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Harmony Week flag raising

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Harmony Week at Town Hall: Cr Des Hudson Mayor City of Ballarat, Elham Jamali President Ballarat Interfaith and Fr Constantine Osuchukwu.

UN World Interfaith Harmony Week flag raising event organized by Ballarat Interfaith Network BALLARAT Interfaith Network, in partnership with Ballarat City Council, once again celebrated World Interfaith Harmony Week through a flag raising ceremony that took place last Thursday in Victoria Square, in front of the Town Hall. United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week, inaugurated in February 2011, came about in response to an initiative presented by King Abdullah II of Jordan, calling for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in a dialogue based on two common fundamental religious commandments: Love of God, and Love of Neighbour.

The Ballarat Interfaith Network, formed just over 11 years ago, is one of an ever-widening network of interfaith organisations across Victoria, indeed, across the world. Its aim is to help build bridges of communication, respect and understanding between people of all faiths; and its vision is that the Ballarat community feels free to express its spiritual diversity in peace, harmony and understanding. The Flag Raising Ceremony in Ballarat was conducted by the Mayor of Ballarat, Cr Des Hudson with words from Fr. Constantine Osuchukwu, Chairperson of Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council and keynote speaker Garry Weatherill, Bishop of the Church of England, Ballarat. A number of community groups including a combined women’s group from Israel and Pakistan and representatives from the Islamic Society of Ballarat, also were present. “As a community and as a people of faith, I believe we can have no greater ideal than to see a world where people can live together, in harmony, regardless of religion, race, gender of their ethnicity,” Cr Hudson said. “The City of Ballarat is very proud to support the Ballarat Interfaith Network in hosting this event. “As a council we are very clear in our desire to help create a community where people feel free and at peace to practice their religion without fear of any adverse consequences.

“I believe Ballarat has been fortunate in that it has been largely untouched by the ugliness and intolerance that so many other communities have faced.”

Fr Constantine said that there would be very few countries where what was taking place in Ballarat that morning, was possible. “For many countries in the world this is not possible for people of different faiths to actually come together very easily,” he said. “We take it for granted but we shouldn’t. It’s something that speaks very powerfully about Australian culture and the freedoms that we enjoy in our society.”