On February 11th, representatives of Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) participated in this year’s ‘Conference of World Religions’. The conference, held in the Guildhall, London was attended by over 500 people from across the globe. Delegates included secretaries of states, members of international faith communities as well as representatives from various human rights organisations.
This year’s conference, organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK was of significant importance as it formed part of their centenary celebrations. The conference aimed to promote peace, tolerance and understanding as well as reinvigorate the spirit of learning and respect and restore the rightful contribution religion has to offer the 21st Century. It is for this reason that the theme of this year’s conference was ‘God in the 21st Century’. The Ahmadiyya community hoped that this conference would call upon world Religions to unite over a shared goal of social and international peace which would be created through dialogue and understanding among all people around the world.
His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya community was the Keynote Speaker and emphasized his commitment to human rights and international global peace. He also reiterated that all major world religions teach the worship of God and love and compassion for mankind in their original form and that if these original teachings were upheld in today’s world we would live in a harmonious society free from conflict and war. He continued his speech with an appeal for people of all religions to work together in order to create a just society based on mutual respect and tolerance.
In addition to the Keynote Speaker, many other prominent members of the international society gave speeches which aimed to motivate the audience to go the extra mile in bridging the gap between communities torn apart by conflict, terrorism, hatred and persecution. These speeches stressed the need for an increase of love in the world. For example, Mr Geshe Tashi Tsering, who represented Tibetan Buddhists and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, read a message on behalf of the Dalai Lama and voiced concerns that societies throughout the world have lost sight of the basic humanity that binds us. He also went on to thank the Ahmadiyya Community for holding such a progressive conference and took the time to advocate that as scholars and influential people, more meetings should be held in which ‘[we can] discuss what we have in common, rather than what differences we have’. The conference continued with various religious leaders from Christian, Muslim and Hindu communities, all of whom stressed the importance of peace, equality and justice. Civil society members also spoke at the event to reiterate their commitment to improving world peace through interfaith dialogues. Dr Katarina Lantos-Swett, Vice-Chairperson of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) praised the work of the Ahmadiyya community, ‘we see you standing up against intolerance and injustice not only in your own community but wherever and whenever it is required’.
The conference provided a unique platform for international faith leaders and prominent diplomats and human rights defenders to come together and discuss the contribution which faith can make in order to provide a cohesive and comprehensive mandate for peace which the world is in desperate need of.