Focus on Faith Series: An Introduction to the Bahá'í Faith (Dr. Thomas Uthup)

Uploaded by BICUNoffice on 03.11.2011

Our first speaker today is
Dr. Thomas Uthup
Dr. Uthup is the research and educational manager
at the United Nation's Alliance of Civilizations Organization and has been a good friend to the NGO community
specifically to help us address the
link between a culture of peace, dialogue among civilizations
and with many faiths practiced by millions around the world.
It is a pleasure to have him with us today

Thank you.

First of all thank you very much I should say that
to the DPI NGO for arranging this briefing and inviting me
I think it's great when a UN agency takes an interest
doing something which is very close to our hearts
that is informing and educating people about different religions.
I'm not going to be speaking
about the Baha'i Faith
because there are people here who can speak about that,
but I did just want to show you a
picture of a Bahá'í Temple in New Delhi
Which is going to become soon a
rival to the Taj Mahal in terms of
numbers of visitors.
It's a beautiful building
unfortunately, I have not had the chance to go there myself.
I'm going to be talking very briefly about the
Alliance of Civilizations
but also why it is important to know about
and enhance understanding across faiths
and how the UN Alliance of Civilizations builds knowledge
and helps understanding across faiths and
issues relating to faith.

Very quickly the UN Alliance of Civilizations is a
UN initiative of the Secretary General supported by
a group of friends of 130 countries
and inter-governmental organizations.
President Sampaio the former President of Portugal
he is the High Representative and he reports to the Secretary-General
and we report to President Sampaio

Oue Secretarial is very small, it's about 14
and we primarily work in 0:02:38.529,0:02:39.689 the areas of migration
media education and youth.
Quickly the second part of the pyramid the
importance of understanding faith
Well first, I wanted to give a few theoretical
issues and
this is really my understanding but
we may have a problem
with the theory. The way I see it it's
apathy and ignorance that leads to stereotypes and this is what leads to violence
and tensions.

Therefore, we need education and dialogue
for knowledge, understanding,
tolerance and peace
I will be happy
to talk more about that at some major point.
The functional ... is a subject that I think is very important.
The first is
if you don't know about religion
it often leads to tensions and conflicts
Since we're in the United States let me just give very specific examples.

The first is, I don't know how many people knoe but after 9/11 the first person who was killed was
was actually neither a Muslim nor a Christian nor Hindu
He was actually
a Sikh
because he was wearing a turban and
Somebody thought he was a Muslim because Osama Bin Laden wears a turban.
The second is just in terms of how
people express their faith such as
wearing a dress.
and we've seen incidents where Imams
aND Muslim's dresses has been
pulled off planes
and the third, and I probably would personally
not wear an outfit like I'm wearing today on a plane because I'd be subject
to a bit more scrutiny
The third, in the United States some of you have seen incidents where
people who are very
Jews who are wearing tefillin
an amulet, like rosary beads
for Catholics
or prayer beads for Muslims
but they have this tefillin and they have been pulled off planes
they have been pulled off planes and interrogated by the FBI or the police
because other passengers thought that this is wires that was leading to a bomb.
morespecifically on the conflict area.
Research we have done indicates
about two-thirds of conflict have some kind of cultural dimension , and by cultural dimension
I mean, religion,
language or ethnicity
or a combination thereof.
I would say that
ninety-seven conflicts about
half have some religious dimension.
That does not mean they're the cause of it.
The second part of this is really necessary for inclusion
for innovation and development.
and MD6 achievement
We've just lost a great individual, Steve Jobs.
We know that now,
that if we do not include everyone in
our society
you know,
We can have lack of innovation
and it's just like if you exlude
fifty percent of the population that is women
As a society you are really losing a lot of talent
and the third is the role of faith.
Faith based inspired acts of good
We have seen what the Bahá'í have done but their are other religious inspired organizations that are looking
on providing humanitarian relief and helping with education and health.

The work of the Alliance is two fold.

One is practical projects
they counter stereotypes of ignorance
in the four fields I mentioned:
Migration, media, education and youth
as well as
controversial topics which I will talk more about.
and this dave tails very well with the recent resolution
of the Human Rights Council.
talking about combating ignorance
and intolerance
by working on education
and countering the stereotypes.
and the second is increasingly the Alliance has become an
International inclusive platform for civil discussion
Where similar expression of sensitive issues including
religious freedom
which is a very complex issue
First I will talk briefly about the
education about religions and beliefs a project. This is a project I run 0:07:31.310,0:07:33.210 that's focused on
particularly with and anybody
that comes to the site with resources that are helpful to teach about different religions and beliefs
bringing ethics education, civics education, tolerance.

The second part of this is the
role that faith plays especially
positive role we also know the negative role that faith plays.
We are looking at how faith plays positive roles.
The second major area is
through media,

we try to provide experts
on different issues
including religious issues to journalists so they don't come with the same stereotypes that
Ww do trainings of religious journalists
and recently a group of
young students produced
two minute videos
where they interview experts about
Islam. You can see it on the website it's called "One Hundred Questions About Islam."
This was done in partnership with the British Council.
A third initiative I'd like to focus on is
about stimulating innovation at the grass roots.
And what I mean innovation, innovation
in building
bridges between different cultures
including religions.
And recently we had the intercultural innovation.
The intercultural innovation in
partnership with the
We just had our first round of,
the deadlines just passed for the applications on
for the applications of October 16th.
And we hope to select ten projects
which will get one year of support and
follow up for networking,
and scaling up.
The last area is the area og religious 0:09:31.760,0:09:36.080 freedom and I'm sure that a Baha'i will have something more
to say about this,
well, essentially we've had a number of discussions
From the conclusions of the last discussion that was held in
Florence that was focused on the role Christian communities,
but also dealt with the larger issue of religious freedom. It's a very complex issue, it's a very
sensitive issue and there are other things that need to be done by states
and civil society.
in that.
I should mention that we’re going to have a forum in Qatar
where we hope to
engage with civil society much more actively in resolving these issues as well
like Secretary General Ban Ki-moon suggested
It's not only that states or intergovernmental organizations
can't do this task alone,
we have to do this
as a civil society
Thank you.