Event held at House of Lords to celebrate Interfaith Week
On 17 November 2015, Mrs Ajantha Tennakoon, in the spirit of interfaith week, organised a special event at the House of Lords Committee Room which was hosted by Lord Sheikh and was well attended. The theme of the meeting was - “Building Interfaith Trust to Strengthen Community Relations, Promoting peace and harmony amongst faith communities”. Guests from all walks of life from around the country, different faiths and communities attended. Ven. Gunnepana Sumanarama Thero, Head of Edmonton Samadhi Meditation Centre, Mr. Fredrick Hyde-Chambers OBE, Flt. Lieutenant Harriet Tadikonda and Molly Samuel MBE were among the invited special guests who attended.
After welcome speeches from The Lord Sheikh and Mrs Ajantha Tennakoon, each of the guest speakers took turns to pay their respects to the victims of the tragedy in Paris. Respect was paid by way of Christian prayer, Islamic prayer, Jewish prayer and Buddhist chanting. Unfortunately members of the Hindu and Sikh faiths were unable to attend the event due to their holiday season. The way in which the event started off reminded us that we all have our way of paying respect to those who suffer death or tragedy regardless of our faith.
Lord Sheikh formally welcomed the guests and speakers. He spoke of Sri Lanka and his warm memories and experiences there. He is an advocate for cohesion between people of different faiths and communities.
The guests heard the speeches from a panel of very interesting speakers which include the following:
Reverend Dr. James Walters – Interfaith Adviser and Chaplain at the London School of Economics and senior fellow of the LSE Institute of Public Affairs.
Venerable G. B.Kassapa Thero (Born Mr. Shelley Bruce Miles in Kensington, London).
Rebbetzin Vicki Belovski – Golders Green United Synagogue.
Dr. Tariq Abbasi MBE- Director of Greenwich Islamic Centre.
Dr Sunil Kariyakarawana- Buddhist Chaplain to British Armed Forces at the Ministry of Defence (UK)
The session was closed by a Question and Answer and comments session during the audience engaged with the speakers and the Vote of Thanks delivered by Mr. Mohamed Amin.
Mr Richard Reoch, a Canadian Buddhist in the audience, read a message to the meeting from Dr Ahmed Toufiq, the country’s Minister of Islamic Affairs. It said that the terrorist movement seeks “to destroy the doctrines of the overwhelming majority of Muslims.” It said there was no basis for terrorism in Islam, and that the policy of the Kingdom of Morocco was to guide people to a moderate understanding of religion and away from extremism. “It is a policy,” the statement said, "that provides a model which is compatible with religious conscience, with freedom and with beneficial social change.” This reading was met with applause from everyone present as it was clear that this was an important and highly relevant message to the theme of the event.