Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 31 n°159

Posts Tagged ‘baha’i’

Youth lead on development in UN Forum

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 21 luglio 2018

BIC NEW YORK — In a series of dynamic panel discussions organized by the Baha’i International Community (BIC), a delegation of young adults consulted about their generation’s responsibility in establishing peaceful and just societies and redefining the nature of leadership and power. The context was a major annual United Nations conference held from 9 to 18 July. How can the responsibility of working for the betterment of the world be not solely the occupation of a relative few experts and professionals but rather the right of all—an expression of what it means to be human? This question was on the mind of Liam Stephens, a BIC delegate and panelist from the Netherlands.“Thinking in this way allows everything we do – work, studies, family life – to move us toward a peaceful and just society. It allows us to see that everyone has a distinctive contribution to make to this work,” Mr. Stephens told his fellow panelists.
BIC delegates to the UN’s 2018 High Level Political Forum joined representatives from collaborating organizations in a series of BIC panels focusing on the contributions young people can make in achieving the global Sustainable Development Goals, referred to as Agenda 2030. The Forum is an annual gathering of member states of the UN and others to review progress toward the achievement of the SDGs; alongside the Forum, non-governmental organizations such as the BIC hold related events. The three panels explored the strength inherent in diversity, the construction of peaceful and resilient societies, and capacity building for the transformation of community life.As young people participate more fully in the life of society, they begin to explore fundamental questions about how society advances and what can either foster or hinder progress. Participants in the BIC panels noted that advancing society requires building capacity for meaningful change among larger and larger numbers of people.Discussions also focused on new approaches to leadership, based on a more constructive understanding of power and authority.
“As inherited concepts of dominance and control are left behind and the power of cooperation and unity of thought and action are embraced, capabilities inherent in youth surface and can be directed toward the common good,” explained Emmanuel Zapata Caldas, a BIC delegate and panelist from Colombia.Young people develop the capacity to identify the positive and negative forces at work in their communities; they rely on the power of consultation to make wise group decisions; and their deepest desires are to serve society selflessly, Mr. Zapata Caldas said.
Speaking to young people who aspire to lead processes of social change, panelist Upasana Chauhan, UN representative for the Man Up campaign, urged them to bring others along in the work: “A leader is not one who just races ahead him or herself alone, but the one who takes the whole group along as well,” Ms. Chauhan noted. “When you are 10 steps ahead of someone else, take 15 minutes at the end of the day and take that person along to whatever situation is helping you learn and advance.”Participants also discussed the implications of the concept that humanity is like an interconnected human body, a central theme throughout the Baha’i teachings, appreciating the numerous ties of interconnection among the peoples of the world.One young panelist from Afghanistan – Bahman Shahi, a delegate from the peace-building organization Search for Common Ground – noted the importance of such bonds in contemporary society and the future, by referring to a classic poem: “It talks about how the human being is just one body and that when any one part hurts, the whole body hurts. This is what the world needs to recognize.”
Another important theme participants discussed was identity, exploring how certain conceptions of the self can create a sense of unity and oneness while other conceptions can heighten a sense of otherness and promote division. All three events in the series sought to explore how to build foundations for a sense of shared identity. “In those essential aspects of life – in the capacity of every human being to dream, to think, to create; in the longing of every heart to find happiness, to grow, to connect with others – we are without distinction,” explained Saphira Rameshfar, BIC representative and one of the organizers of the series.

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Counsellors’ conversation on spiritual transformation and social change

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 4 giugno 2018

Some 80 senior officers of the Baha’i Faith, referred to as members of the Continental Boards of Counsellors, recently met for a conference at the Baha’i World Centre following the 12th International Baha’i Convention. On that occasion, the Counsellors were able to reflect on major developments in Baha’i communities around the world.
The Continental Boards of Counsellors assist Baha’i communities in their efforts to work toward social transformation by encouraging action, promoting learning, and diffusing insights being gained at the grassroots across a global community. They are appointed by the Universal House of Justice for five year terms.During their recent meeting at the Baha’i World Centre, small groups of Counsellors joined in conversations with the Baha’i World News Service for a series of podcasts on community building, spiritual transformation, and social change.In the podcast episode associated with this story, Counsellors discuss the impact of spiritual and moral education programs offered by the Baha’i community on youth and the communities in which they live, drawing on experiences in Cambodia, Kiribati, India, Norway, Spain, and Timor Leste (or East Timor).One of the contributors, Daniel Pierce Olam, who has been working with communities in Timor Leste, says: “There’s such a desire in the youth to contribute to raising up their country, and in the last couple of years we’ve seen many of the youth in the capital of Timor Leste, in Dili, have been attracted to the programs of Baha’i community, which equip them to contribute to this process of lifting up their community …. You see big groups of youth have come together, and they’ve started walking this path of service. This concept has really attracted them and they’ve really taken it up with great gusto.” “We have seen the impact young people are having on their neighborhoods where they live,” explains Zoraida Garcia Garro, speaking about the Canary Islands in Spain. “And we are seeing the transformation within them as well”Speaking about the experience of the Bahá’í community in New Delhi, India, Gloria Javid says: “The large groups of youth that support each other build an environment of positive peer pressure. We always think about in schools the peer pressure that pulls them in the wrong direction …. When there are large group of youth doing similar things, serving their society, being more respectful towards teachers in school, doing things for their younger siblings at home, it creates an environment where it makes doing good things more popular. And they support each other in that good work, so they don’t feel … they are the odd ones out.”

