charter; and the application of conservation measures in the Baha'i gardens and terraces on Mt. Carmel. "During preparations for the Earth Summit, the Baha'i International Community issued numerous official statements advancing spiritual principles, and it initiated projects that conveyed those principles in different ways," said Mr. Adriance, referring to the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro. The projects sponsored by the Baha'i International Community at the Earth Summit included a symposium on leadership qualities for a sustainable civilization, a book of children's art and essays on the future, a Peace Monument and a series of unifying cultural events at the '92 Global Forum, a gathering of non-governmental organizations held during the summit. Mr. Adriance also said that the Baha'i representatives contributed to the development of the Earth Charter - a statement of ethics for living sustainably on Earth, and an expected product of the '92 Summit. "Determining the content of the Earth Charter evolved into a decade-long consultative process," Mr. Adriance said. "During that process, the principles of consultation often helped foster a sense of unity among the diverse participants. When the final Earth Charter was released in early 2000, many principles important to the Baha'is were reflected in the document." Mr. Adriance also clarified the Baha'i position on the Charter. "While not officially endorsing the Earth Charter, the Baha'i International Community considers the effort toward drafting it and activities in support of its essential objectives to be highly commendable, and it will continue to participate in related activities, such as conferences, forums and the like," he noted. The last section of Mr. Adriance's talk focused on the newly completed Baha'i gardens and terraces in Haifa, Israel. In addition to addressing the practical measures associated with the development of the gardens and terraces - such as water conservation, organic planting methods, reduction of pesticide and herbicide use and related educational components - Mr. Adriance emphasized the spiritual purpose of the gardens in preparing pilgrims and visitors to approach one of the holiest sites to Baha'is. His presentation included a series of images of the widely praised results of the project. The audience expressed great enthusiasm with the way the gardens reflected a dynamic balance between the practical and the spiritual. At the end of his talk, on behalf of the National Spiritual Assembly Mr. Adriance presented a coffee table book of photographs of the new garden terraces, published by the Haifa Tourist Board, to Father Joseph Bracken, Director of the Brueggeman Center. Baha'i participation in the symposium was facilitated by the efforts of Faramarz Samadany, a member of the Cincinnati Baha'i community and a Trustee of the Brueggeman Center. One of the Center's inaugural events was a 1999 millennium peace gathering that drew an audience of more than 8,000. A Baha'i Youth Workshop performed a dance on the unity of religions at that event. The Brueggeman center is named after a Xavier faculty member known for promoting understanding among Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and Jews. "By bringing together diverse faith groups the Center is able to benefit from a range of views in seeking solutions to the human and environmental challenges facing humanity," noted Father Bracken. In recent years, the Baha'i International Community has participated in a number of major interfaith events on social issues, ranging from the Summit on Religions and Conservation, held in 1995 at Windsor Castle, UK, to the World Faiths Development Dialogue, sponsored by the World Bank."
"39.1014537"
"-84.5124602"
140
"2001-11-16"
"MANAUS"
""
"Brazil"
[]
"Baha'i-inspired NGO receives grant for vocational training in the Amazon"
"MANAUS, Brazil — As part of a government program to reduce unemployment, a Baha'i-inspired development organization in the Amazon basin has received a major grant from the Brazilian Ministry of Education to expand its vocational education program here, with the goal of offering courses to more than 4,000 students per year by 2006. The grant, equivalent to some US$850,000, will allow the Associacao para o Desenvolvimento Coesivo da Amazonia (ADCAM) [Association for the Cohesive Development of Amazon] to build and equip a three-story technical education building on its 12-acre property in the Sao Jose suburb of Manaus. Construction is scheduled to begin in December, leading to completion of the building in July 2002. "This is a major expansion of vocational training opportunities in the region, which is greatly needed because of the high level of unemployment in the Amazon basin, especially among young people," said Ferial Sami Farzin, general director of ADCAM. "Our goal is to strive to improve the quality of life and release the potential of the rural population so that they become leaders in the vanguard in support of their own development." Under the terms of the grant contract, 50 percent of the money will be used for construction and the other 50 percent will be used to fit the building with equipment -- such as computers, chairs, tables, instruments, and blackboards. ADCAM will shoulder all operating costs, relying on tuition fees and voluntary contributions for its funding. Under the terms of the contract, as well, at least 50 percent of the students will receive full scholarships. The new building will be known as the Masrour Technology Institute. Current plans call for the building to include the following laboratories: design, computer, air- conditioning, language, music, ceramic, textile, chemical, environmental, electronic, and esthetic. The building will have a total floor space of 2,800 square meters. Initially, courses will be offered in business management, social development facilitation, and environmental technology. By 2003, courses in design, nutrition and air conditioning technology will be added, as the teaching staff is expanded. A number of shorter, basic-level modular courses, in similar subjects, will also be offered. By offering courses in the morning, afternoon and evening, the Institute hopes to make maximum use of the facility, offering as many sessions as possible. By 2006, the Institute expects to have a full complement of staff, with the capacity to serve approximately 640 students per year in the main subjects, and another 4,350 per year in the shorter, basic-level courses. "ADCAM serves disadvantaged people who, for the most part, would be without any aid, education or social services if this development project did not exist," said Ms. Farzin. "It is located in the midst of one of the poorest neighborhoods in Manaus, serving people who would have no other opportunity to develop their innate capacities if this project wasn't placed in this region." Established 16 year ago, ADCAM's first project was an orphanage. With a mandate to operate following Baha'i principles, ADCAM soon added other programs focused on helping the young people of Manaus. Currently, ADCAM operates three major programs: an elementary school, a youth leadership project, and a supervised youth service project. These programs currently serve more than 700 youth. "In all of our programs, the overriding goal is to balance material instruction with individual spiritual and moral education in order to help the people of the Amazon develop their innate capacities and become self-sustaining in their social and economic development," said Ms. Farzin. "We strive to fit these programs into a context of the needs of the region, based on our long experience with other organizations here, while at the same time following Baha'i principles in our operation and activities." The grant contract was signed at a ceremony on 21 September 2001 at the seat of the Ministry of Education in Brasilia. Present were various federal and state authorities, including Brazil's Minister of Education, Professor Paulo Renato. ADCAM was represented by Ms. Farzin and invited guests Carlos Alberto Silva, representing the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Brazil, and Guitty Milani, representing the Masrour Association, a donor for the project in Manaus. Ms. Farzin added that the Institute will expand its staff considerably in the next few years and she said she hoped that Baha'is around the world with appropriate backgrounds will apply to offer service at the Institute. More information on ADCAM is available at http://www.bahai.org/article-1-8-1-24.html."
"-3.1316333"
"-59.9825041"
141
"2001-11-25"
"MADRID"
""
"Spain"
[]
"Baha'is issue statement on education and freedom of belief"
"MADRID — The Baha'i International Community presented a statement, entitled "Belief and Tolerance: Lights Amidst the Darkness," for the International Consultative Conference on School Education in relation with Freedom of Religion and Belief, Tolerance and Non-discrimination, a United Nations conference held in Madrid on 23-25 November 2001. The full text of the statement follows below: The human spirit must be free to know. Apprehending who we are, for what purpose we exist, and how we should live our lives, is a basic impulse of human consciousness. This quest for self-understanding and meaning is the essence of life itself. The innate and fundamental aspiration to investigate reality is thus a right and an obligation of every human being. It is for this reason that the Baha'i teachings affirm that the "conscience of man is sacred and to be respected."(1) To search for truth--to see with one's "own eyes and not through the eyes of others"--is to undertake a process of spiritual discovery with a keen sense of justice and openness.(2) It is by its very nature a process that is creative and transformative; if pursued with sincerity and fairness, it can bestow upon the seeker of knowledge "a new eye, a new ear, a new heart, and a new mind."(3) The rational soul is thereby awakened to the capacities of kindness, forbearance, and compassion that lie within it. Clearly, the human yearning for truth is a power that cannot be shackled, for without the freedom to know, human nature remains the prisoner of instinct, ignorance and desire. In the midst of an age convulsed by moral crisis and social disintegration, the need for understanding about who we are as human beings is vital to the achievement of lasting peace and well-being. Historically, such insight about human existence and behavior has been provided by religion. Its indispensable function in addressing the universal inclination towards transcendence, and its essential role in civilizing human character throughout the ages, have been central to defining human identity as well as promoting social order. Through its cultivation of humanity's spiritual nature, religion has ennobled the lives of peoples everywhere and has engendered cohesion and unity of purpose within and across societies. Religion, in a very real sense, provides the warp and woof of the social fabric--the shared beliefs and moral vision that unite people into communities and that give tangible direction and meaning to individual and collective life. The right to exercise freedom of conscience in the matters of religion and belief is therefore not only crucial to satisfying the spiritual promptings of the aspiring soul, but to the enterprise of building harmonious and equitable patterns of living. Coercion in matters of faith vitiates the very principles of religion. For commitment can only be born of belief that is freely chosen. The right to freedom of thought, conscience and belief now codified in international human rights instruments directly finds its roots in the scriptures of the world's religions. This fact should assure each of us that truth need not be feared, as it has many facets and shelters all of our diverse expressions of faith. If, after all, people of religious faith believe that the Creator is eternal and the center of all existence, then they must also believe that the unfettered and genuine search for truth will lead to truth. The elimination of all barriers to the free exploration, acceptance, and expression of religious belief is critical to the objective of creating a universal culture of human rights. However, to clear the way for a constructive dialogue about the role of religion in establishing social justice, an historical accounting must be taken. That religion has been responsible for immense suffering cannot be denied. Much darkness and confusion can be attributed to those who have appropriated the symbols and instruments of religion for their own selfish purposes. Fanaticism and conflict poison the wells of tolerance and represent corrupt expressions of true religious values. Consequently, vigilance is necessary in safeguarding the transformative power of religion from the forces of extreme orthodoxy on one hand, and irresponsible freedom on the other. "The purpose of religion," Baha'u'llah states "...is to establish unity and concord amongst the peoples of the world; make it not the cause of dissension and strife."(4) In unity--a unity that embraces and honors the full diversity of humankind--all problems can be solved. When applied on a universal basis, the teaching that we should treat others as we ourselves wish to be treated, an ethic variously repeated in all the great religions, will undoubtedly reveal the salutary power of unity. The building of a global society based on cooperation, reciprocity, and genuine concern for others is the ultimate expression of unified action. In short, the core spiritual values held in common by the world's religions contain within them the principal means for the reconciliation and advancement of the earth's peoples. Through these values and the commitment they inspire, "Minds, hearts and all human forces are reformed, perfections are quickened, sciences, discoveries and investigations are stimulated afresh, and everything appertaining to the virtues of the human world is revitalized."(5) In order to play its part in overcoming the prejudices and suspicions now afflicting the world's faith communities, religious leadership must devote attention to these commonly shared spiritual precepts rather than doctrinal differences or claims of exclusivity. Let each religion demonstrate its capacity to guide the world's inhabitants to peaceful coexistence, moral rectitude and mutual understanding, rather than spreading enmity, fear and intolerance. The recent trend toward interfaith dialogue around the globe offers a positive example of how disparate communities can work together to broaden vision and shape public discourse in a unifying way. Religious leaders are uniquely placed to draw attention to the potentialities and promise of the present moment in human affairs, and challenge all key societal players to action. Increasing interchange among spiritual leaders and their followers, especially children, will no doubt lead to new understandings of what is possible for human beings and how peaceful patterns of collective life can be nurtured. "Shut your eyes to estrangement, then fix your gaze upon unity," is Baha'u'llah's counsel. "Cleave tenaciously unto that which will lead to the well-being and tranquillity of all mankind. This span of earth is but one homeland and one habitation."(6) For the global Baha'i community, the protection of human freedoms is part of a larger spiritual undertaking of fostering a set of attitudes and practices that truly release human potential. Genuine social progress, it believes, can only flow from spiritual awareness and the inculcation of virtue. From this perspective, the task of creating a universal ethos of tolerance is intimately bound up with a process of moral and spiritual development. Education, then, emerges as an indispensable tool--a tool of active moral learning. To accomplish the broad objectives of ensuring the "full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity" and promoting "understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial, ethnic or religious groups," education must strive to develop an integrated set of human capabilities--intellectual, artistic, social, moral and spiritual.(7) There is no other way to raise up positive social actors who are builders of amity and agents of service and probity. "Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value," Baha'u'llah urges, "Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom."(8) These "treasures" must be consciously developed because even though nobility, goodness and beauty are innate aspects of our nature, human beings can fall prey to inclinations that corrupt the inner self and quench the light of love. Educational curricula cannot therefore be solely concerned with the knowledge of physical and social phenomena, but must also be directed toward the goal of moral and spiritual empowerment. As a consequence of the deep connection between individual and social well-being, programs of education need to instill in every child a two-fold moral purpose. The first relates to the process of personal transformation--of intellectual, material and spiritual growth. The second concerns the complex challenge of transforming the structures and processes of society itself. To pursue this dual purpose of individual and collective transformation, specific moral capabilities must be developed. The capabilities of a moral person encompass the concepts, values, attitudes, and skills that enable the person to make appropriate moral choices and to promote creative and cooperative patterns of human interaction.(9) Underpinning all such capabilities is a commitment to discover and apply truth in every domain of human endeavor. Since moral behavior is a concrete expression of humanity's spiritual nature, moral education efforts should draw in a systematic way on both the methods of science and the insights of religion. An integral feature of any educational initiative having a moral and spiritual focus must be the notion of the oneness and interdependence of the human race. Oneness and diversity are complementary and inseparable. That human consciousness necessarily operates through an infinite diversity of individual minds and motivations detracts in no way from its essential unity. Indeed, it is precisely an inhering diversity that distinguishes unity from homogeneity or uniformity. Hence, acceptance of the concept of unity in diversity implies the development of a global consciousness, a sense of world citizenship, and a love for all of humanity. It induces every individual to realize that, since the body of humankind is one and indivisible, each member of the human race is born into the world as a trust of the whole and has a responsibility to the whole. It further suggests that if a peaceful international community is to emerge, then the complex and varied cultural expressions of humanity must be allowed to develop and flourish, as well as to interact with one another in ever-changing patterns of civilization. "The diversity in the human family," the Baha'i writings emphasize, "should be the cause of love and harmony, as it is in music where many different notes blend together in the making of a perfect chord."(10) The rich religious heritage of humankind can also be viewed through the lens of unity. Baha'u'llah states: "There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God."(11) The world's religions can thus be seen to be one in their nature and purpose with each being a wellspring of knowledge, energy and inspiration. They each have served to unlock a wider range of capacities within human consciousness and society--a process that has impelled the human race toward moral and spiritual maturity. Accordingly, curricula exploring the history and teachings of religion may wish to highlight the complementary aims and functions of the world's faith systems as well as the theological and moral threads that link them. In this regard, the right to investigate religion and the spiritual roots of human motivation can be understood to be a vital element of an integrating framework of collaboration and conciliation. The promotion of tolerance and mutual understanding among the diverse segments of the human family cannot be a passive or rhetorical exercise. All forms of provincialism, all insularities and prejudices must be directly confronted. It is unfortunately the case that religious prejudice is a particularly virulent influence that continues to block human progress. Overcoming its corrosive effects will require deliberate and sustained effort. Toward this end, innovative and substantive programs of education are essential. But so too is an attitude of true humility among all those who believe in a loving and almighty Creator. Let us be assured, and let it be communicated to the world's children, that it is possible to both tread the path of religious faith and to be tolerant. Civilization's future course depends on it. In the words of Baha'u'llah, "observe tolerance and righteousness, which are two lights amidst the darkness of the world and two educators for the edification of mankind."(12) 'Abdu'l-Baha, A Traveller's Narrative (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1980), p. 91. Baha'u'llah, The Hidden Words (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1985), p. 4. Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1983), p. 196. Tablets of Baha'u'llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1988), p. 129. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1995), p. 278. Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 67. Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1983), p. 260. The educational philosophy of Nuúr University, the second largest private institution of higher learning in Bolivia and Baha'i-inspired, is largely based on this idea of moral capabilities. 'Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, (London: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1972), p. 53. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p 217. Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 36."
"40.4167047"
"-3.7035825"
142
"2001-12-09"
"OSLO"
""
"Norway"
[]
"In Norway, interfaith coalition commits to principles of religious freedom"
"OSLO, Norway — In a document signing ceremony on 8 November 2001, an interfaith coalition composed of the major religious groups here, including the Norwegian Baha'i community, made a commitment to the principles of religious tolerance embodied in the Oslo Declaration on Freedom of Religion or Belief. The action was significant because of the diversity of religious groups that participated and committed themselves to upholding religious tolerance in Norway, said Britt Strandlie Thoresen, secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Norway. "There were 25 groups that signed the Declaration, and they included religious organizations from a very wide range of perspectives," said Ms. Thoresen, who was also head of the event's organizing committee. "There were representatives of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, humanism and other groups, as well as various denominations within Christianity. "This was really a very historic event because we've never had such a diversity of groups come together like this before," said Ms. Thoresen. The Oslo Declaration on Freedom of Religion or Belief was drafted and adopted by a coalition of governments and non- governmental organizations here in August 1998 at an international conference on religious freedom. Among the participants in that conference was the Baha'i International Community. Representatives of 25 religions in Norway signed the Oslo Declaration on Freedom of Religion or Belief at a dignified ceremony held at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters on 8 November 2001.Designed to give support to United Nations efforts to promote religious tolerance, the Declaration specifically affirms that "every human being has a responsibility to condemn discrimination and intolerance based on religions and belief, and to apply religion or belief in support of human dignity and peace" and gives recognition to the idea that "religions and beliefs teach peace and good will." "The Oslo Declaration creates the obligation to work together for religious freedom, tolerance and mutual respect," said Hilde Frafjord Johnsen, Norwegian Minister of International Development, in a speech at the ceremony. "It represents an important step, also internationally, in the direction of actualizing the United Nations' instruments in this area." "Just now, in these days we fully see the importance of work for tolerance, equality and respect across old lines of division and conflicts," Ms. Johnsen continued. "Tuesday, the 11th of September, the day that has been burned into our consciousness, has become a turning point. Our task will be to ensure that it becomes a turning point under the sign of reconciliation, and not allow the forces of negativity -- even if they are ever so strong -- to decide which direction our lives and our global community shall take." The signing ceremony was initiated by the Cooperation Council of Religions and Life-Stance Communities and the Oslo Coalition of Freedom of Religion or Belief. The Baha'i community of Norway has been a member of both groups. The ceremony took place at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and was observed by more than 100 guests, including officials of the Norwegian government, members of parliament, representatives from some 16 foreign embassies, and representatives of various human rights groups and academic organizations. In a speech at the signing ceremony, Anne Sender, a representative of the Jewish Community of Norway, noted that the country's official policies on religion had long been dominated by its acceptance of Christianity as the state religion, but added that today it could not longer isolate itself from international trends. "Today, the greatest challenge for religious and ethical communities is precisely the meeting with modernity, with individual freedom, and the great population movements," said Ms. Sender, who was also coordinator of the 1998 Oslo Conference. "In these three main areas, there are subjects so volatile that if they really do explode, it would be a matter of our existence or nonexistence as a society of values." We have to place ourselves in a global picture that is based on reality." Members of the Baha'i community of Norway contributed to the success of the event in a number of ways. Baha'i pianist Trond Schau played as people arrived for the ceremony and Maiken Schau, also a Baha'i, played a flute solo during the signing ceremony itself. After the ceremony, Mr. Gunnar Stalsett, the Bishop of Oslo and president of the Oslo Coalition of Freedom of Religion or Belief, thanked the participants, stating that he would give a copy of the signed protocol to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, when he comes to Oslo on 10 December to receive the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the United Nations."
"59.9133301"
"10.7389701"
143
"2001-12-11"
"HLUBOKA NAD VLTAVOU"
""
"Czech Republic"
[]
"Values and education seen as key to sustainable development"
"HLUBOKA NAD VLTAVOU, Czech Republic — While heads of state were meeting at the United Nations Millennium Summit, the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) announced a partnership with an organization founded by a young Baha'i to help people in developing countries make greater use of the Internet. At a New York press conference 7 September 2000, UNOPS announced the launch of the Digital Service Corps, a private-sector partnership with the nonprofit Global Technology Organization (GTO), whose founder and president is Neysan Rassekh. Digital Service Corps will send volunteers to developing countries and countries in transition, to conduct intensive training programs in the use of the Internet as a community development tool. Reinhart Helmke, executive director of UNOPS, introduced Mr. Rassekh as a "young social entrepreneur of the dot-com generation" who is bridging two "gaps" through the Digital Service Corps - the generation gap at the United Nations and the digital divide in the developing world. Now in his twenties, Mr. Rassekh was born in Portland, Oregon. His family left the United States when he was four years old to settle in West Africa, where they helped to strengthen the Baha'i communities in Senegal, the Gambia and Mali. He later attended Maxwell Baha'i School in Canada. Mr. Rassekh holds a bachelor's degree from the Wharton School of Business and a master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania, where he focused on the use of technology for development in Africa. "My generation of Americans grew up taking computers for granted. By the time we got to college, most of us were regularly doing research on the Internet," Mr. Rassekh said. "To work in development at the grassroots, my family lives in Mali, one of the poorest countries on the planet. I have seen first hand how extreme the digital divide really is. I know there are thousands of people like me who would gladly give four to six weeks of their time to personally contribute to closing that gap. That is why I am sure that GTO's Digital Service Corps will be a success." UNOPS reported that in May, GTO completed a successful pilot project in Mali. A team of three professors and 30 students from the University of Pennsylvania, armed with refurbished computer equipment and the accessories needed to connect to the Internet, spent four weeks in Mali and trained 120 carefully selected professors, primary- and secondary-school teachers, students and teacher trainers. The team established four computer centers, now operated by the Victory Foundation, a Mali-based organization whose mission is to promote innovation in public education. The day after the press conference, Mr. Rassekh introduced President Alpha Oumar Konare of Mali at a roundtable discussion on public-private partnerships convened by UNOPS and Global Leaders for Tomorrow of the World Economic Forum. At a news conference after the roundtable, the president thanked the Global Technology Organization for its efforts and the impact it had in his country. Moreover, contacts at the United Nations Millennium Assembly and the State of the World Forum, which was also taking place in New York that week, afforded Mr. Rassekh the opportunity to meet with several heads of state and foreign ministers. Five of them invited Mr. Rassekh to look at implementing GTO projects in their countries in the coming months."
