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Tanenbaum Peacemakers in Action Speak at United Nations

Leading grassroots peacebuilders and Tanenbaum Peacemakers in Action, from six of the world’s conflict zones, made a celebrated appearance at the United Nations on Wednesday, July 13, 2016.

The event, “Turning the Tide: Engaging Religiously-Motivated Peacebuilders in Conflict Zones,” addressed two topics: alternative approaches to combating extremism and ways that grassroots peacemakers build relationships and trust with community members, diplomats and government officials.

The first panel featured Tanenbaum Peacemakers Ms. Maria Ida “Deng” Giguiento (Philippines), Mr. Azhar Hussain (Pakistan), and Ms. Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge (South Africa), as well as H.E. Mr. Rubén Ignacio Zamora Rivas, Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the United Nations. H.E. Mr. Kai Sauer, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations moderated the first panel.

Peacemaker Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge highlighted the need for multi-faith peacebuilding in South African communities. She noted how, “The interfaith movement between Christians, Muslims and Hindus, created in the struggle to end apartheid, continues today, providing a moral canvas for our government.”

Tanenbaum’s most recently awarded Peacemaker in Action, Deng Giguiento, discussed how she advises military leaders as a peacebuilder in the Philippines. She described once believing that she couldn’t work with the military: “I always perceived them as the enemy. But I was taught to pray for my enemies.” Following prayer with action, Deng sees positive results as she trains both military and community members with the hope of building a “lasting peace in Mindanao.”

The second panel reviewed innovative approaches to tackling violent extremism and the prominent but frequently overlooked role of women in this field. Panelists included Peacemakers Mr. Ricardo Esquiva (Colombia), Ms. Dishani Jayaweera (Sri Lanka), and Dr. Sakena Yacoobi (Afghanistan), as well as Ms. Faiza Patel, Co-Director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School, and Mr. Andrew Tomlinson, Director & Quaker U.N. Representative. Ms. Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women moderated.

Ms. Lakshmi began the panel by discussing how “Essentially religion is about humanity. It is about rights and it’s about the equality of all creatures.” Then Sri Lankan Peacemaker Dishani Jayaweera described how she created the Female Religious Leaders Initiative after working with 300 male religious leaders from diverse faith traditions. She began the initiative “to explore the role of female religious leaders in peacebuilding and reconciliation” and their “interpretation of religion and spirituality.” Her work aims to include women in the religious peacebuilding process, essential for creating lasting peace.

Peacemaker Sakena Yacoobi, who has founded numerous schools in Afghanistan, expressed, “I really strongly believe that women are the victim in every country, women and children.” And she gave insight into the solution, “If we really want to bring peace – it is not through guns, it’s not through tanks, it is through education…. education is the key issue that brings transformation”.

Peacemaker Ricardo Esquivia (Colombia) spoke about the importance of including both communities and government offices in the peacemaking process to combat extremism. “[We] use a pedagogy of nonviolence to teach communities about non-violent action, and we mobilize [groups] to interact through dialogue and direct negotiations with local and national governmental officials.”

The event at the UN was part of the 2016 Tanenbaum Peacemakers in Action Network Retreat, which brought together Peacemakers from all over the world to exchange ideas and best-practices in peacebuilding. This year’s retreat focused on combating violent extremism and women in peacebuilding.


We extend our gratitude to the event’s sponsors: The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), KAICIID, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA), and the GHR Foundation.

New Peacemakers in Action Announced!

al-Marwani_byKarimBenKhelifa-OeilPublic-forTIME

Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Marwani| Credit: Karim Ben Khelifa, Oeil Public for TIME

Around the world, extraordinary yet unknown women and men work tirelessly to build peace in conflict and post-conflict zones. Driven by faith, they dare to do the work that others are afraid to take on. At Tanenbaum, we are honored to recognize two of these inspiring peace activists, Yemen’s Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Marwani, a Sufi Muslim, and the Philippine’s Maria Ida “Deng” Giguiento, a Catholic, as our newest Peacemakers in Action.

Yemen’s Sheikh Al-Marwani negotiates peace between tribal leaders and works to counter calls for extremism. In the Philippines, Deng Giguiento is a teacher and has worked in the Mindanao conflict, creating alliances among conflicting Christian, Muslim and indigenous groups. Both Peacemakers have been threatened as a result of their work yet they persevere, deeply motivated by their faith and a vision of a peaceful future.

Maria Ida “Deng” Giguiento (Philippines)

Maria Ida “Deng” Giguiento (Philippines)

Sheikh Al-Marwani and Ms. Giguiento join 28 Peacemakers from 22 conflict zones. Click here to read their exciting bios – along with the inspiring bios of this year’s finalists.

American Muslim Veteran Sues NYPD: News Roundup

In the news:   An American Muslim veteran sues the NYPD, faith in religious institutions diminishes, Muslim extremists are most concerned about foreign intrusions, and other stories.

Syed Farhaj Hassan, a veteran, said that he’s been “betrayed” by the New York City police department for its years of post-9/11 spying on Muslim communities in New Jersey.
 
Hassan signed on recently to be the lead plaintiff in the first lawsuit to challenge any portion of the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslims — a systematic program that has gone on both in New York and across state borders.
 
"I was upset that this was happening to a community, simply based on their faith,” Hassan said.
 
“The same thing can happen to Jewish Americans; the same thing can happen to Shinto Americans; the same thing can happen to Buddhist Americans,” he went on, leaning across a table and slicing the air with his hands to emphasize his point. “In this case, it happened to Muslim Americans.” Religion News Service
 
A fresh update to Gallup's annual "Confidence in Institutions" survey reveals that only 44 percent of Americans today have "a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in 'the church or organized religion.'" Americans ranked organized religion at the top of their confidence list almost every year from 1973 to 1985. Now it is tied with the medical system.
 
However, such a low vote of confidence is relative in this survey. Trust in organized religion still ranks fourth out of the 16 institutions tested, including public schools, banks, and television news — which also hit all-time lows in June's poll. Christianity Today
 
Muslim extremists are more concerned with defending against foreign intrusion than foisting Islam on the world, according to a new study of extremist texts. The study suggests that a Western approach of claiming extremists are seeking world domination is misdirected, and instead should seek to counteract claims of victimhood.
 
"Continued claims to the contrary, by both official and unofficial sources, only play into a 'clash of civilizations' narrative that benefits the extremist cause. These claims also undermine the credibility of Western voices, because the audience knows that extremist arguments are really about victimage and deliverance," write the researchers, Jeffry Halverson, R. Bennett Furlow and Steven Corman. CNN
 
The Episcopal Church on Tuesday approved an official liturgy for blessing same-sex unions, enabling priests who have the approval of their bishops to bestow the church’s blessing on gay couples whether they live in a state where same-sex marriage is legal or not.
The adoption of an official rite, significant in a church in which liturgy is central, further solidifies the Episcopal Church’s shift to the left on sexual minorities. A day earlier, the church voted to approve a nondiscrimination policy that will allow transgendered people to be ordained to the priesthood. New York Times
 
According to a nationwide survey conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, the most extensive look at black women’s lives in decades, black women are among the most religious people in the nation. Although black men are almost as religious as their female counterparts, there is a more stark divide along racial lines.
 
The survey found that 74 percent of black women and 70 percent of black men said that “living a religious life” is very important. On that same question, the number falls to 57 percent of white women and 43 percent of white men. Washington Post