International Olympic Truce Centre – Open Forum

Everyone was given an Olympic Truce pin badge, along with an information pack. The London Peace Network was given extra badges, so if you would like one, please contact us.

Dr Filis, the Director of the International Olympic Truce Centre, invited us all to join him at the Open Forum this afternoon.

The distinguished panel included Lord Michael Bates (who spoke at our event at the Imperial War Museum), Willi Lemke (special advisor to the UN Secretary General and who spoke at our Millennium Bridge event), Hugh Dugan (US Truce Foundation) and Fani Palli Petralia (Vice-Chairperson of the International Olympic Truce Foundation).

The Truce Wall in the Athletes’ Village has filled up with signatures already – Hugh suggested another couple of panels are added, generating a news story about the Truce which might be a welcome break from reports of the medal count.

The situations in Syria and Burma were of great concern to all present and one journalist, Evdoxia Lymperi of ERT3, asked what practical impact the Truce has had this time around.  The UN resolution was signed and co-sponsored by all 193 member states of the UN, yet some of the signatories show no sign of calling even a brief cease-fire during the Games.

The projects which LBFN and the London Peace Network have proposed are all (bar one) in conflict or post-conflict zones.  We are very pleased that the twinned UK-Pakistan project has been approved by the Foreign Office.  We hope to hear good news of twinned activites between local communities in the UK and Iran, Iraq, Ghana and Jamaica.  We are working on a proposal for Sri Lanka.

On behalf of the Network, I asked how the experience and expertise of local religious and community organisations (often at the sharp end of violence both in the UK and overseas) could be used to build a stronger Olympic Truce every four years.

The response from Dr Filis and Willi Lemke was very positive and we will be taking this forward with both the IOTC and the UN.

Near Neighbours Multi-faith Torch pledge

Excitement as the 2012 Torch passes the steps of St George the Martyr, Southwark.

There was a bustle of flags, banners and torches being made as the Torch Relay approached Borough High Street, SE1 on Thursday – people from different religious traditions were busy putting the finishing touches to their work. Faces were painted, hands were decorated with henna.

Just in time, everybody made it out onto the steps of St George the Martyr – whoops of excitement and cheers greeted the Torch as it went past.

Near Neighbours supported the local multifaith Rockingham Youth Group and friends to get busy on this historic day.  Postcards carrying the pledge were handed around and everyone joined in –

“Inspired by the teachings of our faiths, and spurred on by the example of the Olympic athletes, may we all seek to be the best we can be:

increasing our compassion;

growing in our generosity;

becoming more hospitable;

practising greater forgiveness;

striving together for the good of our communities;

urging one another on in acts of righteousness;

so that we may bring hope and joy, friendship and laughter to enrich the lives of every person who lives in London.”

Siriol Davies (Diocese of Southwark) and Revd Tim Clapton (Near Neighbours) organised a great event.  The Bishop of Woolwich, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, Communities Minister Baroness Hanham and Lambeth Palace’s Revd Dr Toby Howarth and Revd Rana Khan all took part.

More bells for peace | Financial Times comment

John Woodhouse ringing at 8.12am on 27 July

Not everyone managed to get to the Millennium Bridge last Friday at 8.12am (just as well), but word is reaching the London Peace Network that a few brave souls rang their door and other bells in solidarity.

Here is musician John Woodhouse, who convenes Westminster Cathedral Inter Faith Group and who is a regular at London Borough Faiths Network meetings.  Go John!

A couple of pieces by Peter Aspden in the Financial Times have mentioned the Olympic Truce:  Missing: that elusive truce (which mentions the glorious Peace Camp) and Childish fun and games (which mentions All The Bells).

The Olympic Truce has undoubtedly suffered from a rock-bottom profile (it doesn’t even get a mention in the London 2012 Official Book).  Most of the peace-building activities we include here at the London Peace Network involve local community groups and are below the radar, but many of them wouldn’t be happening at all were it not for the Olympic Truce.

The International Olympic Truce Centre actively supports peace-making efforts world wide.  We are hoping to meet the team while they are in London.

What do you think?

Is there a role for local communities in peace-building?  Both here in the UK and overseas, they tend to be at the sharp end when it comes to violence.  If so, what?

Or should we leave it to national and world leaders?  Ban Ki-moon said at the Friday Olympic Truce event organised by the Foreign Office that, having visited Srebrenica (which he said was one of the most painful places for a UN Secretary General to visit), he didn’t want a future UN SG to have to visit Syria in 10 years’ time to apologise.

Are there ways to harness the experience and expertise of both?  If so, how?