"49.0522493"
"14.4342702"
144
"2001-12-19"
"UNITED NATIONS"
""
""
[]
"United Nations General Assembly again expresses concern over continuing discrimination against Iran's Baha'is"
"UNITED NATIONS — For the 16th time in 17 years, the United Nations General Assembly has expressed "concern" over human rights violations in Iran, specifically noting the "still-existing discrimination" against the Baha'i community of Iran. By a vote of 72 to 49, with 46 abstentions, the Assembly passed a resolution on 19 December 2001 that calls on the Islamic Republic of Iran to "eliminate all forms of discrimination based on religious grounds" and, more specifically, asks the Iranian Government to fully implement previous United Nations recommendations that the Baha'is be granted complete freedom to practice their religion. The resolution followed a report issued in August by the UN Human Rights Commission's special representative on Iran, Professor Maurice Copithorne, that indicated that the 300,000-member Iranian Baha'i community continues to experience discrimination in the areas of education, employment, travel, housing and the practice of religious activities. More specifically, Prof. Copithorne said that Baha'i property continues to be subject to confiscation. He indicated that a number of Baha'i families were forced to leave their homes and farmlands in the first months of 2001 in Kata, Buyr-Ahmand. In 2000, he said, information was received that four buildings were confiscated in Tehran, three in Shiraz and one in Isfahan. "It is also reported that the issuance of business licenses to Baha'is has been delayed and that some stores and business owned by Baha'is have been closed," said Prof. Copithorne. Prof. Copithorne also said that Baha'is continue to be denied access to higher education in legally recognized public institutions. "Recently three classrooms used by the Baha'is for their own educational purposes were seized," he said. "Baha'is are still, in effect, prevented from participation in religious gatherings or educational activities," wrote Prof. Copithorne. In its resolution, the Assembly decided to continue monitoring Iran next year, "paying particular attention to further developments, including the situation of the Baha'is and other minority groups." Since the Islamic Revolutionary regime took power in Iran in 1979, Baha'is have been harassed and persecuted solely on account of their religious beliefs. More than 200 Baha'is have been killed, hundreds have been imprisoned, and thousands have been deprived of jobs, education or property. In 1983, all Baha'i institutions were banned, and they remain officially closed. Although the number of executions and imprisonments has lessened in recent years, Baha'is in Iran remain without any official recognition or legal protection that might protect them from discrimination, said Bani Dugal, a Baha'i International Community representative to the United Nations. "We see these on-going actions -- the imprisonment of Baha'is, the confiscation of property, the deprivation of education, the restrictions on travel and worship, and the banning of Baha'i institutions -- as evidence of the continuing campaign of the government of Iran to strangle the Baha'i community of that country," said Ms. Dugal. "The nature of the persecution is clearly based on religious belief," she continued. "Baha'is have repeatedly been offered relief from persecution if they were prepared to recant their Faith. "So Baha'is continue to be viewed as 'unprotected infidels,' by the Government, without any form of legal protection, even though Iran is a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which guarantees freedom of religious belief. "The Baha'is seek no special privileges," Ms. Dugal said. "They desire only their rights under the International Bill of Human Rights, of which Iran is a signatory, including the right to life, the right to profess and practice their religion, the right to liberty and security of person, and the right to education and work.""
""
""
145
"2001-12-19"
"IRINGA"
""
"Tanzania"
[]
"Tanzanian Baha'i school receives grant for new girls dorm"
"IRINGA, Tanzania — The Ruaha Secondary School, a Baha'i-sponsored school, has received a two-year, US$122,000 grant to build a new girls' dormitory capable of housing 120 students. The grant, for 141,630 Euros, was given by the Unity Foundation, a Baha'i-inspired development agency in Luxembourg. The first installment of the grant was sent on 19 December 2001. "One of the main goals of the Unity Foundation is to support the education of girls and women," said Alex Schoos, treasurer of the Foundation. "And that is why we wanted to support the project at Ruaha School." Located in Iringa, the Ruaha School currently has about 400 students. Founded in 1986, the school is owned and operated by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Tanzania, the elected governing body of the Baha'i community here. The school's primary mission is to serve the wider Tanzanian community by providing quality education at an affordable cost. One of its major goals is to provide education for girls. More than two-thirds of its students are girls, in a country where fewer than half the students enrolled in secondary schools are female. "We are really focusing on the education of girls, which is very important here, where traditionally only boys are educated, where traditionally boys are put first," said Becky Fairley, Ruaha's principal, in a recent interview. "We try to encourage girls, to improve their performance. We believe this contributes to raising up the status of women. It changes the way they raise children, and this makes a tremendous difference in the community." The new dormitory will provide 1,040 square meters of living space, including a 405-square-meter courtyard. Currently, the school has four smaller dormitories that house 260 girls. The new building will increase the school's housing capacity by 46 percent. The Unity Foundation, a non-governmental organization which was founded in 1991 by a group of Baha'is, has also recently provided funding to a health outreach project in Guyana and a non-profit printing operation in Zaire that produces low-cost educational materials for community development and projects throughout the country. Funding for the Unity Foundation comes from donors in Europe, mostly from within Luxembourg. Many donors are Baha'is. For the construction of the new girls' dormitory the Foundation received a two-thirds matching grant from the Government of Luxembourg. For more information on the Ruaha Secondary School, go to: http://www.onecountry.org/e123/e12304as_Ruaha_School.htm For more information on the Unity Foundation, go to: http://www.unityfoundation.lu"
"-7.5662122"
"35.07448089086908"
146
"2002-01-02"
"LUCKNOW"
""
"India"
[]
"In India, the world's largest school succeeds by focusing on globalism and morality"
"LUCKNOW, India — Fresh out of college and newly married, Jagdish Gandhi knew some 42 years ago that his main goal in life was to serve humanity. And he felt educating children would be a good way to do that. So he borrowed 300 rupees (the equivalent of less than $10), rented a couple of rooms, and founded City Montessori School in this historic provincial capital in northern India. The school's first class consisted of five students. Little did Mr. Gandhi imagine that it would one day become the largest private school in the world -- or that it would also become widely known for its distinctive emphasis on teaching students the value of world citizenship and religious tolerance. "There are hundreds of other well-established schools here," said Mr. Gandhi, 66, who founded with his wife Bharti Gandhi in 1959. "So we never realized we were going to be the biggest school in the world -- or that we would be so focused on imparting educational globalism." With an enrolment of 22,612 students in 1999, CMS, as the school is commonly known, won a place in the year 2000 Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest school by enrollment. It now has over 25,000 students, in grade levels ranging from pre-primary to college. According to parents and faculty here, the high enrollment statistic is not a fluke or the anomalous reflection of something like exceedingly low tuition fees or a high achieving sports team. Rather, they said, CMS has been supremely successful at attracting students largely for two reasons: 1) its reputation for academic excellence, and, 2) its distinctive program of moral education. In terms of academics, CMS students consistently earn top rankings in government examinations and places in prestigious colleges and universities throughout India. For the year 2000-2001 school year, for example, out of 1,192 CMS students taking the national standardized Indian school certificate examination, 1,179 passed and 1,099 of those passed in the "first division," with aggregate marks over 60 percent, which is considered to be "honors." Some 79 students secured 90 percent marks and above. Jagdish Gandhi and Bharti Gandhi, founders of the City Montessori School in Lucknow, India.| They are standing in front of the main building of Gomti Nagar branch of the School, one of 20 branches in Lucknow. A quote from Bahá’u’lláh, "The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens" is on the awning behind them.Beyond academics, however, parents also say they also choose to send their children to CMS because of its singular effort to provide students with the intellectual, moral and spiritual tools for success in an increasingly globalized world -- a world in which the ability to get along in harmony with people from all religions, ethnic groups and nationalities will be of supreme importance. "Exposure to globalism" The school's emphasis on this mission is clearly apparent. Its prospectus advertises "international interaction and exposure to globalism," while banners and posters at CMS's various school buildings proclaim slogans like: "Every child is potentially the light of the world." Other banners emphasize principles of interfaith harmony and acceptance. "Why do so many parents send their children here? The reason, I feel, is that parents want their children to be good," said Mr. Gandhi. "Yes, they want them to have a good education. They want good results. And we give that. But they also want them to have good morals. And we strive to give that, too. "Parents also know that their children will be exposed to an international atmosphere," Mr. Gandhi added, noting that one distinct feature of the school is its hosting of various international conferences, on topics ranging from music and culture to computers and robotics, which bring many visitors from overseas. "The children here are inhaling a vision -- a vision of globalism," continued Mr. Gandhi. "So that they can take up a position where they can change the world. I want our graduates to be self-motivating agents of social change, serving the best interests of the community and the world as a whole." Technically speaking, CMS is not so much a school as a school district, with some 20 branches spread throughout Lucknow. Each branch is a small, self-contained campus, usually with a main school building and several auxiliary structures. On the average, each branch hosts about 1,250 students. Some of its campuses were built specifically for CMS, and the school's infrastructure is among the most modern of the many private schools in Lucknow, if not India. Further, in their quality of construction and overall design and layout, the many campuses here might more accurately be compared to those of a small college or university rather than a combined elementary and secondary school. The curriculum covers all the traditional subjects required by students to pass India's state examinations, but with an additional emphasis on moral education. And at CMS, moral education is very much equated with the concept of world citizenship and interreligious harmony. The source of moral values The moral values promoted at CMS are drawn directly from the teachings of the Baha'i Faith. In their early life together, Mr. and Mrs. Gandhi were greatly influenced by the humanitarian ideas of Mahatma Gandhi -- an influence that, in part, led Mr. Gandhi to found CMS. In 1974, both Mr. and Mrs. Gandhi became Baha'is. Since that time they have increasingly introduced the Faith's spiritual and social principles into the moral and spiritual curriculum at CMS. This is not to say, however, that the school imposes the Baha'i Faith on its students. Indeed, if anything, the school seeks to uphold the values taught by all religions and to respect the beliefs of all students and their parents, who reflect the diversity of Lucknow itself, which is composed of roughly 70 percent Hindus, 25 percent Moslems, and 5 percent Christians and Sikhs. "We respect every religion in our schools," said Bonita Joel, principal at CMS's Indira Nagar branch, who is herself a Christian. "No one religion is taught in our school. It is a secular school. But we teach our children to respect every religion." Ms. Joel and others at CMS see this emphasis on religious pluralism as strongly linked to the school's emphasis on globalism. "We basically believe -- the school professes -- to break down narrow domestic walls and to reach out to other nations and cultures," said Ms. Joel. "We feel with globalization taking place, the students can no longer be confined in their thinking to just their neighborhood or culture or their nations. They must reach out to the broader world." Ms. Sadhna Chooramani, the principal of the CMS Chowk branch, believes that emphasis on globalism and religious tolerance very much helps to prepare its students for success in the modern world. "Our students have no inhibitions about going out and working with others, whatever their religion or background," said Ms. Chooramani, who is 38 and a Hindu. "They accept people as they are. The feeling of being one with the human race is deep-rooted." Ms. Chooramani believes that CMS's long-standing promotion of tolerance and oneness has contributed to the overall sense of communal harmony in Lucknow. In 1992, when riots broke out in many urban centres after fundamentalists destroyed the Babri Mosque in the city of Ayodhya, Lucknow escaped serious disturbances and it is widely acknowledged as a peaceful city. With such a large student body, and its high level of parental involvement, CMS is almost certainly a contributor to that sense of harmony in Lucknow, Ms. Chooramani said. "The people of Lucknow have started feeling that this concept of oneness of mankind is the only way by which we can have progress toward harmony and peace and a better way of living," she said. Ms. Chooramani organized a neighborhood meeting in 1992 during the Ayodhya crisis and made an appeal for calm. "I said that there is no religion that teaches this kind of violence," she said. Other branches of CMS likewise held similar meetings or activities during that period, and the school as a whole organized a general peace march. "We had hundreds of children marching, with a banner saying 'God is one and all mankind is one,' " said Mrs. Bharti Gandhi, who serves as the Director of the CMS system. "And at that time, there were no casualties in Lucknow, even though in other places Hindus were killing Muslims and Muslims were killing Hindus." The school seeks to reinforce its ideal of internationalism not only through its curriculum but, as noted by Mr. Gandhi, by sponsoring various international conferences. On several of its larger campuses, hostel-type dormitories and food service facilities make hosting such events possible at a relatively low cost. Each year now, the school hosts a variety of international events, including "Macfair International," a mathematics and computer fair; "Celesta International," an international music and culture festival; the "International Astronomy Olympiad"; a "Science Olympiad" on math, computers and robotics; an "International School-to-School Experience Exchange"; and a "Children's International Summer Village Camp." In 2000, CMS organized and/or hosted nine such events, and 11 were scheduled in 2001. The school also strives for educational innovation. It has adopted various management practices, such as Quality Circles, that encourage the generation and refinement of new ideas. It also has its own "innovation wing," a 25- employee unit dedicated entirely to researching, developing, and bringing into the CMS system new teaching methods. In that effort, the researchers draw on ideas both from around India and abroad. For their part, parents are pleased with the direction the school has taken. The school's enrolment continues to climb, reaching 25,172 this year. "There are a number of schools that give a good education, but this one goes beyond, giving all of the best features: personal development, good academics, and moral values," said Manoj Agrawal, a 35-year-old electrical engineer, who has two children at CMS. "They bring out the best in the child," added Deepa Agrawal, his wife. "They are given opportunities and the right encouragement." The Agrawals and other parents also praised the school's emphasis on strong relations between parents and teachers. Teachers are required to make periodic home visits and parents are invited to regular functions at the school. "It develops a kind of rapport between the teacher and the parent," said Mrs. Agrawal. Om Prakesh Patel, a 32-year-old landowner and farmer from the Kaimur District some 390 kilometers away in Bihar State, felt so strongly about enrolling his son in CMS that he moved in with his wife's parents here in Lucknow -- something that goes completely against tradition. He and his wife, Sunita, decided on CMS because of its academic reputation, the high level of parent-teacher interaction, and its emphasis on moral education. "The moral emphasis is a plus point," said Mr. Patel, whose nine-year-old son Harsh has been attending CMS for five years. "We are a secular country and communalism is rising in India. So we feel we need a more religiously tolerant society. And moral ethics in this materialistic age are very important.""
"26.8381"
"80.9346001"
147
"2001-12-23"
"NEW YORK"
""
"United States"
[]
"United States Baha'i community issues major statement on the Destiny of America and the Promise of World Peace"
"NEW YORK — Citing the current atmosphere of "world turmoil," the Baha'i community of the United States has issued a major statement offering a perspective on the destiny of America as "the promoter of world peace." Published 23 December 2001 as a full-page advertisement in The New York Times,, the statement says that Baha'is believe the American nation "will evolve, through tests and trials to become a land of spiritual distinction and leadership, a champion of justice and unity among all peoples and nations, and a powerful servant of the cause of everlasting peace." Drawing on earlier Baha'i statements and passages from the Baha'i writings, the 645-word document identifies six prerequisites for world peace: "universal acceptance" of the oneness of humanity; the eradication of racism; the full emancipation of women; the elimination of "inordinate disparity" between the rich and the poor; an end to "unbridled nationalism"; and harmony between religious leaders. Although the statement does not specifically mention the terrorist attacks on 11 September or the American Government's current war against terrorism, the statement was designed to offer a new perspective on these and related events, said Robert Henderson, Secretary General of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States of America, the community's governing body. "The National Spiritual Assembly felt that the nation would benefit from having a new understanding of its destiny as a nation in terms of the Baha'i vision of the mission of America as being ordained by God," said Dr. Henderson. "Our writings are replete with insights about the role of America as an agent of peace in a world that is becoming a single neighborhood." After an introduction that highlights Baha'u'llah's call for the unification of humanity, the statement draws on a passage from the Baha'i writings penned in 1938 by Shoghi Effendi, who led the Baha'i Faith from 1921 to 1957. "The world is moving on,'" says the passage. "'Its events are unfolding ominously and with bewildering rapidity. The whirlwind of its passions is swift and alarmingly violent. The New World is insensibly drawn into its vortex.... "The world is contracting into a neighborhood," the passage continues. "America, willingly or unwillingly, must face and grapple with this new situation. For purposes of national security, let alone any humanitarian motive, she must assume the obligations imposed by this newly created neighborhood. Paradoxical as it may seem, her only hope of extricating herself from the perils gathering around her is to become entangled in that very web of international association which the Hand of an inscrutable Providence is weaving." Said Dr. Henderson: "These are the things that Shoghi Effendi talked about some 60 years ago -- and we felt we are now seeing them come true before our very eyes. "Our writings also make clear that peace isn't just a question of signing treaties or diplomatic protocols," said Dr. Henderson. "It involves a whole system of spiritual principles -- an architecture of peace -- that includes the oneness of human race, the abolition of racism, the equality of women, the elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty and so on. "So our purpose is to indicate to people the main elements of peace and to show that America has a special role in its establishment," said Dr. Henderson. The statement closes with lines from a prayer by 'Abdu'l- Baha, the son of Baha'u'llah, who led the Baha'i Faith from 1892 to 1921."We felt that prayer made a wonderful statement about the nation assuming its God-ordained role of international leadership," said Dr. Henderson. Dr. Henderson said the statement had already received a number of positive responses. "We're getting many letters and phone calls," he said. "They are in some cases effusive in their praise, calling it a 'grand vision,' or 'so comprehensive.'" The statement will be published in other major newspapers in the coming weeks, said Dr. Henderson. The US Baha'i community also plans to deliver it to members of Congress, state governors, selected leaders of thought, and, at a point in the near future, the President of the United States, he said. The entire statement, as published inThe New York Times, follows below: The Destiny of America and The Promise of World Peace At this time of world turmoil, the United States Baha'i community offers a perspective on the destiny of America as the promoter of world peace. More than a hundred years ago, Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Baha'i Faith, addressing heads of state, proclaimed that the age of maturity for the entire human race had come. The unity of humankind was now to be established as the foundation of the great peace that would mark the highest stage in humanity's spiritual and social evolution. Revolutionary and world-shaking changes were therefore inevitable. The Baha'i writings state: The world is moving on. Its events are unfolding ominously and with bewildering rapidity. The whirlwind of its passions is swift and alarmingly violent. The New World is insensibly drawn into its vortex.... Dangers, undreamt of and unpredictable, threaten it both from within and from without. Its governments and peoples are being gradually enmeshed in the coils of the world's recurrent crises and fierce controversies.... The world is contracting into a neighborhood. America, willingly or unwillingly, must face and grapple with this new situation. For purposes of national security, let alone any humanitarian motive, she must assume the obligations imposed by this newly created neighborhood. Paradoxical as it may seem, her only hope of extricating herself from the perils gathering around her is to become entangled in that very web of international association which the Hand of an inscrutable Providence is weaving. The American nation, Baha'is believe, will evolve, through tests and trials to become a land of spiritual distinction and leadership, a champion of justice and unity among all peoples and nations, and a powerful servant of the cause of everlasting peace. This is the peace promised by God in the sacred texts of the world's religions. Establishing peace is not simply a matter of signing treaties and protocols; it is a complex task requiring a new level of commitment to resolving issues not customarily associated with the pursuit of peace. Universal acceptance of the spiritual principle of the oneness of humankind is essential to any successful attempt to establish world peace. Racism, one of the most baneful and persistent evils, is a major barrier to peace. The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality of the sexes, is one of the most important, though less acknowledged, prerequisites of peace. The inordinate disparity between rich and poor keeps the world in a state of instability, preventing the achievement of peace. Unbridled nationalism, as distinguished from a sane and legitimate patriotism, must give way to a wider loyalty, to the love of humanity as a whole. Religious strife, the cause of innumerable wars and conflicts throughout history, is a major obstacle to progress. The challenge facing the world's religious leaders is to contemplate, with hearts filled with compassion and the desire for truth, the plight of humanity, and to ask themselves whether they cannot, in humility before their God, submerge their theological differences in a great spirit of mutual forbearance that will enable them to work together for the advancement of human understanding and peace. Baha'is pray, "May this American Democracy be the first nation to establish the foundation of international agreement. May it be the first nation to proclaim the unity of mankind. May it be the first to unfurl the standard of the Most Great Peace." During this hour of crisis, we affirm our abiding faith in the destiny of America. We know that the road to its destiny is long, thorny and tortuous, but we are confident that America will emerge from her trials undivided and undefeatable. - National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States For more information and for a free copy of the booklet The Promise of World Peace, please visit our Web site at www.us.bahai.org or call us toll free at 1-800-22-UNITE."
"40.7127281"
"-74.0060152"
148
"2001-12-23"
"HONOLULU"
"HAWAII"
"United States"
[]
"'Fire in the Pacific' conference marks 100th anniversary of the Baha'i Faith in Hawaii"
"HONOLULU, HAWAII, United States — More than 1,000 Baha'is from at least 53 nations joined with the Baha'is of the Hawaiian Islands in December for a four-day celebration of the centennial of the establishment of the Baha'i Faith in Hawaii. Titled "Fire in the Pacific," the conference featured music, dance performances, workshops and speeches that commemorated the history of the Faith in Hawaii -- and looked ahead to its future here and in the Pacific region. Among other things, conference sessions focused on social issues of concern to the region, including moral and spiritual education for youth and children, the potential contribution of indigenous peoples to world civilization, the use of drama and the arts for positive social change, and diversity training. The 20-23 December 2001 event received extensive media coverage and was attended by a number of prominent people. Princess Tooa Tosi Malietoa of Samoa extended greetings at the opening session on behalf of her father, His Highness Susuga Malietoa Tanumafili II, the head of state of the independent nation of Samoa. Ka'ulu Kukui Thomas, retired Hawaii State Court Judge and trustee for the Queen Liliuokalani Trust, welcomed the participants on behalf of the Hawaiian people. And Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris greeted conference attendees during a plenary session on Saturday morning. "A highlight of the gathering was the permeation of all events with a spirit reflecting the cultures of the entire Pacific region," said Chris Cholas, Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Hawaiian Islands, the governing council for the Baha'i community in Hawaii. "There was a great prominence given to indigenous speakers and artists. There were representatives and performers not only from Hawaii but also from the Polynesian, Melanesian and Micronesian peoples. And many attendees remarked that this great display of diversity and respect for different cultures created a powerful spirit of joy and unity." Among the highlights of the conference was a parade on 20 December, by some 600 participants, to the resting place of Agnes Baldwin Alexander, who was the first to bring word of the Baha'i Faith to the Hawaiian Islands -- and, indeed, the entire Pacific region -- in December 1901. Born in Hawaii, the granddaughter of missionaries, Ms Alexander first heard about the Baha'i Faith while on a trip to Europe. Returning to her native Hawaii on 26 December 1901, she devoted the rest of her life to spreading the teachings of Baha'u'llah in the Pacific and later in Japan. For Emily Chew, a Baha'i from Australia, visiting the resting-place of Ms. Alexander "felt right because it showed respect" to those who first brought the Faith to the region. "It was a humble but wonderful way to begin this historic conference." Honolulu's top-rated television station KHON gave extensive coverage to the parade, which proved to be a showcase of humanity's diversity. Dance performances, representing the cultures of the Pacific, were an integral part of the program of the Fire in the Pacific Conference.The conference featured more than 80 workshops, lectures, and performances. Attendees could choose from sessions on topics ranging from a presentation on the successes of a Baha'i vocational schools in Kiribati to discussions on how to better use consultation, a non-adversarial form of decision-making, in Baha'i community life. There were also numerous presentations by Baha'i artists. Musician and Grammy Award winner K.C. Porter and other local Baha'is "jammed" in one of the smaller conference rooms; Australian actor Philip Hinton presented Portals to Freedom, the story of Howard Colby Ives; and Nadema Agard, a community service outreach specialist of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, presented a workshop on the sacred feminine presence in the arts of Native Americans. In plenary sessions, the focus was largely on how the Baha'i teachings -- such as the equality of women and men and the recognition of humanity's essential oneness -- can be used to benefit communities in the Pacific region. In a session on 21 December, for example, Dr. Sirus Naraqi, Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean, Western Clinical School, University of Sydney, spoke about the Baha'i writings concerning the Pacific and the similarities between the Teachings of Baha'u'llah and traditional beliefs of the Pacific Islanders. These similarities can easily be used to promote unity and cooperation, he said. On Sunday, 23 December, the conference sponsored a traditional outdoor Ho'olaule'a, or festival, at the McCoy Pavilion in Ala Moana Beach Park. The Ho'olaule'a featured top local entertainers Amy Hanaiali'i, Hapa's Barry Flanagan, Martin Pahinui, Sean Na'auao and Ernie Cruz, as well as Mr. Porter, a performer on and the producer of Santana's Grammy Award Winning album "Supernatural." The event also featured entertainment by dancers from other Pacific Islands, along with arts, crafts and food booths, and Hawaiian plate lunches. Attendees came from throughout Hawaii, the Pacific region, the United States, Canada, Alaska, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa for the conference."
