Thursday, 31 December 2015

Praying together

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The Sikhs - #1

Americans attack Sikhs because they think they're Muslims

December 29, 2015 - 12:42PM

Peter Holley

Members of the Sikh community gather for a news conference at the Sikh Association of Fresno Temple in California in 2012, in response of the shooting in Wisconsin at a Sikh temple when six people were killed by an unidentified gunman.
Members of the Sikh community gather for a news conference at the Sikh Association of Fresno Temple in California in 2012, in response of the shooting in Wisconsin at a Sikh temple when six people were killed by an unidentified gunman. Photo: AP/File

Washington: The bearded man in the blue turban was attacked before dawn on Saturday morning, while waiting for a ride to work.

Two white males in their 20s pulled up and began to curse at Amrik Singh Bal, according to police in Fresno, California.

Fearing for his safety, police said, the 68-year-old Sikh man attempted to cross the street – but "the subjects in the vehicle backed up and struck the victim with their rear bumper". The car stopped, and the two men "got out and assaulted the victim, striking him in the face and upper body".

US Army Captain Simratpal Singh, who was recently granted a temporary religious accommodation that allows him to grow his beard and wrap his hair in a turban, at home in Auburn, Washington, this month.
US Army Captain Simratpal Singh, who was recently granted a temporary religious accommodation that allows him to grow his beard and wrap his hair in a turban, at home in Auburn, Washington, this month. Photo: NYT
During the assault, police said, one of the suspects yelled: "Why are you here?"

Mr Bal fell to the ground, striking his head.

He also suffered a broken collarbone in the attack – the latest in a string of incidents targeting US Sikhs, who are frequently conflated with Muslims and often wind up absorbing the backlash against Islamist extremists.

US Army Captain Simratpal Singh, who was recently granted a temporary religious accommodation that allows him to grow his beard and wrap his hair in a turban, at home in Auburn, Washington, this month.

US Army Captain Simratpal Singh, who was recently granted a temporary religious accommodation that allows him to grow his beard and wrap his hair in a turban, at home in Auburn, Washington, this month. Photo: NYT

US Army Captain Simratpal Singh says his two worlds have finally come back together.

US Army Captain Simratpal Singh says his two worlds have finally come back together.
Photo: NYT

This month, just days after a married Muslim couple opened fire at a social services centre in San Bernardino, California, a Sikh house of worship in nearby Orange County was vandalised with hateful graffiti, according to the Sikh Coalition. A truck parked outside the Gurdwara Singh Sabha was also vandalised, with graffiti that included the phrase "F--- ISIS," the coalition said. ISIS is an acronym for Islamic State.

In September, Inderjit Singh Mukker, a father of two on his way to the grocery store, was savagely assaulted in a Chicago suburb after being called "bin Laden".

History of xenophobia

There's nothing new about Sikhs being the targets of violence and intimidation in the United States: Followers of the monotheistic faith, which originated in Punjab in the 15th century, have been on the receiving end of xenophobic intolerance since they began arriving in the Pacific north-west to fill logging jobs in the early 20th century, according to Simran Jeet Singh, a senior religion fellow at the Sikh Coalition, a non-profit advocacy group.

"Pretty immediately after our arrival in this country, we became targets of xenophobia," Dr Singh said in a recent interview. "Hate violence has ebbed and flowed throughout our history in America, but being targets of racism is nothing new. It's part of our history here."

That intimidation intensified in the months after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment washed over the country, leading some to confuse the long beards and turbans worn by many Sikh men as a representation of Islam. Others viewed it simply as an opportunity to attack individuals they perceived as being "un-American".

Sikh achievement: Harjit Singh Sajjan reacts after being sworn in as Canada's defence minister in Ottawa in November. Seated in the red turban is Navdeep Singh Bains, who was sworn in as science and innovation minister on the same day.

Sikh achievement: Harjit Singh Sajjan reacts after being sworn in as Canada's defence minister in Ottawa in November. Seated in the red turban is Navdeep Singh Bains, who was sworn in as science and innovation minister on the same day. Photo: The Canadian Press via AP

According to the Sikh Coalition, there were more than 300 cases of violence and discrimination against US Sikhs in the first month after the 2001 attacks.

The hatred peaked more than a decade later, when an army veteran and white supremacist named Wade Michael Page walked into a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and opened fire on a crowd of worshippers, killing six and wounding three before taking his own life.

