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Interfaith Programs

Religious Tolerance Is Crucial for Development

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Religious tolerance and peace are the most important things for development, Rev. Sue Eun Ryoo told students from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia during a seminar on June 30, 2007.

According to Rev. Ryoo, director of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) in Ethiopia, students of Addis Ababa University have a key role in disseminating this important message throughout Ethiopia. "We educate these young people because university students have the power to teach others if they understand this basic principle," he said.

He added that UPF is also teaching politicians, scientists and people who work for non-governmental organizations so that these people "will cooperate among themselves." He said that he had experienced the necessity of this in his own country, South Korea. "After the Korean War, our people tried to tolerate each other and worked hard to create the prosperous Korea of today."

In his speech, "A Message of Peace," he said that in spite of our longing for peace, our world remains plagued by war and conflict. He then mentioned the five basic principles for peace: the idea of one God, the essentially spiritual nature of human beings, that family is the "school of love" and cornerstone for world peace, the highest standard for human relationships is to live for the sake of others, and interreligious and international cooperation are essential to world peace.

UPF also educates people at Addis Ababa University about HIV/AIDS prevention. UPF’s coordinator at Addis Ababa University, Esubalew Ferede, said, "We tell students to abstain, to have only one partner or to use condoms. We also try to establish harmony among different ethnic groups to prevent possible clashes." He added that UPF had appointed 80 Ambassadors for Peace on the campus.

Ethnic clashes have occurred on this campus for different kinds of reasons. The biggest one took place in 2001 between students from the Tigray and Oromia regions, causing many injuries.

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