Ringing bells for the Olympic Truce and giving one of them to Ban Ki-moon

Smiles, laughter, flags flying, a three-minute cacophony of tinkles, dings & dongs, ringtones, bicycle bells, woks, toy bells, silver bells, alarm clocks and egg-timers along with TV cameras, bemused sound engineers and commuters threading their way through (and joining in): we had a great time on the Millennium Bridge yesterday.

Thank you everyone for participating!

The London Evening Standard reported 150 people ringing bells for the Olympic Truce and Millennium Development Goals with the London Peace Network yesterday.  We were part of Martin Creed’s Work No 1197, All The Bells.

Hearing about the event through the Olympic Truce Facebook group (now 11 thousand strong with members across the globe), Kostas Hatzis came over from the Netherlands, wearing his national Greek costume.

Willi Lemke, UN Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, addressed and encouraged us and Toaha Qureshi MBE read inspiring salutations from the International Olympic Truce Centre.

We are honoured that Dr Constantinos Filis, the Director of the IOTC, has invited supporters of the Olympic Truce to meet him while he is in London.

Afterwards, we wondered if the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, would like a bell that was rung on the Bridge.  This would demonstrate the commitment of Londoners from many different communities to turning the ideal of the Olympic Truce into a living reality.

Geetha Maheshwaran kindly donated one of the bells which she and her son had rung on the bridge and which came from the Shree Ghanapathy Temple.

Watch the film and see what happened.

Did you make the director’s cut (thank you PL Robertson for filming us)?  Do you have your own photos to add?  Send them in.

Messages to London Peace Network

We have received many wonderful and inspiring messages of support today.

We will be sharing  them with everyone who comes to ring All The Bells on the Millennium Bridge this morning.

Dr Constantinos Filis, the Director of the International Olympic Truce Centre in Athens, begins his salutation,

“People of London!  Thank you all for coming here to cheer for Olympic Truce!”

Irfan Wani in New Delhi posted this on our Facebook event page

“I might not be there physically but my inspiration and true feelings will be there for the peace at “a ringing bells for the Olympic Truce and the Millennium Development Goals” as a Prayer for success of establishment on peace and the shape of my bell will be my heart which will ring the bell tone of peace and harmony…Inshahallah…”

Mr George Papandreou, Vice-President of the International Olympic Truce Centre, former Prime Minister of Greece, begins his salutation,

“Supporters of Truce, Supporters of Peace!  It is a great honour for us that you have gathered here today!”

We will post photos and news after the event.

Guest post by Maryam Duale | Dine@Mine

 

Thank you Maryam for this wonderful and evocative post – and for the challenge!

Who’s up for a bit of peace-building over a delicious meal?  Full details below.

Almost a year ago today I had the pleasure of attending Shabbat dinner at Rabbi Wittenberg’s house, a lovely soul that touches the hearts of everyone he meets.

It was also Ramadan on the night Rabbi welcomed 30 interfaith activists and myself into his home. The entry of Shabbat coincided quite nicely with the end of the fasting day.

We prayed the evening prayer in the garden after breaking our fast. As we prostrated on the cool grass we could hear the blessing for the challah bread (a special Jewish braided bread eaten on Shabbat and holidays) drifting through the kitchen window. That evening we broke our fast with fruit and challah bread.

It was perhaps one of the most special evenings of my life and one of the most unique Ramadan dinners ever!  Sharing in such an intimate moment as Shabbat with a Jewish family was simply beautiful!

Food plays an important role in many faith traditions. Whether it is Langar, free food offered to all people regardless of race or religion, in Gurdwaras (Sikh Temples), or Shabbat dinner, to mark the day of rest on a Friday night, or Iftar, the evening meal when Muslims break their fast in Ramadan. Food has the potential to bring people together, to create as well as rebuild broken bonds, and it has the power to create a hearty atmosphere for dialogue.

I know what Iftar is like at my house. It is loud, it is solemn, it is full of laughter, it is prayerful, and it is warm. Dine @ Mine is all about sharing the Ramadan experience with neighbours, colleagues; sharing food and making new friends. The idea is that Muslim families ‘apply’ to host non-Muslim families. And families from other backgrounds ‘apply’ to attend an Iftar.  Once we receive an application from families in the same area we put them in touch.

With over 20 Muslim families signed up and Dine@Mine events in London, Manchester and even as far as New Delhi and South Africa, it has grown beyond my expectations. Why? Because people are desperate to connect! They are desperate to break down those barriers and get to know their neighbours.

With the rise in Islamophobia many people are eager to understand the Muslim community and Islam. We hope this initiative will help to break down stereotypes and create a sense of community and lasting friendships.