"21.304547"
"-157.855676"
151
"2002-01-20"
"STUTTGART"
""
"Germany"
[]
"World Religion Day celebrated by Baha'i communities around the world"
"STUTTGART, Germany — More than 400 people gathered here on 20 January 2002 for a multi-faith discussion on the topic of "Religions against Violence" in commemoration of World Religion Day. The commemoration was one of dozens, if not hundreds, of celebrations of World Religion Day held worldwide this year. Initiated in 1950 as an effort to foster interfaith understanding, World Religion Day is now commemorated worldwide on the third Sunday in January. The Stuttgart commemoration was sponsored by the Bahá'í community of Germany and held at the Neues Schloss, an 18th Century chateau built for the Wurttemberg Kings. The participants in a panel discussion on the topic of religious violence included Meinhard Tenné of the Central Jewish Council of Germany; Dr. Paul Köppler of the German Buddhist Union; Prof. Urs Baumann, department of theology, University of Tübingen; Dr. Nadeem Elyas, President of the Central Muslim Council of Germany; Dr. Johannes Frühbauer of Hans Küng's Foundation for World Ethics; and Christopher Sprung of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Germany. The panel discussed both the peace-promoting elements of religions as well as their potential to generate conflict and war. All agreed that world religions, if seen in their true essence, are against violence. "The motto of the panel was, essentially, that 'true believers are against violence and terror' and 'you should take seriously what your faith is telling you,' " said Mr. Sprung. Panelists also noted that competing claims of exclusive truth often prevent religions from establishing a climate of harmony and unity. Prof. Baumann, a Catholic theologian, said the notion that a religion is "the only path to truth and salvation" has all too often been considered the "greatest reason for violence," especially when such a claim becomes institutionalized by government or politics. Dr. Frühbauer emphasized the urgency to recognize a set of ethical principals common to all cultures and religions. This "minimum set" should be adopted at large by all to safeguard and foster social progress in times of globalization. Mr. Sprung responded by suggesting that religions in particular must together form a "maximum set" of ethical and religious common principles, otherwise the social momentum of any religion would vanish. Both the Jewish and the Buddhist representative referred to the equity of religions, suggesting that "religions are like different land maps," providing orientation to their followers. Several large regional newspapers reported at length about the event. A website about World Religion Day and the Stuttgart event exists at www.weltreligionstag.de . The site was called one of the 100 most interesting new websites by Computer Bild, a leading German computer magazine. Other significant World Religion Day commemorations -- all held on 20 January -- included events in Bulgaria, Mongolia, Pakistan and the United States, where numerous local Bahá'í communities sponsored celebrations. A website dedicated to World Religion Day (www.worldreligionday.com) lists some 15 more countries as having events scheduled for this year, encompassing: Albania, Austria, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Slovakia, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Vanuatu. In Bulgaria, about 45 people gathered at the national Bahá'í Center in Sofia. Participants included followers of diverse religions, academicians, and representatives of non-governmental organizations. The program included the reading of prayers by members of various religions, including the Bahá'í Faith, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Hinduism and Islam. After the devotional program, a talk entitled "Religious Tolerance - Historical Scope and Modern Understanding" was given by Theodore Bourilkov, member of National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Bulgaria, which sponsored the event. In Mongolia, more than 100 people gathered in Ulan Bator to commemorate the Day. Representatives from the Bahá'í Faith, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam were present, as were several government officials and four lecturers from the religious studies department of the national university. "The theme of the gathering was the 'oneness of humanity,' and the program consisted of short prayers from each faith, interspersed with devotional music, and short talks," said Dulamsuren, secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Mongolia, which sponsored the event. The event was covered by two national television channels. In Pakistan, more than 50 people gathered for a program at Bahá'í Hall in Karachi. A number of members of Pakistan's Zikri community participated. The Zikri community is a peaceful Sufi sect of Islam. In the United States, events were scheduled in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Utah, among other places, according to the World Religion Day website. World Religion Day was initiated in 1950 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States. Bahá'ís celebrate the day by hosting discussions, conferences, and other events which foster understanding and communication between the followers of all religions. In 1985, the government of Sri Lanka issued a postage stamp in commemoration of the day. The purpose of World Religion Day is to call attention to the harmony of spiritual principles and the oneness of the world's religions and to emphasize that world religion is the motivating force for world unity. As stated in Bahá'í scripture: "...religion should be the cause of love and agreement, a bond to unify all mankind for it is a message of peace and goodwill to man from God" and "Religion is the greatest of all means for the establishment of order in the world and for the peaceful contentment of all that dwell therein.""
"48.7784485"
"9.1800132"
152
"2002-02-27"
"HAIFA"
""
"Israel"
[]
"Latest volume of 'Bahá'í World' features articles on global terrorism, UN Millennium events"
"HAIFA, Israel — With an article presenting a Bahá'í viewpoint on global terrorism and featuring a report on the Bahá'í International Community's involvement in the United Nations Millennium Summit and related commemorations, the latest volume of "The Bahá'í World" is now available from World Centre Publications. The Bahá'í World 2000-01 is the ninth volume in an annual series prepared by the Bahá'í International Community's Office of Public Information. Written both for a general audience and Bahá'í readers, the volumes present a yearly record of the Community's activities and perspectives. This volume covers the period from April 21 2000 to April 21 2001. "Our aim is to provide an authoritative and comprehensive survey of the worldwide Bahá'í community's activities during a given year," said Ann Boyles, senior editor of the series. "Our hope is that it will serve as a valuable reference work for both Bahá'ís and the general reader, as well as scholars, journalists and others who may be researching the Bahá'í Faith and its development." More specifically, this year's volume includes reports on the inauguration of the International Teaching Centre Building at the Bahá'í World Centre in January 2001; the Colloquium on Science, Religion, and Development, sponsored by the Bahá'í International Community's Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity in New Delhi in November 2000; and the First International Conference on Modern Religions held at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in December 2000. Also included are essays that give Bahá'í perspectives on contemporary topics and trends. An essay by Robert Atkinson entitled "Culture and the Evolution of Consciousness" discusses the relationship between the development of culture and humanity's growing awareness of its essential oneness. "Symbols of Transformation: The Gardens and Terraces on Mount Carmel," by Elham Afnan describes the religious significance of the recently completed garden terraces on Mount Carmel. And a profile of the Barli Development Institute for Rural Women in India looks at how one Bahá'í-inspired non-governmental organization is promoting the advancement of women through programs that combine practical training and moral education. Of special interest this year, however, is the World Watch article by Dr. Boyles on global terrorism. Researched and written largely before the terrorist attacks in New York on 11 September 2001, the article discusses the general rise in terrorist activity, summarizes prevailing prescriptions, and offers a Bahá'í point of view for establishing a "universal framework that can bring real, enduring stability" to the world. "Collaboration in the gathering of accurate information through intelligence, the signing of international treaties and protocols, and the application of various kinds of sanctions undoubtedly represent forward movement in efforts to combat terrorism," writes Dr. Boyles. "However, addressing problems such as terrorism in isolation from the many other issues that disrupt and destabilize society will ultimately prove a futile exercise. Nations must look beyond simply responding separately to disparate problems and move towards the building of a comprehensive international order based on social justice and collective security, in which all can live in dignity. This will be the most decisive factor in the creation of enduring change." The volume's report on the Millennium Summit covers not only the Community's involvement in the September 2000 Summit at the United Nations itself, but also its participation in lead-up events. Specifically, the Community played a significant role in supporting the Millennium Forum for non-governmental organizations, held in May 2000, and Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, held in August of that year. "It is significant, for example, that a representative of the Bahá'í International Community was one of the co-chairs of the Millennium Forum in May of 2000, and then went on to represent non-governmental organizations before the world leaders gathered at the Millennium Summit in September," said Dr. Boyles. "Our report gives insights into behind-the-scenes activities at all of these events." The book's recurring sections include a basic introduction to the Bahá'í community; selections of Bahá'í sacred writings; highlights from messages of the Universal House of Justice and statements of the Bahá'í International Community released during the year; the "Year in Review," chronicling the worldwide activities of the Bahá'í community; an update of the situation of the Bahá'ís in Iran; a progress report on the Mount Carmel Projects at the Bahá'í World Centre; obituaries of prominent Bahá'ís; statistics of the Bahá'í community; a directory of Bahá'í agencies; and a bibliography of selected new publications. As the book's editors describe, distilling the activities of an entire religious community into a single volume every year is not easy, and the sheer breadth of information prevents it from being comprehensive. "We gather information from more than 180 national bodies to present this snapshot of the Bahá'í activities," said Dr. Boyles. "We know that we're not going to have everything in it, but the goal is to show trends or representative activities - to provide a record of the pattern of growth of the Bahá'í community." That "pattern of growth" is demonstrated in a Bahá'í community which was only 100,000 people when the book was first published in 1926 but now numbers more than five million people in 245 nations and dependent territories around the world. The book was originally prepared under the supervision of Shoghi Effendi, who led the Bahá'í Faith from 1921 to 1957. The book was issued biennially until 1940, but limited resources allowed for only sporadic publication after that. In 1992, the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Bahá'í community, directed that the format be revamped, so that "the availability of a well-written, liberally illustrated, attractively designed annual record of Bahá'í activities will facilitate the efforts of the friends and Spiritual Assemblies to present …current information" about the Bahá'í community. "The Universal House of Justice felt that the time had come for it to reevaluate the publication," said Dr. Boyles, "and to refocus on the initial goals established for it by Shoghi Effendi when he initiated the volumes in the 1920s… Now there is a record of what the Bahá'í community is doing and that will be a valuable record for people in the future." The book is 320 pages in length, contains numerous color photographs, and is available for US$25.95 in hard cover or US$13.95 in soft cover. It can be ordered from World Centre Publications through the United States Bahá'í Distribution Service, 4703 Fulton Industrial Boulevard Atlanta, GA 30336-2017, USA (telephone: (800) 999-9019; email: bds@usbnc.org)."
"32.8191218"
"34.9983856"
153
"2002-03-05"
"HAIFA"
""
"Israel"
[]
"Bahá'ís in Tajikistan killed for their beliefs"
"HAIFA, Israel — Two Bahá'ís in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in recent weeks were determined to have been killed for their religious beliefs. Rashid Gulov was shot and killed on 23 October 2001 while returning home from work. A second man, Mosadegh Afshin Shokoufeh, was shot outside his home on 3 December 2001 and died from his wounds on the way to the hospital. Authorities in Tajikistan made the determination, after investigating the crimes, that the two men were killed because of their religious beliefs. Both men, along with their wives and families, were active in the Bahá'í community and both were members of the local Bahá'í administrative body of Dushanbe. Mr. Shokoufeh had also previously served on the Bahá'ís' national governing body for Tajikistan. These deaths follow the assassination of Abdullah Mogharrabi in September 1999. Mr. Mogharrabi was another Bahá'í living in Dushanbe whose murder was determined to be religiously motivated."
"32.8191218"
"34.9983856"
154
"2002-01-21"
"SAO PAULO"
""
"Brazil"
[]
"Youth Conference in Brazil aims to prepare youth to work for global change"
"SAO PAULO — With the goal of discussing how young people can make a more positive impact on the world, more than 600 youth from 15 countries came to the Ninth Congress of the Baha'i Youth Movement of the Americas here from 17-21 January 2002 to talk about peace, change and the future. Held at the Soltanieh Bahá'í Educational Center outside Mogi Mirim, some 150 kilometers from São Paulo, the four-day Conference program featured talks by members of the Board of Counsellors for the Americas, artistic presentations, small-group workshops and audio-video presentations. Organized by the Bahá'í National Youth Committee of Brazil, the goal of the event was to bring together youth from different countries and backgrounds in order to share ideas of how to better the world. The Congress was the latest event in an international Bahá'í Youth Movement that is focused in the Americas. "It brings youth together, it unifies, it gives the youth a sense of the Bahá'í culture," said Massoud Moslehi, 33, from Victoria, Canada. "Bahá'í culture" means living according to the teachings of the Bahá'í Faith, he said, which not only promote the oneness of humankind but also exhort Bahá'ís to live an active life of service to humanity and to be upright in their personal behavior. The first of the Congresses was in Santiago, Chile, where some 650 youth from 25 countries gathered in January 1998. Thousands of youth from dozens of countries gathered at international congresses in 2000 and 2001, held in Canada, Ecuador, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, and Paraguay. "Youth have played a special and unique role in every generation," states a paper on the Congress's Web site, explaining the goals and purposes of the Bahá'í Youth Movement. "They have often served as a positive and catalytic force pushing society towards something better. Free from the pressures of work and family responsibilities, their energy, enthusiasm and zeal can be harnessed to promote a positive movement within society to bring about change that ensures a better future for them and their children." Participants at the most recent Congress indeed appeared to be energized by the event, expressing the sense that they do have the power to change the world for the better, by focusing on positive actions and their own moral development. "We are not revolutionaries in the usual use of the word, we are not trying to make governments fall, or make a guerrilla war," said Gaël Masrour, a 28-year-old Bahá'í living in Chile. "But we are trying to change the world as we see it nowadays. I think these conferences are only a step in this process, not a goal in itself, but a step. "Humanity is going through a time where no room is left for idle fancy and useless leisure," Masrour continued. Not to take action at this point in the development of the world, he said, is "suicide." "If we want change," he said, "we need to transform both our own selves and society in a parallel process. We must become moral leaders and make a difference through hard work and example." In addition to talks by senior Bahá'í advisors, there were numerous presentations by the youth themselves, ranging from music and dance performances to a video sent by youth who attended the Youth Conference in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, in July 2001. Lena Delchad, 23, from San Diego, USA, said the coming together of so many young people from so many countries created a unique energy -- which was the main reason she had come. Youth conferences like these "send a surge of energy through the youth straight into their own communities," she said. The youth ended the four-day event by committing themselves to actions they will take over the next year in order to effect a positive change in their community. Some of these actions included starting moral education classes for children, making use of the arts as an education tool, starting a moral education theater group, and becoming involved in community-building projects. Several groups of youth launched a two-week campaign immediately following the Congress to spread the principles of the Bahá'í Faith. The Congress Web site, at http://www.mjbahai.com/brasil, contains information about the Congress, the message of the Bahá'í Youth Committee of Brazil, documents from previous Youth Congresses, and information about the Bahá'í Youth Movement."
"-23.5506507"
"-46.6333824"
155
"2002-02-09"
"LONDON"
""
"United Kingdom"
[]
"Groundbreaking conference in London explores the connection between science and morality"
"LONDON — Is there a scientific basis for morality? Is there a place in the brain where the capacity for morality resides? These were just two of many thought-provoking questions posed at a ground-breaking conference on the "Science of Morality" here on 8-9 February 2002. Organized by surgeon Graham Walker and held at the Royal College of Physicians, Regents Park, the meeting sought to examine the scientific evidence for a neurological location, genetic basis and/or an innate capacity for morality. "Wherever one looks inwardly and outwardly, one meets conflict, mostly because of the moral diversity caused by differing perspectives of culture, religion, and age," said Dr. Walker, a prominent London head and neck surgeon and a member of the Baha'i community of the United Kingdom. "In order to eliminate this conflict, we must find a common ground." Dr. Walker hopes to start building a body of respectable, affirmable evidence of a scientific basis for morality which can act as a locus where varied disciplines can meet and agree. More than 60 delegates representing a wide variety of medical, scientific and philosophical disciplines attended the conference. Among the speakers were Ian Craig, a world renowned specialist on cyclogenetics from the Institute of Psychiatry in London; Baroness Susan Greenfield, a professor of neuropharmacology at Oxford University and president of the Royal Institute; Faraneh Vargha-Khadem, a professor of neurosciences at the Institute of Child Health, University College, London; and Hossain Danesh, a professor of psychiatry and president of Landegg International University in Switzerland. Also addressing the event were Robin Dunbar, professor of biological sciences, Liverpool University; Michael Penn, professor of psychology, Franklin and Marshall College, Pennsylvania; Sean Spence, psychiatrist and academic radiologist; Adam Zeman of the department of clinical neurosciences in Edinburgh; and Bill Hatcher, professor of mathematics and philosophy, Laval University, Canada. "This conference was historic in that it brought together some of the world's most accomplished researchers to explore, in an earnest, open, and cordial search for truth, the biological, psychological and social factors that appear to be responsible for healthy moral development," said Dr. Penn, who presented a paper suggesting that a necessary pre-condition for moral development is an understanding of justice. "The scientists and philosophers participating in the conference are widely respected -- and so the quality of scholarship and research was, in itself, extremely inspiring. Dr. Danesh delivered the keynote speech, exploring the consonance between science, religion and ethics. His thesis was that humanity is moving from a self-centered, survival-oriented basis towards a peace-centered future. "Due to the fact that all individuals and societies are subject to the universal law of development and progress, we are able to identify three distinctive worldviews that are present, to a lesser or greater degree, in all human societies," said Dr. Danesh. "These worldviews reflect the particular characteristics of three distinctive phases in the development of every individual and society, which are designated respectively as survival-, identity-, and peace-centred worldviews. Baroness Greenfield provoked a wide-ranging discussion with her thesis that there is no specific location for the capacity of morality in the brain; rather it is essentially "hard-wired" in response to life experience and genetics, said Dr. Walker. "She said there is no such thing as a center of consciousness in the brain," said Dr. Walker. "Rather, consciousness is spatially diffuse in the brain. At the same time, she said, it is temporally unified." Other speakers, said Dr. Walker, presented evidence that suggest the fronto-orbital area of the brain might be the location of a moral center. Specifically, he said, Dr. Vargha-Khadem and Dr. Spence of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Sheffield, UK, said some studies show that injuries to this area before the age of 14 or 15 heal, while injuries sustained later in life seem to deprive an individual of moral judgment. "The late emergence of sociopathic profiles in children who have suffered early bilateral orbitofrontal lesions suggests that perhaps these regions assume their functional significance later during childhood, possibly after the onset of puberty," said Dr. Vargha-Khadem in response to questions after the conference. While the discussion was lively and provocative, Dr. Walker said, participants reached a general conclusion that "there is a neurological aspect to morality, or the development of morality." "This conclusion implies that if there is such a capacity, you can induce this with the right type of exposure to experiences," said Dr. Walker. Alternatively, he said, it seems that exposure to negative experiences might take an individual "down the other pathway to become immoral, and rather more likely to be criminal or sociopathic." Dr. Walker said he was inspired to organize the conference because of his practice of the Baha'i Faith. "While the connection between religion and science is not unique to the Baha'i Faith, it is certainly a strong tenet," he said. "If indeed there is a consonance between science and religion, then it should be extendable to concepts like spirituality and morality, which is one of the main pillars of religiosity." A book of the conference proceedings has been commissioned by the Royal College of Physicians."
"51.5073219"
"-0.1276474"
156
"2002-03-21"
"LONDON"
""
"United Kingdom"
[]
"Bahá'ís receive message from Prime Minister Blair at new year's reception in House of Commons"
"LONDON — In a message commemorating the Bahá'í New Year, British Prime Minister Tony Blair commended the Bahá'í community of the United Kingdom for its "significant contribution" to multiculturalism and interfaith dialogue. The message was read at a reception on 21 March 2002 in the House of Commons, which was attended by nearly 100 people. The gathering was sponsored by the All Party Parliamentary Friends of the Bahá'í Faith, and participants included members of the British parliament and other government officials, as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations and members of the media. MP John Battle, the Prime Minister's advisor on interfaith matters, read the Prime Minister's message. "I have a clear vision of a multi-cultural Britain -- one which values the contribution made by each of our ethnic, cultural, and faith communities," stated Mr. Blair, as read by Mr. Battle. "I am determined to see a truly dynamic society, in which people from different ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds can live and work together, whilst retaining their distinctive identities, in an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding. "British Bahá'ís make a significant contribution towards achieving this vision and we are a stronger, better country because of it. It is particularly important that we celebrate the contribution of the Bahá'í faith to the stability and prosperity of British society as a whole. "I am very encouraged by the vision the Bahá'í community demonstrates in recognizing the power of interfaith dialogue and the importance of all citizens fulfilling their potential. Your community has a vibrancy which is well demonstrated by the recent opening of the Bahá'í Gardens on Mount Carmel in Israel. It is an outstanding monument to your faith," said Mr. Blair's statement. At the reception, Barney Leith, Secretary General of the Bahá'í Community of the United Kingdom, welcomed participants and talked about the UK Bahá'í community's Institute for Social Cohesion, an initiative to facilitate dialogue between entities that are working towards building stronger societal bonds in the United Kingdom. MP Lembit Opik, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Friends of the Bahá'ís, welcomed the people to the reception and spoke of his esteem for the Bahá'í community. "The Bahá'ís seem to have a uniquely positive image among religious believers," Mr. Opik said. "Personally I feel that this is because Bahá'í teachings fit human nature rather than trying to change it." The All Party Friends of the Bahá'ís was formed in 1999. The group is open to members of Parliament, peers, and members of the European parliament and was formed largely in response to the persecution of the Bahá'ís in Iran and other states. This was the third reception held by the Bahá'ís in the Parliamentary building, but was the first held on the terrace of the House of Commons, the most prestigious parliamentary venue for this type of event. Omid Djalili, a Bahá'í actor and comedian, was the guest speaker for the evening. He performed a 10-minute stand-up comedy routine about world culture and the humor inherent in diversity. Bahá'ís celebrate their new year on 21 March; the date coincides with the vernal equinox and the traditional beginning of Spring. The Bahá'í calendar, which was established by Bahá'u'lláh, the Prophet-Founder of the Faith, is based on 19 months of 19 days, with four intercalary days."
"51.5073219"
"-0.1276474"
158
"2002-03-31"
"MONTREAL"
""
"Canada"
[]
"Montreal Bahá'í Youth Conference examines 20th century to inspire social transformation"
"MONTREAL — More than 250 youth attended the Fifth Annual Montreal Bahá'í Youth Conference, held from 29 to 31 March, with the goal of drawing inspiration for positive social transformation from "Century of Light." Recently released by the international governing body of the Bahá'í Faith, the Universal House of Justice, "Century of Light" examines the growing prominence of the Bahá'í Faith against the backdrop of humanity's turbulent development in the last century. The document takes its name from a statement by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, who used the phrase to refer to the 20th century. Held at the Louis-Bourgeois Bahá'í Centre in Montreal, the three-day conference attracted youth from 10 countries and consisted of talks, workshops, dance and dramatic performances, audio-visual presentations, and an art exhibit, all revolving around the role of Bahá'í youth in the 20th century. The conference challenged attendees to explore the role of Bahá'í youth in the 20th century, and their responsibilities in the century to come. "The Century of Light was a tumultuous one," said 21-year-old Vahid Khamsi, a resident of Princeton, New Jersey. "However, we also had many amazing accomplishments. The 21st century is for the youth. It is our century. It is up to us to lay the foundations for prosperity." Dr. Ann Boyles, an Auxiliary Board member, spoke at the conference and presented an introduction and overview of the "Century of Light" document. "In order to become a champion of justice, " she said, "you need to know about the world in which you live, the Faith in which you believe, and the relationship between the two." Stressing awareness of past injustices, Dr. Boyles reminded the audience that "Bahá'ís are not people that look at the world through rose-colored glasses. We have to be realistic. We have to look at what the dark side was, but we can't be swallowed up by it." In addition to talks, there were several noteworthy artistic presentations, including a spoken-word performance by Shani Carter, cultural and thematic dance performances, and a remarkable audio-visual presentation that highlighted events from the past century. Lindsay McKye, a participant from Ontario, Canada, described her previous dread of history classes, saying that she had once found the topic quite boring. After reading "Century of Light," she saw the importance of history in her life as a Bahá'í youth and earnestly hoped that others will see its potential as an inspirational vision for world unity. On the topic of the contribution of Bahá'í youth to the advancement of civilization during the 20th century, "Century of Light" states: "No segment of the [Bahá'í] community made a more energetic or significant contribution to this dramatic process of growth than did Bahá'í youth." At the dawn of a new century, youth at the conference were anxious to contribute to the process in the same spirit as their predecessors. "It doesn't matter how much the world around you is degraded," explained Nick Ward, a student of International Development Studies at McGill University. "You yourself can make a difference. Everyone has the ability for change in order to bring about a new global civilization." The conference ended on its third day, with youth resolving to focus their activity in systematic action along three main lines -- the establishment or strengthening of study circles, devotional meetings, and community children's classes. Others were also inspired to start community development programs and dance-theatre workshops within their respective communities. The annual Montreal Bahá'í Youth Conference was inaugurated in 1998 and past conferences have addressed such themes as "Hope for Humanity" and "Globalization." This year's conference took its place within the context of a series of Bahá'í conferences throughout the world -- a sign of the scope and aspirations of the emerging Bahá'í Youth Movement. Through this Movement, Bahá'í youth aim to constructively channel their energy and enthusiasm towards positive social transformation through the application of the spiritual principles of their Faith. The conference Web site, http://www.enlighten.ca/conference, contains additional information and photographs from the conference."