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Worldwide representatives gather for 12th International Convention

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 28 aprile 2018

BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE — Some 1,300 delegates representing more than 160 countries have arrived in Haifa to participate in the 12th International Baha’i Convention.The International Convention is a unique gathering held every five years in Haifa, the administrative and spiritual center of the Baha’i world community. Delegates hail from virtually every nation. Over the course of the convention, they participate in a series of consultative sessions and elect the Faith’s international governing body, the Universal House of Justice.
The consultations at International Convention are generally concerned with the development of the Baha’i Faith and the contributions of Baha’i communities to the progress of society. One of the primary areas of discussion is how Baha’u’llah’s teachings—such as the oneness of humankind, the equality of women and men, the harmony of science and religion, and the independent investigation of truth—are finding expression in a vast array of social settings, from the remotest of villages to large urban centers, and across diverse cultural realities.Delegates from around the world stand in line at the Haifa International Convention Centre.
The delegates attending this year’s International Convention are members of the annually-elected governing Baha’i councils of their countries. Referred to as National Spiritual Assemblies, these institutions guide and support the activities of the Baha’i community within their respective jurisdictions.On 29 April, the delegates will gather to elect the nine members of the Universal House of Justice, a task that is undertaken as both a sacred duty and a privilege.Delegates have a period of spiritual preparation before participating in the Convention. This entails time to pray and meditate in the Sacred Shrines in Haifa and Akka as well as to visit historical Baha’i holy places.

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World illumined by light of bicentenary celebrations

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 23 ottobre 2017

indigenous musicTwo hundred years after the birth of Baha’u’llah, countless communities in every corner of the globe are honoring His compelling vision of a better world.In Iran, the land where Baha’u’llah was born and where His Faith has suffered endless waves of persecution, one of the many simple gestures of unity came from a Muslim family, who offered a beautifully decorated cake as a gift to their Baha’i neighbors in honor of the bicentenary. Particularly poignant was the fact that some members of that family only a generation before had been antagonistic towards the Faith and had even refused to touch Baha’is, believing them to be unclean. Throughout Europe, gatherings both large and small have attracted many participants today. In Paris, at an apartment that was once graced by the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, a small group of dignitaries and other prominent officials met this morning to say prayers together. This intimate event followed a set of round table discussions held by the Baha’i community on social cohesion and inclusion in France.
Another significant aspect of the bicentenary period in France unfolded in Corsica. For the first time, a selection of Baha’i prayers and writings has been translated into the Corsican language and published in a bilingual Corsican and French book. A musical composition in Corsican can be heard here.
indigenous music1In Thailand, the Royal Family was represented by Princess Soamsawali at the bicentenary celebration held at the Baha’i Centre in Bangkok. The evening’s program featured music, prayers, and traditional Thai dances. The gathering was attended by nearly 250 participants and was one of many commemorations held in the country today.At the Aboriginal Friendship Centre in Vancouver, Canada, over 200 participants gathered to commemorate the bicentenary with traditional indigenous dance and music. A dignitary from a local First Nations community welcomed everyone with a prayer in his native language.“I prayed that you would all recognize the truth in Baha’u’llah’s words,” he told the audience afterwards.Baha’is have at times been astounded by the number of their friends and neighbors who wish to participate in celebrations. A community of just ten Baha’is in Ohio received 150 guests at a formal dinner that they hosted yesterday.Across the continent of Africa, communities have been celebrating in every setting, gathering in homes for prayers, meeting in the streets for parades, and holding commemorations that reach thousands of people. These festivities are animated by a spirit of joy—some including singing, drumming, or dancing.The film Light to the World has continued to be screened throughout the weekend in living rooms, cinemas, stadiums, and tents.At Baha’i Houses of Worship across the world, thousands have gathered throughout the weekend for celebrations. A broadcast of the most recent devotional program at the Temple in Wilmette will start at 20:30 GMT and can be live streamed on the official bicentenary website. (photo: indigenous music)

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Bicentenary website shifts to focus on 72 hours of celebration

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 21 ottobre 2017

celebrationThe setting of the sun over the Pacific islands of Kiribati a short while ago marked the start of the global commemoration of the bicentenary of the birth of Baha’u’llah.Over this period—spanning a total of 72 hours beginning in Kiribati on 20 October and ending at sunset in Hawaii on 22 October—celebrations will be held in thousands of localities throughout the world.Programs at six Baha’i Houses of Worship will be available for view through a live stream on the official bicentenary website. The first of these will come from the Temple in New Delhi, India, and will begin today at 13:00 GMT. A full schedule of the live streaming program is available on the site.Glimpses of the festivities will be captured through a sampling of stories, photos, and videos on the bicentenary website. A regularly updated feed will show a few of the artistic presentations, service projects, commemorative gatherings, encounters with dignitaries, and other acts undertaken around the world to celebrate the life and teachings of Baha’u’llah.”As the world now faces its most pressing challenges yet, we acclaim Baha’u’llah, born two hundred years ago…as the One Whose teachings will usher in that long-promised time when all humanity will live side by side in peace and unity,” the Universal House of Justice wrote in its October 2017 message for the occasion.The period of celebration commemorates the birth of both Baha’u’llah, born 200 years ago in 1817, and the Bab—the forerunner of Baha’u’llah’s Revelation—born in 1819. These Twin Holy Days are celebrated on consecutive days as one annual festival.Coverage on the bicentenary website begins soon after 8:00 GMT on 20 October and concludes at 4:00 GMT on 23 October. Documenting for the first time the worldwide events marking the anniversary of the birth of Baha’u’llah, the website will connect the world by providing a vista of some of the thousands of celebrations.