If you would like to be paired with a family in your area during the Dine@Mine week in Ramadan please email dineatmine@ramadanfestival.org for more info.

Prom to herald the Olympic Truce 27 July

On 27th July, just before the opening ceremony of Olympic Games, the Royal Albert Hall will host a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

What better choice of programme for the start of the Olympic Truce than Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony?  The Choral Symphony is a setting of Schiller’s poem of universal fellowship

Ausgesöhnt die ganze Welt!       Reconcile the entire world! 

and will be performed by the intentionally intercultural West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, founded by the late Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim in 1999 to bring young Arab and Israeli musicians together.

Barenboim says,

Great music is the result of deep listening.

Every player listening intently to the voice of the composer and to each other. Harmony in personal or international relations can also only exist by listening. Each party opening their ears to the other’s narrative or point of view.

In 1999, Edward Said and myself formed the West-Eastern Divan orchestra, composed of musicians from Israel, Palestine, and other Arab countries. Countries where the open ear has been too often replaced by the unsheathed sword, to the detriment of all.

Now, over 10 years later, we have hopefully achieved an orchestra that is worthy of your ear. And one which shows that people who listen to each other, both musically and in all other ways, can achieve greater things.

Promenading (usually just standing) tickets are available on the door of the Royal Albert Hall for £5 for this extraordinary performance on Friday 27th July at 6.30pm.

Gower Pilgrimage ends today

Pam Evans of Peace Mala writes about the start of the Walk for World Peace.

The atmosphere was wonderful and illustrated so well how people of different faiths and cultures can join together in friendship and work together for peace. Well done to our pilgrims who made it all the way from Newport and Cardiff to be with us.

The service was very moving with contributions given by three schools, including St Teilo’s High School who had driven down from Cardiff and were asked at the very last moment to contribute with the Peace Prayer of the Baha’i faith revealed Circa 1910 to Abdu’l Baha. Several faith traditions contributed to the blessing of the lights (Christian, Yungdrung Bon, Islamic and Jewish) and also took part in the service. We are grateful to Lama Khemsar Rinpoche who took time out of his busy schedule to be with us and share his Tibetan blessing for the pilgrimage. 

The new imam at Swansea University, Sheikh Hassan, stood in front of the altar and recited passages of peace from Sura’s (Al-Hujurat 49:13) and (Al-Anfal 8:61) in the Holy Qur’an. Tarrick El Hosaini stood at his side to give the English translations. I found this especially beautiful and very moving. Father Luke Holden of the Greek Orthodox Church chanted 1Corinthians 13 in Orthodox style… possibly the first time for some Catholic, Anglican and non Conformist Christians to have heard it delivered in such a meaningful way.

Much warmth and humour was shared by all clergy and faith representatives.

A little reminder to you all that the book to accompany the pilgrimage ‘Sharing the Light’ is now on sale for the special price of £5 during the pilgrimage. It will cost £6 after that.  The book takes the reader on a journey through Gower’s sacred landscape and explains the influence of the Celtic Saints, the Knights of Saint John, holy wells and springs and Gower’s Pre-Christian Sacred Sites. The story of how the pilgrimage unfolded is also explained along with how the blessed lights of the World Peace Flame, the Light of Saint Brighid and the light from the Shrine of Saint David were collected for the pilgrimage.

I will look forward to seeing some of you again at the service of thanksgiving and prayers for world peace that will take place this coming Sunday to mark the end of the pilgrimage. This will take place at St Rhidian & St Illtyd’s Church in Llanrhidian and will begin at 4pm. Our pilgrims are expected to arrive at approximately 3.15pm.

Details of Sharing the Light, the book that Pam mentions can be found here.  Archbishop Rowan Williams has supported the work of Peace Mala over the years and writes of the Walk for World Peace,

“The challenge of making and keeping peace is a task far too great for any one faith community to tackle on its own, and the deeply impressive work of the Peace Mala network over the last ten years has consistently reminded us of this. It has been a privilege to be involved with this vision, and I pray every blessing on all it continues to do and on all who are joining together (for this pilgrimage).”

Millennium Bridge on Friday 27 July 8.12am – once in a lifetime

The London Peace Network invites you to a very special event on the Millennium Bridge (across the River Thames between Tate Modern and St Paul’s Cathedral) on Friday 27th July at 8.12am – for three minutes.

The Olympic Truce flag will be flying from the bridge from 7.30am – please aim to arrive before 8am!

It will be fun – and it will also raise awareness about the Olympic Truce, the Millennium Development Goals and all the London Peace Network activities this summer.

We’ll be part of a huge national event, All The Bells, and we will hear the sounds of the big London bells, including Big Ben and St Paul’s Cathedral, ringing all around us.  A once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The event will be filmed, so that everyone who participates will be able to download the video afterwards. We are reserving places for those who prefer not to be filmed.

Please pass this invitation on to your networks and let us know if you will be joining us – particularly if you are bringing a large group.

The flyer includes several links for further information, but please get in touch if you have any questions or suggestions and to let us know how many people you are bringing.

Torch in Hackney – Have a go @CRE8 on 21 July 12 noon

Fantastic day if you live in Hackney – and a chance to see the Olympic Torch as it passes by!

Brazilian Futsil, Boccia, exhibits and urban sports, African djembe drums.

Zumba Yoga, Face Painting, Bouncy Castle, Pilates, Fitcamp Football Tournament, music, dance and BBQ.

At CRE8 Centre, Old Baths, 80 Eastway, Hackney E9 5JH.

Download the pdf here.

More info – call Richard 0777 827 7700 or Ron 0778 745 7710.

 

Great opportunities to deliver Iftar to homeless people during Ramadan

The Ramadan Festival is gearing up – lots of info and ideas on how to make the most of this special time of year.

Ramadan is a time of giving, of charity, of sharing, of remembering those in need and reaching out.

Email idareufoundation@gmail.com to find out more about the training days and how you can help run soup kitchens in

  • Tottenham
  • Streatham
  • Sutton
  • Enfield
  • Wembley
  • Marylebone

Visit the Ramadan Festival site for full details of all the other opportunities during the time of the Olympic Truce.

All the bells on the Millennium Bridge – for the MDGs – 27th July 08:12

Get down to the Millennium Bridge at 8.12am on 27th July for a once-only event.

In an amazing setting on the River Thames, with the bells of the City on one side and others at Bankside and Tate Modern on the other, we’ll be ringing bells fast and loud with all the others for three minutes.

Bring a bell – any bell

  • bicycle bells
  • hand bells
  • rickshaw bells
  • bear bells
  • mobile ringtones
  • ankle bells
  • baby bells
  • any bells

We’ll be ringing to promote the Millennium Development Goals and the Olympic Truce as the Olympic Games start in London.  Let us know you’re coming.

Coming soon . . Waterloo Festival 12 – 17 July

Action-packed festival on War and Peace.   Find inspiration & join in – there’s  a lot on offer: concerts, inter faith art exhibition with works from Samir Malik and Siddaqa Juma, Paradise Street theatre, drop-in art workshops, talks, tours at St John’s Church, Waterloo, London SE1 8TY.

Everyone is invited to bring a dove of peace to add to the display.

Download the full brochure and the flyer for Is Peace Possible in a World of Diminishing Resources?

Don’t miss the World Première of Orlando Gough’s Waterloo Canticle 2: Love is Strong as Death, specially commissioned for the Festival, setting poetry from Beirut alongside words from the Song of Solomon sung in Hebrew and Arabic. 

www.stjohnswaterloo.org.

Peace Camp

“Eight murmuring, glowing encampments will appear simultaneously at some of our most beautiful and remote coastal locations, from County Antrim to the tip of Cornwall, from the Isle of Lewis to the Sussex cliffs.

Designed to be visited between dusk and dawn, Peace Camp is a poignant exploration of love poetry and a celebration of the extraordinary variety and beauty of our coastline.

Composer Mel Mercier is creating a soundscape that reflects the many voices and accents of the UK and we’re delighted that YOUR VOICE COULD BE PART OF IT”

Peace Camp.

Feedback please!

The London Peace Network isn’t quite public yet . . . so we welcome all your comments – especially if noted here on the blog itself.

It would be great to hear from people in London from different religious traditions, and from none, so that we can add all the info we need to get involved – and in an easy-to-find way.

Already suggested is a smaller masthead (do you like the new one?) and some background info on the Olympic Truce.

Should we have a What’s On listed borough by borough – or just keep it London-wide?

What about food-related (eg Ramadan Festival, Britain Tastes Great), arts-related (eg Waterloo Festival) – or listed all together?

Should people be able to suggest peaceful places to go in London, peaceful poems, art, inspirational verses from scripture/philosophy or from literature or people we respect?   Have you any suggestions?

Family-friendly peace-building?  Any opportunities you know of?

What is your own community doing over the summer – anything which builds trust between local people?

And lastly, there’s a good chance of some multifaith/intercultural cricket during the summer in central London – anyone up for helping organise that?

Thank you for your comments and suggestions – perhaps we should have a prize for the best!

PS If you subscribe to London Peace Network, every post will come to you by email :)