"45.5031824"
"-73.5698065"
159
"2002-05-15"
"NEW YORK"
""
"United States"
[]
"Bahá'í Faith's governing council calls on world's religious leaders to put out the fires of religious prejudice and fanaticism"
"NEW YORK — Decrying the persistence of religious prejudice as a barrier to global peace and prosperity, the international governing council of the Bahá'í Faith has addressed a message to the world's religious leaders. Bahá'í communities around the world are conveying it to religious leaders in all their countries, thus transmitting its appeal that they act decisively on the need to eradicate religious intolerance and fanaticism. "With every day that passes, danger grows that the rising fires of religious prejudice will ignite a worldwide conflagration the consequences of which are unthinkable," writes the Universal House of Justice in the message addressed simply "to the World's Religious Leaders." (Full text available at: http://www.bahai.org/article-1-1-0-1.html) "Tragically, organized religion, whose very reason for being entails service to the cause of brotherhood and peace, behaves all too frequently as one of the most formidable obstacles in the path; to cite a particularly painful fact, it has long lent its credibility to fanaticism," the appeal states. "We feel a responsibility, as the governing council of one of the world religions, to urge earnest consideration of the challenge this poses for religious leadership." The theme of the message of the Universal House of Justice, the internationally elected council that guides the worldwide, five-million member Bahá'í community, points to the striking developments in the past century whereby prejudices based on gender, race or nationality have been recognized as unacceptable by all thinking people. Although they continue to exist in practice, there is a strong groundswell towards their abolition. Religious prejudice persists, however, triggering a crisis, the message states, that should compel religious leaders to make a "break with the past as decisive as those that opened the way for society to address equally corrosive prejudices of race, gender and nation." The statement offers the assistance of the Bahá'í community in working for religious unity to which the interfaith movement has been aspiring and, in closing, asserts: "We owe it to our partners in this common effort, however, to state clearly our conviction that interfaith discourse, if it is to contribute meaningfully to healing the ills that afflict a desperate humanity, must now address honestly and without further evasion the implications of the over-arching truth that called the movement into being: that God is one and that, beyond all diversity of cultural expression and human interpretation, religion is likewise one.""
"40.7127281"
"-74.0060152"
160
"2002-06-04"
"GOETTINGEN"
""
"Germany"
[]
"Faith groups, including Baha'is of Germany, meet on environment and climate concerns"
"GOETTINGEN, Germany — At an interfaith meeting in May, representatives of the main religions in Germany, including the Baha'i Faith, drafted and accepted a joint memorandum stressing the common ground among the religions on the issue of climate change and the environment. Chaired by Gottfried Orth, director of the Ernst Lange-Institute for Ecumenical Studies, and held under the auspices of the German Federal Environment Ministry, the meeting took place 6-7 May 2002 and was titled "Orientation dialogue of religions represented in Germany on environmental politics with reference to the climate issue." The main goal of the meeting was to widen the dialogue between the government and various religions in Germany on environmental issues as part of a process to enhance the receptivity and responsibility of important pillars of society. Participants included three representatives of the Catholic and Protestant churches; the general secretary of the Central Muslim Council and a scientific advisor; a member of the council of the Buddhist Union and two other Buddhists; and three representatives of the Baha'i Community of Germany. Also present were observers from the World Conference on Religion and Peace and a group representing the Earth Charter. The final memorandum issued by the religious representatives stated that, regardless of the differences between the holy writings and traditions of the various religions, there is much common ground between them on the issues of nature and the environment, which gives rise to a common responsibility for action. "The central cause for the destruction of nature and the basis for life on earth is the waste of goods and resources," said the memorandum. "We in the industrialized countries need to recognize our primary responsibility for global threat to life. We cannot insist on a lifestyle with high energy consumption and emission of greenhouse gases that cannot be generalized worldwide." The memorandum said love, justice and ethics can be the foundation for sustainable development, a point that must be considered at the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development, scheduled to be held in August in Johannesburg, South Africa. The memorandum also emphasized that water -- an expression of spiritual life in all religions -- needs equal attention in its use. "Approximately two-thirds of the time of the meeting was dedicated to presentations on the position of the various religions concerning creation, nature, man, ethical approaches, attitudes towards scientific predictions on climate effects as well as aspects of political actions," said Ingo Hofmann, who, along with Ulrich Gollmer and Friedo Zölzer, represented the Baha'i Community of Germany at the meeting. "But these presentations were followed by equally long sessions of questions and answers," said Dr. Hofmann, who is a professor of physics at Frankfurt University. "And there was consensus, at the end, that the whole meeting was held in a remarkable spirit of dialogue and openness, giving a good example of religious dialogue applied to a burning problem of society." In the memorandum, each religion also cited a main concern with respect to the environment. The Baha'i contribution was to say that "for the Baha'is, nature and humankind are an organic entity, from which we derive the principles for proper action in compliance with the needs of environment and social justice," said Dr. Hofmann. German Federal Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin attended the second day of the meeting, when the memorandum was presented to him. At a well attended press conference he stressed the importance of religions in the process of making society more receptive to environmental issues. The dialogue was designed as a follow-up to a meeting of G-8 environment ministers and religious leaders in Trieste in March 2001, at which religious leaders appealed for governments to give environmental concerns a higher priority. In terms of follow-up, the religious communities will continue the process of discussing environmental issues both inside and outside their own communities. A book containing the statements of the various religious communities is also being prepared, with a fall 2002 publication schedule. The memorandum expresses the commitment to continue the dialogue locally, regionally and on the European level."
"51.50032665"
"9.950655394459552"
161
"2002-05-09"
"UNITED NATIONS"
""
""
[]
"Bahá'ís play key role behind the scenes in UNICEF concert at the UN Children's Summit"
"UNITED NATIONS — Although Hugh Locke and Jack Lenz both grew up two years apart in the tiny farming town of Eston on the Canadian prairie in Saskatchewan, the two men never met until they became members of the Bahá'í Faith as young adults. But since meeting, they have embarked on a number of collaborations, the most recent of which was the production of a major concert for world leaders at the United Nations during the United Nations Special Session on Children in May. Mr. Locke served as executive producer for the event, which featured guest appearances from former South African President Nelson Mandela, and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, while Mr. Lenz took on the role as musical director. And although the concert, which sought to feature mainly the voices and musical performances of children and young people, was sponsored entirely by UNICEF, both men feel strongly that their practice of the Bahá'í Faith and its principles of global interdependence and human unity gave them great inspiration. "The theme of the concert was to have the voices of children giving a message to the leaders of the world -- and that message was to urge them to put children first in all of their undertakings," said Mr. Locke, whose company, Locke Associates Inc., specializes in organizing international events and conferences. "And once Jack and I started to shape the concert, we wanted to have a message that was universal in nature and hopeful for the future," said Mr. Locke, noting that they chose a number of songs written by Bahá'ís for the event -- songs that feature themes of hope, oneness and human solidarity. "And there was a resonance in that with the tone and intention of what UNICEF wanted to do. Held 9 May 2002 on the north lawn of the UN grounds in New York under a specially erected tent before an audience of some nearly 1,000 world leaders, UN officials and children's advocates, the concert featured the 300-voice UNICEF World Chorus -- assembled by Mr. Lenz from youth choirs in metropolitan New York -- and the 160-strong National Youth Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. The concert, titled "Change the World with Children," also featured a series of solo performances by some young or youthful singers who have already won fame for their talent, such as Billy Gilman, a 13-year-old country and western phenomenon from the USA, to Josefine Garline, an 11-year-old pop singer from Sweden. Also performing were Raffi, the internationally acclaimed children's singer and songwriter, and Angelique Kidjo, one of the world's best-known African singers. A number of international celebrities, composed mostly of UNICEF and UN goodwill ambassadors, also appeared on stage, with each presenting one of the "Say Yes for Children" Campaign pledges, which were a focal point of the concert. Among those present were actors Michael Douglas, Roger Moore, and Cicely Tyson; singer Harry Belafonte; and chess master Anatoly Karpov. The Say Yes for Children Campaign was a focal point of the event. Worldwide, more than 94 million signatures have been collected as pledges to the campaign, which offers ten simple points -- such as "Put Children First", "Educate Every Child", and "Protect the Earth for Children" -- designed to help build a world where "all children should be free to grow in health, peace and dignity." Appearing on stage with the adult goodwill ambassadors were members of the Children's Theater Company (CTC), a New York-based children's performance workshop that is operated as a Bahá'í-inspired project. Each member of the CTC read out one of the pledges and then introduced his or her new "friend" -- one of the famous goodwill ambassadors, who then explained the importance of that pledge. Many of the songs performed at the concert celebrated human diversity and interdependence. Among them were "Color Me Human," which was written and performed by Eric Dozier, a Bahá'í from Los Angeles, and "The Greatest Moments," written by Mr. Lenz himself, who is a internationally-known Toronto-based song writer, musician and producer. "For Bahá'ís, the idea of unity in diversity is a key theme," said Mr. Lenz, who is now producing a video of the concert. "And as we worked with UNICEF officials to put the concert together, there was a lot of discussion about diversity and the importance of ensuring that the entire human race was reflected in this gathering. So I know that I, and the other Bahá'ís who worked on this, felt this concert was a significant event.""
""
""
162
"2002-06-26"
"NEW YORK"
""
"United States"
[]
"Week-long Festival of the Arts will showcase Bahá'í performers in New York in late June; major concert at Carnegie Hall included"
"NEW YORK — In commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Second Bahá'í World Congress, a group of Bahá'ís are planning a major "Festival of the Arts" here in late June and early July. The week-long event will feature a major choral concert at Carnegie Hall, separate Persian and Gospel music concerts at the Manhattan Center, an off-Broadway festival of Bahá'í theatrical performances, and a conference on the arts. The centerpiece event at Carnegie Hall will feature a 550-voice choir, composed of Bahá'ís from some 24 countries. Known as the Voices of Baha, the choir has done some 80 concerts in 30 countries over the last ten years, said Tom Price, musical director of the Voices of Baha and head of Global Music Inc., which is organizing the Festival of the Arts. "Basically, the Voices of Baha is an offshoot of the World Congress choir, and the conception of this event began with the idea of having a musical reunion in New York," said Mr. Price, who also directed the choir at the World Congress. "And once the Carnegie Hall concert was set, we decided to add other events to make it a week-long celebration." The project is an independent initiative of Global Music, Inc., a Bahá'í-owned company, and associated individuals. It is not under the sponsorship of any Bahá'í institution. The Festival of the Arts is scheduled to begin on 26 June 2002 and run until 2 July. During that period, five major activities are planned: A week-long Theater Festival at the 47th Street Theater (26 June-2 July); a four-day Conference on the Arts at the Hotel Pennsylvania (27 June-30 June); a performance of the Bahá'í Gospel Singers (28 June) and a concert of Persian music (29 June), both at the Manhattan Center; and, finally, the Voices of Baha concert at Carnegie Hall (30 June). All of these events will feature Bahá'í performers, speakers and themes. Complete information about these events, including ticket prices, can be found at http://www.global-music.org/. The Second Bahá'í World Congress, held 23-26 November 1992 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York, was the largest gathering of Bahá'ís ever. It brought together some 30,000 Bahá'ís from 180 countries to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passing of Bahá'u'lláh and the accomplishments of the Bahá'í Faith during that century. Among the main elements of the Congress's program was music, and central to that musical expression was a 400 voice choir and 90-piece orchestra, assembled ad hoc by bringing together Bahá'í singers and musicians from some 36 countries. Among the distinctive features of that assemblage was the need for singers to learn their parts in their home countries before coming to New York, something accomplished by sending to them cassette tapes with their parts. The Voices of Baha, likewise, uses a similar technique, said Mr. Price. "We send out sheet music and a CD (Compact Disk), which has their part alone," said Mr. Price. "So each member has a full month to learn and practice their parts individually. Without the CD, it would be impossible to develop a choir of this size and diversity. Most choirs live in one city and rehearse for months before a concert. But we developed this technique for the World Congress and, now, 10 years later, it is a system that works pretty well." "The Voices of Baha actually has about 1,000 members, but since the World Congress, we've only been able to bring together about 200 singers for any single event," said Mr. Price. "We have more than 550 singers registered to sing in the Carnegie Hall concert, which will make this the largest Bahá'í choir ever." The Bahá'í Gospel Singers were likewise featured at the Second Bahá'í World Congress. "We expect a gospel choir of at least 200 singers," said Van Gilmer, director of the Singers, making it an even larger group than performed in 1992. The Conference on the Arts will feature speeches, music, drama, dance and devotional elements in a creative and artistic combination, said Leslie Asplund, who is organizing that segment of the Festival. "It will focus specifically on the role of the arts, as described in the Bahá'í writings, and as applied in the Bahá'í community today," said Dr. Asplund. "The Bahá'í teachings say a great deal about the role of artistic expression and creativity, not just as entertainment but as an element in the spiritual transformation of humanity." The Persian music concert will feature a number of well-known Persian performers -- all who also happen to be Bahá'ís. Scheduled to perform are Rahmat'u'llah Badiyi, Parisa Badiyi, Rashid Mostaghim, Shokouh Rezai, Hushmand Aghili, and Ahdieh Pakravan. The Theater Festival will showcase the growing theatrical talent that has emerged internationally within the worldwide Bahá'í community in recent years, said Shidan Majidi, organizer of that event. "Over the years, around the world, many professionally trained actors have developed drama programs presenting aspects of the Faith," said Shidan Majidi, who is a professional theater producer in New York. "So the purpose of this Festival is to gather as many together in one place so that people can see as many of these performances as possible.""
"40.7127281"
"-74.0060152"
163
"2002-05-01"
"HAIFA"
""
"Israel"
[]
"A new volume of Bahá'í sacred writings, recently translated and comprising Bahá'u'lláh's call to world leaders, is published"
"HAIFA, Israel — A new volume of recently translated writings of Bahá'u'lláh, comprising a series of powerful messages written to world leaders, has been issued by Bahá'í World Centre Publications. Titled "The Summons of the Lord of Hosts," the 272-page book contains authoritative English translations of six major works written by Bahá'u'lláh in the latter half of the 19th century. Collectively, the works clearly enunciate Bahá'u'lláh's claim to prophethood and offer a prescription for peaceful and just leadership in the modern world. "Never since the beginning of the world," declares Bahá'u'lláh Himself in the book, "hath the message been so openly proclaimed." In addition to such pronouncements, Bahá'u'lláh outlines requirements of the kings and rulers, including reduction of armaments, the resolution of international conflicts, and reduction of expenditures which placed unnecessary strain on the subjects. Specifically, the book collects the Suriy-i-Haykal [Surih of the Temple] Suriy-i-Ra'is [Surih of the Chief] Lawh-i-Ra'is [Tablet of the Chief] Lawh-i-Fu'ad [Tablet to Fu'ad Pasha] Lawh-i-Sultan [Tablet to the Shah of Iran] and Suriy-i-Muluk [Surih of the Kings] While portions of some of these works have been translated and published before, "The Summons of the Lord of Hosts" marks the first time full-length and fully researched translations of them have been released. The collected volume represents only a fraction of Bahá'u'lláh's output during His 40-year ministry, when He revealed thousands of tablets which altogether represent a volume more than 70 times the size of the Qur'an and more than 15 times the size of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Not only is the size of the revelation significant, but also -- thanks in part to access to both original documents and the historical context in which they were revealed -- the Bahá'í Faith has a much more direct link to its origins than is enjoyed by most other religions. The primary work in the volume is the Surih of the Temple, regarded as one of Bahá'u'lláh's "most challenging works." It includes letters addressed to several individual monarchs, Napoleon III, Czar Alexander II, Queen Victoria, and Nasiri'd-Din Shah, the Emperor of Persia, and also to Pope Pius IX. Bahá'u'lláh's address to Nasiri'd-Din Shah is the longest of all these letters, in which He offers to meet with the Muslim clergy, and to provide whatever definitive proofs of the new revelation they would require to test Bahá'u'lláh's claim. Another major work is the Surih of the Kings, described by Shoghi Effendi as "the most momentous Tablet revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in which He, for the first time, directs His words collectively to the entire company of the monarchs of the East and West." "Lay not aside the fear of God, O kings of the earth, and beware that ye transgress not the bounds which the Almighty hath fixed … Be vigilant, that ye may not do injustice to anyone, be it to the extent of a grain of mustard seed. Tread ye the path of justice, for this, verily, is the straight path," Bahá'u'lláh asserts in a statement outlining the requirements of just leadership. There are also passages of spiritual significance, such as Bahá'u'lláh's exposition in the Surih of the Chief explaining the progress of the human soul in its path towards God. To record the words of revelation as He was inspired, Bahá'u'lláh would occasionally write them down Himself; but it was typical for the revelation to be spoken aloud to His amanuensis. The dictation was sometimes recorded in what has been called "revelation writing" -- a shorthand script written with extreme quickness owing to the speed with which the words were uttered. These original "revelation writing" drafts were later revised and approved by Bahá'u'lláh. These "revelation drafts," as well as the many other transcriptions of Bahá'u'lláh's writings are held in the International Bahá'í Archives. The collection encompasses approximately 17,000 items, some of which are in Bahá'u'lláh's own handwriting, while others are transcriptions made by either Bahá'u'lláh's amanuensis or other known scribes, under Bahá'u'lláh's direction. The translators and scholars of the Research Department now work from photocopies of the original documents, with the originals available from the Archives if they are needed. All of the translations combine the efforts of a number of translators, who strive to follow the pattern for translation of Bahá'í sacred writings set by Shoghi Effendi, head of the Bahá'í Faith and its authorized interpreter from 1921 until his death in 1957. The book can be ordered through the United States Bahá'í Distribution Service, 4703 Fulton Industrial Boulevard Atlanta, GA 30336-2017, USA (telephone: (800) 999-9019; email: bds@usbnc.org)."
"32.8191218"
"34.9983856"
164
"2002-05-31"
"COLLEGE PARK"
"MARYLAND"
"United States"
[]
"Lord St. John of Bletso delivers annual Bahá'í lecture at University of Maryland, issuing a "call to action" on the environment"
"COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND, United States — Lord St. John of Bletso, a member of the British House of Lords and noted authority on environmental policy, told an audience of some 250 gathered at the University of Maryland on 31 May 2002 that the environmental challenges facing the planet will require both a passionate commitment to action as well as a balanced approach that does not dwell on "gloom and doom" predictions. A hereditary member of the House of Lords since 1978, Lord St. John was at the University of Maryland as a guest of the Bahá'í Chair for World Peace to deliver the Eighth Annual Bahá'í Chair Lecture, on the theme of "Environmental Ethics and Public Policy." The Bahá'í Chair is an endowed teaching and research chair established in 1993 at the University's Center for International Development and Conflict Management. Its mission is to develop alternatives to the violent resolution of conflict by identifying and applying universal ethical and moral principles. Lord St. John began his talk by distancing himself from extremist or sensationalist forms of environmentalism. "Environmental pressure groups have started to believe that they must depict worst case scenarios, and exaggerate their dire predictions, to 'scare' the world into paying attention to this issue," Lord St. John said, adding that such tactics often have the opposite effect by inducing a paralysis of will and a desire to ignore complex and seemingly intractable problems. Instead, what is needed is a new global consensus that will engage and inspire people everywhere to make the changes and adjustments required to live in harmony with the earth's life support systems, said Lord St. John. He pointed to the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development, to take place in Johannesburg, South Africa, in August 2002, as an opportunity to forge this kind of consensus. "The buzzword among the delegates around the hotels and conference centers of Johannesburg in August will be 'sustainability,' but as United Nations representatives readily agree, that word has become a pious invocation rather than the urgent call to action that it should be," said Lord St. John, who serves on the House of Lords select committee on trade, finance and foreign affairs and will soon move to the select committee on environmental affairs. "It is crucial that the Summit succeed in showing that sustainability is far from being as abstract as it sounds, but rather is a life and death issue for millions upon millions of people around the world, and potentially the entire human race," he said. Lord St. John applauded the fact that representatives of business and industry are expected to be present in Johannesburg in large numbers. Voluntary codes of corporate social responsibility and innovative business strategies that make sustainability profitable have shown that the business community can make valuable contributions to sustainable development. However, Lord St. John emphasized that it would be a mistake to allow market forces alone to drive the globe's political, economic and social agenda. He said educators, religious leaders, civil society organizations and other social actors have a profound responsibility to exercise leadership. As an example, he recalled a discussion with a representative of the Bahá'í community in the United Kingdom who identified three contributions that the Bahá'í community could make to the wider environmental cause: "The first act is to draw upon its deep-rooted belief in the oneness and interdependence of all nations," said Lord St. John. "The second is to sustain a cross-cultural practice of consultation as a non-adversarial means of making decisions and resolving conflicts. And the third is to pursue the Bahá'í tradition of facilitating learning and empowerment through social and economic development projects." In his remarks, Lord St. John also paid tribute to the work of the Bahá'í Chair and its approach to world problems. The current holder of the Bahá'í Chair is Professor Suheil Bushrui, an internationally known scholar of English and Arabic literatures who is also an acknowledged expert on issues of religious and cultural reconciliation. "I'm keenly aware of this Bahá'í Chair for World Peace and the incredible work of Professor Bushrui in developing alternatives to the violent resolution of conflict," said Lord St. John. "The Bahá'í movement is providing leadership in many fields, including ethics, and particularly since 9-11 the world has needed to revise its priorities." The audience included several university officials, including Dr. Brodie Remington, Vice President for University Relations; Dr. Irwin Goldstein, Dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences; and Dr. Ernest Wilson III, Director of the Center for International Development and Conflict Management. Each made opening remarks expressing the University's appreciation for the Bahá'í Chair for organizing the annual lecture series and for enriching the campus community in other ways. Also present were members of the Bahá'í Chair's Advisory Board, including the honorable Judge Dorothy Nelson, the Chair's distinguished liaison to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States. "At the University of Maryland our intellectual achievements must be matched by our achievements in promoting diversity, harmony and interdependence among our faculty, staff and students," said Dean Goldstein. "In this regard the Bahá'í Chair for World Peace is one of our most treasured possessions." He cited two undergraduate honors courses designed by the Bahá'í Chair, "The Spiritual Heritage of the Human Race" and "Global Ethics: Confronting the Major Issues," as well as its lectures and publications. Dean Goldstein also cited the international recognition brought to the University by the Chair's activities. Last summer, for example, the House of Lords held a Diplomatic Luncheon to recognize the Bahá'í Chair's work. The event was chaired by Lord St. John and brought together a large gathering of Ambassadors, Members of Parliament, scholars and other dignitaries. Lord St. John serves as a "cross-bencher," or non-partisan member of the House of Lords, and his parliamentary interests include foreign affairs, particularly South Africa and Hong Kong, environmental protection, science and technology, and financial services. He is also a Trustee of the Television Trust for the Environment and the Tusk Trust. Professor Bushrui said he first met Lord St. John during travels to London as a fellow of the prestigious Temenos Academy, whose patron is His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. In June 2001 Professor Bushrui was invited by the Temenos Academy to deliver its annual L.M. Svinghi-Temenos Interfaith Lecture. "We have come to know each other in these circles," said Professor Bushrui, "and I was struck by His Lordship's vision of world unity and his holistic approach to issues of peace and reconciliation.""
