World Interfait Harmony Week 2015 in Austria

Every year since the first WIHW in 2011, a little team in a small town in the Austrian mountains organizes with great love different interreligious activities. So as: Interreligious breakfasts, exhibitions, discussions about the holy books, live streams from meetings at the UN Head Quarter, teachings in schools and so on. This year we were very successful with an information campaigne about the WIHW and our special project of the „Candles for forgiveness“.

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Every school with children of 14 years up, got a set of posters with informations about the big worlds religions and ethic questions for the whole mankind. „Worldreligions-Worldpeace-Worldethic“ Also soldiers in a casern and refugees are now able to learn more about the different faith and their common beliefs. We gave it to the Imam too. The material is offered by the World Ethic Institut in Germany and with a print version of the posters teachers can work for years now. The posters can be bought also in English. www.weltethos.org

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A very good method for talking with children about the question „who created everything“ is the story from an austrian writer with pictues from an italian artist. „The little owl“. It was translated from friends in at now in 45 languages, who can be printed out on the webseite www.kleine-eule.net for free.

During WIHW we gave little books to schools to use them for education. We would be very happy to get more translations to put on the website. I was told, that the arabic version is only for Egypt and should be made for other countries too. The translations come also from refugees, who have now a new life in our town. It would be nice to have the money to organize videos with the different versions.

Saturday, Feruary 7th 2015, at 7 PM CMT we lighted together with refugees "Candles for forgiveness" for religious violence in once own family history and worldwide. Man, women and children from Syria, Irak, Dagestan, Bosnia, Uganda, Kenya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ghana, Palestine, Cechenia thanked us for the possibility and together we prayed for all countries, where violence is still going on.

In this refugee house every month people from different religions pray for the future of the world in a wonderful chapell. Stones from more than 80 countries and from holy places of different religions give a special feeling of compassion.

The next day one of the bigger candles stood at the alter in a mass, that our catholic bishop Dr. Manfred Scheuer from Tyrol, celebrated for a man and a woman, who were beheaded from the Nazis 70 years ago, only because the did not agree with their war. 

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He took the candle to the capital of Tyrol. His prayers for forgivness and a peaceful future were broadcasted all over Austria.

I asked him for a common action during the next WIHW 2016.

On 26 th of February the roman catholic bishop and members from other religions signed a paper together with the country govenor to work towards tolerance and dialog. Maybee there was some inspiration from our work for this, but I don´t know it exactly.

In newspapers nationwide were information spread about the World Interfaith Harmony Week and about the webcast from the meeting at the United Nations in New York about the role of the religions to reach the post millenium goals of a sustainable development.

In 4 more churches candles will burn and prayers will be held during the whole February.

This one stands in the church of a house for elderly people, where a lot of them fighted during World War 2 and probably did harm to others.

On the official URI Facebook Page and on the one from the Parliament of the World's Religions we postet the information too.

On www.gratefulness.org everybody could light a virtuell candle in a group called WIHW. Schools were invited to participate.

Information was posted about the Candle Project in a Facebook group with members from native American spiritual traditions.

We also invited members from a large muslim internet group to join, but I did not get any answer.

The big King Abdullah Interreligious Centre KAICCID in Vienna told us, that they will join and the Austrian Ministery of foreign affairs and Europe called me for a common action. They organized a big meeting in a monastery with members from different religions.

All 72 Austrian catholic monasteries for women and al lot of other goups were invited to pray with us for religious peace at the same time on Saturday, 7th at 7 PM GMT WIHW 2015 in Austria was a very touching time and we will be a part again next year. During this year we want to collect the money for a special bell for „Peace and Friendship“ between people from different religions. We hope it will be finished until WIHW 2016 on a mountain near our city Lienz in Eastern Tyrol.

We want to thank all other people and groups worldwide, who participated in WIHW for the great work. It brings a lot of hope to be not allone to take action for a peaceful world. As-salamu alaykum to all. God bless you.

Elisabeth Ziegler-Duregger, and all members from the WIHW Team in Lienz/Austria.