On 13 November 2020, the All Faiths Network held its yearly Interfaith Week event to celebrate religions in their diverse manifestations as well as demonstrate how religions can work together. This year brought us new challenges with a UK-wide lockdown and many months of disrupted society, so we went on-line to hold a memorable and uplifting 2-hour event. AFN members were determined to rise above all these issues and show that religious communities contribute so much to breaking through the negative surrounding us to bring about a better world.
Martin Weightman, AFN’s Director said, “Our theme was to show that the creativity of the spirit and an understanding that we are much, much more than just a physical existence can bring us to overcoming barriers imposed through lockdown. To this end we not only held a stunning series of performances through our on-line concert but also released a book ‘People of Faith Rising Above Covid-19’ showing how religious and cultural communities have worked to overcome these problems. The e-book is available on Amazon and the hard copy will be available soon after. Faiths working together is a natural for people with good hearts and thoughts.”
Religions of many faiths and cultures were brought together through creative performance and prayer. Hindu, Muslim, Jew, Christian, Scientology, Sikh, Buddhist and many more explored African, Asian and Western cultures through their own spiritual visions. We heard Arabic devotional poetry, a Buddhist Zen sutra, a Scientology Prayer for Total Freedom, divine gospel, Jewish psalms, Islamic prayer, not to mention a cultural dance piece spanning five African countries by Ateker International Development Organisation (AIDO). Our youth were represented too with Hindu classical dances, Hindu children in prayer and accomplished young Sikh musicians and singers. The concert will be available soon through the All Faiths Network website (www.allfaithsnetwork.org). Screen shots of the presenters are available on the website.
Alessandro Amicarelli, Chairman of the European Federation of Freedom of Belief, said, “This has been a year of unprecedented challenges all over the world. Our lives have been severely affected by a number of issues, and first and foremost there have been restrictions to our basic human rights and fundamental freedoms such as freedom of movement as we were stuck at home, and also the right and freedom to practise one's religion and belief were affected, as worship places were closed in most countries.
Despite this situation, religious and spiritual communities, Human Rights and FORB organisations and the Academia have not stopped their activities during this tough time. Instead the number of initiatives carried out at different levels are telling.
In fact even though we were stuck in our homes for several weeks, however as a big family, in spite of a number of limitations, all together we have kept working, producing White Papers, articles, comments, booklets, videoclips, and much more; we also had online meetings, and another telling example of our work is the lovely event being held today.
We all will recall that two years ago we all happily welcomed the First Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion in the world. Possibly the first initiative of this type ever. The ministerial immediately attracted international attention and soon, because of its success, it was announced it would become an annual event. The we had an even more successful Second Ministerial in 2019. And so, albeit all the problems that we are experiencing, the Ministerial is continuing this year, and next week there will be a number of events to attend online.
There are many challenges, yes. Likewise there are a number of positive actions to plan and realise together. Let's keep fighting all together and may Justice, Peace and Freedom thrive, prosper and prevail!"
Tracey Coleman, AFN’s Events Manager praised all the performers and those who gave prayers. She said, “Tonight we united in the beauty of faith, culture, music and dance. What struck me was the sheer ability that faith and culture have in lifting up a human being from the problems of life. Celebration of Faith transcends the material world into a realm of higher creativity, aesthetics and beauty.”