On the second day of the ELC we had the World Café session. This report outlines the purpose of the world café, the structure and content of the session in accordance with the title of the conference and finally, a brief assessment of the session. The World Café is one of the few opportunities for structured interaction amongst ELC participants. As most of the conference entails the absorption of content from the prolific speakers, it is a good opportunity to find the necessary balance with which attendees can express their own feelings on the topics covered. On a more personal level it is also a fantastic way to invoke more critical thought on the themes of the conference that aids the internalisation of content.
The Human Rights, Torture and Sexual Violence session was chaired by Lord Tarsem King of West Bromwich and Margaret Ali, Director of UPF - UK. The chair, Lord Tarsem King opened with a shocking reminder that innocent women form a large proportion of torture victims, with violations mostly being fueled by greed.
Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke, president of the World Congress of Faiths, chaired the session and introduced it by pointing out that while it was in the 20th century that human rights were affirmed, although the ideas had always existed in scripture, the hope of the 21 century was that all people could enjoy them. He then read out article 18 which is concerned with freedom of thought, conscience and religion. He pointed out that many religions don’t have a good record of allowing people to change their religion or marry out of their religion. This led him to conclude that one test of the maturity of a religion is its willingness to let people go. He encouraged religious people to speak out and campaign together about religious freedom issues as they are more effective than when they act alone.
The Chair of this session, Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrook stated that, in faith communities, we have the task of raising collaborated awareness on the cases of infringements of the religious rights of minority groups, and the responsibility of translating the words of human rights documents to make them compatible with religious teachings, falls on the religious communities themselves.