Working for a better society depends on ordinary people - not just political, civic and faith leaders - standing up to prejudice and injustice, Alex Salmond has said.
Scotland's First Minister made the comment as part of a strong message of support for the Festival of Spirituality and Peace in Edinburgh, which officially launched over the weekend.
Salmond declared that "the Festival of Spirituality and Peace is now firmly established as one of the key Edinburgh International Festivals," and commended its topical programme of conversations about public issues, art, culture, performance and family events.
One of the hottest issues the Scottish Government has faced, the Lockerbie and Megrahi saga, will be aired at the Festival today (Monday 8 August), when Dr Jim Swire, spokesperson for the relatives of the victims, along with Professor Richard Black QC and the members of the Justice for Megrahi Committee will attend a public question and answer session following the only summer performance of David Benson's acclaimed and controversial play, 'Lockerbie: Unfinished Business' at St John's Church, Princes Street, from 4pm.
At 10.30am, also at St John's, journalist and author Yasmin Alibhai Brown discusses the post 9/11 world, the democratic Arab revolutions, and Samuel Huntingdon's 'clash of civilisations' thesis, along with David Pratt, foreign editor of the Sunday Herald newspaper.
Alex Salmond declared in his message of support last night: "I am delighted to see the Festival of Spirituality and Peace go from strength to strength with each successive year. Edinburgh's International Festivals don't just allow us to enjoy arts and entertainment from home and abroad, they allow us opportunities to think about our lives and the world we live in."
He continued: "This year's [Festival of Spirituality and Peace ] theme of 'Faith, Hope and Reality' is a perfect example of thought-provoking and challenging issues discussed in ways which educate, inspire and entertain, and there is no doubt in my mind that everyone attending the events throughout the coming three weeks will be both educated and challenged by what they see and hear.
"Building a better society is not just the work of politicians, faith leaders and community activists. Real change is driven by all people who are ready to challenge injustice, prejudice and discrimination. I know that this year's festival will be exciting and enjoyable for participants and audience alike, and I pass on my best wishes to all," concluded the First Minister.
The Festival will attract some 25,000 people to 300 performances over 200 events in six venues, and is supported by a range of church, interfaith, civic, educational and media bodies.
* The full Festival programme is at: http://www.festivalofspirituality.org.uk/ 
* Spirituality Peace and News: http://festivalofspirituality.blogspot.com/ 
* More on FoSP from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/festivalofspirituality 
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