By: Syed Hassan
The Middle Eastern kingdom of Bahrain hosted its Dialogue Forum: East & West for Human Coexistence from November 2- 5 and Islamic Relief USA’s (IRUSA) Public Affairs and Research Advocacy (PARA) Department had a seat at the table. The meeting focused on the need to resist hate and bigotry between different faith groups, and to encourage empathy and inclusivity.
Christina Tobias-Nahi, director of PARA, participated in the forum, by virtue of her being part of the Interfaith G20 Advisory Board. The event was organized by the nation’s Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs. Pope Francis was among the guests.
One of the goals of the forum is to get perspectives from the Eastern and Western worlds. At the event, discussions centered around the United Nations adoption of a new document on fraternity, as well as how faith communities can be part of the solution to the long-standing problems of climate change and food insecurity.
The United Nations declared Feb. 4 as International Human Day of Fraternity. The concept focuses on how groups of different faiths can live peacefully. It is meant to foster a culture of mutual respect, according to the document.
The document also focuses on peace, freedom, rights of women and children, tolerance, rights of the disabled and the oppressed, among other subjects.
While no breakthroughs took place at the forum, Tobias-Nahi said the invitation alone is no small feat.
“It is important for us to be part of these major convenings,” she said, adding regular attendance at such events can help increase IRUSA’s profile around the globe. “It was the first of its kind.”
Overall, she found the event fruitful.
“By bringing together academics, faith leaders, people in political leadership, you could come up with creative solutions. While there wasn’t time for full discussion, their recommendations will be included in a forthcoming report.”