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Australian leaders honor bicentenary Baha’i community of Australia

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 10 ottobre 2017

prime minister of australiaCANBERRA, Australia — The Baha’i community of Australia has received messages of greeting from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and a number of other national and local leaders for the occasion of the bicentenary of the birth of Baha’u’llah.“This is a time for great celebration of Baha’u’llah’s life and His teachings of unity, friendship, and goodwill,” wrote Prime Minister Turnbull. “Ideas of love and acceptance should be cherished and upheld by all Australians, as they are values upon which our nation has become a beacon of harmony and tolerance.”Among the sentiments expressed by these numerous leaders in Australia is the appreciation of how the Baha’i community has been contributing to societal harmony.
“The Baha’i community is a vital part of the rich and diverse religious tapestry that makes Australia such a diverse and tolerant society,” wrote Governor General Peter Cosgrove in a message to the Baha’is.
“This is a time for great celebration of Baha’u’llah’s life and His teachings of unity, friendship, and goodwill,” wrote Australian Prime Minister Turnbull to the Baha’i community.
Mark McGowan, Premier of Western Australia, voiced similar sentiments, writing, “The Western Australian Baha’i community is an active and growing part of our vibrant society, making significant contributions to the social, cultural and religious fabric of our state.” “You have demonstrated beyond doubt that, in multicultural Australia, our diverse communities truly are greater than the sum of our parts,” wrote Bill Shorten, Member of Parliament and Leader of the Opposition.
In Australia, a commemoration for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Baha’u’llah for government and civil society leaders will be held on 16 October at the Parliament House in Canberra.

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Forced migration calls for faith in action

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 4 luglio 2017

religious communitiesMADRID — In a stirring display of solidarity and good will, some 300 representatives of religious communities and civil society organizations gathered for a conference in Madrid on an issue of acute concern—forced migration. The event was held at the Iglesia de Jesus Church in Madrid on 20 June 2017, the International Day for Refugees.
A poignant presentation by Reuters photographer Juan Medina captured the urgency of the refugee issue in Europe through a collection of his photographs and a video documenting the journey of refugees into Europe.“It’s important to show these images, however shocking, time and again—as many times as necessary,” said Mr. Medina. “Some say you can become desensitized by so many pictures of suffering, and they will have less of an effect. I think it’s important to tell their story, and remember the sufferings of those who had to leave their country.”“These photos show the harsh reality of what it means to be an immigrant. There is a sharp contrast between the exhausted refugees that are swept in by the shore, struggling to remain alive and locals strolling along the beach.”In 2015, the Spanish government pledged to the European Union to receive over 17,000 refugees. To date, 1,200 have arrived, prompting a growing discussion in the country.
In recent years, the Baha’i community in Spain has recognized the necessity for a more substantial and profound dialogue on migration and the implications of having greater awareness of the issue. Its efforts have rested on the conviction that religion has a critical role to play in cultivating a common sense of humanity as well as in mobilizing communities to contribute to social harmony and peace.The gathering was enriched with artistic presentations, including a performance of indigenous music from Latin America.
Together with a group of other civil society and faith-based organizations, the Baha’i community of Spain convened the recent conference, where diverse participants shared their experiences and renewed their commitment to take action in welcoming and supporting refugees. The event was also a forum through which participants sought to speak to the conscience of their people and kindle the light music from latin americanof compassion in Spanish society.“The purpose of this event is to underline the important role religious communities are playing in the reception and integration of refugees into their own communities and to give voice to the varied experiences and knowledge acquired through their contributions to society,” said Leila Sant Massarat, who chaired the gathering and represented the Baha’i community of Spain.“Regardless of the language we speak, our skin tone or place of birth, we are all human beings and share the same primary identity.”The conference highlighted the efforts of various faith-based groups in Spain to play a constructive role with the rising number of refugees arriving into the country. The representative from the Sant’Egidio community, a Christian organization, described an initiative taken by his community to encourage kindness and understanding by reading the names of all the newly arrived refugees. “We can sometimes forget that refugees have an identity and a name,” he said.Director of Public Affairs for the Baha’i community of Spain, Sergio Garcia, noted other contributions of the various faith groups in support of refugees, citing, for example, an initiative of the Muslim community to ensure that food was prepared and available for families in need and the experience of a Jewish group assisting youth in a refugee camp. (photos: music from latin american,religious communities)

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Suspicious killing of Baha’i in Iran

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 13 gennaio 2017

iranNEW YORK — The Baha’i International Community has learned about the killing of a Baha’i in Iran, under suspicious circumstances.A report received on 9 January indicated that Ahmad Fanaian was found dead, having sustained severe burns to his body. Mr. Fanaian was an elderly and respected man from Semnan Province. This killing comes at a time of ongoing, systematic oppression of Baha’is in Semnan Province, which has been the focus of extensive anti-Baha’i activity. In 2012, the Baha’i International Community published a special report detailing numerous acts of violence and discrimination against Baha’is there. (photo: iran)