Renewed fears

Now, the United States is again grappling with fears of terrorism after recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, which have shaken Western governments and collectively resulted in about 150 deaths.

And again, Sikhs say, their community is bearing the brunt of those fears.

"Over the last few weeks, the level of intimidation is worse than it was after September 11th," Harsimran Kaur, the Sikh Coalition's legal director, told The Washington Post. "Then, people were angry at the terrorists and now they're angry at Muslims, anyone who is seen as Muslim, or anyone who is perceived as being 'other'.

"It's not just a case of mistaken identity. It's beyond that."

Although estimates vary because of a lack of census data, the coalition believes 500,000 to 750,000 Sikhs live in the United States, with about half of that population residing in California.

The 2014 US Religious Landscape Study, released by the Pew Research Centre, shows that less than three-tenths of a per cent of the US population identify as Sikhs. In a 2012 Q&A, Conrad Hackett, a demographer at Pew and an expert on international religious demography, put the number far lower, at about 200,000.

"This estimate is based on the assumption that the vast majority of Sikhs in the US are of Asian origin – an assumption supported by various studies, including Princeton University's New Immigrant Survey," he wrote. "However, given the difficulty of surveying both small religious groups and new immigrants, the 200,000 figure should be considered a rough estimate and more likely a floor than a ceiling."

Male followers of the Sikh faith frequently cover their heads with turbans – which are considered sacred – and forgo shaving their beards.

They are also highly misunderstood by a majority of Americans, according to a 2013 report called Turban Myths published by the Sikh American Legal Defence and Education Fund and Stanford University.

According to the report's findings, half of the American public associates the turban with Islam and believes that Sikhism is a sect of the religion.

An even larger chunk of the public – 70 per cent – remains unable to identify a a Sikh when looking at a picture of one.

Dr Singh told The Post that portraying hate crimes against US Sikhs as mere cases of mistaken identity is problematic. Not only is an attacker's motivation often hard to discern, he said, but such categorisations have a way of legitimising the perceived original intent and diminishing the brutality of the crime.

The FBI began tracking hate crimes against Sikhs only last year, according to the coalition.

"For Sikh Americans, the unique markers of religious identity – the turban, the beard – these markers are associated with the markers of terrorism," Dr Singh told The Post's Sarah Kaplan in September, after Mr Mukker, was viciously beaten.

In other words: "People see a Sikh and construe them as the enemy."

Fuelled by politics

Ms Kaur said the backlash against people who are perceived as being non-American has been exacerbated by anti-Islamic statements made by Republican presidential candidates such as Ben Carson and Donald Trump. Dr Carson has said that the United States should not elect a Muslim president, citing concerns about "different loyalties". Mr Trump has called for a "total and complete" ban on Muslims entering the United States.

"Trump's statements legitimise nativist impulses," Ms Kaur said. "It's why we're seeing more profiling and vandalism and intimidating incidents. We've been speaking to the family of an elderly man who was hit in the head with an apple a few days ago. These are the kind of things that you start to see as the political rhetoric escalates."

In his recent address from the Oval Office, US President Barack Obama urged Americans to "reject discrimination" and to avoid defining the US war against extremism as "a war between America and Islam".

"It's our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently," he said. "Because when we travel down that road, we lose.

"Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbours, our co-workers, our sports heroes, and, yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in the defence of our country," he added. "We have to remember that."

Long list of incidents

Sikhs have been the targets of several incidents since Mr Mukker was attacked in September.

According to the Associated Press, a Sikh woman said she was forced to show her breast pump before taking her seat on an airplane "because another passenger thought she might be an extremist".

A group of Sikh football fans said they were initially barred from entering Qualcomm Stadium to watch the San Diego Chargers play the Denver Broncos because they were wearing turbans, according to the news service. They were finally allowed inside, but Verinder Malhi told ABC affiliate KGTV that a security supervisor informed the group that if they ever returned to the stadium, they couldn't wear turbans.

"Three of my buddies, they had turbans on, and it was like, 'You guys got to take the turbans off'," Mr Malhi said. "It's bad, I mean, this is embarrassing for me, because we are Americans at the end of the day. And we are not supposed to be afraid of fellow Americans."

