The relationship between Peace and Diversity was the topic chosen for this year’s Peace symposium, organised by The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community New Zealand, and held in Auckland on the 22nd of September. The event is held annually by the Ahmadiyya community both in New Zealand and internationally, as a means to bring people together to discuss issues relevant to the society, and to provide a forum for interfaith dialogue.
Hon Michael Wood MP, Parliamentary undersecretary to the Minister of Ethnic Affairs, was the chief guest at the well attended event, while invited speakers at the event included Professor Edwina Pio, Director Diversity at the AUT, Dr Rob Kilpatrick, director of Traidmission and MD of Smallternative Trust, and Imam Shafique ur Rehman, missionary in charge of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community New Zealand.
Hon Michael Wood initiated the discussion highlighting the positive role of an increasingly diverse New Zealand population, and what the perceived threats to peace may be present in the society. Quoting the example of the recent visit to New Zealand of the far right speakers from Canada, he lauded the united front presented by the New Zealand people from across the spectrum against radical views meant to generate hate and distrust in the society. Prof Pio’s presentation centered on the womens’ role as Peacemakers, while Dr Kilpatrick drew upon his experiences from around the world on how important it is to work actively towards achieving peace, and why violence can never achieve lasting peace. Imam Shafique ur Rehman meanwhile presented the Islamic view point, highlighting the early Islamic period as an example of how governance can be kept separate from religion, yet allowing the followers of all faiths to coexist peacefully.
The event was attended by nearly 150 guests, who had the opportunity to ask the panel questions about topical issues around peace and diversity. Notable attendees included Minister of housing & urban development and transport Hon Phil Twyford, National MPs Hon Melissa Lee and Hon Dr Parmjeet Parmar, and Labour MP Hon Dr Deborah Russell. In addition representatives of New Zealand Police Ethnic Liaison & neighbourhood office, honorary Bangladesh counsel Mr Shafiqur Rahman, and leaders of Jewish, Christian, and Hindu faiths also attended the symposium. The event concluded with a combined prayer and commitment to work towards establishing a peaceful society.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a dynamic, fast-growing international revival movement within Islam. Founded in 1889 by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) in Punjab, India, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community spans 210 countries with membership exceeding tens of millions. Its motto of ‘Love for all and hatred for none’ is evidenced through the peaceful actions of its millions of followers. The New Zealand branch of this community was established in 1987 and is a registered charitable organisation that endeavors to be an active and integrated community within New Zealand society.