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Embracing oneness means rethinking prosperity and development

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 1 gennaio 2017

bahaiLUXEMBOURG — Unity Foundation, an organization started by a small group of Baha’is 25 years ago and inspired by the teachings of the Faith, has been one of several Baha’i-inspired agencies that assist social and economic development organizations around the world to access essential funding. The challenge before it is how to facilitate the flow of funds from one part of the world to another while preserving and strengthening a local community’s ownership and capacity to direct its own path of development. Baha’i endeavors for social and economic development operate on the principle that populations should be the protagonists of their own material, spiritual, and intellectual advancement, not just recipients or mere participants. The majority of such initiatives are sustained by resources in the local communities that are carrying them out. Some efforts continue to grow in scale and complexity and eventually require financial resources from outside the community to enable them to extend proven practices and have even greater impact.Agencies inspired by the Baha’i teachings, such as Unity Foundation, have been learning about raising financial resources in support of development initiatives that have reached a certain level of growth and complexity. In these instances, Baha’i institutions that have been following such organizations closely arrange contact with the Foundation.These projects fall mainly into two categories: those that provide education for children through the establishment of community-based elementary schools and those that develop the capacities of youth in rural areas to become promoters of community well-being.
In the context of arranging funds for projects around the world, the Foundation is learning how to contribute to the discourse on development in Luxembourg, drawing on the experiences being generated globally from the projects with which it works.The work of Unity Foundation has advanced in collaboration with the Luxembourg Government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has developed a deep appreciation for the principles guiding the organization. Together, the Foundation and the Ministry have facilitated the flow of more than €3 million to projects in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia over the past five years.
On 19 November, Unity Foundation hosted a formal dinner to mark its twenty-fifth anniversary. One hundred sixty individuals attended the event at the Cercle Cite in Luxembourg. Guests included people from the business, media, and government sectors, as well as other individuals who have supported the Foundation’s work.”This event was a lot more than a celebration of twenty-five years of Unity Foundation,” stated Mr. Wiltgen. “It is a sign of a certain level of consciousness that material wealth in one part of the world and its absence in others is not acceptable when we consider the whole world as one family.” (photo. baha’i)

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In Pakistan alcuni leader evidenziano l’urgente necessità di armonia fra le religioni/Leaders in Pakistan highlight urgent need for harmony of religion

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 26 dicembre 2016

bahaiLAHORE, Pakistan, (BWNS) — La Baha’i International Community (BIC) ha sottolineato la necessità di una più profonda comprensione dell’unità del genere umano per promuovere la convivenza pacifica tra le varie religioni.Parlando durante un evento organizzato dal governo del Pakistan per promuovere l’armonia interreligiosa — il Convegno internazionale Seerat a Lahore — un rappresentante della BIC Chong Ming Hwee ha dichiarato: «Nel corpo umano, la cooperazione assicura il funzionamento del sistema… Allo stesso modo, la civiltà può essere vista come il risultato di un insieme di interazioni tra parti componenti strettamente integrate, seppure diverse — componenti che hanno trasceso lo scopo limitato di pensare solo alla propria esistenza.«E come la vitalità di ogni cellula e di ogni organo dipende dalla salute del corpo nel suo complesso, così la pace e la prosperità di ogni persona, di ogni famiglia e di ogni popolo devono essere cercate mediante il benessere dell’intera razza umana».Il convegno ha avuto luogo l’11 e il 12 dicembre 2016, nell’anniversario della nascita del Profeta Muhammad. Alcuni leader pakistani, riconoscendo l’urgente necessità di armonia fra le religioni, hanno colto l’occasione per richiamare l’attenzione sul ruolo della religione nella creazione dell’unità. Il convegno , al quale ha partecipato il primo ministro pakistano Nawaz Sharif, è stato arricchito anche dalla presenza di rappresentanti delle diverse comunità religiose e di diversi funzionari governativi. «È stato molto incoraggiante partecipare a questo storico convegno convocato dal governo del Pakistan, che ha accolto e accettato i contributi delle minoranze religiose», ha detto il signor Chong. «Questo incontro non ha solo attestato che gli insegnamenti e l’esempio del Profeta Muhammed raccomandano l’armonia interreligiosa, ma ha anche ribadito verità fondamentali che sono comuni a tutte le religioni, vale a dire l’unicità di Dio e dell’umanità».
LAHORE, Pakistan — The Baha’i International Community (BIC) has emphasized the need for a deeper understanding of human oneness in fostering peaceful coexistence between different religions.Speaking at an event organized by the government of Pakistan to promote interfaith harmony—the International Seerat Conference in Lahore—BIC representative Chong Ming Hwee stated “In the human body, cooperation ensures the functioning of that system… Similarly, civilization can be seen as the outcome of a set of interactions among closely integrated, yet diverse components—components which have transcended the narrow purpose of tending to their own existence.””And just as the viability of every cell and every organ depends upon the health of the body as a whole, so should the peace and prosperity of every individual, every family, and every people be sought in the well-being of the entire human race.” The Conference was held on 11 and 12 December 2016, taking place on the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad. Leaders in Pakistan, recognizing the urgent need for interfaith harmony, used the occasion to draw attention to the role of religion in creating unity. The conference, which was attended by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, also included representatives of different religious communities and government officials.
“To be a part of this historic conference convened by the government of Pakistan, where contributions of religious minorities were welcomed and embraced, was very heartening,” said Mr. Chong. “Not only did the gathering attest to how the teachings and example of Prophet Muhammed emphasized interfaith harmony, but it also affirmed foundational truths that are common to all religions, namely the oneness of God and of humanity.”

