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Religions For Peace Organisation Promotes Interfaith Forum

Mr Vijai Singhal explained to everyone about Eat Less Meat project.

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Different religions in India, wikimedia

Religions for Peace (RfP) is an organization representing religious leaders of different faiths in Australia and includes Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Bahai faith. Hindu Council of Australia has been a member, represented by its director Vijai Singhal for over a decade now.

According to RfP founder, this Interfaith forum is different from others. Apart from meetings and speeches, it tries to connect individual faith leaders together in a bond of friendship which is best manifested by leaders of different faiths become personal friends. She cited as an example of a christian member whose daughter’s wedding was attended by and blessed by Muslims, Jews and from other faiths.

Anti-Hate laws in NSW

High on its agenda was an anti-hate and anti-discrimination law being considered by the state of NSW. Phillip Ruddock, former Attorney General of Australia and now Mayor of Hornsby shire has held wide consultations with community and submitted a report. Ian Lacey, a lawyer explained to members that Australian constitution in 1901 has included a clause on freedom of religions which means that :

religions
RfP held a meeting on 19th November 2018 to discuss various issues.
  1. Government can not establish a religion
  2. Government can not enforce a religion
  3. Government can not stop a religion and
  4. Government can not ask for a religious qualifications for a job

This, he explained, provides freedom of religion to all Australians.

Various states like Victoria and Queensland have enacted Vilification or anti-hate laws which are not working very well. He feared that NSW should not follow their path and instead enact a robust law like that in Britain which

  1. Allows people to criticize a religion but
  2. Does not allow adherents of a religion to be discriminated

He further explained that stopping people from criticizing religions can have the opposite effect of becoming a blasphemy law.  We all know how some fundamentalists regimes have enacted blasphemy laws and have used them to prosecute and impose a certain religion.

Jatayu earth centre

Robert from Vedanta society explained his recent visit to India and a “Jatayu earth centre” being established there.

Religions
Parliament of World’s Religions 1893.

Parliament of World’s Religions

Father Patrick and Rachelle Kahn who recently returned from Parliament of World’s Religions held in Toronto briefed about their impressions of the visit.  The first Parliament was held in 1893 where Swami Vivekanand had given his first now world famous address starting with “Brothers and Sisters” instead of the usual “Ladies and Gentlemen” salutation of the time.

The next Parliament was held a 100 years later in 1993 and is now an annual affair. The representation was very wide spread with 7,500 people, from 80 countries, 222 religions and over 500 workshops. However, the depth of religious fervor was very shallow.

Also Read: AAP Welcomes BJP’s Stand on Inter-Faith Marriages

Eat Less Meat

Mr Vijai Singhal explained to everyone about Eat Less Meat project in which Hindu Council has joined with ARRCC (Australian Religious Response to Climate Change).

(Hindu Council of Australia)

Next Story

Nearly 1,000 Young People March in Kampala to Protest Land, Forest and Wetland Degradation

Statistics from Uganda's forest authority show that between 1990 and 2015, the country's forest cover dropped by half

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People, March, Kampala
Young people gather to protest land, forest and wetland degradation, in Kampala, Uganda, Sept. 20, 2019. (H. Athumani/VOA) VOA

Nearly 1,000 young people marched Friday in Kampala to protest land, forest and wetland degradation around the country.

Statistics from Uganda’s forest authority show that between 1990 and 2015, the country’s forest cover dropped by half — from 24 percent to 12.4 percent.

In addition, a 2015 report by the U.N. Development Program indicated that Uganda loses about 2 percent of its wetlands annually.

The protesting youth, accompanied by a matching band, carried placards that read, “Act Now for Climate Justice,” “Stop Pollution” and “Stop Land Degradation and Deforestation.”

People, March, Kampala
FILE – Dirt is cleared and dumped, destroying a wetland in Entebbe, Uganda, July 8, 2013. VOA

Noah Osbert, a student of Kyambogo University, said world leaders need to listen to young people on issues that affect their future.

“It is incumbent upon them and upon us to show that we have that spirit of compassion to plant trees, to conserve nature for the future generation,” Osbert said. “For example, we are looking up to having industrialization, how are we counter measuring for industrialization? Because it comes along with the negative side of it.”

Research from Makerere University School of Public Health in May 2019 indicated 31,600 people die in Uganda from air pollution-related illnesses linked to dust and industrialization.

In addition, the researchers say Kampala’s annual mean pollution levels are five times above the level recommended by the World Health Organization.

Also Read- Worldwide Protests against Climate Change to Draw More than One Million Participants

“I am going to get lung complications, just because the atmosphere is not safe,” said Akello Harriet Hope, program manager for Climate Action Network Uganda. “Am going to go to the water sources, I consume water that is already contaminated. Because waste management is zero. We are getting health issues related to emissions from the preconditioned cars. So, we need justice now.”

Exporting coal

In February 2018, Kenya imposed a logging ban. In November, the government extended the logging ban for a year, to enforce reforms aimed at restoring forest cover. However, Uganda immediately became a source of charcoal in Kenya, leading to more logging in the country.

Working with the government, activist group Youth Go Green says it intends to plant 10 million trees in the next five years.

 

People, March, Kampala
FILE – Dirt is cleared and dumped, destroying a wetland in Entebbe, Uganda, July 8, 2013. Pixabay

“Charcoal is being exported to Kenya, to Tanzania and other East African countries,” said Edwin Muhumuza, the group’s leader. “But, I think, we are going to put it before government to see that trade is stopped.”

Also Read- Saudi Arabia and India Explore New Avenues Together

The protest march comes just a day before the first youth Climate Summit in New York, which  will provide a platform for young leaders to showcase their solutions and engage with decision-makers. (VOA)