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A rich history of co-existence: New centre to showcase religious freedom

Bahrain News
Fri, 09 Feb 2018
By Feras Ahmedi

A MUSEUM showcasing Bahrain’s rich history of religious freedom will be housed at a new centre to promote peaceful co-existence through inter-faith dialogue.

The King Hamad Global Centre for Inter-faith Dialogue and Peaceful Co-existence will also host international dialogues, seminars, conferences, workshops, educational programmes and research programmes.

It will be officially launched on March 14 at the Isa Cultural Centre (ICC), which will also act as the temporary headquarters for the centre.

However, This Is Bahrain president Betsy Mathieson said the actual facility will be built on land gifted by His Majesty King Hamad.

Details of the centre were announced yesterday during a symposium that was attended by ICC board of trustees vice-chairman and executive director Dr Shaikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, This Is Bahrain officials, community leader and religious figures.

The centre will be launched in the footsteps of other initiatives, including The King’s Chair at the University of La Sapienza in Rome which aims to spread dialogue, peace and interfaith understanding.

The other initiative, The Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration, is an international document committed to promoting religious freedom which was officially launched during an event in Los Angeles in September last year.

“(The centre) will act as a mediation centre for ethnic issues, host visiting and residential academics for research programmes, and offer internships and exchange programmes to students of The King Hamad Chair at Sapienza University in Rome,” said Ms Mathieson at the symposium.

Students from around the world will be able to visit the centre, where they will find examples of houses of worship, witness their rituals, and learn of their history and philosophy.

“(They will be able to) share their thoughts and, of course, sign The Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration,” added Ms Mathieson.

She described interest in the centre as overwhelming, with inquiries coming from organisations around the world seeking to book the centre for international conferences.

“This is very exciting news at these early stages and shows that His Majesty’s third and perhaps most important initiative has really struck a chord with major decision makers and influencers around the world,” she said.

Once the centre is inaugurated, it will begin hosting conferences and dialogues at its temporary headquarters in the ICC.

“We cannot just wait for a building to be built, as His Majesty said, we have to work now,” explained Ms Mathieson.

“We will be holding dialogues, conferences, and seminars almost immediately after the official inauguration.”

This Is Bahrain is an independent society that comes under the umbrella of the Bahrain Federation of Expatriate Associations and has been touring the world since 2014.

It held events in London, Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Rome, Washington, New York and Los Angeles.

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