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Day of Peace Observed in Oslo

Oslo, Norway - Central Jamaat-e Ahle Sunnat is the largest mosque in Scandinavia. On the UN International Day of Peace, September 21, it was the venue for a wonderful interfaith program. As set by the UN, Peace and Democracy was the topic of the day.

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More Peace and Democracy was also the unison response from the Norwegian people after the terrible terrorist strikes in our nation on July 22, two months ago.

On this UN International Day of Peace, we focused on how we could strengthen and develop peace and democracy, both in Norway and globally. Around 70 people from various sectors and backgrounds gathered for the program.

The secretary general of the mosque, Imran Shahid, welcomed the audience and informed them about the mosque’s role in our society.

Stian Bergtvedt from the UN Communications Office gave his greetings and spoke on how the UN can promote peace and democracy.

A former editor of a major newspaper, Anne-Hege Simonsen, spoke on the topic: How can we keep the “July 22 vision” of more peace, alive? She commented on how the idea of multiculturalism has grown stronger after the terror attacks and also on how we need to be friends in spite of differences and disagreements.

UPF-Norway Secretary General Steinar Murud spoke on the theme: Focus on similarities rather than differences! He said: "We do not want cultures in a society to develop into ghettos, but we want the different cultures to find their similarities and work together in building the common society they are all part of."

After a coffee break with social mingling, we had an interfaith youth panel. Representatives from Sikh, Baha’i, Muslim, Christian, and Buddhist backgrounds commented on how their respective faiths could contribute to a more peaceful society. These panelists, ranging from ages 17 to 25, gave well-prepared speeches and responded well to the questions from the audience.

In contrast to what we often see in today’s society, these young participants were a living testimony to respect and harmony between people of different faiths and cultures. They manifested the hope of the audience: that the harmony between them could expand to the broader society and the world.  

Photos: Ole Toresen

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