A Sikh store clerk in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was shot in the face during a robbery this month. The victim reported that the assailant called him a "terrorist", according to the Grand Rapids Press; before he was shot, the suspect told the clerk that he used to kill people like him in Iraq, the newspaper reported.

The robber also suggested that the 34-year-old clerk was a member of IS, Gurleen Kaur, a relative of the store's owner, told the Press.

"It could've happened to anyone that looks like us," she said. "We're Americans. We're trying to live normal lives, be Americans."

The backlash against Sikhs has resulted in several hopeful stories.

A photo of a former Trinity University basketball player spread across social media this month with the caption: "Nobody wants to guard Muhammad, he's too explosive." The photo was actually of Punjabi American Darsh Singh, the first turbaned Sikh to play in the NCAA.

Greg Worthington, a friend of Singh's, was outraged by the meme and penned a powerful rebuttal on Facebook that went viral.

"I know this guy and his name's not 'Muhammad'. He's not Arab, he's Punjabi. He's not even Muslim, he's a Sikh. His name is Darsh Singh and he's a US citizen, born and bred. That jersey he's wearing in this pic, it currently sits in a Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC, because he made US history as the NCAA's first turbaned Sikh American basketball player for Trinity University in my hometown of San Antonio. He was co-captain of that team when he played there. He's worked in US Intelligence with the National Security Agency in the past and currently manages financial portfolios and hedge funds for some of the most compassionate companies in the US. Above all those things, he's a really nice guy, very funny, and he's a great friend of my younger brother whom I was more than happy to befriend myself."

The story spawned a #BeLikeDarsh hashtag on Twitter, as well.

During an appearance on NBC News, Singh said he was inspired by the response.

"In the Sikh tradition, we believe that every individual has the potential to embody divine love," he said. "What this showed me was, I think, people are recognising there are no bystanders when you see hate violence.

"When you reach out to people and connect with them, it means something. Silence in the face of prejudice is an act of hate."

In a second victory for Sikh affirmation, the US Army this month announced that a 27-year-old Sikh captain who served in Afghanistan may keep his beard and turban when he reports for a new post.

The Hill and the New York Times reported that the exception to the army's strict grooming standards was only the fourth one issued in more than three decades. Now, the publication noted, the army has to determine whether the exception should permanently apply to others.

"My Sikh faith and military service are two core parts of who I am," Captain Simratpal Singh said in a statement.

"I am proud to serve my country as an officer and I look forward to being able to continue serving without having to give up my religious beliefs."

Washington Post

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Justice for refugees : boycott for corporations involved in offshore detention centres

Cross-posted with The Network and Advocacy

Campaign for Councils to refrain from doing business 
with companies that abuse human rights

Companies Involved In Offshore Detention

 Frozen Out By City Of Sydney
(IMAGE: Jason James, Flickr)

By Max Chalmers on December 15, 2015 Featured

A growing campaign to stop institutions from doing business with companies that abuse human rights has claimed a major scalp. Max Chalmers reports.

Companies profiting from the offshore detention of asylum seekers could be prevented from doing business with the City of Sydney after the Council resolved to review its investment and procurement policy and bring them into line with the No Business in Abuse campaign.

In a meeting last night, the Council voted to adopt a pledge not to support companies, institutions, or organisations that profit from abusive practices towards people seeking asylum.
Moved by Greens Councillor Irene Doutney (pictured), the successful motion will not impact current contracts, but could cause headaches for companies working in the offshore detention industry when new tenders are released.

Of particular interest will be the implications for Wilson Security, subcontracted by detention centre operator Broadspectrum (formerly known as Transfield) to provide security services in offshore centres. Wilson also provides substantial carparking and security services in Australia and the company has had a number of contracts with the City of Sydney, including an estimated $2.4 million deal to manage the Kings Cross Car Parking Station which is due to be reviewed in 2017.

Doutney told New Matilda that most members of the Council – dominated by Clover Moore’s progressive independents – were appalled by the abuses occurring in detention, and that she expected the motion would make it difficult for the Council to renew contracts with companies like Wilson in the future.

“I just think it’s really important for institutions, particularly councils, to take a stand on these sorts of things,” Doutney said. “People will say ‘it’s not Council business’, but I think anything to do with human rights is Council business. It’s really important to take a stand and, being City of Sydney, maybe other councils will now look favourably on the pledge.”

