The driving force behind a Persian Tent Village which is to be based in Edinburgh for the duration of Festival season has described its message as one of "solidarity with the 99 per cent that makes up the vast bulk of humanity.
Yousef Ahadi was speaking at the preview of the Tent Village at St John's Episcopal Church in Scotland's capital this evening (2 August 2012).
The Persian Tent area at the Church forms the 'village anchor' of the month-long Festival of Spirituality and Peace, now in its twelfth year and combining conversation about social issues with a wide array of cultural and artistic activities.
Performance, food, hospitality, reflection, culture, reconciliation and space for relaxation are the combined service the Persian Tent Village will offer thousands of people in Edinburgh during the busiest time of the city's year.
But it also has a message of hope to offer at the social and political level. Yousef Ahadi, whose Persian rug emporium has been a fixture on the landscape of Morningside in Edinburgh since 1990, told the gathering that the message of peace was about breaking down barriers in order to recognise the true unity of humanity.
His reference to "the 99 per cent" echoes the call of the Occupy movement, which has also used tented encampments to spread its message of change in the face of global financial chaos and the domination of the world economy by a wealthy and unaccountable few.
The Tent complex, which features rugs and decoration from Iran and Turkey, as well as a cafe, will be open throughout the Festival of Spirituality and Peace, from 3 August to 27 August.
The Village started out as one smaller tent at St John’s last year, and has now been expanded due to popular demand.
Yousef Ahadi says that his involvement with the Festival last year inspired him to do even more this time to make the Tent experience something that brings people together across cultures and beliefs.
The Festival of Spirituality and Peace features 400 events across 21 venues. This year the theme is 'Cooperation for Change'. The Festival includes top-quality speakers and discussion, performance, art, music and family activities. It partners several humanitarian causes and is run by a small staff team and volunteers of all nationalities.
The Festival is backed by the Scottish Government, the City of Edinburgh, the Church of Scotland, Ekklesia, the Epscopal Church, the Iona Community, the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association, Christian Aid and Edinburgh City Centre Churches Together.
* Festival of Spirituality and Peace website http://www.festivalofspirituality.org.uk/
* Spirituality & Peace News: http://festivalofspirituality.blogspot.co.uk/
* Follow the Festival on Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/festivalofspirituality