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Forced closure of shops in Iran on an unprecedented scale

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 8 novembre 2016

closure-of-shopsOver one hundred Baha’i-owned businesses in cities across Iran, including saris, Ghaemshahr, and Bandar Abbas, were sealed by Iranian authorities after they were temporarily closed to observe Baha’i Holy days on 1 and 2 November.This deplorable action took place despite recent statements made by the UN Special Rapporteur of Freedom of Religion and Belief, the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, prominent Iranian lawyers (e.g. Dr. Abdol-Karim Lahidji and Shirin Ebadi), and an appeal from the Baha’i International Community to the President of Iran for such economic suppression to cease.Example of seal used by the Iranian authorities to prevent Baha’is from reopening their shops after closing them in observance of a Baha’i Holy day.
A recent letter from the Baha’i International Community to the President of Iran explains how sealing Baha’i businesses is one of the many tactics employed by the authorities in their economic apartheid against the Baha’is in Iran. Other means include categorically denying at least three generations of Baha’is access to governmental jobs, excluding them from working in businesses partly or wholly under the direction of the government, delaying or preventing them from acquiring private job licenses, and depriving them from access to formal university education.”The sealing of so many businesses demonstrates the emptiness of assurances by the Iranian government that the Baha’i community is not discriminated against,” said Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Baha’i International Community. “We call upon the international community to denounce these unjust actions and exhort the Iranian government to take immediate, visible, and substantive measures to reverse the situation,” she added. (photo: closure of shops)

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Looking to the future

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 19 ottobre 2016

peopleSANTIAGO — As the sun rose behind the Andes, more than 250 people representing various indigenous populations of South America entered the newly-dedicated continental Baha’i Temple. The melodies of the choir permeated that sacred space, as Baha’i scriptures in Spanish and the Mapuche language, resounded through the Temple’s auditorium, touching the hearts of those present.This moving scene ushered in the final day of the special inauguration ceremonies that have unfolded since Thursday.Speaking after the dawn visit, Paicavi Painemal Morales, an indigenous Baha’i from Temuko in Chile explained that “As Mapuches, we pray in many different places—we are very connected to the land and to nature.”When we pray,” he continued, “we pray directly to God and so for this reason the Temple is very special for us—and it is for this reason that many Mapuche are Baha’is.”Jesus Angel Gudino was among the first of Argentina’s Guarani people to accept the Baha’i teachings in the early 1970s. “I am very happy to be here,” said Mr. Gudino, “because this event shows the unity of everything—the cultures, the people: all is put into practice.”
“It was impossible for me to imagine such a great number of people,” he said. “We were so small when I first became a Baha’i.” Some 250 people representing various indigenous populations of South America began the final day with a special visit to the Temple. Enlarge (12 images) A member of the Wayuu from the north of Colombia, Carlos Javier Epiayu Herrera, was determined to tell his family and friends back home everything that he had been experiencing over the past several days.”All the knowledge that we acquire here we will apply in our country and we will share it.” This special dawn visit to the Temple on the final day reflected the significance given to the indigenous peoples’ contribution to the advancement of civilization—a theme that was present throughout the conference and highlighted on day 3. A presentation by Baha’is from the northern region of Brazil drew attention to the love expressed in the Baha’i writings for indigenous populations. Baha’i sacred scriptures place particular emphasis on their capacity to illumine the world. “Their awakening is a decisive moment in the life of the Faith and the life of these peoples,” said the Brazilian delegation. As in the day before, groups of up to 500 people from among the nearly five thousand conference participants continued to make their first visits to the House of Worship.
people1Inspired by the vision of the Temple as an institution that weds together worship of God and service to humanity, representatives of national Baha’i communities from around the continent and further afield continued to share their experiences with social action.In particular, a number of presentations were made about transformative educational processes initiated by Baha’i communities or Baha’i-inspired organizations. From small grassroots projects to larger, well-established institutions, examples were presented from such countries as Brazil, Suriname, Panama, and Bolivia.A delegation from northern Brazil described how a program for 11-14 year olds was offered to a school in response to lack of spiritual values in the national school curriculum. A video showed the director of the school expressing gratitude for this program, which reaches around half of the pupils. “We are building a new history here,” she said.Gustavo Ortega from the Nur University in Bolivia, which is also working to apply Baha’i principles to both its academic curriculum and administrative structures, told the conference, “We started a process that has changed education in our country.” The University has become recognized for its commitment to fairness, gender equality, and the generation and application of knowledge.Individuals also shared the benefit of learning from other communities around the continent and applying what they discovered to their own activities.
The final session of the conference lifted and directed the vision of participants toward the months and years ahead.In a keynote address, a former member of the Universal House of Justice, Dr. Farzam Arbab emphasized the great role that indigenous populations have in the “process of the spiritualization of the peoples and the nations”.Dr. Arbab asked those present to look toward the future: “What will be the fruits that our efforts produce under the influence of the spiritual forces that now emanate from this House of Worship?”Calling on those present to carry back with them to their countries the spirit of the conference, representative of the Universal House of Justice, Antonella Demonte, in the closing moments, drew the attention of the conference to the power of unity and love that had permeated the gathering of nearly five thousand people—what she described as “collective spirit”. (photos: people)