"38.99203005"
"-76.94610290199051"
165
"2002-06-06"
"LUCKNOW"
""
"India"
[]
"City Montessori School wins UNESCO Peace Education award"
"LUCKNOW, India — City Montessori School, a large private school with a Bahá'í-inspired curriculum that stresses world citizenship and religious tolerance, has been awarded the 2002 UNESCO Prize for Peace Education. Awarded annually by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the honor was given to City Montessori School (CMS) this year "in recognition of its efforts to promote the universal values of education for peace and tolerance and to renew the principles of secularism at a time when these values and principles are increasingly being challenged," according to UNESCO press release dated 6 June 2002. Founded in 1959, the school has a reputation for a high level of academic excellence -- and for a distinctive program of moral and spiritual education. "For more than 40 years it has educated students to respect the values of tolerance and peace and sought to make them citizens of the world," said the UNESCO release. " The school's founders, Jagdish and Bharti Gandhi, inspired by the non-violence of Mahatma Gandhi, founded their school on four fundamental principles: universal values, excellence, global understanding, and service to the community." The founders are also Bahá'ís -- and they are quick to add that the Bahá'í teachings have greatly inspired their work and the school's curriculum. "We have been following the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, and these teachings have led us to work more and more for world peace," said Bharti Gandhi, contacted by telephone after the UNESCO award was announced. Mrs. Gandhi said when they founded the school, she and her husband were followers of Mahatma Gandhi. Both accepted the Bahá'í Faith in 1974, and since then they have increasingly incorporated principles of world citizenship and human oneness into the curriculum. "We rededicated ourselves to the cause of world unity," said Mrs. Gandhi, who is the school's director. The school's success at attracting students has won for it a citation, in 1999, in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest school by enrollment. The school had some 22,000 students that year. The school currently has more than 26,000 students, in grade levels ranging from pre-primary to college, said Mrs. Gandhi. "The school aims to give pupils the skills permitting them to face the complex problems of the world today, by displaying trust for each child, by developing their sense of responsibility, by the theoretical and practical teaching of moral values, and by opening their eyes to other religions and cultures," said the UNESCO press release. "The recognition given to the importance of the family is one of the characteristics of the CMS," continued the UNESCO release. "The school sensitizes parents by giving them books on their educational influence and involving them closely in the life of the school. And the teachers benefit from continued training in the main principles of the school, as well as in child development, psychology and sociology. Each child has a mentor who engages in a personal relationship with his or her charge's family. "Another characteristic of the City Montessori School is the emphasis it places on educational research. Its Innovation Wing employs 25 people who identify and bring in the best educational theories and practices from whatever country, sourcing techniques from the Montessori method, robotics, tutorial systems or management practices," said the UNESCO release. According to UNESCO, the Prize for Peace Education comes with a US$30,000 award. Since 1981, the prize has been awarded to promote initiatives that seek to improve public awareness and to mobilize opinion in favor of peace. Funding for the Prize is provided though a donation from the Nippon Foundation. For more information about City Montessori School, visit the school's website at http://www.cmseducation.org. The Bahá'í World News Service carried a previous story about CMS, which can be read at: http://www.bwns.org/story/146 For more information about the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education, go to: http://www.unesco.org/human_rights/peaceint.html"
"26.8381"
"80.9346001"
167
"2002-07-09"
"BUENOS AIRES"
""
"Argentina"
[]
"In Argentina, a Baha'i-inspired NGO works to strengthen civil society in a time of crisis"
"BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Last November, the people of this vast and cosmopolitan city took to the streets, banging on pots and pans, protesting the sudden economic collapse that sent one of Latin America's richest countries into a deep and continuing crisis. In January, the protests took on a new form as people in many areas created "neighborhood assemblies" to talk about what they themselves can do to solve some of the problems troubling the society. Neighborhood assemblies have undertaken projects ranging from the bulk purchase of food at reduced prices to the creation of neighborhood banks. Whether or not the phenomenon persists, the spontaneous organization of people in neighborhood parks and plazas in this city of 12 million reflects an increasing conviction that only with the active participation of civil society can Argentina's economic and social problems be addressed. It is an idea that has long been advocated by UNIDA, a Baha'i-inspired non-governmental organization (NGO) that focuses on training to strengthen civil society and promote participatory development. UNIDA has seen an upsurge in interest in its programs since the crisis began, reaching its highest level of enrollments ever in June 2002. "These neighborhood assemblies were started because the people here now believe that they must take responsibility for action into their own hands," according to Haleh Maniei, coordinator of students and promotion for UNIDA. "And, accordingly," she said, "people know they need more education in this area of strategic planning for NGOs, how to start up their own projects, and so on. So many more people are calling and asking about UNIDA's programs nowadays." Founded in 1996 by a group of Baha'is, UNIDA - Universidad de la Naciones, Integracion, Dessarrollo, and Ambiente (University for Nations, Integration, Development, and Environment) - offers post-graduate courses in four areas: sustainable development, social anthropology, human development, and organizational processes. The four programs take up the study of "human scale" development and the accompanying methodologies for grassroots, participatory decision-making that UNIDA's founders say are key to effective social action. "Those four subjects are really just different gates to enter into and arrive at the same place," said Lucio Capalbo, general coordinator of UNIDA and one of its founders. "At the heart of what UNIDA strives to do is to help make civil society stronger by training its leaders to use new consultative and participatory methods of decision-making that can help people function better in groups. And this is at the core of the empowerment of civil society." Last year, even before the current crisis, UNIDA won several significant grants. In November, it was one of eight NGOs to be recognized by the Women in Equality Organization in a competition for grant money from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). In that competition, UNIDA received US$8,900 for a program aimed at giving local women leaders training in ethical leadership. Earlier in the year, UNIDA received funding from the European Community to offer training in conflict resolution to local leaders serving impoverished communities. Also, the City of Buenos Aires offered a subsidy for a "New Labor Roles" project, aimed at training 20 unemployed persons in furniture recycling. Since its founding, UNIDA's enrollment has risen steadily, reaching a high of 128 students recently. And, despite the economic downturn, it has managed this year to expand its offerings to two other cities in Argentina: Rosario and Viedma. "Our training programs are exactly what the country needs at this moment," said Mr. Capalbo. Specifically, UNIDA teaches in all of its courses "consultation," the principles of which are derived from the Baha'i teachings. At its core, consultation is a highly participatory process that encourages a diversity of opinion and yet seeks to unite various constituencies. Among its key principles are: the primary goal is always the good of all; information should be gathered from the widest possible range of sources and points of view; the exchange of ideas should be full and candid, while courteous; any ideas put forward become the property of the group; and once a decision is made, it will be supported by all participants. "Once people understand the process of consultation, they start to think in a new way," said Mr. Capalbo, explaining that UNIDA's founders believe many of the problems in society today stem from adversarial decision-making models that set various groups against each other. "They think in the way of unity in diversity, not partisanship or fighting or conflict. And what UNIDA teaches is how to make decisions and work with others in a consultative way, how to design, execute and evaluate participatory programs, built with the cooperation of everyone." According to UNIDA graduates, the result is an effective, practical formula for social empowerment. "It was extremely useful, especially due to the concept of human scale economy and the systemic approach, and some other tools for planning," said Fabian Roman, head of Plan21, an environmental management NGO in Buenos Aires. Mr. Roman took a UNIDA course on environmental management and sustainable development in 1999. An adjunct professor of tourism, development and environment at La Plata University, Mr. Roman said he now teaches consultation in his courses. Mario Daniel Caputo, a judge in Buenos Aires Province, took UNIDA's course on human rights in 2000 and is now working to start up an NGO to help refugees and undocumented immigrants in Argentina gain access to education, health care and employment. "The tools offered by UNIDA, such as the new concepts of development, the conceptual technique of consultation and other elements, have served me well for the planning of the project," said Judge Caputo. "They accompany me like new baggage in a way that allows me to apply such concepts in a concrete manner.""
"-34.6075682"
"-58.4370894"
168
"2002-07-12"
"NEW YORK"
""
"United States"
[]
"Religious leaders worldwide respond positively to message on eliminating religious prejudice"
"NEW YORK — The Bahá'í community has been greatly encouraged by the response of religious leaders to the April 2002 message from the Bahá'í Faith's international governing body, the Universal House of Justice. The message calls for decisive action to eradicate intolerance and fanaticism. Delivered so far to at least 1,600 leaders in more than 40 countries by the worldwide Bahá'í community's network of national and local level governing councils, the message warns that the "rising fires of religious prejudice" threaten to "ignite a worldwide conflagration" of "unthinkable" consequences. It urges the leaders of all religions to condemn fanaticism, to renounce claims to exclusivity or finality, and to undertake a wider interfaith dialogue. The response as of the end of June has been overwhelmingly positive, with religious leaders, academics who study religion, and specialists in related fields saying that the message is a much needed and timely summons. "This is the message. This is the moment," said Professor Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of Great Britain and the Commonwealth. "We are facing the greatest challenge that God has ever given us and this is the message we need." Moreover, in line with general increase in interfaith activity and cooperation worldwide, many leaders -- whether Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Islamic or other -- have praised the message's call for a greater interfaith discourse. "Multiple paths to the Divine is something we promote," said Dr. Karan Singh, the New Delhi-based chairman of the Temple of Understanding. "I do appreciate the statement and the role of the Bahá'í Faith in trying to bring about religious harmony and understanding." Reports from Bahá'í communities indicate that delegations bearing the message were well received. "We felt an extraordinary courtesy from them all, a response not so much to us in particular, but to the occasion itself and the inherent weight of the message," said Amy Marks, a member of the local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Cape Town, South Africa, which presented the message to a dozen local religious leaders. The message points to a general trend towards oneness over the last century, noting that prejudices based on gender, race, or nationality have been widely recognized as unacceptable by people everywhere. Despite humanity's integration on other levels, however, religious prejudice persists. "Tragically, organized religion, whose very reason for being entails service to the cause of brotherhood and peace, behaves all too frequently as one of the most formidable obstacles in the path; to cite a particular painful fact, it has long lent its credibility to fanaticism," writes the Universal House of Justice. "With every day that passes, danger grows that the rising fires of religious prejudice will ignite a worldwide conflagration the consequences of which are unthinkable," continues the message. "The crisis calls on religious leadership for a break with the past as decisive as those that opened the way for society to address equally corrosive prejudices of race, gender and nation." The full text of the message can be found on the World Wide Web at: https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/the-universal-house-of-justice/messages/20020401_001/1. National Bahá'í communities focused first on distributing the message to national religious leaders, along with academics and journalists who specialize in religion. In Brazil, for example, the National Spiritual Assembly prepared a list of some 44 national religious leaders, theologians, and religious academics, and then sent the message by mail or personal delivery. As a second step, some 330 copies of the message were sent to 66 local Spiritual Assemblies in Brazil, for distribution to local religious leaders. "In Brazilian society, religious divisions are a problem," said Roberto Eghrari, secretary of external affairs for the Brazilian National Spiritual Assembly. "So we believe the distribution of this message is very timely, that it has the potential to bring new understandings. And so far, the reaction has been very positive." A number of religious leaders indicated that they will distribute the message among other leaders in their own organizations. In one African country, the national Muslim council requested additional copies for distribution to all mosques in the capitol. An academic dean at a Catholic-run Latin American university expressed interest in working with the Bahá'í community to develop a program for professors and students at the university that makes use of the message. In many countries, leaders wrote back to Bahá'í communities with letters of appreciation. In the United Kingdom, George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Church, wrote: "I very much share your view that we all need to address the question of how our different faiths can become forces for peace and justice. Much honest discussion between the communities will be required as we pursue this goal." In Tanzania, Biharilal Keshavji Tanna of the Hindu Council of Tanzania wrote: "I have read the document with great interest and feel that it contains a supremely important message not only to the leaders of the faith groups, but to all thinking individuals, who must shoulder the duty and responsibility of breaking down barriers amongst the various groups of the family of mankind.""
"40.7127281"
"-74.0060152"
169
"2002-08-26"
"NEW YORK"
""
"United States"
[]
"Baha'i International Community issues statement to the World Summit on Sustainable Development"
"NEW YORK — The Baha'i International Community has issued a statement, entitled "Religion and Development at the Crossroads: Convergence or Divergence?," to the World Summit on Sustainable Development, a United Nations conference held in Johannesburg, South Africa, 26 August to 4 September 2002. The full text of the statement follows below: Over the course of the 20th century, ethnic, racial and national prejudices have increasingly given way to the recognition that humankind is a single family and the earth its common homeland. The United Nations (UN), which was created in response to this dawning recognition, has worked tirelessly to bring about a world where all peoples and nations can live together in peace and harmony. To help bring about this world, the UN has crafted a remarkable framework of international institutions, processes, conventions and global action plans that have helped to prevent conflict and warfare, to protect human rights, to nurture equality between women and men, and to uplift the material conditions of countless individuals and communities. Despite these significant achievements, the United Nations has yet to grasp fully both the constructive role that religion can play in creating a peaceful and prosperous global order, and the destructive impact that religious fanaticism can have on the stability and progress of the world. This lack of attention to religion can be clearly seen in the development realm, where the United Nations has, for the most part, viewed religious communities merely as channels for the delivery of goods and services, and as mechanisms to carry out development policies and programs. Moreover, while the United Nations' human rights machinery has been used to condemn religious intolerance and persecution, UN development policies and programs have hardly begun to address religious bigotry as a major obstacle to peace and well-being. Religion as the Basis of Civilization and Progress It is becoming increasingly clear that passage to the culminating stage in the millennia long process of the organization of the planet as one home for the entire human family cannot be accomplished in a spiritual vacuum. Religion, the Baha'i Scriptures aver, "is the source of illumination, the cause of development and the animating impulse of all human advancement" and "has been the basis of all civilization and progress in the history of mankind." It is the source of meaning and hope for the vast majority of the planet's inhabitants, and it has a limitless power to inspire sacrifice, change and long-term commitment in its followers. It is, therefore, inconceivable that a peaceful and prosperous global society -- a society which nourishes a spectacular diversity of cultures and nations -- can be established and sustained without directly and substantively involving the world's great religions in its design and support. At the same time, it cannot be denied that the power of religion has also been perverted to turn neighbor against neighbor. The Baha'i Scriptures state that "religion must be the source of fellowship, the cause of unity and the nearness of God to man. If it rouses hatred and strife, it is evident that absence of religion is preferable and an irreligious man is better than one who professes it." So long as religious animosities are allowed to destabilize the world, it will be impossible to foster a global pattern of sustainable development: the central goal of this Summit. Religion and the United Nations: Working Together for Peace and Justice Given the record of religious fanaticism, it is understandable that the United Nations has been hesitant to invite religion into its negotiations. However, the UN can no longer afford to ignore the immeasurable good that religions have done and continue to do in the world, or the salubrious, far-reaching contributions that they can make to the establishment of a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable global order. Indeed, the United Nations will only succeed in establishing such a global order to the extent that it taps into the power and vision of religion. To do so will require accepting religion not merely as a vehicle for the delivery and execution of development initiatives, but as an active partner in the conceptualization, design, implementation and evaluation of global policies and programs. The historically justified wall separating the United Nations and religions must fall to the imperatives of a world struggling toward unity and justice. The real onus, however, is on the religions themselves. Religious followers and, more important, religious leaders must show that they are worthy partners in the great mission of building a sustainable world civilization. To do so will require that religious leaders work conscientiously and untiringly to exorcise religious bigotry and superstition from within their faith traditions. It will necessitate that they embrace freedom of conscience for all people, including their own followers, and renounce claims to religious exclusivity and finality. It should not be imagined that the acceptance of religion as a partner within the United Nations will be anything but gradual or that religious hostilities will be eliminated any time soon. But the desperate needs of the human family make further delay in addressing the role of religion unacceptable. Religion and the United Nations: Possible Next Steps For its part, the United Nations might begin the process of substantively involving religion in deliberations on humankind's future by hosting an initial gathering of religious leaders convoked, perhaps, by the Secretary-General. As a first priority, the leaders might call for a convention on freedom of religion and belief to be drafted and ratified, as expeditiously as possible, by the governments of the world, with the assistance of religious communities. Such an action by the world's religious leaders, which would signal their willingness to accept freedom of conscience for all peoples, would significantly reduce tensions in the world. The gathering might also discuss the foundation within the United Nations System of a permanent religious forum, patterned initially perhaps on the UN's recently founded Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The creation of this body would be an important initial step toward fully integrating religion into the UN's work of establishing a peaceful world order. For their part, religious leaders will need to show that they are worthy of participation in such a forum. Only those religious leaders who make it clear to their followers that prejudice, bigotry and violence have no place in the life of a religious person should be invited to participate in the work of this body. The Promised Reign of Peace and Justice It is evident that the longer the United Nations delays the meaningful involvement of religion in its work, the longer humanity will suffer the ravages of injustice and disunity. It is equally clear that until the religions of the world renounce fanaticism and work whole-heartedly to eliminate it from within their own ranks, peace and prosperity will prove chimerical. Indeed, the responsibility for the plight of humanity rests, in large part, with the world's religious leaders. It is they who must raise their voices to end the hatred, exclusivity, oppression of conscience, violations of human rights, denial of equality, opposition to science, and glorification of materialism, violence and terrorism, which are perpetrated in the name of religious truth. Moreover, it is the followers of all religions who must transform their own lives and take up the mantle of sacrifice for and service to the well-being of others, and thus contribute to the realization of the long-promised reign of peace and justice on earth. For a complete version of this statement, which includes extensive footnotes, go to: http://www.bic-un.bahai.org/02-0826.htm."
"40.7127281"
"-74.0060152"
170
"2002-08-26"
"JOHANNESBURG"
""
"South Africa"
[]
"Baha'is to stress spiritual values at World Summit on Sustainable Development"
"JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Baha'i representatives will stress the central importance of spiritual values at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Some 30 representatives of six Baha'i and Baha'i-inspired organizations will take part in the Summit, an effort to assess progress made since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in achieving sustainable development. The centerpiece of Baha'i efforts at the Summit will be the presentation of a statement, prepared by the Baha'i International Community, entitled "Religion and Development at the Crossroads: Convergence or Divergence?" "The statement raises a bold and challenging call to the UN and to the leaders of the world's religions," said Peter Adriance, the lead representative of the Baha'i International Community to the Summit. "It asks the UN to more fully recognize the key role religion must play in the quest for sustainable development and it calls on religious leaders to reject all forms of religious fanaticism as impediments to development and peace." [For the full text of the statement, go to: http://www.bic-un.bahai.org/02-0826.htm] Scheduled from 26 August to 4 September 2002, the Summit will bring together thousands of participants, including heads of state and government, national delegates and leaders from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), businesses and other major groups. Organized by the United Nations, the Summit's goal is to inspire action towards creating an environmentally sound world while addressing humanity's needs for food, water, shelter, sanitation, energy, health services and economic security. The gathering has three major venues. The Summit itself, with its focus on government negotiations, will be held at the Sandton Convention Center just outside Johannesburg. A Forum for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will be held separately at Nasrec, about 25 kilometers from the Summit site. And a special area, called the Ubuntu Village, open to government leaders, NGOs, major groups such as businesses, and the public, has been created near the Sandton Center for exhibits, cultural performances and other events designed to help facilitate new partnerships for sustainable development. Baha'is will participate in activities at all three venues. Delegations from the Baha'i International Community, as well as the official Baha'i communities of Brazil, Canada, and South Africa, have been accredited to the Summit. Two Baha'i-inspired organizations, the International Environment Forum (IEF) and the European Baha'i Business Forum (EBBF), which operate on Baha'i principles but have no formal connection to Baha'i institutions, have also been accredited to the Summit and will send delegations. In all, 30 Baha'is have been accredited from these organizations, said Mr. Adriance. The same delegations will also participate in activities at the NGO Forum and the Ubuntu Village. In particular, the Baha'i International Community and the Baha'i Community of South Africa have created two exhibits, one for the Ubuntu Village and the other for the NGO Forum. The exhibits highlight the Baha'i approach to development and showcase Baha'i projects that reflect values and principles at "the heart of development," such as trustworthiness, the equality of women and men, and justice. The IEF and EBBF will share an exhibit at the NGO Forum. They have also planned several workshops on topics that include: Multiple Dimensions of Globalization; Indicators for Sustainability; Integrating Science in Local Communities; Values For Sustainable Development; and Value-Based Education For Sustainable Development. "In many respects," said Mr. Adriance, "the program of workshops and activities by these Baha'i-inspired organizations backs up the central theme of the Baha'is at the Summit -- which is to show that you can't have sustainable development in a spiritual vacuum." "Both the IEF and the EBBF have stressed the importance of spiritual values in their work, with the IEF focusing on values as they relate to the scientific and technical issues surrounding the environment and the EBBF focusing on values as they relate to business ethics," Mr. Adriance added. "We believe that religion has a significant role to play in inculcating the values necessary to create a sustainable society. And there are many groups that are now carrying forward this message to the United Nations and other international organizations," Mr. Adriance said. In addition, two Baha'i youth performing arts troupes, Beyond Words and Ablaze, will support selected volunteer initiatives, and there will also be a display of "Children's Art for the Environment" from an annual competition run by the Baha'is in the Cape Town area."
"-26.205"
"28.049722"
172
"2002-09-12"
"SANTIAGO"
""
"Chile"
[]
"Baha'is in Chile announce call for Temple designs"
"SANTIAGO, Chile — The national governing body of the Bahá'í community in Chile has called for submission of designs for a continental Bahá'í House of Worship, to be built southeast of Santiago. The building will be the eighth House of Worship in the world. The call comes after an announcement in 2001 by the Universal House of Justice that efforts should begin to build what would be known as the "Mother Temple of South America". Submissions are open not only to Bahá'ís, but to all qualified designers. The announcement letter, from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Chile, specifies some of the design requirements of the building. Like all of the other Bahá'í Temples, must be nine-sided and it also should have "an auditorium for worship seating five to six hundred people" with a dome of a height of "40 to 45 meters." Design submissions should also include basic landscaping features. The surrounding gardens are a key feature of the other Temples. The design of each of the existing Temples has been unique, and most are reflective of the culture of the land in which they have been built. The most recognizable of the Bahá'í Houses of Worship throughout the world is the "Lotus Temple" in New Delhi, which has won many architectural awards for its design, modelled after a lotus flower. Funding for the construction will be provided by the Bahá'ís in Chile and voluntary donations from local and national Bahá'í communities around the world. Though Bahá'í Houses of Worship are open to all, the teachings of the Bahá'í Faith prohibit acceptance of funds from non-members. There are currently seven Temples: in the United States, Uganda, Australia, Germany, Panama, Western Samoa, and India. The House of Worship in the United States, located in Wilmette, Illinois, was the first one of these to be dedicated, in 1953. The most recently completed was the Indian Temple, in 1986. The Temples themselves are meant to be not only beautiful structures but also places to commune with God in silence and reverence. Their Arabic name, Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, means "dawning place of the mention of God." In the future, each Bahá'í House of Worship will be the central feature in a complex designed to provide a variety of community services, such as health care and education, open to use by followers of any religion. At the present time, many have also become attractive destinations for tourists. The Temple in New Delhi receives approximately 12,000 visitors per day. The letter announcing the call is available in both English and Spanish on the Web site of the Bahá'ís of Chile, www.bahai.cl. Designs are to be sent to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Chile, Casilla 3731, Santiago 1, Chile. So far, responses have been received from more than 60 architects in 30 different countries. The National Spiritual Assembly will review the designs after the 30 November submission deadline."
