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Walking Egypt Back From the Brink of Anarchy

By Ebrahim Rasool and Ebrahim Moosa

The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions holds South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool in highest esteem for his dedication to peacemaking. Ambassador Rasool, pictured here from the 1993 Parliament (from left) with CPWR Chair Emeritus Howard Sulkin, championed the 1999 Cape Town Parliament as Chair of the African National Congress and has continued on as a trusted CPWR advisor on interfaith resolution for peacemaking over his years as the Premier of the Western Cape, most recently visiting Parliament leaders in December 2012 as Ambassador to the United States from South Africa.

August 16, 2013 – Originally published in The Washington Post.

Ebrahim Rasool is South Africa’s ambassador to the United States and the founder of the World For All Foundation. Ebrahim Moosa is a professor of Islamic studies at Duke University.

Preventing Egypt from sliding into civil war is a global security issue, as young militants who a year ago trusted the ballot box could potentially turn into the next generation of extremists.

What’s urgently needed is a multi-pronged strategy involving people of moral authority and leaders from countries trusted by the Muslim Brotherhood, the military and secular and liberal groups who can help Egypt walk back from the brink of anarchy and its growing loss of life. We believe an internationally constituted group of eminent persons should jump-start such an effort by brokering conditions for talks between all Egyptian players in an inclusive manner.

Such a group should include Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu of South Africa, former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, Tunisia’s Renaissance Party leader Rachid Ghannouchi, former U.S. national security adviser Jim Jones, former Irish president Mary Robinson and veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi. With the support of the African Union, South Africa, Turkey and Qatar on the one hand, and the United States, the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council on the other, the group should immediately engage credible Egyptian leaders to facilitate breakthroughs, a task no one inside Egypt can accomplish now.

A first priority for the group is to urge all parties to end the political deadlock by reconstituting an interim but inclusive civilian government of all the political players, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood, along with skilled technocrats. This requires the release of political detainees. These measures should de-escalate tensions despite the already-high recent death toll.Egypt’s interim civilian government should have six immediate priorities:●Lift the state of emergency and free up the political process. Doing so would restore confidence to a damaged political process and start the healing process.●Use Egypt’s current constitution as a draft for discussion on a final document. This would provide continuity with a legitimate, existing political process while acknowledging its shortcomings.

Ebrahim Moosa is Professor of Islamic Studies in the Department of Religion at Duke University. His interests span both classical and modern Islamic thought with a special interest in Islamic law, ethics and theology. In 2007 he delivered the prestigious Hassaniyyah lecture on the invitation of his Majesty King Mohammed VI in Fez. He was named Carnegie Scholar in 2005 to pursue research on the madrasas, Islamic seminaries in South Asia.
Dr Moosa is the author of Ghazali and the Poetics of Imagination, winner of the American Academy of Religion’s Best First Book in the history of religions (2006). He is he editor of books on Modern Islam, Muslim family law and Islamic revival with multiple publications on issues related to classical and modern Islamic thought. He is a Senior Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. 

●Restrict the army to its barracks, enforced by pressure from the United States. If the army retreats, the specter of authoritarian rule will be removed and democratic initiatives will be encouraged.●Deploy police forces to provide effective security with external monitoring. Such a move is necessary to establish law and order in all major cities, one of the grievances of the anti-Morsi protesters.

●Facilitate free and fair elections within a reasonable timeframe, say 12 months.

●Foster institutions for democratic rule and economic recovery. This could include a major aid package from the International Monetary Fund to support economic development plus a donor package targeting the restoration of Egypt’s tourism industry and other infrastructure needs.

For their part, the United States and the European Union must exercise their strategic and economic leverage to rein in the Egyptian army before it entrenches itself and reverses all the gains of the Arab Spring. President Obama’s condemnation of the past week’s bloody violence must be bolstered with decisive U.S. and E.U. action to restrain the army: withholding military aid until an inclusive political process is achieved.

Egypt’s security and stability are vital to the geostrategic politics of Africa, Europe and the Middle East, especially as they relate to the United States. Egypt’s ability to be free and democratic has the potential to forge these values in the broader Arab and Muslim world.

Moreover, with Syria’s civil war already spilling over into Iraq and Lebanon, continued violence in Egypt will seriously jeopardize regional security — something that fits al-Qaeda’s agenda.

The cost of doing nothing and simply managing our respective interests is to witness a major Arab country becoming a failed state, a prospect responsible leaders would not wish even on their enemies.

