Prague, Czech Republic - Representatives of five world religions gathered at a meeting, held in honor of World Interfaith Harmony Week, whose theme was “Harmony and Peace.”
The meeting, organized by UPF-Czech Republic together with the nongovernmental organization Mozaiky Platform Dialog, took place on February 16, 2015, in the Mozaiky center in Prague.
Mrs. Nina Nováková, a member of the Czech Parliament, was the first speaker. She emphasized the importance of interfaith dialogue and harmony. If we do not know each other, we have fear, she said. It is important to stand on the side of goodness, she said.
Representatives of Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam each explained briefly what harmony and peace mean in their own religion.
Tomas Kraus from the Federation of Jewish Communities in Prague said that not many people even know that there is an Interfaith Harmony Week that was declared by the United Nations in 2010.
Trilokamatma Das, representing the Hare Krishna movement, started with a meditation. He then stressed the importance of interreligious activities and said we all are the children of one heart.
Mr. David Valouch, representing Buddhism, spoke about the various forms of Buddhism and the way how they understand harmony. There are about 5,000 Buddhists in the Czech Republic.
Mr. David Hron, representing Christianity, said we should speak not only about God but also with God. We need to seek the hidden truth.
Dr. Vladimír Sáňka from the Islamic Centre in Prague quoted a wise man who said there will be no peace if there is not peace among religions. Love for God and our neighbor is a teaching of all religions, Dr. Sáňka said, appreciating that in the Czech Republic there is a good interreligious dialogue.
Professor Lubos Kropáček, a scholar of Oriental studies, spoke about the violence and hatred that humankind has witnessed in recent times. He told a story about a Japanese mother; even though her son had been killed, she said, “I will not hate.”
Dr. Katerina Dekanovská, representing the Society for Interreligious Dialogue, mentioned that even in her own organization there are still people who are prejudiced against other faiths. She emphasized that it is important to know people face to face in order to avoid negative feelings.
Mr. Hüseyin Özörencik, head of the Mozaiky center, greeted the participants and expressed satisfaction that so many people had come.
Dr. Juraj Lajda, the secretary general of UPF-Czech Republic, in his introductory speech quoted Ahmed Kuftaro, a former Grand Mufti of Syria, who said that the essence of the truth is the same and that in the course of history the founders of religions could catch some part of it. Religions should not fight against each other. Dr. Lajda referred to UPF Founder Dr. Sun Myung Moon, who said that God is not sectarian and wants to embrace all the people of the world.
A ceremony followed, in which the representatives of the different religions poured glasses of water into one common bowl, symbolizing the unity of all faiths.
In the end more than 40 participants enjoyed and appreciated the time of sharing. Some of them said that the meeting was very useful, inspiring and uplifting. Many people agreed that interfaith activities are meaningful.