"-33.4377756"
"-70.6504502"
173
"2002-09-20"
"NEW DELHI"
""
"India"
[]
"Top-rated BBC quiz show in India uses Baha'i temple as backdrop"
"NEW DELHI — "Mastermind India," a top-rated quiz program produced by the BBC, held its first show of the 2002-03 season at the Baha'i House of Worship. In a broadcast presented on 8 August 2002 and seen by an estimated 200 million viewers in some 35 countries, the New Delhi House of Worship was the featured backdrop for the season premiere "Champion of Champions" show. The episode brought together four quiz champions from the last four seasons and kicked off the fifth year for the top-rated series, which is available in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. The program regularly features historic sites throughout India, such as palaces or forts, for its backdrop, but this was among the few times in the five year history of "Mastermind India" that a site with major religious significance was used, said Naznene Rowhani, the Baha'i community of India's liaison with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for the production. "What made the program memorable was the in-depth introduction to the Baha'i Faith and the beautiful, sweeping shots of the House of Worship that accompanied it," said Ms. Rowhani. "Great care had been taken by the producers to portray the details accurately and there was even a glimpse of a copy of the Kitab-i-Aqdas shown." The Kitab-i-Aqdas is among the most important volumes of Baha'u'llah's writings. "In addition, the softly illuminated House of Worship was constantly displayed as it formed the backdrop to the contestants, looking almost as if it was painted into the scene," Ms. Rowhani said. Completed in 1986, the House of Worship has won numerous architectural awards for its distinctive nine-sided "lotus petal" design, and has become one of the most visited sites in India, drawing more than four million visitors each year."
"28.6138954"
"77.2090057"
174
"2002-09-22"
"HAIFA"
""
"Israel"
[]
"New volume of Baha'i sacred writings is published"
"HAIFA, Israel — An important early epistle of Baha'u'llah that explores the human quest for spiritual enlightenment and the symbols used throughout the history of religious revelation has been recently translated and published in English. "Gems of Divine Mysteries" is the latest publication of the Baha'i World Centre. Some 82-pages in English, the volume was originally titled Javahiru'l-Asrar, and was written in Arabic during Baha'u'llah 's banishment to Iraq, where He was exiled from 1853 until 1863. The book is a letter written in reply to a seeker who asked about the relationship of prophecy to the Babi Faith, and Baha'u'llah used that question as an opportunity to elaborate a number of related subjects. The book relates closely to two other major works of Baha'u'llah: The Seven Valleys (Haft-Vadi), an exposition on the progression of the soul, and The Book of Certitude (Kitab-i-Iqan), which gives an exploration of the progression of divine revelation and the tribulations sustained by the Manifestations of God. Specifically, it addresses the cause of the rejection of the Prophets of the past, the danger of a literal reading of scripture the meaning of the signs and portents of the Bible concerning the advent of the new Manifestation, and the continuity of divine revelation. For example, in "Gems" Baha'u'llah explains many of the symbolic terms used in past revelations, such as the term "resurrection" and "Day of Judgment." "...he who had believed in God and in the Manifestation of His beauty was raised from the grave of heedlessness, gathered together in the sacred ground of the heart, quickened to the life of faith and certitude, and admitted to the paradise of the divine presence. What paradise can be loftier than this, what ingathering mightier, and what resurrection greater? Indeed, should a soul be acquainted with these mysteries, he would grasp that which none other hath fathomed." "Gems" further provides what the Universal House of Justice calls "an exposition of the stages in the path of the spiritual wayfarer," which is explained in seven stages: "the Garden of Search," "the City of Love and Rapture," "the City of Divine Unity," "the Garden of Wonderment," "the City of Absolute Nothingness," "the City of Immortality," and "the City that hath no name or description." The translation was prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, which works from original documents either written by Baha'u'llah 's own pen or recorded by His amanuensis. This English rendering combines the efforts of a number of translators, who strive to follow the pattern established by Shoghi Effendi, head of the Baha'i Faith and its authorized interpreter from 1921 until his death in 1957. The book is the second publication of Baha'u'llah 's writings this year, following "The Summons of the Lord of Hosts" last May. These two are the first new full translations of Baha'u'llah 's writings since the publication of The Most Holy Book (Kitab-i-Aqdas) in 1992. Although the documents identified as Baha'u'llah 's primary works have been the focus of translation work so far, they represent only a small portion of His writings during His 40-year ministry. All totaled, He revealed thousands of tablets, which altogether would constitute a volume more than 70 times the size of the Qur'an and more than 15 times the size of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. The book can be ordered through the United States Baha'i Distribution Service, 4703 Fulton Industrial Boulevard Atlanta, GA 30336-2017, USA (telephone: (800) 999-9019; email: bds@usbnc.org)."
"32.8191218"
"34.9983856"
175
"2002-09-21"
"ELIOT"
"MAINE"
"United States"
[]
"New classroom building dedicated at Green Acre Baha'i School"
"ELIOT, MAINE, United States — Green Acre Baha'i School, the oldest permanent Baha'i school in the world and the site of several major events in Baha'i history, dedicated a new $2 million classroom building and lecture hall here on 21 September 2002. Designated as "The Harriet and Curtis Kelsey Center," with an attendant "Manny Reimer Hall," the 13,100-square-foot building features a 220-person auditorium and seven classrooms. It is the first new building to be erected on the 250-acre Green Acre campus since 1937. "This is generally part of an effort to prepare to receive larger numbers of people who are interested in the Baha'i Faith," said James Sacco, director of Green Acre. "Another main purpose is to improve the quality of education for children and junior youth, which is a main element of the current national plan for Baha'is in the United States. And it also gives us a dignified and elegant meeting space where we can present the Baha'i perspective to gatherings of leaders of thought." The dedication of the new buildings was commemorated in an hour-long ceremony attended by Continental Counsellor Rebequa Murphy, eight of the nine members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States, local dignitaries, and several hundred people from around the northeastern United States. Referred to as "the most important institution of its kind in the world" by Shoghi Effendi, Green Acre occupies a unique place in history. Its main building, a four-story inn, was built as the Eliot Hotel in 1890, but was soon after named Green Acre by the poet John Greenleaf Whittier because of its beautiful setting on the Piscataqua River. Hundreds attended the dedication of the new Harriet and Curtis Kelsey Center at Green Acre Baha'i School on 21 September 2002, which was held under a tent on the Green Acre grounds. In the background is the Sarah Farmer Inn, an historic building visited by Abdu'l-Baha.Under the patronage of Sarah Jane Farmer, the daughter of prominent transcendentalist and inventor Moses Gerrish Farmer, Green Acre became an important meeting place for the study of comparative religions, attracting many prominent people. Among those attending its programs were Edward Everertt Hale, W.E.B. DuBois, Booker T. Washington, Swami Vivekananda, and John Fiske. In 1900, Ms. Farmer travelling to Egypt, went on to Akka where she met 'Abdu'l-Baha and embraced the Baha'i Faith. Upon her return to America, Green Acre increasingly became a focal point for the development of the early Baha'i community in the United States. In 1912, 'Abdu'l-Baha Himself visited Green Acre during a tour of North America, endowing the institution with unique significance for Baha'is. Over the years, its example encouraged the development of Baha'i schools in countries around the world. In 1925, Green Acre was the site of the first election of National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States and Canada. Since that time, it has become a well-known school for training in the Baha'i teachings, operating at first as a summer retreat and currently as a year-round institution, offering short courses on the Faith and its teachings. Funds for the new building, which is named after a prominent Baha'i couple who were active supporters of Green Acre, came entirely from donations by members of the Baha'i Faith. The lecture hall is named after a former director of the School."
"43.1531421"
"-70.8000557"
176
"2002-11-13"
"INDORE"
""
"India"
[]
"Backgrounder: the Barli Development Institute for Rural Women"
"INDORE, India — The Barli Development Institute for Rural Women focuses on giving poor young women literacy training, practical knowledge of health, nutrition and sanitation, skills for income-generation, and an awareness of village-level environmental conservation. Empowered by their training as agents for social change, graduates have had a measurable impact on the well-being of their families and home villages. Originally established as the Baha'i Vocational Institute for Rural Women, the Institute became an independent entity with its own board of directors in September 2001, taking the name Barli Development Institute for Rural Women. The Institute has trained more than 1,300 young women and girls since 1985. Located in the city of Indore in Madhya Pradesh, the Institute offers all of its training programs free of charge to women, drawing its trainees mainly from tribal areas throughout a region that is marked by chronic poverty and malnutrition, due in part to low crop yields, frequent droughts, a shortage of drinking water, and poor soil. Its programs seek to overcome obstacles that have traditionally hindered the development of women, which in turn have hindered the development of all. To this end, it offers a spiritually oriented curriculum that empowers women with an opportunity to reflect on the nature of their relationships with others and with their social institutions. The students examine age-old caste, tribal, and class prejudices, in the light of Baha'i principles such as the oneness of humanity, equality of women and men, respect for diversity, and service to the community. At the same time, they are encouraged to identify positive elements in their culture that need to be preserved and strengthened. The Institute works on these goals through a holistic approach to education, giving each trainee leadership training courses in literacy, tailoring, agriculture, artisan crafts-work, human rights, environmental awareness, self-esteem and personality development, social commitment, nutrition and health, and income-generating skills. Art, music, and dance are also incorporated into the curriculum. The objective is that, once empowered with such training, the women can return to their home villages and become "pillars" of their families and communities -- agents for changing the social and physical environments. Indeed, "barli" is the local word for the central pillar of the house, and like the "barli," which supports the physical structure, the woman supports the structure of the family and the community. Woven throughout the Institute's curriculum is a strong environmental component. Trainees learn that caring for the environment is a spiritual responsibility, as well as an important service to the community. Students are taught about planting and maintaining trees, finding local sources for seeds, and the use of environmental and energy conservation techniques such as composting, vermiculture, the use of biodegradable products, and proper waste management. One of the institute's earliest health education campaigns freed that area of guinea worm by teaching the importance of clean water. Since 1998, the Barli Development Institute for Rural Women in Indore, India, has used a large parabolic solar cooker for all its cooking, managing to do 100 percent of its cooking with solar power for some 250 days a year.| The Institute focuses on giving poor young women literacy training, practical knowledge of health, nutrition and sanitation, skills for income-generation, and an awareness of village-level environmental conservation.More specifically, the trainees learn conservation strategies by doing. At the Institute itself, rainwater is harvested and, in an innovative arrangement, used to re-charge the underground aquifer. Wash-water is reused for irrigation. Gardens, tended by the trainees, provide most of the Institute's food. Trainees prepare meals using state-of-the-art solar cookers; some become "experts" able to support the use of solar cookers in their villages. Indeed, for the last 17 years, the Institute has been a leader in researching, experimenting with, and using solar cooking technologies. In the mid-1980s, it began using solar box cookers for some of its cooking and promoting their use in the villages. In May 1998, a 7.5 square-meter parabolic solar cooker was installed the Institute; another was installed in 2000. Now, for approximately 250 days in a year, 100 percent of all cooking uses solar energy. Further, trainees are shown the savings to the environment -- and their time -- that are possible through the use of solar devices, and they are encouraged to propagate the use of solar box cookers, highly efficient parabolic concentrating cookers, and other energy saving devices in their villages. The Institute is currently involved in manufacturing SK14 cookers. So far, nine of these concentrating parabolic solar cookers, which are capable of cooking for 10-12 people at once, have been set up in outlying villages by the Institute in a pilot program. The Institute plans to distribute 40 more such cookers, funded mainly by primary school children in Austria, in the coming months. Graduates have had a measurable impact on their communities. Although more than half of the trainees are illiterate when they arrive, 99% leave fully able to read and write Hindi. Studies show that 96% of them use their income generation and related skills upon their return home and that 46% have established small businesses of sewing clothes and started generating income while 7- 9% are employed in various jobs. Some 97% of graduates are using safe drinking water practices; some 70% now include leafy vegetables in their diet; and 41% are growing and selling vegetables. In addition, women in five villages have planted some 2,500 trees Other studies have shown that the women have indeed helped to create a new atmosphere of mutual respect and unity in their communities, helping to displace caste prejudices in tribal communities once notorious for their high crime rate and alcohol abuse. The Institute collaborates actively with government officials and non-government organizations -- exchanging information, methodologies, and research information. The Institute's training programs typically run either six months or one year, although short-term workshops and training sessions are occasionally offered on select topics. Graduates receive a certificate through the National Open Schools program. The Institute obtains funding from a range of sources, including the Baha'i community of India, the Swedish International Development Agency, and the Two Wings Foundation. The Institute has received numerous awards and citations for its work on the environment and development. In 1992, it was made a member of the United Nations Environmental Programme's Global 500 Roll of Honor for outstanding Environmental Achievement. In 1994, the Institute was listed in UNESCO's INNOV database as one of 81 successful basic education projects in developing countries. On 13 November 2002, the Institute was presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as a "sacred gift" from the Baha'i International Community, as part of an Alliance on Religion and Conservation celebration of her Golden Jubilee. For more information, see the Baha'i World News Service story at http://www.bahaiworldnews.org/story/177"
"22.7203616"
"75.8681996"
177
"2002-11-13"
"LONDON"
""
"United Kingdom"
[]
"Honoring Queen Elizabeth II and her Golden Jubilee, Baha'is participate in interfaith celebration on the environment"
"LONDON — At a special high-level interfaith gathering held in honor of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, Baha'i representatives joined with the leaders of nine other major world religions to celebrate the significant role that religions can play in caring for the environment. Held 13 November 2002 in London's historic Banqueting House in Whitehall and titled "Our Place in Creation," the event featured the presentation of a series of environmental projects to Her Majesty the Queen and her husband HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, as well as a program of sacred artistic, musical, and dance performances by representatives of each religion. Organized by the Alliance on Religion and Conservation (ARC), the event sought to explore religions' understanding of the place of humanity in creation. The Baha'i Faith, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism were all represented. The Duke of Edinburgh, who has played a key role in bringing religions into the environmental movement at the international level, explained the purpose of the gathering in a short talk. "We desperately need the conviction of religious belief to guide us in the way we live on, and use, the planet," said Prince Philip. "We have got to learn to balance the economic and scientific realities against the religious demands for responsibility and consideration for the created world. It is not going to be easy, but I am sure that belief and conviction are very powerful motives to care for our planet with all its diversity." Among the religious leaders in attendance were: His All-Holiness Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople, representing Orthodox Christianity; the Rt. Rev. Michael Turnbull, Lord Bishop of Durham, representing Protestant Christianity; Sri Kushok Bakula, representing Buddhism; Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Israel, representing Judaism, and Ervad Dr Ramiyar Parvez Karanjia, a leading writer on Zoroastrian affairs. Ms. Guilda Navidi Walker represented the Baha'i International Community. The Baha'i Community of the United Kingdom was represented by its secretary, Mr. Barney Leith. "The event was quite significant, not only because of the presence of the Queen and Prince Philip, but because of the very senior leadership represented among the faith communities," said Mr. Leith. "And, despite all of the religious hatred and intolerance that sometimes unfortunately seems so prevalent in our world, the event also served to demonstrate that religious communities can work together on important global issues, such as the environment." For its project, the Baha'i International Community presented the Barli Development Institute for Rural Women. Based in Indore, India, the Institute gives indigenous women training in literacy, agriculture, health, income-generation, and environmental conservation. Conservation-oriented projects announced by other religions included: a recycling project in all 47 existing Zoroastrian Fire Temples in Mumbai, India; the founding of a Centre for Islam and Ecology at the University of Wales, Lampeter, UK; the planting of some 27,000 tree seedlings in temple and community forests surrounding 14 Buddhist pagodas in Cambodia; and the creation of a major new environmental program by the Batak Church of Sumatra, Indonesia. These are in addition to a series of environmental projects announced in 2000 by ARC, in association with WWF International, in an initiative called Sacred Gifts for a Living Planet. As the Baha'i contribution to the program of sacred performances, Shiva Ashrafi Cooper chanted one of the Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah. Now a resident of the United Kingdom, Ms. Ashrafi Cooper was born in Iran. Ms. Walker said the quality of Ms. Ashrafi Cooper's singing was intensely moving. "When Shiva arrived and started singing, there was such silence that you could heard a pin drop," she said. "It was an essentially spiritual experience." In addition to the chanting by Ms. Ashrafi Cooper, the event featured performances by members of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, the Mongolian National Song and Dance Ensemble, the London Adventist Chorale, and others. The Baha'i International Community has been a member of the Alliance on Religion and Conservation since it was founded in 1995 at a summit meeting at Windsor Castle hosted by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. For more information on the Alliance on Religion and Conservation, visit the ARC website at www.arcworld.org or read a story about ARC's founding at http://www.onecountry.org/oc71/oc7101as.html. For more information about the Barli Development Institute, go to http://www.bahaiworldnews.org/story/176 for an accompanying background feature on the Institute or to the Institute's website at http://www.geocities.com/bvirw."
"51.5073219"
"-0.1276474"
178
"2002-10-24"
"BUEA"
""
"Cameroon"
[]
"Local Baha'is in Cameroon organize interfaith discussion for UN Day"
"BUEA, Cameroon — In commemoration of United Nations Day, the local Baha'i community in Buea organized an interfaith discussion on world peace on 24 October 2002. Sponsored by the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Buea, the discussion featured speakers representing Baha'i, Christian, Hindu and Islamic perspectives. The speakers all stressed the importance of religion in contributing to peace, putting a special emphasis on the need for religious tolerance. The Reverend Father Alosius Ituka Ndifor, secretary to the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Buea, said that peace begins from God, because God is peace and this can transcend all of mankind if people open their hearts. "We do not refuse the right to be different, but difference should not be the cause of strife," said Father Ndifor. "The church is all of you, a source of inspiration for people to forge their own destiny." Auztaz Mohammed Aboubakar, the Muslim Imam of Buea, suggested that there are seven qualities which should prevail in a society for there to be peace: brotherhood, freedom, faith, morality, equality, piety, and righteousness. In the absence of these, he said, "there is a social alienation of people which is a condition of peacelessness." Stella Siri Fuh, the Baha'i representative, said one path to greater peacefulness would be for the followers of all religions to follow the Golden Rule. Ms. Fuh noted that the Golden Rule is present in the fundamental teachings of every religion, and, if widely applied, "would make the world a better place to live." There were a number of expressions of appreciation to the Baha'is for organizing the event. Imam Aboubakar said specifically, "I want to thank our Baha'i brothers for organizing this very important meeting. I hope they will continue to do this." Jules-Marcel Mondeng, permanent Secretary General of the South West Province, added: "I am grateful to the Baha'is for thinking of organizing such an occasion. No society can be happy without peace. We need peace in the world, in Cameroon, but of course also in Buea. I think the panelists have done a good job. Religious bodies have to do much in the education of people for peace.""
"4.1567995"
"9.2315519"
179
"2002-11-27"
"PUKA PUKA"
""
"Bolivia"
[]
"In Bolivia, Baha'is in an isolated village help to establish a local school system"
"PUKA PUKA, Bolivia — For many years, the Government-run school in this village of some 700 people on the Bolivian altiplano offered only kindergarten through third grade. Students who wanted any kind of education beyond that had to walk from 3 to 6 kilometers to one of several nearby towns. The young students mostly didn't mind the distance. But they did object to the treatment they received in the other places. All members of the Quechua indigenous people, the students were forced by teachers elsewhere to wear Western clothes instead of their traditional tribal dress. "It is important to wear our clothes, because we don't want to forget our culture," said Pascual Vargas, a 17-year-old Puka Puka native. So the people of Puka Puka did something quite unusual: they started up their own school, first raising money to hire teachers for grades four through eight and then establishing a private high school for those students who wanted to continue. The story of how the community of Puka Puka in Chuquisaca Province came to take that initiative some five years ago, and how it has continued to manage and finance the schools, is a tale of genuine grassroots development. After identifying the problem, the community itself came up with a solution and proceeded largely on its own to implement it, seeking external help where necessary but remaining essentially in control. Although largely composed of illiterate farmers, the community now manages an extended school system, with an enrollment of some 140 students in kindergarten through eighth grade a remarkable achievement in this underdeveloped region, itself in one of the poorest countries in Latin America. The more recently established high school has about 30 students in grades nine and ten. Students in the fifth grade at the Puka Puka village school. The teacher is paid for by the community itself, through various fund-raising projects, most of which have been organized by the Bahá’í community of Puka Puka.By all accounts, the underlying motivation for these projects and their sustaining potency stem from the practice of the Baha'i Faith by about one-third of the people here. The Faith's emphasis on education and unity supplied the vision for advancement and a process for empowerment, said local leaders and outside observers. "The desire for our own school was born in the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Puka Puka," said Claudio Limachi, 35, a native of the village who has been involved in the school project since its beginning. "The Assembly didn't want the community's children to suffer any more. "And they had often studied the quotation from the Baha'i writings that says when the indigenous peoples of the Americas are educated, they will become 'so illumined as to enlighten the whole world.' So to help fulfill that promise, we established the school," said Mr. Limachi, who was among the first to embrace the Baha'i Faith in Puka Puka and who is now a leading figure in the community. Although the community had a school covering kindergarten through third grade, sending the children in the upper grades to schools in the surrounding communities was a major problem, because of various forms of discrimination. "In one town, Mishka Mayo, we had trouble because the school was Catholic and we felt there was religious discrimination," said Mr. Limachi. "School officials would force the students to participate in religious festivals in which there would be lots of alcohol, and when they refused, they were punished physically, with a paddle." The discrimination, said Mr. Limachi and others, stemmed partly from the fact that a number of families in Puka Puka had become Baha'is who are, incidentally, forbidden as part of their faith to drink alcohol. A few residents first accepted the Baha'i Faith in 1980, and they gradually taught its principles to their friends and families. Today, of the some 700 residents in Puka Puka, about 300 are Baha'is. It was the emphasis on education in the Baha'i Faith that led the community to establish its own school system. In 1997, the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Puka Puka, the locally elected Baha'i governing council, decided that year to raise US$500 and to hire a teacher for the Baha'i students. Very quickly, however, the members of the Assembly, many of whom are also leaders in the community at large, decided that all levels of schooling should be available to everyone in Puka Puka. So they enlisted the help of other community organizations and raised money to hire three extra teachers, enough to cover grades five, six, and eight. Not only did the Baha'is initiate the community-wide effort to hire teachers for middle grades, they have themselves launched a high school program. Called the "Unidad de los Pueblos Collegio" (Unity of the People High School), the institution currently operates out of several rooms in Mr. Limachi's home, with an enrollment of about 30 students in ninth and tenth grades. So far, two teachers have been hired, at nominal salaries. The money for the schools has been raised in various ways. A portion of what had been previously spent on alcohol was contributed, and the local farmers' association donated a portion of its potato sales to the school that first year. The Baha'i community has also initiated a number of small-scale income generating projects to help support the high school, including a beekeeping/honey-making project; a chicken-raising project, and a vegetable-growing/greenhouse project. As well, outside agencies, such as Nur University, a Baha'i-inspired institution in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, took note of the community's desire to help itself and began to assist in various ways. The practice of the Baha'i Faith has empowered the community in other ways, say community members and outside observers. In addition to connecting them with a wider network, it has promoted a sense of unity in the community itself, a unity that extends to other religious groups and has helped make possible the level of cooperation necessary to establish the schools. "Before, we used to have drunken parties and we used to fight more among ourselves," said Cecilo Vela, 30, the treasurer of the Puka Puka Spiritual Assembly. "But since the Faith has come, we have become united -- the Catholics, evangelicals, and Baha'is -- and now we are working to get an education for our children." Constanio Quispe, a 39-year-old Catholic in Puka Puka, confirmed that members of other religions share the sense of new possibilities. "It would all fall apart if we weren't united," said Mr. Quispe, who serves as a catechism teacher. "The Baha'is united us and the Catholics understood that we can follow that way also." *Editor's note: the above story was adapted from a feature story in the latest issue of ONE COUNTRY, the newsletter of the Baha'i International Community. To read the full story, visit the ONE COUNTRY site at www.onecountry.org"
"-17.8973043"
"-66.4410773"
180
"2002-11-01"
"SAN JUAN"
""
"Puerto Rico"
[]
"Baha'is support International Peace Day in Puerto Rico"
"SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Baha'i community of Puerto Rico gave active support to International Peace Day celebrations here on 1 November 2002. Specifically, Baha'is participated in three events for the Day, which is an observance created by the Puerto Rican legislature. The events included a "Harmony for Peace" celebration at the botanical gardens in San Juan; a "Walk for Peace" in Rio Piedras; and a "Commitment for Peace" rally in San Juan's central park. The activities were organized by the Coalition against Family Violence, with support from various other civic and humanitarian organizations, including the Baha'is, said Jenice Ayala, a spokesperson for the Baha'i community of Puerto Rico. "The Baha'is of Puerto Rico had a very active role in the organization of these three activities," said Ms. Ayala. "These events involved all sectors of society, including political leaders, students of all ages, and religious leaders. Our goal was to help create an atmosphere for all of these activities that would be one of complete tolerance, respect, and love for one's neighbor." The first event, "Harmony for Peace", brought together political leaders and young students, who called for peace in Puerto Rico and in the world. Among the speakers was Yolanda Zayas, the Secretary of Family Affairs in Puerto Rico, who said that in order to achieve peace work must begin in the nuclear family and called for reflection on what every individual might contribute to create a world in harmony. The activity ended with an artistic presentation by the chorus of the University of Puerto Rico. The second activity, designated "Walk for Peace," saw public and private school students walk along the streets of the Rio Piedras section of San Juan to the Puerto Rico Art Museum. At the museum, David Kalantar of the Baha'i community of Puerto Rico acted as master of ceremonies. One feature of the event was a "conversation" for peace among young people. "As a student and as the future of my country I understand that we are all here with the same purpose, peace," said Gusth Merly Prez, 14, of the Julian Blanco School, who was a youth participant. "This peace begins within my insides, achieving an equilibrium and balance with myself, later this is reflected in my family, community, country and finally the entire world." The celebration of Peace Day ended at San Juan's Central Park with a gathering of religious leaders from many faiths who made a "Commitment for Peace.""