Learn More about Ebrahim Moosa.  Born in South Africa, Dr. Moosa earned his MA (1989) and PhD (1995) from the University of Cape Town. Prior to that he took the `alimiyya degree in Islamic and Arabic studies from Darul `Ulum Nadwatul `Ulama, one of India’s foremost Islamic seminaries in the city of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. He also has a BA degree from Kanpur University, and a postgraduate diploma in journalism from the City University in London.

Previously he taught at the University of Cape Town and was visiting professor at Stanford University 1998-2001 prior to joining Duke University. As a journalist he wrote for Arabia: The Islamic World Review, MEED (Middle East Economic Digest) and Afkar/Inquiry magazines in Britain and later became political writer for the Cape Times in South Africa. He contributes regularly to the op-ed pages of the Washington-Post, New York Times, Atlanta-Journal Constitution, The Boston Review and several international publications and is frequently invited to comment on global Islamic affairs.

How Christianity Became Cool Again

Hallelujah! 2013 may be the year that it became cool again to be a Christian.

Pope Francis emphasized activism at World Youth Day in Brazil, July, 2013.

Given the last several decades of political domination of Christianity by a coalition that described themselves as ‘the religious right’, it is hard to remember that there was a time in the 20th century when Christians were cool and spoke with a powerful, prophetic voice to the major issues of our day.

There was a time when Christians like Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Berrigan brothers, Thomas Merton, Paul Tillich, Dorothy Day, Henri Nouwen, Howard Thurman, Reinhold Niebuhr and John XXIII offered the basic framework for what Christianity meant to the world.

Collectively, these men and women offered some of the most philosophically deep and socially relevant thought of any kind. They inspired a generation of young people to work in racial reconciliation, environmentalism, economic justice, and anti-war activism. They fed the spirit, while also walking in Jesus’ way of justice and peace.

In those days you could say you were a Christian and the above names might come to the mind of the listener — and they were cool; meaning relevant, compelling, edgy, and forward thinking.

Sadly, that has not been true in recent history. And it has infected the American psyche so much so that when a stranger tells even me, a Christian pastor, that they are a Christian it puts me on edge. Imagine what it must do to a person of another faith or someone who don’t subscribe to any religion.

This has been helped by the media who, when they have wanted a ‘real Christian’ on the show, turned to Jerry Falwell, Tony Perkins or James Dobson resulting in a Christian profile that represented a large, but by no means universal Christian outlook.

The generic Christian profile that has emerged over these last decades has been someone who does not believe in the equality between men and women, degrades LGBT people, is opposed to science, especially in regards to evolution or climate change, is suspicious of people of other faiths and no faith, and is pro-militarism in foreign policy.

In short, it has been a while since it has been cool to be Christian.

Well, 2013 may be the year that changes.

This week has been a particularly cool Christian week. To start with the amazing Pope Francis took advantage of his time in Rio for World Youth Day to make sure he visited the nearby favela (slum), a prison, and a drug addict center. While there, he continued his habit of speaking about the poor and inequality in a powerful, focused way that no world leader of any kind has for a long time:

No one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in the world!. No amount of peace-building will be able to last, nor will harmony and happiness be attained in a society that ignores, pushes to the margins or excludes a part of itself.

In other words: No justice, no peace.

Pope Francis has consistently taken on the injustice in the world’s financial systems and the indifference the world has towards the poor and the outcaste. Noticeably absent from the Pope’s discourse has been the rights and dignity of gay people — until Monday when the Pope shocked the world by saying “Who am I to judge gay people” and opened the door to gay priests and a basic softening of the church’s hardline stance against LGBT peoples.

Cool.

The Pope was not the only world religious leader to make news this week on gay issues. On Friday, Archbishop Desmond Tutu rocked people’s mind when he said that he would rather go to hell than a homophobic heaven. The icon of the anti-Apartheid movement made the comments at the launch of a United Nations gay rights program in South Africa:

I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this. I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid. For me, it is at the same level.

Really cool.

But these are just the latest headlines that are bubbling up with cool Christians doing relevant compelling things. The United Church of Christ has voted to divest from fossil fuel companies, the Episcopal Church is headed by an amazing woman who is both a scientist and pastor and who is spearheading the conversation between science and religion;

Evangelicals are taking the lead on climate change, the American Bishops are lobbying for immigration reform, the Patriarch Bartholomew is known as the ‘Green Patriarch’ for his work on the environment, Christians are involved with innovative and crucial dialogue with people of other faiths and no faiths; and pastors and priests across the country and the world are ministering to broken people with love and compassion every day.

