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Join us at Harvard Divinity – The Evolving Field of Religious Peacebuilding

Join us at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts for the RPP Colloquium: The Evolving Field of Religious Peacebuilding: Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers in Action, Volume II

Click here to download the flyer!

When: Thursday, May 5, 2016, 6 – 8:30pm
Where: Sperry Room, Andover Hall, 45 Francis Ave. | Cambridge, MA
Sponsors: Religions and the Practice of Peace Initiative; the Religious Literacy Project; and the El-Hibri Foundation
ContactLiz Lee-Hood

Religions and the Practice of Peace Colloquium Dinner Series

Space is limited. RSVP is required.

Joyce S. Dubensky, Esq., CEO, Tanenbaum and Hind Kabawat, director of Interfaith Peacebuilding, George Mason University’s Center for World Religions Diplomacy & Conflict Resolution, and Tanenbaum Peacemaker in Action will discuss Tanenbaum’s groundbreaking new book Peacemakers in Action: Profiles in Religious Peacebuilding Volume II.

As a religiously-motivated peacemaker working in Syria and surrounding areas, Hind Kabawat will share insights on the challenges and opportunities in religious peacebuilding. Dubensky will then explore the evolving field of religious peacebuilding and the individuals who make it their profession—including Tanenbaum Peacemakers, who so often work in violent conflicts and now collaborate through their Peacemakers Network for in-country interventions.

The event will be moderated by HDS Senior Lecturer on Religious Studies and Education Diane L. Moore, director of the Religious Literacy Project.

Co-sponsored by the Religious Literacy Project at Harvard Divinity School. With generous support from the El-Hibri Foundation.

Recommended Readings
Short List

  1. Hind Kabawat, Lingering Questions Surround Geneva III, article, The Huffington Post, online, Feb 12, 2016.
  2. Hind Kabawat, Riyadh Conference: What Makes It Different?, article, The Huffington Post, online, December 16, 2015.

Further Reading

  • Tanenbaum, “Underground Woman: Sakena Yacoobi and the Afghan Institute of Learning, Afghanistan.” In Peacemakers in Action: Profiles in Religion and Conflict Resolution. Edited by David Little. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007, 382-401.
  • David Little, “Religion, Violent Conflict, and Peacemaking.” InPeacemakers in Action: Profiles in Religion and Conflict Resolution. Edited by David Little. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007, 429-448.
  • Tanenbaum’s Combating Extremism resource that features Hind Kabawat:
  1. Testimony at U.S. House Committee Hearing on the Islamic State and Religious Minorities: a resource sheet about Hind Kabawat
  2. Hind Kabawat’s Full Testimony at the U.S. House Committee Hearing on the Islamic State and Religious Minorities

About this series: Launched by HDS Dean David N. Hempton in 2014, this monthly public series convenes a cross-disciplinary RPP Working Group of faculty, experts, graduate students, and alumni from across Harvard’s Schools and the local area to explore topics and cases in religions and the practice of peace. A diverse array of scholars, leaders, and religious peacebuilders are invited to present and engage with the RPP Working Group and general audience. A light dinner is served and a brief reception follows the program.

Mental Illness and Murderous Revenge on NYC Subway Platform

Last Thursday, Sunando Sen was pushed onto the tracks and crushed to death by a NYC subway train. He was shoved by a woman who reportedly was sitting, muttering to herself just before the incident. Emerging reports indicate that the perpetrator was well known to the mental health system and to law enforcement.

The motivation for her violence was seemingly infected with the disease of religious prejudice and hate. Last Saturday, the suspect, who implicated herself in the murder, apparently admitted that she was motivated by revenge: revenge against Muslims and Hindus.

The full story about this brutal killing is still unclear and suggests a series of ills in our society. There is the story of the woman, who was talking to herself and then, seemingly spontaneously, pushed a man to his death. Easily, this narrative contributes to the national conversation about the mental health system. It is possible that her violence was triggered by prejudice and hateful self-talk about Muslims and Hindus.  And this reminds us of another societal ill – unfounded but virulent religious prejudice. 

In every way, this event is a tragedy. The random violence that robbed Mr. Sen of his life while he was attempting to travel home was senseless. Too many heartbreaking reports have filled the news recently. 

The perpetrator’s  history of mental illness, continued treatment efforts and violence remind us how far we need to go to prevent such acts.

And if hatred and unfounded blame truly fed the perpetrator’s action, the tragedy is magnified. Unjust stereotyping, ignorance and hatred against religious groups  too often leads to vigilante citizen profiling. Such stereotypes are fueled by some members of the media, by professional hatemongers and by a failure of the education system to teach our children about different religious beliefs and shared values. 

Hatred and prejudice trigger violence, fueling not only the paranoid and mentally ill, but also blinding too many of us to the humanity in each person. We may not be able to stop mental illness, but we are able to improve treatment. And through education and standing up to hate mongers, we can overcome religious hate.

When are we going to start acknowledging that hatred against a person because of his or her real or perceived religious beliefs is not acceptable?  Each of us has the right to practice faith however we choose. Religious identity is never an acceptable reason for violence. 

To the extent that this tragedy is a result of illness, we must all demand that such illness continue to be treated and that misleading stereotypes be stopped because they can be a trigger for violence among some mentally unstable individuals.

As for Mr. Sen, it is reported  that he lived with two men, one of whom was Muslim. That man, Ar Suman, said that he and Mr. Sen openly discussed religion and that Mr. Sen deplored violence done in the name of faith around the world.

As we enter 2013, isn’t it time for all of us to take a cue from Mr. Sen and Mr. Suman? Shouldn’t we learn from our Muslim and Hindu neighbors – and our neighbors of every background? Isn’t it time to practice respectful curiosity? If we do, we can help end religious violence and bring the world one step closer to world peace. And wouldn’t that be wonderful?