Fremont Celebrates World Interfaith Harmony Week
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

Fremont held its first World Interfaith Harmony Week on Saturday, February 1, at the Fremont Veterans Memorial Building in Niles. It was sponsored by the Tri-City Interfaith Council, an informal, grassroots organization with members and leaders of many faith communities in Fremont, Newark and Union City, California.

The lead organizer of the event was Moina Shaiq, a member of the Alameda County Human Relations Commission, and founder of the Muslim Support Network. She sees this event as an opportunity to build bridges of understanding and mutual respect among the people of diverse faiths.

Rev Jeremy D. Nickel, minister at Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Church in Fremont, co-organizer of the event, was of the view that Fremont is an incredible community, and a big part of what makes it so special, is its diversity. "With more languages spoken in the homes than in any other city in the world, we are truly living the American dream."

Representatives of different faiths established booths and displays to share about their beliefs, traditions, and sacred objects. Participants included Al Madina Education Center, Islamic Society of East Bay, Taqwa Islamic Center, Islamic Center of Fremont, Moorish Science Temple, Niles Discovery Church, Temple Beth Torah, Saint Joseph Catholic Church, St. Jams Episcopal Church, St. Anne's Episcopal Church, Baha'i Temple of Fremont, Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation, First United Methodist Church, Gurdwara Sahib Fremont, Fremont Community Church of Christ and Atheist Community.

There was an hour long enlightening panel discussion between faith leaders. Panelists were: Ameena Jandali of the Islamic Networks Group; Rev Jeffrey Spencer, the Senior Pastor at Niles Discovery Church; Rabbi Avi Schulman of the Temple Beth Torah in Fremont; Prabha Duneja, Founder of Geeta Society and Sarbjit Cheema from the Sikh Community.

It was Tri Cities first World Interfaith Harmony Celebration.

World Interfaith Harmony Week (February 1-7) was proclaimed by the General Assembly on 20 October 2010. In the resolution, the General Assembly points out that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace and establishes World Interfaith Harmony Week as a way to promote harmony between all people, regardless of their faith.

The history of the World Interfaith Harmony dates back to 2007 when The Common Word Initiative called upon Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in dialogue around two common fundamental religious commandments: Love of God and Love of Thy Neighbor.


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