Doutney said the motion would not have an immediate impact but would put pressure on the Council not to sign contracts with or invest in companies linked to detention in the future. She said the Council already avoids investments in fossil fuels, tobacco, and nuclear.

The City of Sydney’s move comes at the end of a year that has seen Broadspectrum in particular come under pressure for its role in offshore detention, with the No Business in Abuse campaign occurring in tangent to a divestment movement. In August, super fund HESTA announced it was divesting, withdrawing $18 million from the company formerly known as Transfield.

The No Business in Abuse campaign said Leichhardt Council and Yarra City Council had also signed on.

“The City of Sydney is one of Australia’s largest councils, and their decision last night provides unstoppable momentum to the NBIA campaign which has expanded to target the clients of Broadspectrum and Wilson, including councils, schools, hospitals and big resources companies,” Shen Narayanasamy, Executive Director of No Business in Abuse and Human Rights Campaign Director at Getup, said in a press release.

Narayanasamy said the Wilson Group currently had over $3 million worth of contracts with the City of Sydney. If the Council holds its resolve, that number is likely to head towards zero in the coming years.

The Wilson Group could not be reached for comment.

Fresh pokies brought to you by Woolworths

Here it is -the Woolworth's other 'Happy Christmas' advert courtesy of Getup. Please blare and share and dare your...
Posted by Gypsy Jack on Monday, 21 December 2015

Buddhist Council of Victoria reviews 2015

 Words from the Incoming Chair 

  Phra Khru Kampeepanyawithet (Ajahn Boonsom) 

Summer is here with us and 2015 is coming to an end.  The changes in seasons and the new year coming is showing us that all things are impermanent.  All things come and go.  Beautiful buds in Spring become beautiful fruits in Summer, leaves drop in Autumn and trees are bare in Winter.  The cycle repeats.

The BCV had it's 20th AGM on the 25th October 2015.  This AGM covered 1st January 2015 to the 30th June 2015.  The BCV is now up to date with AGMs and our reporting period is now in line with the financial year.

It is very heartening to see "old faces" coming back on board to support and help the B.C.V.  The election of office bearers went well with required office bearers positions filled except for 1 more committee member. If your temple or organisation would like to nominate a delegate for the position please send an email to or call  03 88222013 ( Monday & Thursday 11:00 – 3:00pm).
The new board consists of:

Chairperson     : Ajahn Boonsom (Melbourne Thai Buddhist Temple)
Vice President : Laura Chan (Dharma Drum Mountain Melbourne Chapter)
Secretary         : Harvey Tuck (Melbourne Buddhist Centre)...
Treasurer         : Kosala Jayasinghe (Buddhist Vihara of Victoria)
Ordinary Committee Members:
Michael Wells (Buddhist Society of Victoria)
Kris Elleperumaarachchi (Buddhist Sri Lankan Association of Victoria).

From left: Laura, Harvey, Ajahn Boonsom, Kosala and MIchael

BCV have received another round of funding from the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship (OMAC) for 2015 to 2017.  Therefore the next two years are going to be very exciting for the BCV.  The workplan was presented to the members detailing the BCV plans and objectives over the next few years.   Members were urged to put their hand up to assist the BCV on our event planning team for next year.  2016 is set to be a busy year with our 20th year celebrations.

Di Cousens' policy on Managing Sexual Abuse and Harassment was adopted at the AGM.  It is a guideline for centres and temples to consider implementing.  The BCV would like to thank Di Cousens for creating this policy.

The BCV needs resources. We welcome people with different skills to give a helping hand in implementing the activities in it's plan.  We would love to hear from you.  Please email me at or call us on 03 88222013 ( Monday & Thursday 11:00 – 3:00pm).  We would love to discuss further with you, how you can help us deliver our plan.

We would also like to bring to your attention the activities the BCV has been involved in over the past few months.  encourage you to visit our website and "Like" our facebook page for information on BCV activities in the future.


Recent BCV Events

BSRI Teacher Training August 2015
The BCV hosted a BSRI Teacher Training on the 3rd and 4th of August, (the second one for the year) at the Melbourne Thai Buddhist Temple in Box Hill.  6 trainees successfully completed their BSRI training in this session.

