29 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 new-found 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 of 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.