"18.465299"
"-66.116666"
181
"2002-11-29"
"BULAC"
""
"Philippines"
[]
"New Baha'i radio station is officially launched in the Philippines"
"BULAC, Philippines — In a festive celebration featuring prayers, speeches, music and dance performances, and a "barrio fiesta" atmosphere, the Baha'i community of the Philippines officially inaugurated its new radio station on 26 November 2002. Located in a rural district about 30 kilometers from the city of San Jose on the main island of Luzon, the station will feature programs designed to promote social and economic development in the community at large. It will also serve the Baha'i community in the region with programming designed to promote moral, spiritual, and human resource development. "By using such means as interview, radio dramas, and discussion, we hope to stimulate the practice of consultation in the community at large," said Vahid Mockon, the station's general manager. "As such, we hope that the station will help in the formulation and implementation of community projects that promote the development of spiritual and moral capabilities in children and youth, provide farmers with access to scientific information about agricultural practices, and help to empower women, especially in the areas of primary health care and education." Licensed since 19 March 2002, the station operates at 1584 kHz on the AM band, broadcasting at a power of 1,000 watts. Due to the flat topography of the region, it reaches a wide area encompassing the entire province of Nueva Ecija and a portion of Tarlac and Pangasinan provinces, with a potential listenership of more than 2.3 million people. In a festive celebration, the Baha’i community of the Philippines officially inaugurated its new radio station on 26 November 2002. Shown here is a performance by the Tondod Public High School Dance Troupe.| The radio station building is in the background. It is the seventh Baha’i radio station in the world.More than 300 people, including local officials and nearby residents, attended the inauguration ceremony. The event featured speeches by visiting Baha'i dignitaries and local officials, as well as performances by children and youth from nearby schools. "We had a 'barrio fiesta' -- a village feast," said Antonio Toledo, chairman of the board of the Dawnbreakers Foundation, a Baha'i-sponsored development organization that operates the station. "Baha'is from the region cooked and served food for all 300 in attendance. And the atmosphere was definitely festive." Local officials said they were pleased to have the station in their region. "We are very proud to have the new Baha'i radio station in our community," said Gloria Santiago, chairwoman of the Bulac barangay council. "I encourage everyone to support the station." (A barangay is the smallest governmental unit in the Philippines.) Humaida Jumalon, a senior advisor -- Counsellor -- to Baha'i communities throughout Asia, explained that a major purpose of the station would be to help in the formation and organization of spiritual activities. Specifically, she said, the station would help to cultivate and encourage study circles, devotional meetings, and children classes. "We envision the station to have a very big role in the promotion of these core activities," said Counsellor Jumalon. "For example, the station will be able to make announcements as to the time and place for children's classes, and this can help very much in consolidating the Baha'i communities in the area." The station has also entered into a partnership with Phil Rice, a Philippine rice research institute, to provide up-to-date agricultural information to farmers in the broadcast region. "They hope to do outreach to the community through the station," said Mr. Toledo, who is also a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the Philippines, the governing council which established the Dawnbreakers Foundation and oversees its operation. "The primary industry in the region is agricultural, with rice, corn and onions being the principal crops. So the opportunity is very great." Mr. Toledo said the station has been in the planning process for nearly 20 years. "It has been a long term process, in terms of finding a site, purchasing the land, arranging for permits, constructing the station, and outfitting the facilities," said Mr. Toledo. "Another big hurdle was to obtain a government franchise from the national legislature," said Mr. Toledo. "Finally, in April 2001, legal authority to operate the station was received and signed into law by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The station is the seventh such Baha'i radio project in the world. Other stations, which are similarly oriented towards community service and development, are operated in Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and the United States, in rural South Carolina. The station currently has a full-time staff of four. "As the project progresses and radio personnel and field volunteers gain more experience, it is hoped that the station will begin to offer short-term courses, seminars and workshops to benefit development communication aspirants and community development workers," said Mr. Mockon."
"15.6829847"
"120.9707701"
182
"2002-12-04"
"BARI"
""
"Italy"
[]
"University of Bari establishes a course on ethics and economics"
"BARI, Italy — Officials at the University of Bari have established a permanent course on ethics and economics that is based on Baha'i principles and have appointed a well-known Baha'i businessman as its coordinator. Titled "Ethics and Economy: Towards a New World Order," the course consists of ten seminars focused on essential Baha'i values such as consultation, justice and ethics, equality, universal education, and the unity of science and religion as they relate to the world of business and economics. The University has appointed Giuseppe Robiati as the coordinator of the course. A member of the Baha'i community of Italy, Mr. Robiati is a businessman with extensive experience in engineering and business management, and in the fields of human resources and economics. Currently president of SCAC, a leading industrial company in Italy, Mr. Robiati has also written a number of books, including "Faith and World Economy, a Joint Venture: A Baha'i Pespective," "God and Economy, a Possible Partnership," and "Economy for a New World Order." Mr. Robiati is also a member of the European Baha'i Business Forum (EBBF), which played a key role in helping to establish the course. The University of Bari is the second largest university in Italy, with an enrollment of some 50,000 students and a faculty of some 2,200 professors. The "Ethics and Economics" course, which was approved by the academic senate and the rector of the University of Bari in July, is scheduled to begin in March 2003. The initiative evolved from series of workshops and presentations by Mr. Robiati at the University in the 1990s, which emerged from a request by Giovanni Girone, then the dean of the Faculty of Economics at the University. In 1990, Prof. Girone, who is currently rector of the University, asked the EBBF to facilitate a one-day workshop on "ethics and economy" for the economics department. "I attended one of Mr. Robiati's lectures and immediately realized that this course could be of great benefit for the students," said Prof. Girone, who then invited the EBBF to deliver lectures at the university on a regular basis, eventually leading to the establishment of the permanent course. According to Mr. Robiati, Prof.Girone has often spoken highly of EBBF's program. "He fell in love with our vision and would always explain to the students that this course is not only important for their education but it will also provide them with a vision for their own personal future," said Mr. Robiati. In 2001, EBBF was honored with the prestigious "Seal of the University of Bari" award in recognition of its contribution to the education of students and the values presented in the program. Mr. Robiati said the EBBF has been invited to offer similar lectures at the University of Rome, Milan, Bologna, Siena and Pisa. The European Baha'i Business Forum, founded in 1990, has evolved into a network of 350 businessmen and women residing in 50 countries. EBBF seeks to promote ethical values, personal virtues, and moral leadership in the field of business. It also has on-going collaborations with UNESCO and the International Labor Organization."
"41.1257843"
"16.8620293"
183
"2002-11-12"
"JENA"
""
"Germany"
[]
"Baha'is participate in German multifaith dialogue at Jena University"
"JENA, Germany — More than 100 people gathered at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena on 12 November 2002 for a multifaith panel discussion on the topic of "Jews, Christians, Muslims and Baha'i -- the world religions' common responsibility for world peace." Sponsored by the Intercultural Council of Germany, the main theme of the discussion was how religions could take joint responsibility for promoting international peace, both in relation to the world at large and to each other. Participants in the panel included Salomon Siegl, Rabbi of the Jewish community of the State of Saxony; Dr. Hans Mikosch, head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Gera; Prof. Udo Tworuschka, chair of comparative religious sciences at the University of Jena; Dr. Nadeem Elyas, president of the Central Muslim Council of Germany; and Christopher Sprung of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Germany. The panel was hosted by Dr. Jrgen Miksch, the chairman of the Intercultural Council. Prof. Tworuschka opened the discussion by saying that the sacred writings of all the world's religions contain statements on the importance of peace. He noted that important Jewish prayers ask for "shalom," that the Muslim paradise is called "Dar-es-Salaam," which means House of Peace, and observed that Buddhists strive for non-violence and peace. He also quoted from the Baha'i writings, citing Baha'u'llah's call to the "contending peoples and kindreds of the earth" to set their "faces towards unity" and "for the sake of God resolve to root out whatever is the source of contention amongst you." Rabbi Siegl said that the monotheistic religions understand human beings to be a reflection of God, an understanding which can be used to promote peace. By respecting each person as part of God's creation, he said, harmonious relations can be built between religions. Dr. Mikosch suggested that one way to decrease intolerance and fanaticism, in everyday life, would be for individuals to acquaint themselves with the religious culture of another faith. Dr. Nadeem Elyas said Islam is a peace-promoting faith, adding that defensive activities are restricted to very specific conditions. Moreover, he said, Muslims in Germany express their obedience to the secular German Government, distance themselves from any Islamic terrorism, and call for the establishment of peace between each person and their creator, and amongst all human groups and between humankind and the environment. Christopher Sprung suggested that the Baha'i paradigm of unity could be a mainspring for religious peace. By accepting the mutual divine source of all religions, religious leaders could come to a consensus. Cooperative activities could be based on the realization that virtually all Holy Writings contain the same spiritual truths. "This would lead to true acceptance rather than mere tolerance of one another," said Mr. Sprung. "Simultaneously, all religions must refrain from claims to exclusive truth since this implies there is only one's own way to peace, which constitutes the main barrier to religious peace." He added that the concept of unity as envisaged by the Baha'is can be understood on many levels, including the spiritual, social and economic. The other panelists expressed their preference to show tolerance towards the absolute claims of another religion and questioned the concept of common spiritual core beliefs as proposed by the Baha'is on the grounds of perceived discrepancies between the different religious teachings. They called, however, on all religions to treat each other with dignity and respect. Towards the end, the panel discussed practical suggestions for achieving cooperation among the religions. One idea that emerged was to promote the foundation of a one-year school subject called "world religions", similar to a course already taught as a trial project in the ninth grade in some schools in the United Kingdom. The Intercultural Council of Germany was founded in 1994 by a group of non-governmental, commercial and governmental organisations with the aim of promoting social integration. It has an interfaith "circle" composed of several sub-units, including an Islamic Forum, an Abrahamitic Forum, and an interreligious committee, of which the Baha'i community of Germany is a member."
"50.9281717"
"11.5879359"
185
"2002-12-22"
"FRANKFURT"
""
"Germany"
[]
"Baha'i-inspired educational system for the poor of the world honored by the Club of Budapest"
"FRANKFURT, Germany — The Club of Budapest has honored FUNDAEC, a Baha'i-inspired development organization in Colombia, with a "Change the World -- Best Practice Award" for its achievements in providing high school education and training to more than 50,000 people living in rural areas in Latin America. In his speech at the award ceremony, Peter Spiegel, the Secretary General of the Club of Budapest, characterized the project as "the most considerable revolution of education in the twentieth century." "The genius of this new educational model," Mr. Spiegel explained, "lies in the fact that it teaches people living in Third World Countries to take charge of their own development processes and begin to interact as equals with the rest of the world." Known as SAT (for "Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial, which means "System for Tutorial Learning" in Spanish), the tutorial learning program is built around a series of highly interactive workbooks, which enable specially trained tutors, who may themselves have little formal education, to offer a high quality secondary educational program in rural areas with minimal overhead cost. The ceremony, held at the historic St. Paul's Church in Frankfurt on 6 October, was attended by honorary members of the Club of Budapest Sir Peter Ustinov and Paulo Coelho, who were granted the Club's Planetary Consciousness Award. Also at the event was Istvan Hiller, personal assistant to the Hungarian Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy, whose presence reinforced the support of the Hungarian government for the Club's efforts in promoting the emergence of planetary consciousness and supporting exemplary, like-minded projects. In all, some 1,000 people were present. The Change the World -- Best Practice Award was given to four international educational projects that aim at empowering people through learning and enabling them to take full control of their economic development. Other "Change the World" recipients this year were Aguida Zanol, representing Reciclar-Institut in Brazil, which seeks to connect art, ecology and social development; Nina Kostina of the Frank Foundation, which has sought to help orphans from former countries of the Soviet Union; and Marcia Odell, representing the Women's Empowerment Program in Nepal, which has developed an innovative approach to microfinance and the empowerment of women. The WEP program has reached more than 130,000 women in Nepal and has also received considerable support from the Baha'i community of Nepal. Gustavo Correa, Director of FUNDAEC and one of the founders of the project, represented the Foundation at the ceremony. He said the award this was a big step in the recognition of the FUNDAEC program. "Although our initial efforts started out very small and humble, as time went by, more experience and confidence were gained and in 1980 SAT, the Tutorial Learning System, was born," Dr. Correa said. "While our first materials were developed and tested only in the North Cauca Region of Colombia, with the official recognition of the Ministry of Education in Colombia SAT has been implemented in other parts of South and Central America as well. At present the SAT program is used for secondary education in Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Brazil, and Colombia. At the same time the first phases of the implementation of the program have started in Zambia, too," said Dr. Correa. FUNDAEC (Foundation for the Application and Teaching of the Sciences) was established in 1974 by a group of professors at the University of Valle in Colombia who were looking for new strategies to develop the capacities of people and to generate knowledge in isolated regions of the country. The program is rooted in rural reality, based upon the needs of the local residents with the aim of strengthening local economies and communal identity. SAT offers students a high school education that not only provides them with theoretical knowledge, as most traditional educational practices do, but also allows them to become independent and to serve their own communities. "When started this project, we were originally inspired by a quotation from Baha'u'llah, the prophet founder of the Baha'i Faith," said Dr. Correa. "Baha'u'llah talks about man as 'a mine rich in gems of inestimable value.' He says that 'education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom'. In FUNDAEC we firmly believe that there is significant hidden potential within every individual, a potential which, if nurtured, may foster the spirit of service and contribute to the well-being of the whole community." SAT is open to, and in most countries free for, everyone. Students usually pay only for their textbooks. To date, the six-year study program has been completed by 50,000 students, and there are currently about 30,000 youth attending various levels of SAT courses. Participants are not only strengthening their own sense of identity and purpose but are also starting to realize the importance of the community and are gaining a sense of unity. "The basic idea behind FUNDAEC is a sense of spiritual transformation," said Dr. Correa. "In the course of their studies the students discover the spirit of service and begin to consciously nurture their spiritual qualities. One of our students, for example, used to be a thief, and in the lapse of six months he became a useful member of his community, while one of the graduates was actually elected the mayor of his locality." Each SAT course is facilitated by a tutor from the same locality as his or her students. Tutors are trained at the Center for Rural Education, the university founded by FUNDAEC in 1992. The five-year degree program offered there has also been officially approved by the government of Colombia and offers training in education. Local SAT groups, guided by their tutor, apply the principles learned in the program, use their knowledge to become active in strengthening a sense of community identity where they live. Their activities demonstrate a wide range of diversity, from the implementation of sustainable productions systems to artistic and sporting events, and from educational activities for children to environmental projects. Dietmar Schonherr, a well-known actor and the initiator of a development project in Nicaragua, presented the award to Dr. Correa. "FUNDAEC is based upon the need for a new concept of development aid," he said. "It is to be carried by the population itself, by its experiences of their daily reality." Founded in 1993 by scientist and Club of Rome member Ervin Laszlo, the Club of Budapest was formed on the idea that the enormous challenges facing humanity today can only be dealt with through the widespread development of a cultural, cosmopolitan and global consciousness. The Club seeks to build bridges between cultures and generations through a variety of activities, including the recognition of significant accomplishments by individuals and organizations, such as through the "Change the World" award. The Club of Budapest sees the Change the World -- Best Practice Award as the first step leading to long-term cooperation between the Club and FUNDAEC. "As a first step we are consulting with one of the German TV channels about the establishment of a new kind of talk show that would promote the mission of visionary projects such as FUNDAEC," explained Mr. Spiegel who has been observing the work of the Foundation for several years."
"50.1106444"
"8.6820917"
186
"2003-01-03"
"CHIRIQUI PROVINCE"
""
"Panama"
[]
"In Panama's remote indigenous villages, Baha'i volunteers provide much needed educational services"
"CHIRIQUI PROVINCE, Panama — At 5 a.m., dawn's light spread like a crimson streak across the dark sky and Victorino Rodriguez was already on his way. Every Monday he makes the three-hour walk from his home in Soloy to the tiny village of Quebrada Venado, high in the lush green mountains of Western Panama, to the tiny school there. The 36-year-old teacher hurried along the narrow trails, anxious to arrive by 8 a.m., when classes start. With only some coffee for breakfast, he nevertheless wound energetically through green rice fields, banana groves, and up past moss-covered rocks, thick red clay coating his worn shoes. A dozen children had been standing lookout since 7:30. With their parents working in the fields since dawn, the children are alone. As Mr. Rodriquez came around the last hill, a joyful shout went up and the students rushed out to greet their teacher. He named and embraced each one tenderly and then, putting his arms around them, walked the last kilometer together to the village school. One of ten primary schools operated by Panama's Baha'i community here in the Ngabe-Bugle region, the school in Quebrada Venado is bare-bones basic, consisting of a thatched palm roof on wooden poles. Victorino Rodriguez, with some of his students behind him, examines a Polaroid photograph of his primary school class in the tiny village of Quebrada Venado in the mountains of Western Panama.Yet, like the other schools, which together serve more than 300 students, it offers the children in the far reaches of this remote region virtually their only chance for an academic education. With the region's low population density and isolation -- all of the villages served by the Baha'i schools are accessible only by foot or horse -- the government has not been able to maintain a school system here. "The children, because of the remote communities in which they live, which are up to six hours walking distance from the nearest town, would receive no education at all, were it not for these schools," said Rosemary Baily, secretary of the Foundation for Development and Culture (FUNDESCU), a Baha'i-inspired non-governmental organization that supports the schools. "So this effort really does make a huge difference in the lives of the children." Most of the teachers, indigenous people themselves, are not formally trained. Rather, they are simply among those who have more education than others in the Ngabe-Bugle community, and so they feel obligated to pass along their learning. "History testifies to the great material, cultural and spiritual wealth that indigenous peoples have enjoyed in the past, but for lack of education, they have not been able to develop," said Mr. Rodriguez, who himself has finished the 10th grade. "I have chosen the path of service in order to help generate the step-by-step process of development needed by the community, especially by the children who are the future of the Ngabe-Bugle region in Panama." The schools began nearly 20 years ago as small local initiatives of the Baha'is of Panama, who sought to provide basic bilingual (Spanish and the native Ngabere) pre-school and elementary education in the indigenous Ngabe-Bugle communities. They have developed gradually, as the resources of the community have grown. In the early 1990s, after a number of volunteer teachers had been forced to look for work elsewhere, a group of young Baha'is in the Ngabe-Bugle community came together to talk about how to keep the schools going. They made a solemn pact to offer themselves as teachers, and to remain for as long as they were needed, even without salary, whatever the sacrifice. "Our own families are poor, but how can we leave these precious children without education?" said Mr. Rodriguez, who has now been teaching for seven years. The group, composed of about a dozen individuals, initially worked without pay. More recently, FUNDESCU has been able to raise enough money to provide the teachers -- there are currently 13 -- with a monthly stipend equivalent to about US$50. The funds have come from the Baha'i sources, as well as from private foundations and contributors. "I began my service as a volunteer," said Alexis Bejerano, who must travel each week from his home some three hours by bus, three hours by boat, and then three hours on foot to reach the Baha'i School of San Felix Bocas del Toro, where he teaches fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. "I am serving my people because of the love and affection I feel for the children," added Mr. Bejerano. "The Baha'i Faith has given me this light -- that of sharing what one has learned. I feel so satisfied and I gain so much every day that I am in contact with the children. I learn a lot just by sharing the limited knowledge gained during my own studies." Government officials have praised the project for filling an important need. Indeed, the Ministry of Education recently began funding the salary for a 14th teacher. On a visit to the Ngabe-Bugle region in October 2002, Professor Aguedo Acosta, Regional Director of Private Education in Chiriqui for the Ministry of Education, said: "You see me here today for a second time within the Ngabe-Bugle homeland, to visit you and to offer all the moral and legal support that the Baha'i Schools need." Parents and local leaders tell of their happiness with the opportunities provided by the schools. "I cannot read or write, but with these schools, my children will learn to read and write," said Enrique Espinoza, head of the village council in Quebrada Molejon, where a Baha'i school serves roughly 60 students in grades one through six. Although the schools are run by the Baha'is, the teachers and administrators do not seek to convert the students. Some of the villagers are Baha'is, some are Catholics, some Evangelicals, and some follow the native Mama Tata religion. In all, about half the students are Baha'is. The influence of the Baha'i Faith nevertheless ensures that there is a strong moral component to the program. In addition to the standard academic curriculum, the schools include a weekly class on "Virtues and Values." "They need more than just education in science and math, but education of the spirit," said Benita Palacios, who has been serving as a teacher for nine years. "When I was school-aged, we females had few opportunities to study because of the belief that women would never go farther than their own homes," added Ms. Palacios, who teaches kindergarten in the village of Boca de Remedios. She said, however, that the Baha'i teachings on the equality of women and men have inspired her to go beyond this limitation. "My own education only went as far as ninth grade, and it was with great difficulty that I was able to go even that far." Like the others, Ms. Palacios started out as a volunteer. "As a Baha'i, I felt I had a responsibility to my own community." While not formally trained as educators, over the years the teachers have received training from various Baha'i organizations, facilitated by FUNDESCU. Last summer, for example, the Mona Foundation, a United States-based, Baha'i-inspired organization that strives to support grassroots educational initiatives around the world, held an in-depth training workshop on the fundamentals of educational philosophy and classroom management. In addition, the Mona Foundation has contributed $6,000 to the project over the past two years. Mr. Rodriguez, for example, spends the school week away from his wife and three small children. After providing for his family, the $50 monthly stipend barely covers the cost of rice and sometimes a small package of beans or lentils for himself, which he has learned to cook over an open fire after school each afternoon. The people of Quebrada Venado are certainly grateful. They treat Mr. Rodriguez with obvious respect. As subsistence farmers, they have no money or food to offer, but they take turns providing firewood for Victorino's outdoor kitchen. They have built him a small wood-framed shelter with corrugated zinc panels on three sides, a packed mud floor and a narrow wooden platform for his bed. "The Baha'i Faith has been a light to our people," said one Quebrada Venado villager. "With this school, our children will be freed from the darkness of ignorance. These children are our future." -- By Randie Gottlieb"
""
""
187
"2003-01-04"
"BUDAPEST"
""
"Hungary"
[]
"Hungarian Baha'is inaugurate new national center in the heart of Budapest"
"BUDAPEST, Hungary — Having outgrown its old administrative headquarters, the Baha'i community of Hungary inaugurated its new national Baha'i Center with a reception on 27 November 2002. More than 50 people gathered at the reception, which was attended by a number of dignitaries, including two members of the Hungarian Parliament, representatives of the Prime Minister's Office, a representative of the Ministry of Interior, a pastor from the Unitarian Church, a representative of the Club of Budapest, and several national media personalities. The celebration opened with the reading of a congratulatory letter from a former president of Hungary, Arpad Goncz, who conveyed his "appreciation and heartfelt support to the Hungarian Baha'i community." The honored guest of the evening was Istvan Szalay, State Secretary for Religious Affairs. "The uniqueness of the Baha'i community," said Dr. Szalay in his remarks, "lies in the fact that it is striving for optimum and not for maximum, that by being humble and not pressing on converting others, Baha'is try to create harmony and stability among people." Peter Koczoh, secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Hungary, said the acquisition of the new Baha'i center was "a turning point" in the life of the Hungarian community. "The old center, which we were only renting for several years, proved to become too small as the community started growing," Mr. Koczoh. "We needed a place where the Baha'is could hold their meetings in a dignified atmosphere." "The new center, which is more than twice the size of the first rented apartment, used to belong to a textile merchant at the turn of the nineteenth century," added Mr. Koczoh. "The building, where we purchased an apartment, lies in the heart of the city, in one of the most historical and cultured parts of Budapest." The history of the Hungarian community reaches back to the beginning of the twentieth century. In 1913, 'Abdu'l-Baha, the eldest son of Baha'u'llah, visited Budapest and met a number of dignitaries and academics. Among them was the renowned orientalist Professor Arminius Vambery who, in a letter addressed to 'Abdu'l-Baha, pledged his allegiance to the Baha'i faith and is considered the first Hungarian Baha'i. During his nine-day stay in Budapest, 'Abdu'l-Baha delivered a number of speeches to the public as well as to dignitaries of the Parliament and the Academy. He also expressed his hope that in the future Budapest would become the center for the unification of the East and the West. "I am happy to have been able to visit Hungary," 'Abdu'l-Baha said in 1913, "because this is the country where the culture of the West and the warm hospitality of the East meet and merge into one." The Baha'i community grew slowly in the inter-war years. Several times during the country's dictatorial rule in the 1930s and 40s, it was dispersed. Many of the first Hungarian Baha'is were of Jewish origin, and most of them were deported to concentration camps. After World War II, the community also faced restrictions when the Communist government banned religious gatherings. With the end of Communist rule in the late 1980s, religious freedom increased and the community began to flourish again. In 1990s, the Baha'is in Budapest were able to again elect their Local Spiritual Assembly, the local governing body that stands at the base of the Baha'i administrative order. Today, there are more than 1,200 Baha'is in Hungary, up from about 70 in 1990. They are spread among some 65 localities -- and more than two-thirds are members of the Roma people. The Hungarian Baha'i community is currently involved in a social and economic development project, MESED ("Meselo Edesanyak" - Storytelling Mothers), a program for young Roma mothers. Romas are members of a disadvantaged community, and they are often deprived of proper education. The project provides literacy training for mothers and helps them to read storybooks to their children. In this way MESED not only increases the women's self-esteem but also promotes a closer and deeper bond between mother and child. In 2001 MESED was approved by UNESCO as one of its partner organizations."