Spiritual Health Victoria (SHV) and University of Divinity Interfaith (Buddhist) Immersion Day 7th October 2015
BCV organised the event for SHV and the University of Divinity with monastics from the 3 lineages talking to the participants about their faith and health. A Chinese herbalist doctor spoke about the care of health from a lay person’s point of view.  Speakers on the day were Peggy Page with an overview of Buddhism, Mr. Alan Wong from FGS Yarraville on Mahayana (Chinese) Buddhism, Dr. Huijing Geng on Chinese cultural healthcare principles, Ajahn Boomson on Theravada (Thai) Buddhism, and Hojun Futen on Vajrayana Buddhism and general Buddhist healthcare principles.

Emails of congratulations on the success of the day were received from Shinen Wong – Education Officer at SHV and Dr. Alan Niven – University of Divinity, Stirling College.  There were 16 participants for the event.
The Buddhist Council of Victoria would like to thank Yun Yang Temple for allowing us to host the Immersion Day at their temple.

BCV Bus Tours October 2015
The BCV hosted two interfaith bus tours in November.  The first was held on the 12th October (the Western Suburbs Tour) and visited the Daham Niketanaya Centre and The Tibetan Buddhist Society both in Yuroke, and Quang Minh Temple in Braybrook.

Attendees on the day were of the Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Scientology and Buddhist faiths.  Feedback from the event showed that the highlights included learning about Buddhism, visiting temples and seeing the interesting architecture of buildings.

The second interfaith bus tour was held on the 26th October (South Eastern Suburbs Tour) and visited Tara Institute in Brighton East, Hoa Nghiem Temple in Springvale South and Khmer Buddhist Temple also in Springvale South.  Attendees to this tour spoke of the highlights being seeing and meeting the monks, learning about Buddhism and visiting the temples.

Many thanks go to Myly Nguyen for organising and hosting the bus tours.  Myly's wealth of knowledge across all Buddhist lineages was a great asset and was much appreciated by all that attended.

The Buddhist Council of Victoria would also like to thank all of the organisations mentioned above for hosting our guests.  The tour attendees were very appreciative of the lunches offered by members from Quang Minh Temple and Hoa Nghiem Temple.

Overall the tours were a great success with more planned for 2016!

Catholic and Buddhist Luncheon November 2015

The BCV together with the Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne hosted the Catholic and Buddhist Luncheon at Dhamma Sarana Temple in Keysborough.  The morning commenced with blessings from both Rev. Dr. John Dupuche and Venerable Nuotunne Vijitha Thero.  This was followed by the Dana Ceremony with  the Dhamma Sarana Temple community, and then lunch.
The Theme for the day was  "Slavery and Freedom - Interior and Outer".  After lunch
 Christine Carolane from the Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans spoke about the different forms of human trafficking and the work that ACRATH does around this issue.  Rev. Dr. John Dupuche and Venerable Nuotunne Vijitha Thero then presented religious aspects of the theme, followed by a Q & A session.

The BCV would like to thank the Dhamma Sarana Temple for hosting the event.


BSRI Professional Development Day November 2015

The Buddhist Special Religious Instruction program held its annual professional development session on November 21, 2015.  Almost half of the current voluntary instructors took part in it.
Class experiences, problems and insights were shared among the instructors. Some new program materials that could be considered for future use were put on display.
The occasion was also used to thank all the instructors for their hard work and valuable contribution, without which the program could not have been continued in the year.
The implications of the new government policy changes announced in August on the program were expounded. Voluntary instructors were told of the decision by the Buddhist Council of Victoria to put the program on hold for the first six months of 2016.

BCV Key Programs Update

Healthcare and Prison Chaplaincy

Venerable Hojun Futen has been convening both the Prison Chaplaincy and Healthcare Chaplaincy roles since Christine Thompson left earlier this year.
Hojun will remain in the Prison Chaplaincy role for 2016.  He will vacate the Healthcare Convener position resulting in the need to look for a new convener.
Do you have a background in spiritual care/chaplaincy/counselling?  Please look out for the advertisement for this position in the coming weeks.
If you would like more information please contact Hojun Futen via his BCV

Buddhist Special Religious Instruction
As some of you may know, on the 21st August 2015 major changes were made to the SRI program.  The changes meant that SRI will no longer take part during school teaching hours. 

This forces the SRI programs to be organised for before school, at lunch times or after school.  A teacher from the school would still be required to supervise the classes.  The BCV and BSRI committees are currently working together to determine the future of the BSRI program.  If it is to continue in some other form, there is a need for new BSRI committee members.  If you are interested in assisting, please  

Interfaith Events 

Carey Rohlach a very long and committed volunteer and supporter of BCV had attended many events on behalf of BCV. With the starting of recording and provision of feedback of attendances it is seen that Carey attends on average two events a week. Well done Carey.