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Bahá’í World News Service-Baha’i International Community

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 17 ottobre 2016

bahaiSantiago — On the second day of the conference marking the opening of the final continental Baha’i House of Worship, participants reflected on the significance of the edifice and its role as a focal point for institutions that will emerge to serve the surrounding population.Claudio Orrego, the former Mayor of Penalolen and now governor of the Santiago Metropolitan Region, described how the Temple came to be situated at the foothills of the Andes. Expressing his gratitude on behalf of the people of Santiago, he described the Temple’s presence there as a “gift of love” The morning session also paid tribute to the hundreds of people who had contributed to raising the House of Worship.Juan Carlos Quiroz spoke on behalf of all of the workers on the project. He told the crowd that many of those who had worked on the construction of the Temple were not present, including young volunteers from a variety of countries who, at times, took on the lion’s share of the heavy work. He acknowledged the immense, collective endeavor that had given rise to the sacred edifice now being inaugurated.Among the presentations in the day was a moving historical account of Baha’i Houses of Worship that helped to put into context the occasion being celebrated.Ximena Osorio, a Colombian Baha’i, spoke of the importance of temples in every religious dispensation and highlighted a unique concept that is associated with Baha’i Houses of Worship. (photo: baha’i)

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Century-long process about to culminate

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 14 ottobre 2016

bahai-housesbahai-houses1Santiago — The dedication of the Baha’i House of Worship taking place in Santiago, Chile, signifies a historic conclusion to a century-long process of raising up continental Baha’i Houses of Worship around the world.A House of Worship is a pivotal institution of Baha’i community life, ordained by Baha u llah as a sacred structure open to all and referred to as “Mashriqu ‘ l-Adhkar,” which translates to “Dawning Place of the Mention of God.”The first Baha’i House of Worship was completed in 1908 in the city of Ishqabad in Russian Turkistan (now Ashgabat, Turkmenistan). The Mashriqu ‘ l-Adhkar complex included the central Temple, traveler’s hospices, schools, medical and other facilities. After being expropriated by the Soviet authorities, the House of Worship was seriously damaged in an earthquake and eventually demolished in 1963.During the twentieth century, as the Baha’i community grew and spread globally, plans to build one House of Worship on each continent gradually began to unfold. These buildings became known as continental “Mother Temples”.The first of these in Wilmette, USA, just north of Chicago, took some four decades to complete, opening in 1953. This beautiful, inventive building required the pioneering of new technology to bring the vision of its architect to fruition. (photos: baha’i houses)

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Bahá’í World News Service-Baha’i International Community

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 9 ottobre 2016

addis-abebaADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Africa has a great contribution to make to the future of world civilization, explains Prof. Techeste Ahderom, representative of the Baha’i International Community (BIC) ‘s regional office in Africa. The BIC is an international non-governmental organization representing the worldwide Baha’i community. Established in 1948, the BIC has offices at the United Nations in New York and Geneva, as well as regional offices in Brussels, and most recently Jakarta and Addis Ababa.The establishment of the Addis Ababa Office BIC (BIC AAO) two years ago was a significant step forward in the Baha’i community’s efforts to contribute to the development and prosperity of the African continent. The BIC AAO works in collaboration with governmental, intergovernmental, and non-governmental entities operating on the African stage for the betterment of society.”We are interested in learning about those burning questions of the African people and our society as well as the issues that the African Union has formally identified as central to the progress of the continent,” says Prof. Ahderom.”Institutions and governments are saying, ‘ We will silence all guns in Africa ‘ and ‘ Without peace there can be no development. But beyond these expressed hopes, we need to learn what these ideas mean in practice and how to achieve them. ”
In this context, working with the African Union has been especially important for the BIC Office. The African Union is an organization which aims to achieve greater unity and solidarity between African countries and citizens.
In January of 2015, the BIC was one of only fifteen faith-based organizations invited to contribute to the African Union’s “Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want”, a document approved by African leaders. 2063 agenda provides a vision and strategy for the continent’s future. It captures the widespread aspirations of the African people to end conflict, establish freedom to pass across borders, realize the rights of women and children, and ensure that prosperity is shared across all populations.”It was very interesting to note that what they intend to achieve in 50 years ‘ time is very much aligned with the vision of the Baha’i Faith — no more wars, conflicts settled, peace in a full sense,” says Prof. Ahderom. “Women will play their rightful role in society. And people will be able to travel across borders without problems.” “There are understandably those who have a deep skepticism and are detractors, but we do not feel that this is the right attitude.” One of the exciting developments of the last two years is that the BIC AAO has been able to work with a number of associates drawn from Baha’i communities across the continent as the Office has focused its energies on engaging in some of the most critical issues facing Africa now: the environment and climate change, inequalities between the rich and poor materially , the equality of women and men, financing for development, universal education, and of course peace and security.The BIC AAO believes that the long-term goals of 2063 Agenda can only be achieved with a commitment to the education of African children and youth. To this end, the Office has chosen to participate in venues dealing with this vital subject and was invited to address participants at the annual Day of the African Child event in June.”Children’s education is a long-term strategy for the African continent. If at an early stage children can be taught the principles of the oneness of humanity and unity in diversity, if intellectual capacity can be cultivated with spiritual qualities, then we can build the future we want, “stated the BIC in a presentation at the event.Commenting further on the topic. Ahderom says, “The long term goal of education and equality in Africa will be built one brick at a time. The short term goal is to end conflict, but the long term vision is to build.”Contributing to the constructive processes in Africa is what Baha’i communities are trying to do as well. We are also early in this process, still at the learning stages. ” Looking into the future, Prof. Ahderom is very optimistic. “Yes there are challenges to be sure, some of the most tremendous challenges. But Africa also has the resources, the ingenuity, and the heart not only to address them but to be a light to the rest of the world. “This is the BIC’s vision for Africa.”

