By Maxim Lewerenz & Lindsay Muir.
Representatives from across Edinburgh’s religious communities have today gathered for a meeting at the City Chambers as part of the Scottish Inter-Faith Week taking place from November 23rd to the 30th culminating in a religious concert being held in Glasgow. The dominant theme in this years conference is, understandably, the 60th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, but the conference also tackled a plethora of other issues concerning the capital, it’s council and it’s religious leaders.
The list of attendees reads like a veritable who’s who of councillors and community leaders with representatives of all major faiths and Lothian and Borders Police, including Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of Edinburgh and St. Andrews, who has courted controversy in his statements on embryo and stem cell research. Recently the Cardinal criticised abortion stating, “[it] is neither political nor medical, though clearly it has implications in these spheres. It is about morality and the destruction of human life.” The meeting was chaired by the Leader of Edinburgh City Council, Jenny Dawe.
Up for discussion were a variety of issues such as street begging, prevention startegies on religious extremism as well as the issues of anti-religious marketing, which notably made the news recently with the Humanist Society’s advertising “There’s Probably No God” which was displayed on the side of buses in London, closer to home this involved the advertising of the Edinburgh Dungeons tourism attraction.
Tom Lea, of the Edinburgh InterFaith Association described the meeting as “an opportunity to make the council accessible to the religious leaders of the city and open a dialogue between the two”. Edinburgh City Council Equality Manager, Lee Croft, hailed the conference as a success expressing that the meeting had encapsulated “a good dialogue on some very difficult issues.”
Inspector Tom Glabraith of Lothian and Borders Police Force Diversity Unit encapsulated the overall spirit of the conference emphasising today’s meeting was about “the creation of a multi-faith community.” He also emphasised the need for education especially at secondary school level to create “an atmosphere of understanding” towards the needs of different faiths.