There are many new interfaith organisations/networks being established at various municipalities and are looking for Buddhist representatives.  Please consider being a member of such newly established organisations to assist them in having a better understanding of the teachings of the Buddha.  If you have further queries, please email us at


BCV has a workplan of 12 activities that it is required to implement in 2015 – 2017. Skills and experience needed include managing of projects, organising events, work processing and creative thinking. If you are looking for an exciting project to be involved in please send an email to chair@bcv,
BCV also needs volunteers for each of its four programs (Interfaith, Spiritual Care Prison, Spiritual Care Health, Religious Instructions in Schools) and also for general administration duties. Please access our website for more information and fill in our volunteer expression of interest form.
For further information please contact .
Enquiries can also be made at 03 8822 2013 (Monday & Thursday 11:00 – 3:00pm).
Bi-Lingual Vietnamese Spiritual Carers Needed.
The Vietnamese community is one of the largest Buddhist communities in Victoria and it is an ageing one. In order to best assist our older Vietnamese brothers and sisters in difficult times, the BCV is calling for bi-lingual Vietnamese ordained Sangha and lay people to become on-call volunteer Buddhist Spiritual Carers.
Training will be provided and carers will be added to a pool of volunteers to be called when non-English speaking patients and/or their families require spiritual care in hospitals.
Bi-lingual monks and nuns are also required to assist Vietnamese men in Victorian prisons.
Please contact for further details.

Be Social!

The BCV would love for you to follow us on facebook to keep up to date with BCV and it's member temple's activities and events.

If you are reading this, you have probably signed up to receive our newsletters and updates via email.  If you know anyone else who might be interested, please send them to our website and request that they join our mailing list (supplying their email address at the bottom of the page). 

The Buddhist Council of Victoria wishes our members and friends a very happy festive season and a joyful and peaceful new year.

We value your support over the year and look forward to your continued support in 2016.  We have a very big year planned with the 20th anniversary celebrations, as well as many other Buddhist activities.

Please note that the Buddhist Council of Victoria office will be closed from Tuesday 22nd Dec until Wednesday 6th January 2016.
The email address will be checked intermittently over the holiday period.


Copyright © 2015 Buddhist Council of Victoria, All rights reserved.
You are a friend of the BCV.

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Buddhist Council of Victoria
36 McDowall St, Mitcham, Victoria, Australia
MitchamVIC 3132

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Monday, 21 December 2015

Multifaith Conference, August 2016, Melbourne: Exclusion and Embrace - Disability, Justice and Spirituality

Andy Calder

11:05 (14 minutes ago)
to andy.calder123
Exclusion and Embrace: Disability, Justice and Spirituality

August 21-23, 2016                                            
Jasper Hotel, Melbourne

Artwork by Nathan Photiadis at Araluen Centre

Dear friends and colleagues

I am writing to bring this important multi-faith Conference to your attention and to your organisation/members/networks who may wish to participate.

Multi-faith Conferences such as this one, bringing together people who wish to explore the understandings and experiences of disability and spirituality, are rare occurrences in Australasia. The Conference will include keynote presentations, concurrent sessions and an Art Exhibition.

The organising Committee would therefore like to reach as many interested people as possible. This Conference has the endorsement of a number of entities including the Jewish Christian Muslim Association,Spiritual Care Australia and the Faith Communities Council of Victoria.

We are most appreciative of the support provided by a range of organisations and they are acknowledged on the website’s Homepage.

We have been most fortunate in attracting two internationally esteemed keynote speakers, Prof Hans Reinders and Rev Bill Gaventa who are in Australia for the IASSID Congress being held August 15-19 in Melbourne. The range of multi-faith presenters continues to grow, and is being regularly updated on our website.

We are now also seeking Abstracts from people who wish to make a presentation, drawing on the themes of exclusion and embrace.  In addition to spoken presentations and workshops, encouragement is also given to stories, poetry and song. Closing date for Abstracts is 10 April, 2016

Registrations are now open with Early Bird prices set till 17 June 2016. It is highly recommended people take advantage of the opportunity to register early, as Conference numbers are capped at 160.

