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EuropeSufi Sheik Bentounes at JIVEP event "today, we need to choose ......

Sufi Sheik Bentounes at JIVEP event “today, we need to choose … the power of love”

In Brussels, the Church of Scientology celebrates the UN day of Living Together in Peace

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In Brussels, the Church of Scientology celebrates the UN day of Living Together in Peace

In Brussels, the Church of Scientology celebrates the UN day of Living Together in Peace JIVEP.

On May 17, in the Church of Scientology based in Brussels, Boulevard Waterloo, people from many faiths gathered for a celebration: the 5th edition of the UN international day of Living Together in Peace (May 16). The beautiful chapel in the building was packed when they projected the documentary film “All of Us” by Belgian director Pierre Pirard.

The film, just released these days all over the world to mark the International Day of Living Together in Peace, tells stories of audacious citizens who, with a strong desire for people of different beliefs to live together in harmony, have found ways of reinventing family, education, social relations, culture, and work…and have done so despite existing difficulties and frictions. The film gives faith into the future, in a world where “future” is a word that can bring its share of uncertainty and anxiety.

After the projection, a debate took place in the chapel, with four guests:

One was Sheikh Bentounes, spiritual guide of the Sufi Brotherhood Alāwiyya,  who appears to be the very initiator of the International Day of Living Together in Peace, unanimously adopted by the 193 member states of the United Nations in 2017. For more than 40 years, Sheikh Bentounes has been travelling the world to promote interreligious dialogue, gender equality, environmental protection and peace.

With him was Eric Roux, Vice-President of the European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights, who is also a well-known human rights activist and deeply engaged in inter-religious bridge-building.

The third was Dr Chantal Van Der Plancke, a renowned Catholic theologian and teacher, and fourth was Robert Hostetter, who is maybe the most well-known protestant pastor of Belgium, having been responsible for 46 years of the Protestant radio and television broadcasts of the RTBF.

The four of them conducted a lively discussion, raising all the issues that the current times have brought to existence: the war, famines, global warming, etc., and finally agreeing that education to diversity, love and peace was a key factor if we wanted to have a chance to have a future to give to our children. “Education to loving the other must occur as soon as possible in the life of a kid. The sooner it occurs, the more we have chances to have a youth that will change the conditions of this world, and if we don’t do it, it will be a general disaster”, Sheikh Bentounes insisted.

Professor Thomas Gergely, Director of the Institute of Jewish studies at the Free university of Brussels (ULB), had sent a message that was read to the assembly, in which he expressed the fact that to be able to really live together, or moreover “to live with”, one has to understand the other, and “recognize him in equality, because of his difference”. But for him, “this understanding of the difference has a price: the acceptation of our inequality. Because, to say the truth, human beings, very similar and all different, are all inequal: they are tall or small, fat or skinny, rich or poor, smart or not, etc., except in one domain: humanity. In humanity, we are all equal, whatever the true racist thinks.

Sheikh Bentounes concluded by stating that “today, we need to choose between the love of the power, or the power of love.” When asked if hope was still possible, Eric Roux answered that as the aims of Scientology, as stated by its founder L. Ron Hubbard, was “a civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war; where the world can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights”, he had no choice other than hope, and to work hard for it to happen. Chantal Van Der Plancke agreed, and pointed out that memory and truth were key elements to make sure that we don’t always get back into wrong cycles, with war coming back again and again in the history of humanity.

Pastor Hostetter concluded by saying that more than talking together, the most important should be to “do together”. The whole audience endorsed the idea, agreements were made to share projects in the future, including the creation of a Garden of Peace in Brussels, and Chantal Van Der Plancke uttered the final word: “today, we have done something together.”

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