Christianity is cool again.

Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush is the Senior Religion Editor for the Huffington Post. From 2003-2011, Raushenbush was the Associate Dean of Religious Life and the Chapel at Princeton University. He was the President of the Association Of College and University Religious Affairs (ACURA) from 2009-20011. An ordained American Baptist minister, Rev. Raushenbush speaks and preaches at colleges, churches and institutes around the country.

Here is one case in point. On Gay Pride Sunday in New York I invited a couple of my colleagues to a church where a friend of mine is the pastor. They were having a ‘disco mass‘ and I thought my friends might be intrigued enough to go. They were.

We had a great time at the church. My friends fell in love with the pastor whose style was relaxed and hip, and whose sermon was smart and compelling. They loved the community feel of the congregation, and they thought the ideas they heard there a good way to start gay pride.

Mind you, neither of them had been to church of their own volition — ever. And they may never go back to church. I really don’t care — they are wonderful, spiritual, and ethical people — I don’t need them to become Christian.

However, by being there they understood a little more about why I am Christian, and how Christianity guides the way I view the world and do the things I do. And even with that short glimpse they respected my faith more than they had before.

If more Christians can speak out the way Pope Francis and Archbishop Tutu have this week and so many have been in recent memory — it will change the way people view Jesus and the faith that he inspires in so many of us.

And that will be so cool.

This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post by Religious Editor Paul Raushenbush

Religious and Spiritual Leaders Reflect on 9/11

Beyond 9/11 to a Broader View of the World by Sister Joan Chittister, OSB

Healing, Hope and Humanity: A Sikh Reflection by Dr. Tarunjit Singh Butalia

It Is Time to Invoke Historys Other 9/11 of Nonviolence and Global Interfaith Dialogue by Anju Bhargava

9/11: Ten Years On by Eboo Patel

From Memory to Hope by Rev. Dr. Katharine Rhodes Henderson

Lessons from the Kaddish a Decade Later by Chancellor Arnold M. Eisen

WATCH: The Future Of Christian-Muslim Relations In The West

For A More Unified, Understanding New York by Georgette Bennett, Ph.D.

Did 9/11 Make Us Morally Better? by Miroslav Volf

Hate and Hope by Serene Jones

Reaching for Hope After 9/11 — Together by The Interfaith Amigos

WATCH: Finding Hope And Healing At Ground Zero

The Sukkah and the World Trade Center by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

An Opportunity For Reflection by Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori

Our post-9/11 failures by Desmond Tutu

Unite through compassion by Karen Armstrong

Remaking the world after 9/11 by Tony Blair

Radical Islam on its way out by Feisal Abdul Rauf

9/11 demands intellectual honesty by Sam Harris

Rebuilding our souls by Thomas Monson

Spirituality after the attack by T.D. Jakes

Peace begins internally by Donald Wuerl

Live the memorial by Katharine Jefferts Schori

Death and the hope of resurrection by Mark Driscoll

Divided world, divided hearts by Deepak Chopra

We grasped our brokenness anew by David Wolpe

Americans still dont know Islam by Yasir Qadhi

A prayer for America by Sally Quinn

From Ground Zero to the State Dept by Suzan Cook

10 Years Later, We Must Do Better by Rabbi Michael M. Cohen

Dalai Lama turns 76 in Washington, will meet with congressional leaders

by Ana Sebescen from CNN

Thousands of well-wishers sang “Happy Birthday” Wednesday to the Dalai Lama, who turned 76 at the beginning of an 11-day visit to the capital on which he will meet with top congressional leaders.

So far, the White House has remained silent on a potential meeting between the Tibetan spiritual leader and President Obama

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has invited the Dalai Lama to the Capitol on Thursday to meet with congressional leaders, his office announced Wednesday. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will be among those attending.

Obama met with the Dalai Lama in Washington in February 2010, triggering a rebuke from China, which considers the Dalai Lama the leader of a separatist movement.

“I always say, the best gift to me is to practice compassion,” said the Dalai Lama said Wednesday. He urged the crowd to search for happiness within and promote non-violence, compassion and equality around the world.

The term “Dalai Lama” is a Tibetan Buddhist religious title. Under Buddhist teachings, the title is given to those who are the reincarnations of a lineage of religious teachers. The current Dalai Lama is considered the 14th in this line.