Easy English information will be added to the website very soon.

downloadable brochure with all Conference details is available.

Please circulate and forward this email widely through your networks and request the content be brought to people’s attention and cross-linked to relevant websites/social media. Apologies for any cross postings. Please also refer to our Facebook page.

Thank you for your support in promoting this event as widely as possible. Further details from Ann Byrne at 03 9251 5404.

Yours Sincerely

Andy Calder
Conference Convenor

Inclusion - all the way while acknowledging the differences!

Many Thanks to Garth Read from the North Brisbane Interfaith Group for passing on this link. Truly inspirational!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

An Australian Carol - Carol of the Birds - with lyrics

Carol of the Birds

Written  by:  William Garnet James & John Wheeler
Out on the plains the brolgas are dancing
Lifting their feet like war horses prancing
Up to the sun the woodlarks go winging
Faint in the dawn light echoes their singing
Orana!  Orana!  Orana to Christmas Day

Down where the tree ferns grow by the river
There where the waters sparkle and quiver
Deep in the gullies bell-birds are chiming
Softly and sweetly their lyric notes rhyming
Orana!  Orana!  Orana to Christmas Day

Friar birds sip the nectar of flowers
Currawongs chant in the wattle tree bowers
In the blue ranges lorikeets calling
Carols of bushbirds rising and falling
Orana!  Orana!  Orana to Christmas Day

The word "Orana"  means  "Welcome"

This link will open a midi file player to allow you
to hear the tune and see the words as it plays.
Carol of the Birds 

Please go to this YouTube to see
beautiful shots of the birds in the song.

Carol of the Birds - a Catalonia carol


The Carol of the Birds (traditional)

When rose the eastern star
The birds came from afar
In that night full of glory
In one melodious voice
They sweetly did rejoice
And sang the wondrous story

Sang, praising God on high
Enthroned above the sky
And His fair mother, Mary

The eagle left his lair
Came winging through the air
His message loud arising
And to his joyous cry
The sparrow made reply
His answer sweetly voicing

"Overcome are death and strife
This night is born new life,"
The robin sang rejoicing

When rose the eastern star
The birds came from afar

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Happy Hanukkah!

The Jewish Festival of Hanukkah began last night in Australia.

The last day of Hanukkah is 14 December 2015.

For details about Hanukkah, please go here.

The events on which Hanukkah is based
are found in what Christians call the Old Testament.

However, not all Christian Bibles have the Apocrypha or Deutero-Canonical Books.
The story revolves around the Maccabees.
To find out more about about the Maccabees, please go here.
The cause for the happiness of Hanukkah  is based
on ancient story of liberation.
To find out more about that, please go here.

Australian citizenship, Islamophobia, Cronulla, Bigotry, Racism in Multi-Cultural Australia

