background and introduction
On 16th June 2013, the International Network of Engagement Buddhists (INEB), the International Movement for a Just World (JUST) and Religions for Peace (RfP) organized a consultative meeting on “Contemporary Issues in Buddhist- Muslim Relations in South and South East Asia” at Rissho Kosei- Kai, Bangkok Dharma Centre, Bangkok, Thailand in partnership with American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Rissho Kosei- kai, Bangkok Dharma.
25 participants comprising Buddhist and Muslim religious leaders from South and South East Asian countries recognized the following challenges facing the two communities in the region as:
- Rise of extremism, hate speeches, hate campaigns and instigation leading to religious discrimination and violence;
- Prejudice, fear and hatred caused by ignorance, misperceptions, stereotypes, negative impact of traditional and social media, simplification and generalization of ethnic issues and communal pressures;
- Misuse of religion by certain religious, political and other interest groups and individuals;
- Socio economic dimensions of conflict; and
- Spillover effects across the region.
In follow-up from the Buddhist-Muslim Consultative Meeting on June 16, 2013, a Common Action Working Committee was formed and had its meeting on August 21-22, 2013 in Galle, Sri Lanka. It concluded with the proposal to form a permanent body named, “International Forum on Buddhist-Muslim Relations” (BMF)
- To serve as a platform for intra-religious and inter- religious initiatives in education & advocacy;
- To enable rapid reaction/ solidarity visits/ early warning/ conflict prevention in the event of conflict;
- To develop and provide tools and materials for constructive engagement and strategic common actions, and;
- To develop the effective use of media for positive messaging, particularly via the social & alternative media