Wednesday’s festivities marked the start of the Dalai Lama’s visit, during which he will confer a special blessing and ancient Buddhist teachings.

“Rich, poor, believer, non-believer – no difference. We are all the same,” the Dalai Lama said…

Click here to read the full article

 

Desmond Tutu: Why We Should Celebrate Difference

by Desmond Tutu from Huffington Post

As the world’s memory of apartheid receded, Desmond Tutu responded to a stream of invitations to speak around the world on the practical implications of ubuntu. An excerpt from a speech to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva in 2001 follows.

We inhabit a universe that is characterized by diversity. There is not just one planet or one star; there are galaxies of all different sorts, a plethora of animal species, different kinds of plants, and different races and ethnic groups. God shows us, even with a human body, that it is made up of different organs performing different functions and that it is precisely that diversity that makes it an organism. If it were only one organ, it would not be a human body. We are constantly being made aware of the glorious diversity that is written into the structure of the universe we inhabit, and we are helped to see that if it were otherwise, things would go awry. How could you have a soccer team if all were goalkeepers? How would it be an orchestra if all were French horns?

For Christians, who believe they are created in the image of God, it is the Godhead, diversity in unity and the three-in-oneness of God, which we and all creation reflect. It is this imago Dei too that invests each single one of us — whatever our race, gender, education, and social or economic status — with infinite worth, making us precious in God’s sight. That worth is intrinsic to who we are, not dependent on anything external, extrinsic. Thus there can be no superior or inferior race. We are all of equal worth, born equal in dignity and born free, and for this reason deserving of respect whatever our external circumstances. We are created freely for freedom as those who are decision-making animals and so as of right entitled to respect, to be given personal space to be autonomous. We belong in a world whose very structure, whose essence, is diversity, almost bewildering in extent. It is to live in a fool’s paradise to ignore this basic fact.

We live in a universe marked by diversity as the law of its being and our being. We are made to exist in a life that should be marked by cooperation, interdependence, sharing, caring, compassion and complementarity. We should celebrate our diversity; we should exult in our differences as making not for separation and alienation and hostility but for their glorious opposites. The law of our being is to live in solidarity, friendship, helpfulness, unselfishness, interdependence and complementarity as sisters and brothers in one family — the human family, God’s family. Anything else, as we have experienced, is disaster…

Click here to read the full speech

Desmond Tutu to Retire

Desmond TutuFrom CNN

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu announced Thursday he will retire from public life in October, when he turns 79 years old.

“Instead of growing old gracefully, at home with my family — reading and writing and praying and thinking — too much of my time has been spent at airports and in hotels,” the Nobel laureate said in a statement.

“The time has now come to slow down, to sip Rooibos tea with my beloved wife in the afternoons, to watch cricket, to travel to visit my children and grandchildren, rather than to conferences and conventions and university campuses,” he said.

Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, formally retired as Archbishop of Cape Town in 1996.

But by then he was already chairing South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a public inquiry into the crimes of the country’s apartheid regime. He retired from that position in 1998.

Since then, Tutu has continued to travel the world, lecturing and advocating for various causes.

Click here to read the entire article.

One Young World Holds First International Summit

Screen shot 2010-06-17 at 3.44.52 PMOne Young World (OYW), a global forum for young leaders, held its first international summit in February this year. 823 young leaders from 112 countries met in London for three days to discuss current events and developed 6 key Resolutions. Plenary sessions were led by such international figures as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan, and Muhammad Yunus.

Addressing the crowd of young leaders, Muhammad Yunus said, “Only if we act can we create the world that we want.” Discussion topics focused on how to implement social change in a business setting. Said Lauren Pierce Bush, 25 year old founder of FEED, “The importance of doing good in business will be just as important as doing well in business.”

To watch footage from from the summit and learn more about OYW, click here.

Currently, OYW Ambassadors from Nigeria, Russia, and South Africa are supporting the Missing Millenium Development Goal, a petition that declares the eight Millennium Development Goals can only be successful with Interfaith Collaboration. The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) created by the UN include objectives such as halving poverty and preventing the further spread of HIV and AIDS.

Click here to sign The Missing Millenium Development Goal petition.

