'Peacemakers' initiative to build bridges between religions

By staff writers
April 17, 2007

A Christian educational charity has launched a pioneering new initiative which aims to build better understanding between the UK's different religions.

Charity staff at Feed the Minds were inspired to create the "Peacemakers" initiative following the July 7 terrorist attacks in London.

Peacemakers, launched at the Barbican Centre, is a collection of film, music and photography designed to improve relations between Christians, Muslims and other faiths in the UK.

Katy Newell-Jones, programmes director at Feed the Minds, said: "Fear and conflict arise as a result of a lack of mutual understanding and respect of different cultures and beliefs.

"The aim of the Peacemakers media is to help break down existing stereotypes and barriers across communities in the UK, regardless of people's age, background or faith."

She continued: "The Peacemakers materials provide stimulus for debate, and most importantly, action.

"We hope that schools, community groups, mosques and churches will make full use of the Peacemakers materials to convey the important message that education and communication are crucial to the development of community between people of different cultural backgrounds and faiths."

The project has received high profile endorsements from Doug Bourn, director of the Development Education Research Centre at the University of London, Moira Jenkins of the Development Education Association, and Julian Bond of the Christian Muslim Forum.

Anglican Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, said: "We will be planting seeds from which there will grow all sorts of new possibilities which could change individuals and society and, to a measure, the world."

Julie Siddiqi is vice-president of the Islamic Society of Britain which organises the national Islam Awareness Week.

Ms Siddiqi said: "Peacemakers is such a positive project by Feed the Minds, who should be commended for their willingness to tackle this important issue. It's so encouraging to see an initiative like this which is all about breaking down barriers and challenging preconceptions.

"The fact that Peacemakers is aimed at young people adds to its strength - educating, engaging and communicating with the youth is the key to shaping the future."

The project includes advertisements, a music video, a documentary, a short film entitled A Film about Faith, a photographic exhibition and an education pack and has its own dedicated website at www.peacemakers.tv

The materials are being piloted this year by 20 organisations including youth groups, schools, faith groups, and community groups, and the Islam Channel and the Community Channel are set to show the documentary and short film.

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