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Bahrain bid for peace summit.

BAHRAIN wants to host the next edition of an international peace summit that aims to unite the people of the world, regardless of their culture or creed.

The three-day Summit for the World Alliance of Religions opened in Seoul, South Korea yesterday.

More than 60,000 people from 172 countries took part in the opening ceremony at Jamsil Olympic Stadium, including a 20-strong delegation from the Bahrain Association for Religious Co-existence and Tolerance (BARCT).

BARCT chairman Yousif Buzaboon told the GDN that his group has now mooted the idea of bringing the event, which is organised by the Seoul-based Heavenly Culture, World Peace and Restoration of Light (HWPL) organisation, to the Middle East.

"We would certainly like to see such an important summit that promotes peace being held in Bahrain and have proposed this to the organisers," he said.

"Bahrain is sending a strong message by having such a large delegation at this summit -- we are showcasing the achievements of our country and welcome activities that promote peace and empower the youth."

BARCT senior member Dr Amal Al Jowder, who dressed in traditional costume at the colourful opening ceremony yesterday in a bid to highlight Bahrain's proud heritage, described the conference as a learning exercise.

"We, as proud Bahrainis, are standing here united with all the other officials in promoting peace -- and we plan to learn from these experiences so that such events can be held in Bahrain in the future," she said.

"Peace can only be achieved through united global efforts and it is a challenge that needs to be addressed collectively."

During the ceremony, HWPL chairman Man Hee Lee urged global leaders to double down on their efforts to become "peace promoters and peace advocates."

He was addressing a diverse line-up of attendees that included former and current heads of state, prominent religious leaders, academics and legislators as well as community, youth, and women's leaders from around the world.

Egyptian Grand Mufti Shawqi Abdel Karim Allam was among the list of high profile speakers set to deliver an opening address yesterday, but he was replaced at the last minute by Doha International Centre for Interfaith Dialogue chairman Dr Ibrahim Saleh Al Naimi.

The Qatari official stressed the importance of dialogue in his speech, describing it as the only way to address conflict among communities.

Former Croatian President Stjepan Mesiyc, meanwhile, stressed the need to combat religious fundamentalism if international conflicts were to be averted.


"We have to stand up against fundamentalism and clericalism born by negative social and economic processes," he said.

"This gathering is an opportunity to organise and engage all spiritual forces in the struggle against war and in favour of peace."

His views were echoed by high Sikh leader Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh, who described violence committed in the name of religion as "unacceptable".

Today, the conference will feature a variety of plenary sessions covering topics including the world alliance of religions, the cessation of war and world peace.

Tomorrow a Peace Walk is planned, starting from the World Peace Gate in Seoul Olympic Park.

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:9SOUT
Date:Sep 18, 2014
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