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Interfaith Programs

Youth Day Forum in Vienna: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding among Religions

Vienna, Austria - Young people from four religions and cultures spoke on the topic: “Dialogue and Mutual Understanding among Reli­gions” at the UPF headquarters in Vienna on Aug. 7, 2011. The event was held in support of International Youth Day, observed on August 12 each year.

The first speaker was Mrs. Queila Rosa from Brazil, who spoke about “Candomble,” a native African religion which is wide­spread in a certain area in Brazil. The essence of this religion is their strong desire to create harmony among people and reli­gions. Women take a special role as peacemakers, as their tradi­tion is built on matriarchy.

The second person to speak was Ms. Houda Balti, a woman from Tunisia who is studying for her doctorate in law in Vienna. She reviewed the different stages of the recent Tunisian revolution and report that the young people expect things to become better once the new government is in­stalled, which will take place in October this year.

After Ms. Balti two young women from the Muslim Youth Organi­zation of Vienna reported that for them that the Ramadan fast, which started one week ago, is not a time to retreat but a time of ser­vice for people in need. Therefore, they regularly visit a homeless peoples’ shelter and help look after the people there.

Ms. Yuka Nishijima, a young woman from the Unification Church, explained about the efforts her group has made in order to contribute to the mutual understanding among different religions: During her last year of university she and other members of the church have attended programs of different religious groups, including the Adventist Church, the Catholic Church, a Jewish community, and the “Kephas Church.” Through observ­ing their practices of faith she and her friends could learn a lot, she added.

The last person to speak was Ambassador for Peace Besim Yildiz, who belongs to the Syrian Orthodox Church. When he read Jesus' teachings known as the Beatitudes in his mother tongue, Aramaic, which was the language of Jesus himself, I felt that Jesus was walking in the room. Mr. Yildiz also explained some principles of their faith by quot­ing Saint Ephraim, a great saint of the Syrian Orthodox Church: “Always be humble, dress simply, smile, love and forgive!”

The program ended in the spirit of these words of wisdom. Band music contributed to the youthful and fresh atmosphere.

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