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Sports Programs

A Race for Peace at Sports Festival in Korea

Cheonan, Korea - Even as the feet of Palestinian and Israeli leaders wobble along the path of the Middle East peace road map, Sunday, July 13, 2003 three Jordanian men -- about the age of suicide bombers from the PLO and Chechnya ran steadily to win three of four top spots in a race for peace organized by the widely spreading Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace in the sleepy town of Cheonan, South Korea -- 442,593 people known for the hard work of its farming population.

Flanked by two of his triumphant countrymen, shortly after clinching the coveted crown for the world's number one runner for peace, Jordanian college marathoner, Methkel Abu Duras said in Arabic with his coach, Umm-Qise native, Talib Al Rousan interpreting, "We are in Korea to show our people and the entire world the right way to go -- the way of peace, love and understanding. Peace and harmonious living are beautiful and attractive. Who says war and violence are not ugly and life destroying?"

Compatriots Sulman al Gdran won the second place, Bashar Rehael took the fourth, while Young Leal of the United States wrested the third position in this ding-dong race of five kilometers that rendered hundreds breathless and others heaving sighs of relief after chesting the tape at the end.

Altogether, 2,000 men and women, representing 43 nations and 10 different faiths--Buddhism, Chondokyo, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism and Unification--vied for laurels and "at the same time enhance global peace, cultural, racial and religious harmony, and draw the attention of a world at war with itself to the urgent need for peace and the role of non-conventional means like sports diplomacy and cultural festivals to attain it."

Hundreds of participants spoke from the podium and in press interviews in similar vein of the "enduring benefits for humankind" of this global peace movement which is the brainchild of Washington Times newspaper baron and United Press International news service owner, Reverend Sun Myung Moon.

One of the ardent believers in this global peace movement, Inderjeet Singh, a Bowling Green University-trained sports administrator from Malaysia said of the race for peace, "The world indeed is one home and humankind is one family. We are seeking to build a new breed of boys and girls, men and women with broad enough horizons to see themselves as citizens of the world, not just citizens of one particular nation."

Intermittently referring to the immortal words, of India's Mahatma Ghandi of blessed memory, "Do we want the world to be blind? No! If it were eye for an eye, the whole world would have been blind," -- Mr. Singh, a Sikh added, "we are here to celebrate peace and the unity of the human race and our Creator, the only one God."

Others who spoke about the need for peoples and leaders of the world to engage in similar activities and events that may pull down the strongholds of racial and cultural disharmony, intolerance and bigotry include Thailand's lawn tennis player and Buddhist, 18-year-old, Sukrit Samakketkarn, Russia's Ecology student, Ksenia Fesenko, Aila Willitts, an economist and Christian from Finland, Singapore's Polytechnic and Moslem student, Airin Astuty Samsuri, Kai-riin Saluste of Estonia, Rev. John Gehring of the United States, Korea's Kyung-June Lee and Lynne Kim.

Malaysia, with 110 participants, had the highest representation at the race, a total of 104 men and women came from the United States; from Japan came 90, the Philippines 86, Taiwan 70, and 60 Russians and hundreds from about two-score countries took part in the race for peace.

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