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Interfaith Programs

Forum in Bratislava on Islam's Contribution to Peace

Bratislava, Slovakia - UPF-Slovakia held a discussion on the topic "The Contribution of Islam to Peace in Society" on May 21 attended by friends and Ambassadors for Peace. The presentation was given by Mr. Zuheir Kotroch, who was born in Syria but lives in Slovakia and speaks Slovak well. An Ambassador for Peace for many years, he participated in the panel discussion during the UN Interfaith Harmony Week observance last February.

This forum was inspired by the outcome of the program February, which featured a panel discussion by representatives of Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. Although in Slovakia there are no acute problems with the Muslim community, unfortunately the word "Islam" is very often associated with "conflict."

The introduction was given by Milos Klas, who passed around the book World Scripture and the Teachings of Sun Myung Moon. He outlined the purpose of the event to propagate tolerance and understanding by listening with open minds: "Only by listening without judging and comparing shall we be able to achieve unity and harmony."

Mr. Kotroch then described the "peacebuilding" aspects of Islam, giving examples about how the Prophet helped to solve conflicts during his lifetime. He quoted from Islamic scriptures and scholars about promoting peace between neighbors and in society and referred to some traditions which help Muslims to make peace with others. During his presentation Mr. Kotroch described what he called the true nature of Islam and the greatness of its founder and explained deviations from the essence of Islam, what went wrong in the past and today. There were some tensions in the air which were expressed when people had a chance to ask for more detailed information.

The atmosphere and response during the meeting was very encouraging. Especially lively comments and questions came from Professor Julius Alexy, a renowned teacher at the Economic University. There were several persons who had studied theology as well as two female students, one from Uzbekistan and the other from Kazakhstan.

Plans are underway to invite speakers from other non-Christian faiths to explain the contributions and activities of their faiths for world peace.

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