Cross-posted with Advocacy @ St Paul's

Ten years ago the Cronulla riots shocked the nation. As someone who converted to Islam after marrying into a Muslim family and has children growing up Muslim in Australia, I'm more aware of this impending anniversary than most.
Watching news footage of the riots at the time, which included people being seriously assaulted by a drunken flag-waving crowd because they were of Arab or Muslim appearance, prompted my husband and I to seriously consider changing our oldest son's proudly chosen Arab Muslim name. We eventually decided against it, reasoning that we shouldn't capitulate to racism, the event was a one-off, and that by the time he grew up, Islamophobia would have receded.
More than 5500 people gathered at North Cronulla on December 11, 2005.
More than 5500 people gathered at North Cronulla on December 11, 2005.  
Photo: Andrew Meares
Ten years on, and anti-Muslim hate seems to have reached an all-time high; I think twice before saying my son's name out loud in a public place. Tens of thousands of people have liked anti-Muslim social media pages, anti-Muslim rallies are held regularly across the country, and several anti-Muslim political parties plan to contest the next election.
These developments, which would have shocked many even a year ago, now seem a normal part of the Australian political landscape. My youngest son can identify the regular news coverage of anti-Muslim sentiment by looking at the images. If they're of men and Australian flags, it's about "the people who don't like us".
This has prompted me to question why the almost complete appropriation of Australia's national symbol by groups whose agenda is to exclude has been met with silence from those whose job it is to represent our flag and country.
Members of the Reclaim Australia rally in Melton on November 22.
Members of the Reclaim Australia rally in Melton on November 22. 
 Photo: Chris Hopkins
Despite general agreement on the need to unite against the terrorists who want to divide us, the need to unite against the right-wing extremists who want to do the same thing has not been a part of the national conversation. Where is the leadership on condemning increasing extremism targeting the Muslim community?
A failure to do so has fostered an environment in which physical and verbal attacks on people identifiably Muslim, particularly women, have increased to the point where community leader Saara Sabbagh recently told a forum against racism: "You can ask any Muslim woman with a headscarf and she'll tell you a story."
A friend told me recently that her year 4 son had come home from school asking her, "Are we killers, mum?"
Speakers at a Reclaim Australia rally in Canberra on November 22.
Speakers at a Reclaim Australia rally in Canberra on November 22.  
Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
One of the most frightening aspects of rising Islamophobia is that it is a worldwide trend. Anti-Muslim, anti-immigration political parties have made gains in the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Austria, France and Italy. United States presidential candidate Donald Trump recently proposed a national register for Muslims, a move New Jersey Rabbi Joshua Stanton said made him think about "fascist actions taken against Jews during the last century".
Some may argue that it's inappropriate or offensive to talk about Islamophobia when people have been killed in terrorist attacks carried out by criminals who say they are doing so in the name of Islam. Yet Muslims are more likely than others to be killed in terror attacks worldwide, and just as likely to be killed in Western attacks.
There have been Muslim victims in every major western terror attack, including in New York, Madrid, London and Paris.
In addition, each time criminals carry out terrorist attacks, the entire Muslim community faces a backlash increasingly encouraged not just by right-wing extremists, but also by authoritative public figures. Tony Abbott has a lot to answer for here. He has gone, but members of the current government – including Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg, Cory Bernardi​ and George Christensen – continue to actively exploit anti-Muslim sentiment for political advantage. More importantly, although every Muslim I have spoken to about this matter feels under siege as never before, the silence of political leaders on growing Islamophobia is profound.
What should politicians be saying? They could take a lead from other public figures and community leaders, such as the musicians who have dissociated themselves from racism by demanding anti-Muslim rally organisers stop playing their music, and the faith leaders who have condemned the rallies as damaging to our society.
It's not that hard, which suggests the failure of politicians to condemn Islamophobia is a matter of political will and a fear of losing the racist vote.
If politicians don't want to denounce anti-Muslim hatred because it's the right thing to do, they might think about doing it because the hate-filled leaders of Islamic State are exploiting attacks on Muslim women in Western countries to recruit Western men.
In an English-language video set to music, IS claims to be "Defending the pride of our sisters who have cried". Political leaders consistently making strong statements opposing anti-Muslim bigotry as it occurs would completely undercut that claim's potential to radicalise.
Politicians could start by condemning the use of the Australian flag at the anti-Muslim rallies that look set to become a permanent feature of Australian political life. They could follow up by pledging to put all anti-Muslim political parties last on their preference cards.
When my children see images of people waving the Australian flag to signify a hatred of Muslims, I'd like to be able to tell them that the people in charge of our country condemn this misuse of a symbol meant to represent us all.
Susie Latham​ is a PhD student at Curtin University and a co-founder of Voices against Bigotry. 
She will be presenting at a Deakin University conference on Citizenship and Racism in Australia in December.

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The Muslim Question. Citizenship in Australia

14 Dec
This two day conference will address the 'Muslim question' currently circulating in citizenship debates in the West and also reflect upon the decade that has passed since the Cronulla riots.

Day one hopes to address a dearth of research evidence, prompt new conversations and directions for policy through an objective examination of the relationship between Islamic belief, ritual and practice and civic attitudes and expressions of social responsibility toward the western political community. The gap in research contributes to reductionist characterisations of Islam as a persistent threat to western societies, fuelling Islamophobic and "extreme" nationalist responses.

Day two will address just how significant the Cronulla Riots were, then and now, and whether – in a world preoccupied with the War on Terror – the Riots remain a useful reference point for discussions of intercultural relations and multiculturalism in Australia. This discussion is particularly relevant in a world where Islam's compatibility with western liberal values continues to be questioned at global, national and local scales.

Deakin City Centre, Level 3, 550 Bourke Street, Melbourne
More information

Event information

14th December 2015 - 15th December 2015
08:30 am - 06:00 pm
550 Bourke Street, Melbourne
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