Promoting Religious Harmony and Inter-Faith Dialogue
Through research, dialogue, education, and community interventions, this project will enhance understanding between and amongst different religious groups in Sri Lanka, promote social harmony, and foster inter-ethnic and inter-religious coexistence. The project aims in the long term, to contribute to reducing inter-religious tensions in Sri Lanka, to generate a spirit of tolerance and understanding, to contribute to a promotion of religious diversity, and to develop lessons for other societies experiencing similar conflict.
- To capture and map the recent upsurge in inter-religious violence in Sri Lanka, identify good practices and document positive examples of coexistence and social harmony.
- To enhance the capacity of civil society organisations, including community based organisations, to promote inter-faith dialogue and engage in social interventions that will foster inter-religious harmony and promote the human rights of all members of the community.
- To engage key stakeholders including policy makers, parliamentarians, members of the clergy, the business sector and civil society leaders in a dialogue at the national and regional levels on strategies to foster religious harmony and promote peaceful coexistence.
The project is implemented by the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) and Equitas – International Centre for Human Rights Education. Established in 1982, ICES is an independent research centre, with a focus on ethnicity, conflict resolution, post-war reconciliation, democracy, governance, human rights, and gender.
Timeframe: January 2014 to March 2016
The project is made up of four components:
1. A socio-legal study that captures and maps the recent upsurge in inter-religious violence and explores points of tension and co-existence. This study informs the design and implementation of subsequent project activities. It is published in Sinhala, Tamil and English and disseminated widely.
2. Capacity building activities to equip civil society organisations with knowledge, skills, tools and systematic approaches to help them work with community leaders, religious leaders and youth groups to promote a greater understanding and respect of other religions, to foster religious diversity and to reduce inter-religious tensions.
3. Civil society organizations work with community based organizations, religious leaders and youth groups to engage them in Community Action Projects. These projects provide opportunities to develop and implement collaborative activities in three communities (Colombo, Galle and Ampara) in consultation with local stakeholders, which focus on raising awareness and engaging community members in action to foster tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
4. District and National level dialogues. These dialogues will provide a forum to share experiences and explore collaboration among key stakeholders.
Read the project description here (PDF).
Three publications were produced as a result of the project:
We present this study to contribute to the discourse and debate on freedom of religion and belief and to build a spirit of tolerance and empathy both in Sri Lanka, and in other societies experiencing similar conflict. We hope the recommendations on law enforcement, institutional strengthening, community engagement and the social media will feed into policy and practice.
The publication, Lessons Learned and Good Practices, is a result of the project, Promoting Religious Harmony in Sri Lanka. It features the lessons learned and good practices for engaging various actors during the implementation of the project which involved decisions makers, religious groups, government officials, members of civil society organizations, children and youth, teachers and other stakeholders. (Read more)
A Photo Journal of Building Religious Tolerance in Mattakkuliya, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Read our BLOG POSTS
BLOG – Promoting Religious Harmony in Sri Lanka (October 2015) – Read here >
“Religion shouldn’t be a weapon to destroy human rights and the values in society.”
This is an essential belief held by young Buddhist Monk, Venerable Weliwitiya Dhamminda.
BLOG – Forum and Research Launch – Sri Lankan Civil Society Involved in the Promotion of Freedom of Religion and Beliefs (November 2015) Read here >
Practitioners (1) and other members of civil society actively involved in the promotion of freedom of religion and beliefs are coming together on November 30th and December 1st in Colombo, Sri Lanka for the Practitioners’ Forum and the launch of a new research entitled ‘The Chronic and the Acute: Post-War Religious Violence in Sri Lanka’.
BLOG – Former President Kumaratunga participates in launch of new study on religious violence in Sri Lanka (December 2015) Read here >
“The only path is dialogue and power-sharing in an inclusionist state”, the former President recommended.
PUBLICATION – A Photo Journal of Building Religious Tolerance in Mattakkuliya, Colombo, Sri Lanka (February 2016)
This project is made possible thanks to the financial support from the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.