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Asia Foundation holds interreligious summit for harmony, peace in Bangladesh

The Asia Foundation in Bangladesh holds an international dialogue for harmony and peace at Westin International Hotel, Gulshan 2, in Dhaka, on January 23. (Photo: Father Patrick Gomes)

The Asia Foundation in Bangladesh held an international dialogue “for harmony and peace” at Westin International Hotel, Gulshan 2, Dhaka, in Bangladesh on January 23.

The event aimed at listening to the stories of various religious leaders in the country on the impact of the activities of Asia Foundation in the country, especially on “interreligious dialogue.”

Among the issues discussed ranged from peace projects to counter extremism and women empowerment.

Aside from participants from Bangladesh, about 50 peace advocates from Indonesia, Vietnam, and the United States joined this year’s summit.

Father Patrick Gomes, convener and secretary of the Rajshahi Dialogue Commission, said Asia Foundation’s human rights projects and interreligious activities were able to penetrate the grassroots, including tribal and indigenous communities.

Father Gomes  shared that “interreligious dialogue” is noted especially during religious festivals, such as during Eid and Christmas.

Father Patrick Gomes is with the participants of the Asia Foundation Summit group

Some participants, however, expressed the view that it is not so easy to implement interreligious harmony in a predominantly Muslim country.

A Hindu participant from Rajshahi, Kolpona Vowmik, expressed her appreciation of the Early Response Unit Project of Asia Foundation because it protects the religious rights and freedom of minority groups.

Snigdha Zaman, senior program officer of the project, said Asia Foundation is interested in success stories about the protection of human rights, dignity, and “interreligious harmony and peace in Bangladesh."

Asia Foundation works with government, civil society, community and religious leaders, and the private sector in Bangladesh to address community challenges in capacitating leaders that reflect the country’s diversity and can facilitate broad-based participation in development. - Nikhil Gomes


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