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Our events on interfaith aimed to bring back inter-religious harmony in the country by creating a blank canvas on which a diverse group of open-minded individuals could share their views in an attempt to paint the picture of a more tolerant and peaceful future.Recently, this diversity
that once made Bangladesh unique has now resulted in feuds between
people from different religious and cultural groups. Growing intolerance and
extremism in the society has put the lives of minorities at great risk. In an
attempt to resolve the biggest issues that taint our peace and bring back
inter-religious harmony in Bangladesh, Anupoma Niloya Troyee, ACWAY
representative from Bangladesh has organized three events: Interfaith
Conference: Dialogue for Peace & Harmony on the 29th and 30th of July,
2016; Essay competition with its award giving ceremony on the 30th of July,
2016; Insight programme on the 31st of July, 2016. The events were
partnered with two of the most prominent universities in Bangladesh for
these events: University of Dhaka and BRAC University. A Common Word
Among the Youth (ACWAY) collaborated with Gen Lab and were supported
by Right Start Foundation International and KAICIID Dialogue Centre.

Event 1 : Interfaith Conference: Dialogue for Peace & Harmony, 29th and
30th July, 2016
The speakers of this conference held at the University of Dhaka were all
professors and intellectuals at the top of their respective fields.
Participation: Approximately 170 participants were
students from diverse backgrounds, including university, college, madrasa
(Islamic religious institute), Bengali medium, and English medium. They had
all come together with one objective in mind: to find common ground
between people, no matter how different they were, and utilise this newfound familiarity in order to create a safer, more harmonious country to live
in.
The conference was inaugurated by Dr. Begum Akhter Kamal, Dean, Faculty
of Arts, University of Dhaka, at 3:00 p.m. on the 29th of July. The rest of the
afternoon comprised of a panel discussion conducted by Dr. Syed Anwar
Hossain, Professor, Department of History, University of Dhaka, Samia Huq,
Associate Professor, Department of Economics and Social Sciences, BRAC
University, and Afsan Chowdhury, Journalist and Media Professional. They
discussed how, through extensive research on the history of Bengal and the
political and economic standing of Bangladesh, the source of the problem
could be found, stating that we can only start looking for a solution once we
can pin-point the exact cause of the issue. After a short tea break, the
participants were briefed on project planning and
design, which was a valuable lesson they required in order to take part in
the project-designing competition about interreligious harmony the
following day.
In the morning of 30th July, Conference Day II, participants were informed
that they had to divide themselves into groups of around 12 people and
design and present a project with the theme of interfaith and community
development. The participants came up with brilliant ideas and two winning
teams had been awarded with a crest and prize money at the end of the
conference.
After the project presentation, there was a dialogue for peace-building with
the following discussants: Dr. Mohammad Abdur Rashid, Professor &
Chairman, Department of Islamic Studies, University of Dhaka, Dr. Father
Tapan Camilus De Rozario, Associate Professor & Chairperson, Department
of World Religions and Culture, University of Dhaka, Sanjeeb Drong, General
Secretary, Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples’ Forum, Dr. Sitesh Chanda Bachar,
Chairman, Department of Pharmacy, University of Dhaka, Dr. Suman Kanti
Barua, Professor, Department of Pali & Buddhist Studies, University of
Dhaka. The speakers themselves represented different religions and cultures
and talked about how people use religion as an ideology to justify exclusion
and discrimination.
Following this, a keynote speech was delivered by Rawaad Mahyub, Director
of Business Development at Right Start Foundation International, UK, on
Youth Awareness towards Violent Extremism.
Another keynote speech was delivered by Professor Dr. Dina M. Siddiqui,
Professor of Department of Economics and Social Sciences, BRAC University.
She talked about the political factors that may have
affected the state of the country today.
Event 2 : “Insight” programme at BRAC University
This programme was organised by the International Association of Business
Communicators (IABC) club of BRAC University. ACWAY was a partner at the
event. There, Rawaad Mahyub, Director of Business Development at Right
S
Start Foundation In ternational, UK, spoke
on Youth Awareness towards Violent Extremism alongside Osama Bin Noor,
one of the Queen’s Young Leaders Award winners of 2016. It was an
interactive youth session where Rawaad Mahyub spoke about what factors
may be leading the youth today towards terrorism and extremism. He
believes that mutual understanding among people of different religious and
cultural backgrounds is key to achieving inter-religious harmony and this can
only be attained through the work of the youth of the world, starting with
the young participants of the programme who had been highly enthusiastic
throughout the speech.

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