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Reaction to meeting with a Baha’i exposes the truth

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 21 maggio 2016

bani dugalNEW YORK — A storm of furious denunciation, in reaction to a simple meeting between two friends in a private home, has dramatically exposed the duplicity of the Iranian authorities who have repeatedly claimed that their treatment of Baha’is is not motivated by religious prejudice.The encounter which has generated the controversy was the visit of Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of former president of Iran, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, to the home of Fariba Kamalabadi, one of the seven former Baha’i leaders who have been in prison since 2008.Tens of senior clerics and political figures were quick to denounce Ms. Hashemi, with a Grand Ayatollah even calling for her prosecution because of her meeting with a Baha’i. Another high-ranking figures described “friendly relations” with the Baha’is as “treason against Islam and the Revolution.” “Consorting with Baha’is and friendship with them is against the teachings of Islam,” said one Ayatollah while another described the Baha’is as “deviants” who must be “isolated” and asserted that meeting with a Baha’i is itself “an absolute religious deviation”. The head of the judiciary as well as its first deputy have confirmed the possibility of Ms. Hashemi’s prosecution which has been specifically demanded by many clerics as a lesson to the rest of society.
Speaking in New York, Bani Dugal, principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations said: “What is surprising is the candour, the scale, and the high-profile of the regime’s reaction. From a Grand Ayatollah, designated as a ‘ source of emulation ‘, to senior religious and political figures as well as the executive organs of the government, consistent statements have now shown, beyond the shadow of doubt, that it is religious prejudice which motivates their treatment of the Baha’is. And in doing so, this collective reaction has laid bare the mendacity of the Iranian government’s representatives in international human rights forums and has flatly contradicted their claims. ” Ms. Dugal added: “Let this be a moment of absolute clarity for the whole world”.”Just imagine what it is like to be a Baha’i in Iran when even those who visit you in your home are publicly condemned in this way and are threatened with prosecution.”The meeting between the two women came about during a five day period when Mrs. Kamalabadi was allowed to leave prison before being required to return for the completion of her ten-year sentence.Ms. Hashemi, who is also a former member of the Iranian parliament, spent six months in the same prison as Mrs. Kamalabadi in 2012 after being convicted of “spreading propaganda against the ruling system.” The women who had not seen one another since Ms. Hashemi’s release were renewing their friendship forged in prison.”Despite the furor of criticism that has greeted this humanitarian gesture, a simple interaction of two citizens, there have also been countless fearless individuals — human rights activists, journalists, academics, and ordinary citizens — who have defended the right of Baha’is to normal human relations in their own country,” said Ms. Dugal. “But we hope more such voices will be raised so that the efforts aimed at the systematic isolation and ‘ othering ‘ of the Baha’i community in Iran does not succeed.”Ms. Dugal added: “The extraordinary threats and condemnation expressed by many clerics and authorities stand in contrast with the courageous statements and actions in recent years by several senior clerical figures and religious thinkers in Iran and beyond who have spoken out in favour of coexistence, tolerance, and equality for every citizen. We hope that the voice of conscience will lead the rest of the clerics to end their silence and to show that true religion cannot condone cold-hearted hatred, estrangement and apartheid.” (photo: bani dugal)

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“Woven by the Mercy of God”: Conference highlights religion’s role in social change

