9/11 inspires dialogue between Hindus, Muslims and Christians
by Kalpit Parajuli – Asian News
For Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Ba‘hai religious leaders, 9/11 must be an opportunity to promote peace and harmony among different faiths and counter all forms of religious extremism. On the 10th anniversary of the attack against the Twin Towers, they called on the authorities and ordinary Nepalis to work together to turn Nepal into a secular state where all religions are respected.
For all Muslims who believe in peace and dialogue, 9/11 represents a humiliation, said Shamin Ahamad, a Muslim. “For the past few years, a small extremist minority has spread a wrong idea about Islam. Nepal’s Muslim community has always been against terrorism.”
According to Nazrul Hussein, General Secretary of Nepal’s Inter-religious Council, the tragic attack against the Twin Towers, has brought Nepal’s various religions closer together. Citing the pope’s speech yesterday in Ancona, he said that the challenge today “is to create religious solidarity” to maintain that closeness through peace education and interfaith dialogue.
Damordar Pandey, a senior Hindu leader, agrees. For him, dialogue and mutual understanding are the only path for harmony among Muslims, Christians and Hindus.
Isu Jung Karki, a Christian and coordinator of the Inter-Religious Secular Protection Movement, noted that, as a country, Nepal is blessed. Contrary to Asian nations, torn by communal hatreds, in Nepal, “People are more open and accept other faiths,” he explained. “We must care for existing seeds of tolerance and fight the pockets of extremism in order to promote a secular state.”
Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Ba‘hais have lived side by side for centuries. The fall of the monarchy in 2006 and the establishment of a secular state have consolidated their ties. However, the country has had to cope with the threat of terrorism since then, especially from Hindus.
Between 2006 and 2009, a Hindu extremist group calling itself the Nepal Defence Army has called for the return of the king. It has also carried out attacks against churches and mosques. The worst attacks were those of 2008, against the Birantnagar mosque, and 2009, against Kathmandu’s Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption.