Peacemakers in Action: Media Update (July-August)

Many of our Peacemakers in Action have been in the news in recent weeks. Here’s an update on what’s been said:

Pastor Terry Jones of Gainsville, Florida may have called off his 9/11 Koran burning, but the media fury that whipped up around him still had serious consequences throughout the Muslim world.
 
Rev. Canon Andrew White: The New York Times ran an article this weekend about protests and violence in Afghanistan, including the deaths of two Afghans who were killed in a protest against the planned bonfire. Closer to us here at Tanenbaum, the Rev. Canon Andrew White, “the Vicar of Baghdad” and one of Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers, publicized the threats against his parish, St. George’s Church. In an email statement for the press, Canon White relayed a warning he had received from an Iraqi Army colonel: “There are plans to blow you up because of what the pastor in Florida has said about burning the holy Koran.” Canon White elaborated on the story in a segment for CNN, appearing with young members of St. George’s choir and appealing to Terry Jones to think of the consequences of his actions.
 
Fears of an attack proved to be all too valid, when, on September 9, four Iraqi guards outside of St. George’s were shot and killed. Canon White said, "Without a doubt it is linked to Florida… The book-burning is huge news in Iraq at the moment. Every newspaper, every television station and radio, they've all been covering it.” 
 
The cancelling of the bonfire came too late to prevent fallout around the world, and these events at home and abroad draw attention to the dangers of intolerant rhetoric in a world of mass media.
 
Our thoughts are with Canon White and his parish as they continue on through this tense and dangerous time.
 
Despite the challenges of flaring religious tensions, our Peacemakers are continuing on with their work to promote understanding and coexistence among adherents of all faiths. Enjoy these highlights of their most recent work!
 
Rabbi Menachem Froman makes gestures of peace to Palestinians, helping to create a positive atmosphere as Israeli and Palestinian officials begin peace talks in Washington, D.C.
 
Betty Bigombe is running for Woman Member of Parliament in the Amuru district of Uganda. She’s running as the candidate for the National Resistance Movement party, having won the primary in Amuru at then end of August. She’ll be moving on to the general elections in 2011!
 
Sakena Yacoobi was recently a panelist at the annual United Nations Non-Governmental Organizations Conference in Melbourne, Australia.  This year, the conference theme was “Advance Global Health: Achieve the MDGs,” and Sakena participated in a roundtable discussion of how NGOs and civil society can help achieve the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.  Follow the link above for the Conference schedule and videos of each session.
 
Sakena also spoke to members of the Australian press about the importance of education in Afghanistan, and about the consequences of foreign troop drawdowns for Afghan women and children.
 
Coming up, Sakena will be delivering the keynote address at a reception of the Global Fund for Women in Chicago on September 16, 2010.

Azhar Hussain worked with Tatsushi Arai, a professor of conflict transformation at World Learning’s SIT Graduate Institute, to facilitate a workshop on Pakistani-American relations as part of a multi-day training for peacemakers in Washington, D.C. He spoke about his work in promoting tolerance as a component of madrassas’ curricula in some of the most divided areas of the world.

 
Pastor James Wuye and Imam Muhammad Ashafa launched their new film, “An African Answer”, about their peacemaking work following the 2008 election violence in Kenya, at the Caux Forum for Human Society in Switzerland.
 
They will also be coming to New York in October to accept the Mattie J. T. Stepanek Peacemaker Award from the We Are Family Foundation, joining the likes of Paul Simon, Deepak Chopra, and Rev. Desmond and Leah Tutu. Congratulations Imam Ashafa and Pastor James!
 
We continue to support our Peacemakers in Action as they put their skills to work and, at times, their lives at risk in the pursuit of interreligious understanding.