"47.4979937"
"19.0403594"
188
"2003-02-09"
"CHARLESTON"
"SOUTH CAROLINA"
"United States"
[]
"Honoring a pioneer of racial harmony"
"CHARLESTON, SC, United States — Honoring an early American Baha'i who was also a leader in promoting racial harmony, the local Baha'i community of Charleston has created a museum in the former home of Louis G. Gregory. The museum was dedicated in a celebration, running 7-9 February 2003, which was attended by more than 300 people. Dedication program highlights included a multicultural arts presentation, two workshops on race relations, a tour of the museum and nearby sites important to Mr. Gregory, and a devotional gathering. Born in 1874, Louis Gregory was a successful lawyer and rising star among early black intellectuals who grappled with issues of race relations in the United States at the turn of the century. In 1909, he embraced the Baha'i Faith and turned his energies toward promoting unity among the races. For his work, he was posthumously given the title "Hand of the Cause of God" by the Head of the Baha'i Faith in 1951. "He was a leader in the community, who saw an opportunity to use another vehicle, one which theoretically transcended race and looked at the basic humanity of all people," said Curtis Franks, curator of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston. "The opening of the museum provides an opportunity to further educate people about Louis Gregory and, also, to revisit history during the late 19th and early 20th centuries at a time when people -- especially within the black community -- had to deal with segregation and oppression," said Mr. Franks, who has also agreed to serve as curator of the Louis Gregory Museum. The museum, a small, two-story wood-frame house, stands in the heart of the Charleston peninsula, in an historic neighborhood of houses built by freedmen. Mr. Gregory's family moved there as a child after his widowed mother married George Gregory, who became the beloved stepfather whose name he took. Hand of the Cause Louis G. GregoryThe Baha'is of Charleston acquired the house in 1989 through a real estate auction. Henry Wigfall, a member of the Charleston Baha'i community, recognized the address on a list of property to be auctioned and immediately bid on it, later obtaining contributions from Baha'is to make good on the bid. Over the last decade, the house has been renovated and refurbished. With the help of Avery Research Center staff, exhibits of Mr. Gregory's personal effects, photographs, and correspondence have been prepared. Jacquelyn Jones, chair of the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Charleston, which oversaw the museum project, said the Baha'i community was pleased to be able to establish a museum in a city which was already rich in history. She noted that it was the first museum in the city to honor a specific person. "This city was the main port of entry for North America's enslaved Africans and it witnessed the opening shots of the Civil War," said Ms. Jones. "It is poignant that the first person so honored would be a descendant of enslaved Africans who dedicated his life to harmony among the races." For more information, visit the Museum's website at http://www.louisgregorymuseum.org"
"32.7876012"
"-79.9402728"
189
"2003-02-10"
"ORLANDO"
"FLORIDA"
"United States"
[]
"Colored ribbons, a gold mine and a path to peace"
"ORLANDO, FL, United States — Some have colored ribbons in their hair, most are in pink uniforms and all look with solemn wonder at the camera held by a man from a far off land. These pupils of a new school in Haiti present an endearing sight in one of the photographs David Smith spreads before him. It was images like this that helped Mr. Smith and his colleagues tell the story of a project in the village of Pichon in Haiti where education is being brought to a community deprived of many basics of modern life. He and his co-presenters described the project at the Baha'i Conference on Social and Economic Development for the Americas, held in Orlando, Florida, 19-22 December 2002. His co-presenters (and partners in this work) were Haitians and fellow-Baha'is Pierre Balthazar and his brother Loulou. These three work in collaboration with a growing network of family, neighbors and friends in Haiti and in Michigan in the United States. "In a sense we are building community on both sides of this equation," said Mr. Smith, the managing director of a federal grant administered by the Michigan Department of Education Office of Special Education. He attends to his development work as a private project. "It is a partnership in which everyone benefits." Pierre Balthazar, left, and Loulou Balthazar speaking about the Haiti "Partners in Progress" project, at the Baha'i Conference on Social and Economic Development for the Americas.Those involved have raised up and are developing in a staged process Ekole Panou ("Our School"), which now serves 125 pre-school and second grade pupils. This Baha'i-inspired project is not only a demonstration of putting into practice the concept of the oneness of humanity but it also speaks of religious unity, with generous donations coming from Presbyterian, Catholic and other churches around Lansing, Michigan. The Orlando conference, attended by 700 people from 36 countries as far apart as Australia and Kazakhstan, was sponsored by the Rabbani Charitable Trust, a Baha'i-inspired non-profit development funding organization. Participants heard many other stories of successful endeavors by Baha'is to use spiritual principles as a foundation for practical assistance in social and economic development. For example, Luis Henrique Beust outlined to delegates how Baha'is have trained judges and prosecutors in Brazil about the relationship between human values and their daily responsibilities. "Those being trained welcomed this synergy as a new way of envisioning their role in the world," said Mr. Beust, a member of the national governing council of the Baha'i community of Brazil. William Davis, a member of the equivalent body in the United States, described a World Bank initiative in which he took part to mediate a dispute over gold mining in the mountains of Peru. The key, said Mr. Davis, was to build social capital -- how people cooperate for common ends on the basis of common norms and values -- and its principal byproduct, trust. It was with practical illustrations such as these, that experienced development practitioners shared their experience with newcomers to the field. There were workshops on such topics as mentoring physicians-in-training, preventing domestic violence, care of the soul for effective leadership, and young women's development. One of the key lessons was that the development process is an on-going process of learning, a feedback loop between participants and practitioners, whereby the entire community obtains the knowledge needed for advancement. "Baha'i social and economic development is really all about learning and taking some steps and learning from them," said Canadian Gordon Naylor. Mr. Naylor, a member of the national governing council of the Baha'is of Canada and a development practitioner himself, spoke about the need for spiritual and material progress to go hand in hand. "The world has the technology, knowledge and resources to change conditions," he said. "What it lacks is the will that religious belief provides." "You can't motivate people when you don't involve their beliefs," he said. "Religion moves the hearts of people. It causes them to sacrifice." "Religion must be accepted not merely as a vehicle for the delivery of services but as a full partner in formulating a vision and programs," he said. Mr. Davis summed up the conference with observations about the role of the individual in "upraising the quality of human life, a goal which became the theme of the conference." "Individual initiative was the starting point for change," he said. "Applying the teachings of Baha'u'llah, the Prophet-Founder of the Baha'i Faith," said Mr. Davis, " we stand at the threshold of trying to build a new culture that is neither East nor West." "Everyone has the right and responsibility to contribute to this enterprise.""
"28.5421109"
"-81.3790304"
190
"2003-02-08"
"CANBERRA"
""
"Australia"
[]
"Victims and heroes remembered"
"CANBERRA, Australia — Victims of bushfires in Australia's capital city Canberra were remembered in a special public prayer service held on 9 February 2003 in the Baha'i Center here. The fires on 18 January 2003 claimed the lives of four people and destroyed more than 450 homes, a major astronomical observatory and many other properties. It was one of the nation's worst natural disasters. As prayers were offered for those who died and for others who lost their homes, it was also time to give thanks for the extraordinary heroism shown by firefighters and others during the tragedy. Among the heroes was the volunteer property manager of the Australian Capital Territory Baha'i Center, Mr John Burnett, 58. As walls of flame fanned by strong winds approached the Center, Mr. Burnett decided not to flee to safety, but to stay and fight the fire to save the building. With the flames surrounding the Center, nobody was able to reach Mr Burnett. Firefighters who reached the building some 12 hours after it was first threatened praised him for his courage. The Australian Capital Territory Bahá'í Center saved by caretaker John Burnett."He is definitely a hero," said Dr Natalie Mobini-Kesheh, spokesperson for the Australian Baha'i community. The Center, admired for its graceful architecture, was opened in 1999 by Australia's then Governor-General Sir William Deane. It has been the venue for a major human rights conference and other meetings attended by senior government officials, and for many Baha'i activities. Mr Burnett, who has been property manager for five years, said flames landed within meters of the building. "All of a sudden you just hear this almighty roar and (the flames) just came straight up the hill and hard at us," he said. "When these sheets of flame came and they landed in the garden, I just went with buckets of water and the hose or something, and put it out as best I could. I don't think I have any eyelashes left," he said. "The whole place just went black, just like a moonless night. It was amazing. It just looked like a storm cloud had come over, but it was actually fire. It was so bad here actually that the birds were dropping out of the sky." When asked about the enormity of the task, Mr Burnett simply said he dealt with one thing at a time. At one stage he and his dog had to take refuge in his car. "I just put a sprinkler on top of the car, just hoping because I thought the car would burn too. "I couldn't go anywhere because everywhere was flame. If the car had caught fire, I had planned to jump into the fountains. But luckily, the car didn't catch fire." Fire blackened large sections of the property grounds but the Center building was unscathed. Mr. Burnett lost his camper-trailer in the blaze. The Center was closed for only a few days but since then the regular devotional meetings have resumed. Although most of the grounds were burned, a section of lawn immediately behind the Center was saved. This has become a gathering place for up to 30 kangaroos, which are starved for other vegetation."
"-35.2975906"
"149.1012676"
191
"2003-02-16"
"QUITO"
""
"Ecuador"
[]
"World of Spirituality Unveiled"
"QUITO, Ecuador — Spanish photographer Francisco Gonzalez was waiting for the perfect moment when he could capture secrets revealed to him in just seconds. That moment came as the sun shone its soft rays over the Lotus Temple in New Delhi. The resulting image (see Photographs) is one of the photographs in an exhibition currently on tour in Ecuador. Called "Architects of Unity" (Arquitectos de Unidad), the exhibition features Baha'i Houses of Worship throughout the world. Photographing such subjects is in contrast to covering national and international events for such major Spanish newspapers as El Pais, El Mundo and Tiempo. However, it has been a project Mr. Gonzalez has dreamed of for many years. "For me photography is the best way to express and convey my feelings to people," said Mr. Gonzales, who lives in Cordoba. He said it was his greatest aspiration to connect the hearts of people with the teachings of Baha'u'llah with the help of his camera. A photographer of more than 20 years experience, Mr. Gonzalez, 42, said that on his visits to the temples, he met people coming from all kinds of ethnic and religious background. Unity in diversity: Baha'i House of Worship, Langenhain, Germany.| From a photographic exhibition by Francisco Gonzalez, entitled "Architects of Unity"."At the temple in the United States for example I met a lady who explained to me that although she did not believe in God, she had been visiting the temple for 30 years because she felt that in the silence of the moments she spent there she discovered some sort of indescribable harmony, something unique she had never experienced anywhere else in the world," he said. Tarasieh Vahdat, the organizer of the tour and a member of Baha'i community of Quito, said the 70 photographs, which arrived in the country through the sponsorship of UNESCO and the Spanish embassy in Ecuador, had traveled to six other cities including Guayaquil and Otavalo, and had attracted more than 10,000 visitors. "These remarkable pictures of Mr. Gonzalez not only introduce beautiful buildings to the viewer," said Ms. Vahdat. "The Houses of Worship, as the Baha'i writings say, are the 'Dawning-places of the praise of God', a place where one may find perfect peace to freely commune with God," she said. The Lotus temple in India is one of seven Baha'i Houses of Worship in the world. The others are in Australia, Germany, Panama, Uganda, the United States and Western Samoa. Each building is distinct in its character reflecting the culture of the country where it was built. The Indian temple, for example, features the lotus flower, a potent symbol of spirituality in that country. All the temples share the common feature of having nine entrances, thus symbolizing the great world religions, as well as the diversity of the human race and its essential oneness and unity. While working on his project, Mr. Gonzalez was also inspired to photograph women who were involved with social-economic projects throughout the world. His exhibition, "Women of the World: Landscape of the Soul" (Mujeres del Mundo: Paisajes del Alma) is currently traveling around Spain, visiting more than 20 cities and towns. For his latest project Mr. Gonzalez received an award from the Andalucia Institute for Women."
"-0.2201641"
"-78.5123274"
192
"2003-01-19"
"PORT LOUIS"
""
"Mauritius"
[]
"Religions come together as one"
"PORT LOUIS, Mauritius — The essential unity of the world's religions was the theme of gatherings last month in places as far apart as Mauritius, Northern Ireland, Mali and Hong Kong. Throughout the world on 19 January 2003 people of various faiths gathered to celebrate World Religion Day, an event first celebrated more than five decades ago. The active participation of Baha'is in organizing and attending the events was in line with a message addressed to religious leaders by the Faith's governing council, the Universal House of Justice, in April last year. In that message, the Universal House of Justice said the Baha'i community, a vigorous promoter of interfaith activities from the time of their inception, would continue to assist the movement of diverse religions to draw closer together. The over-arching truth that had called the interfaith movement into being, it said, was "that God is one and that, beyond all diversity of cultural expression and human interpretation, religion is likewise one". (The full text of the message can be found on the World Wide Web at: http://www.bahai.org/article-1-1-0-1.html). Examples from a sample of countries around the world illustrate the active role of the Baha'is on World Religion Day. The celebration in the Republic of Mauritius was marked by the presence of the nation's president, Karl Offmann, who said a prayer in French, and senior representatives of the Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Islamic faiths, who read prayers to the audience of 500 and spoke on the teachings of their respective religions. All speakers presented on the same theme, that all the religions taught unity and peace. The event was organized by the Catholic Church, at the invitation of the Baha'i community. Baha'i youth and communities across the island also held functions. In Omagh, Northern Ireland, more than 100 people celebrated World Religion Day at an event that included an audio-visual presentation on the theme of the oneness of religion, and a performance by the choir of the Omagh Integrated Primary School. Encouraged by their headmistress, Lady Rosemary Salisbury, students from Drumragh Integrated College read excerpts from the Baha'i writings. Positive comments on the celebration came from the Chairman of Omagh District Council, Pat McDonnell. In Hong Kong, the Baha'i Community organized an event at the Cultural Center in Tsim Sha Tsui to mark World Religion Day. Representatives came from the Anglican and Catholic congregations of the Christian community, and from the Confucian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh communities. The speakers addressed the theme "Building spiritual strength during times of stress", emphasizing peace and tolerance for each other's beliefs. An article and photograph about the event appeared in the Tsing Tau Chinese daily. Events marking World Religion Day were also held in Bamako, the capital of Mali in West Africa, at both the Baha'i Center and the site reserved for the future Baha'i House of Worship. In Portugal, too, there was a celebration. Representatives of the Hindu, Buddhist and Baha'i faiths recited prayers and read from the texts of their sacred books. A program on a national television channel, with an estimated audience of more than 100,000 viewers, dedicated 30 minutes to the interfaith dialogue, and included interviews with Baha'i and Catholic representatives. Media attention was also given to the celebration of World Religion Day in Chisinau, Moldova, the first such event in the nation's history. A popular weekly magazine published a report of the gathering. Organized by the Baha'is of Chisinau, the celebration attracted representatives of the local spiritual and artistic communities. It featured prayers, speeches, recital of operatic arias and discussion on the importance of inter-religious dialogue. World Religion Day was initiated in 1950 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States. Baha'is celebrate the day by hosting discussions, conferences and other events that foster understanding and communication among the followers of all religions. In 1985, the government of Sri Lanka issued a postage stamp in commemoration of the day. The purpose of World Religion Day is to call attention to the harmony of spiritual principles and the oneness of the world's religions and to emphasize that religion is the motivating force for world unity. As stated in Baha'i scripture: " religion should be the cause of love and agreement, a bond to unify all mankind for it is a message of peace and goodwill to man from God," and "Religion is the greatest of all means for the establishment of order in the world and for the peaceful contentment of all that dwell therein.""
"-20.1624522"
"57.5028044"
193
"2003-02-25"
"HAIFA"
""
"Israel"
[]
"Corruption, governance, and global justice examined in new book"
"HAIFA, Israel — Corruption, justice and global governance are among the issues examined in the newly released volume "The Baha'i World 2001-2002." An annual record of Baha'i activities and perspectives, the new volume includes a profile of the European Baha'i Business Forum, a group actively engaged in counteracting corruption and greed in business practices while fostering new values. A "World Watch" article by the book's senior editor, Dr. Ann Boyles, looks at some of the effects of corruption on government, business, and religion, surveys some current efforts to combat this global problem, examines attitudes and behaviors fostered in Baha'i communities, and discusses their applicability in the wider society. "Some see corruption as an inevitable manifestation of our flawed human nature, but in the Baha'i perspective, corruption lies in the realm of free will and moral choice," says Dr Boyles. "For that reason, Baha'is are making efforts to educate people within a moral and ethical framework so that they refuse to commit corrupt acts and look instead towards fostering the well-being of all." Other essays offer insight into topics of global relevance, such as Paul Vreeland's "World Order and Global Governance: A Baha'i Perspective" and Barbara Johnson's "Fostering the Spiritual Education of Children." The book is the 10th volume in an annual series aimed both at Baha'i readers and the general public. It surveys the aims and growing sophistication of communities throughout the world, describing a Baha'i community which numbered only 100,000 people when the book was first published in 1926 but now includes more than five million people in more than 200 countries and territories. Displayed on the cover is a photograph from the opening of the terraces of the Shrine of the Bab, on Mt. Carmel in Haifa, the location of the Faith's spiritual and administrative world centre. In May 2001, some 3,000 Baha'is from virtually every land came to Haifa for dedication ceremonies for the terraces, which took US$250 million and 10 years to complete. A comprehensive section dedicated to the opening of the terraces is among the book's highlights. As well as being of spiritual significance for Baha'is, the garden terraces are now a major tourist attraction in Israel. "The volume is as a reflection on the progress of the Baha'i community," says Dr. Boyles. "It's an important publication for researchers, for journalists, for Baha'i communities to use in their public information work to acquaint local or government officials or prominent people with the basic aims and current activities of the Baha'i community." "This is a truly international publication -- the information is gathered from all over the world," Dr. Boyles says. "For example, this year we have a social and economic development project profile of the Bayan Association in Honduras, and in previous volumes we've profiled projects in India, in Mongolia, and other places. "This kind of documentation is unique in the history of early religious communities," she says. "It's an enduring historical record that will be invaluable to people who want to chart the progress of the Baha'i Faith." Features include a report of Baha'i involvement in the World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa; accounts of anniversaries of Baha'i communities in the Hawaiian Islands, Uganda, and Sarawak; and the "Year in Review," an annual survey of worldwide Baha'i events. The book also includes selections from the Baha'i sacred writings like this quotation about justice from Baha'u'llah: "In these days the tabernacle of justice hath fallen into the clutches of tyranny and oppression. Beseech ye the One true God… therein lie the welfare, security, and true interests of all men; otherwise the earth will be tormented by a fresh calamity every day and unprecedented commotions will break out. We cherish the hope that everyone may be adorned with the vesture of true wisdom, the basis of the government of the world." Profiles of Baha'i activities and organizations provide concrete examples of Baha'i organizations that are working to put into practice the ideals such as that one described by Baha'u'llah. This 352-page book is prepared by the Baha'i International Community's Office of Public Information. It contains numerous color photographs, and is available for US$18.00. It can be ordered from World Centre Publications through the United States Baha'i Distribution Service, 4703 Fulton Industrial Boulevard Atlanta, GA 30336-2017, USA (telephone: (800) 999-9019; e-mail: bds@usbnc.org)."
"32.8191218"
"34.9983856"
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BWNS: The Baha'i World News Service dataset.

BWNS articles from 2000 to 2022.

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