June 20th, 2010 at 6:00 am

Desmond Tutu Video on PeaceNext and YouTube

From a recent e-mail sent to all members of PeaceNext.org,

Dear PeaceNext friend,

We’d like to thank you for strengthening the interfaith movement through your
presence on PeaceNext. We are happy to share the release of Desmond Tutu’s 2014 Parliament Bid address – made first available here to our PeaceNext community.tutu-screenshot

Now on to the video… on May 20, Archbishop Desmond Tutu shared an inspiring message with the 2014 Parliament Bid Teams. He addressed the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the 1999 Cape Town Parliament and also recognized the Cape Town Interfaith Initiative’s celebration of the official launch of the Charter for Compassion in South Africa. To begin the celebration, Karen Armstrong, a featured speaker of the 2009 Parliament also delivered a compelling message. Representatives from the Bid Cities, now narrowed down to Brussels, Belgium; Dallas, Texas, U.S.A; and Guadalajara, Mexico, were in attendance at the Chicago viewing along with friends and Council Trustees.

Click here to watch the video. The video is also being featured on PeaceNext‘s main page.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Address 2014 Parliament Bid Teams

UPDATE: Archbishop Tutu’s address was recorded and will be available through PeaceNext.org. If you haven’t joined already, sign up to PeaceNext today to receive up-to-the-minute postings and updates on the 2014 Parliament and the work of the Council.

Join the inter-religious movement online today at PeaceNext.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU TO ADDRESS
2014 PARLIAMENT BID TEAM

Chicago, Illinois (May 20, 2010) – Archbishop Desmond Tutu will deliver a special address on Thursday, May 20 at 1 PM CST to the bid/audit teams for the 2014 Parliament of the World’s Religions, welcoming them to the bid process and emphasizing the dramatic impact that hosting the Parliament can have on their cities. Reverend Tutu will appear from Cape Town, South Africa, via live-stream video, as that city marks its 10th anniversary of hosting the 1999 Parliament of the World Religions and celebrates the Parliament’s enduring legacy on the city, its institutions and its people.

Archbishop Tutu’s address takes place as part of the Cape Town Interfaith Initiative and the launch of the Charter for Compassion in South Africa. Karen Armstrong – renowned religious scholar and featured speaker at the 2009 Parliament in Melbourne, will also speak via a pre-recorded address from Cape Town.

Rev. Dirk Ficca, Executive Director of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, reflecting on Desmond Tutu’s long-standing support of the Parliament, observed, “Since his extraordinary leadership in the effort to dismantle Apartheid in South Africa, Archbishop Tutu has been an icon of the interreligious movement. With the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994, Desmond Tutu has been in the forefront of the ongoing task to create a more just and equitable society in South Africa. Like Archbishop Tutu, we are immensely proud of the role the 1999 Cape Town Parliament played in this historic process of national reconciliation.”

The Council is pleased to announce the three participating bid cities: Brussels, Belgium; Dallas, Texas, USA; and Guadalajara, Mexico. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada was present to audit the bidding process.

UPDATE: Archbishop Tutu’s address was recorded and will be available through PeaceNext.org. If you haven’t joined already, sign up to PeaceNext today to receive up-to-the-minute postings and updates on the 2014 Parliament and the work of the Council.

http://www.peacenext.org/

Contact: Alisa Roadcup, Communications Director
(312) 629-2990 x. 237
alisa@parliamentofreligions.org

Desmond Tutu to Address Bid Cities

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

UPDATE: Archbishop Tutu’s address was recorded and will be available through PeaceNext.org. If you haven’t joined already, sign up to PeaceNext today to receive up-to-the-minute postings and updates on the 2014 Parliament and the work of the Council.

Join the inter-religious movement online today at PeaceNext.org


From May 16 – 20, representatives from four international cities will gather in Chicago to learn more about hosting the 2014 Parliament. The meeting will take place at the Palmer House Hilton, site of the centennial 1993 Parliament and steps from the site of the inaugural Parliament of 1893 which launched the worldwide interreligious movement.

Much to our delight, Archbishop Desmond Tutu will personally address city representatives via live-stream video from the Cape Town Interfaith Initiative’s 10th Anniversary Celebration held in honor of the decade anniversary 1999 Parliament of Religions. Archbishop Tutu will share the meaningful legacy of the 1999 Cape Town Parliament as well as the critical importance of the Parliament of World Religions.

The Cape Town Interfaith Initiative will also celebrate the launch of the Charter for Compassion in South Africa. Karen Armstrong, a featured speaker at the 2009 Parliament, Melbourne, will deliver a special pre-recorded address to acknowledge the decade anniversary and to officially launch the Charter in Cape Town, South Africa.

May 13th, 2010 at 2:05 pm