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 30 aprile 2016

conference1MADRID — A recent interfaith event, co-hosted by the Baha’i community of Spain, drew 200 participants to explore how religious communities can collectively work for the betterment of the world.Titled “Woven by the Mercy of God”, the event was held on April 17, 2016 and organized by multiple religious groups, including the International Association for Interfaith Dialogue, the social Monastic and missionary action section of the national Catholic Church of Spain, Turkish House, and the Baha’i community.In the opening remarks, representatives of the Baha’i community identified the aims of the gathering as understanding the underlying unity among the religions of the world and exploring the role of religion in addressing complex issues facing humanity.”All religious traditions capture certain facets of the great mystery,” said d. Jose Luis Navarro, Catholic priest and President of the International Association for Monastic Interfaith Dialogue, acknowledging the inherent unity of different religions.
“Spain has a long tradition of interfaith activities,” said Sergio Garcia, Director of the Baha’i Office of Public Affairs in Spain. However, he noted that a challenge often encountered in these fora is to raise the discussion of issues beyond the abstract. A goal of this event was to ground conversations in practical actions that could be taken by the various religious groups present. “Despite what we see done at times in the name of religion today, the truth is that religion has been the cause of great social progress in the past,” said Mr. Garcia, “we can harness its power for the common good today as well.”
Participants explored the implications for the application of spiritual teachings to daily life and to the challenges facing their society. “Truth does not mean anything unless in connection with justice, we try to apply it in the world,” said Mario Stofenmacher Rabin of the Masorti Beth-El community.
Attendees acknowledged that the participation of various actors in society is required to achieve social change. “Transformation of society requires building capacity at the levels of the individual, the institutions, and the community,” said Miryam Sanz, representative of the Baha’i community of Spain. “This process of positive change, in light of the vision of Baha u llah, must lead to a just, unified, prosperous, and sustainable world, where everyone can contribute to the generation of knowledge about social development.” Among the conclusions of the gathering was that religion must play a more significant role in combating prejudice and fanaticism. The religious communities represented identified this as an important first area of action. (photos: conference)

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New websites reflect breadth of Baha’i communities worldwide

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 19 aprile 2016

baha'iA wave of official Baha’i websites, numbering over 40 and spanning the world, have emerged recently. In addition to the launch of new international sites, such as Bahai.org, the Baha’i Media Bank, and the official website of the Baha’i International Community, a number of new national websites have also appeared.Many national communities have been learning how to articulate their evolving understanding of the aims and activities of the Faith through the medium of the Web. Taking into consideration the social realities in their countries, many of these new sites also attempt to convey a vision of the betterment of society.In some countries, the launch of a national website has signaled the first official presence of the Baha’i community on the Web. Such has been the case in the Arab region, where new national websites have been launched in ten countries. Throughout the region, the launch of official Baha’i websites has been a historic development for the Baha’i community.
In Tunisia, for example, the first official Baha’i website was launched in the region, and Baha’is have witnessed a growing number of opportunities to contribute to the progress of the nation in various forums since. The website has served as one avenue through which the community has shared with its fellow citizens how it is working with them for the construction of a just and peaceful society.
Reflected in the efflorescence of these new sites is the breadth of countries and cultures in the Baha’i world. As each community develops further, its national website will continue to evolve. The list of communities spans across many regions, from Myanmar to Kazakhstan, South Africa to France, Turkey to the Netherlands, and Colombia to the United States.

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ONE focuses on religion to prevent violence

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 18 marzo 2016

washingtonWashington, D.C. Religious leaders and faith-based organizations across the world are meeting to understand their role in preventing incitement to violence that could lead to atrocity crimes.”Religion can be key in countering this issue,” said Gerald Filson, Director of Public Affairs of the Baha’i Community of Canada and Chair of the Canadian Interfaith Conversation. The Canadian Baha’i community has been vigorously engaged in a discourse in that country on the constructive role of religion in society.Dr. Filson represented the Baha’i community in the most recent of the regional meetings organized by the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect. The forum was held at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C. on 29 February to 1 March and was one of five that are taking place all over the globe during the year to explore this important theme.In his contribution to the dialogue, Dr. Filson discussed the importance of educational programs for youth, which he explained cannot be overstated. “Youth are looking for positive messages and want to change the world for the better. Religious leaders need to give systematic focus on programs for this age group. “Present at the D.C. meeting were a Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng, President of the U.S. Institute for Peace Nancy Lindborg, Assistant Secretary General and an Ombudsman John Barkat, and Representative of the World Council of Churches Rudelmar Bueno De Faria.The diversity at the worldwide seminars has allowed for a rich exchange of experiences and the sharing of positive actions from an array of different groups. For instance, at the meeting held in Amman, Jordan, one presenter referred to the initiative of Ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani on Iran as “an example of a good fatwa”.Participants at each of the five conferences developed regional strategies to prevent and counter incitement to discrimination, hostility, and violence. The strategies discussed in the D.C. meeting included mapping incitement issues and trends, developing and circulating alternative messages or counter-speech that can be spread, engaging those responsible for incitement in dialogue, building education programs, seeking political support, and strengthening inter-religious activities.”This series of meetings reflects in many ways the response called for in the Universal House of Justice’s 2002 Message to Religious Leaders which asked, among other things, for religious leaders to speak out against religious extremism and accept the divine basis of all world religions,” Dr. Filson said. He also noted how often speakers talked about the importance of the concepts of “one humanity” and “one God”, and referred to unity, harmony of all religions, equality of women and men, and the importance of responding to hate with love.”Comments at the meeting also seemed to indicate that religious leadership in the Americas now appears able to undertake that fundamental basic reorientation that can set aside long-standing religious prejudice,” Dr. Filson said.

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Bahai.org launches in six new languages

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 3 febbraio 2016

baha'iHAIFA — Efforts to make the official website of the worldwide Baha’i community available in nine major languages are well under way. Today, the core of the sections entitled “What Baha’is Believe” and “What Baha’is Do” has been made available in Arabic, French, Chinese, Persian, Russian and Spanish.The site will also go up in Hindi and Portuguese later this year.The new site was launched in English a year ago. It explores the teachings and writings of the Baha’i Faith and presents the experience of people throughout the world who, inspired by the vision of Baha u llah, are striving to contribute to the betterment of society. (photo: baha’i)

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