Tony Blair Launches Two Major Programmes In Kosovo

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19th June 2012

Blair: “It means a lot to me for my Foundation to have this partnership with the American University of Kosovo and the University of Pristina. But it means more to me on a personal level; I saw first-hand what happened here and I did what I could with others to make things better.”

Remember what Tony Blair did in Kosovo? Related links at foot of this post, if you don’t.

Tony Blair launches two major programmes in Kosovo

Rt Hon. Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister and Founder and Patron of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation today launched two major new programmes as part of his Faith Foundation’s work.

He celebrated the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Kosovo and his Foundation which will implement the Foundation’s global schools programme Face to Faith in Kosovan schools and be incorporated into the development of the national curriculum.  The programme will provide a transformative experience for Kosovan students to be affiliated globally, without overlooking their national aspirations, and help Kosovan students and teachers to develop deeper dialogue and negotiation skills.

Tony Blair also inaugurated the partnership between the his Foundation’s global network of leading universities, the Faith and Globalisation Initiative (FGI) and two of Kosovo’s prominent universities, the University of Pristina and the American University of Kosovo. The partnership will help current policy makers and future leaders understand the role religion plays in areas where there are, or have been, both political and religious tensions. In Kosovo, and the wider region, the impact of the globalisation is affecting the country and its faith communities at an ever faster pace – and it is crucial to understand it.

Tony Blair, Founder and Patron of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation said:

Kosovo is a country with challenges but it is going places. You are open to the future and open to new ideas. It is an honour and privilege to be here today. It means a lot to me for my Foundation to have this partnership with the American University of Kosovo and the University of Pristina. But it means more to me on a personal level; I saw first-hand what happened here and I did what I could with others to make things better. What this country has to learn is significant but what others can learn from you is more significant. I believe there is a way to have intense pride in your nation whilst at the same time having an open mind to the rest of the world.

In this era of globalisation, societies are changing, Europe is changing.  Don’t be frightened of change instead see it as an opportunity. This coming together of different religions and cultures can enrich a country and be a source of strength. But the forces it can also lead to conflict and fear which we have witnessed in the past. If people have problems in dialogue then we need to learn how to resolve this. This is what my Faith Foundation’s universities network, the Faith and Globalisation Initiative aims to achieve in this region: examine the role of faith in more depth. In Kosovo, and the wider region, the impact of the globalisation is affecting the country and its faith communities in transformative ways– and it is vital to understand and hear those perspectives.  The University of Pristina and the American University of Kosovo will provide those valuable insights.

Most of the conflicts in the world today have a religious dimension. The purpose of interfaith is not to diminish specific faiths but to gain understanding. The more you understand someone the more likely you are to live in harmony with them. People of a faith need to take responsibility for religion; preventing it from being misused as a weapon of destruction. Harmony between faiths works better than conflict.

The Kosovan Government’s commitment to incorporate our schools’ programme Face to Faith in the development of the national curriculum, shows how seriously they take the advancement of the next generation – and I am excited about its future.”

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Blair: Balkans – work in progress…

Excerpt: Kosovo is going in good direction, said today in Pristina the former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Pristina: “Kosovo over the last decade has seen significant progress. Yes it is clear. But there is also a lot to do”, stressed at today’s press conference held in Pristina former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

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Tony Blair partners with HKU on “Faith and Global Engagement initiative course”

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15th June 2012

[Cross-post] The real story on Tony Blair at Hong Kong University

Conflict and compassion | Tony Blair discusses the two faces of religion

HONG KONG : Tony Blair, Former UK Prime Minister, speaks at University of Hong Kong, Thursday, 14 June, 2012

Today Tony Blair, Founder and Patron of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, delivered a key note speech and answered questions on the impact of faith and globalisation on Hong Kong and the wider region, at a lecture held in the University of Hong Kong (HKU).

This lecture inaugurated the partnership between the Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s global network of leading universities, the Faith and Globalisation Initiative (FGI) and HKU’s Faith and Global Engagement Initiative.

Tony Blair spoke of the significance of the partnership between his Foundation and the Faith and Global Engagement Initiative at HKU.

Addressing an audience of HKU students and professors Tony Blair, Founder and Patron of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation said: “The initiative is very timely. This part of the world is one of the fastest areas of growing Christianity as well as many other faiths. HKU has a steadfast commitment to scholarship and freedom. The basis for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s Faith and Globalisation Initiative is similar. I am delighted and honoured to be partnering with HKU, I could not think of a better partner or a better part of the world.”

“My vision for the Faith and Global Engagement at HKU is to change the nature of the debate – I want people to see that you have to take religion seriously and I want to help build interfaith understanding.”

Professor Daniel Chua, Director of Humanities at HKU said: “Leaders should be intelligently engaged with the questions of faith and the global impact. We formed the Faith and Global Engagement programme to initiate a conversation in the spirit of hospitality. Whoever you are and whatever you believe in we want to engage with you about religion.  Our initiative here at Hong Kong University has much in common with the principles of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. For this inaugural lecture on Faith and Global Engagement, “I am honoured to welcome Tony Blair”.

Tony Blair stressed the urgency of understanding the impact of religion in the modern world:

“Just look at the news and you see the impact of both everywhere; in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the debate over whether or not orthodox Jews should serve in the military in Israel. The face of religion in this environment is two-fold: conflict and compassion. Much of the news about religion is about conflict. However, religion is also capable of great compassion. For example, much of the improvement in health for continental Africa is as a result of religious centred endeavours.

“We can promote this face of compassion by firstly, treating religion as religion. There is a temptation to view religious problems as political problems, especially for politicians. If the heart of the matter is religious, than the religious element must be understood for what it is: religious. Secondly, by building platforms of inter-faith dialogue and action. Thirdly, through research and scholarship. Religion has much to say from many perspectives on many issues. What is required is proper, in depth and rigorous research into these issues. This is where these programmes and the work of HKU can help.”

The Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s Faith and Globalisation Initiative (FGI) is a network of leading universities around the world, collectively exploring the relationship between religion and globalisation. Through the Faith and Globalisation network, the Tony Blair Faith Foundation is supporting policy makers, and future leaders, equipping them to appreciate religion’s presence in the world and its relationship to decision-making and public policy.  Significantly HKU is the ninth university in the world and the second in China (following Peking University) to join FGI. In collaboration with other FGI partner institutions, HKU’s Faith and Global Engagement Initiative will explore topics including religion and conflict, religion in public life, and human rights bringing critical analysis to the forefront of global debate.

The new Faith and Global Engagement initiative course at HKU will bring a unique perspective to the academic and policy analysis of the relationship between faith and globalisation. Hong Kong’s position at the nexus of East/West relations, adds an important voice to this global debate.

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Al Qaeda To Go On Strike

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9th June 2012

YouGorraLarf Saturday!

Strike action. Al Qaeda To Go On Strike

Muslim suicide bombers in Britain are set to begin a three-day strike next Monday in a dispute over the number of virgins they are entitled to in the afterlife. Emergency talks with Al Qaeda have so far failed to produce an agreement.

The unrest began last Tuesday when Al Qaeda announced that the number of virgins a suicide bomber would receive after his death will be cut by 25% this April from 72 to only 60. The rationale for the cut was the increase in recent years of the number of suicide bombings and a subsequent shortage of virgins in the afterlife. The Suicide Bombers’ Union aka the British Organisation of Occupational Martyrs (or B.O.O.M.) responded with a statement that this was unacceptable to its members and immediately balloted for strike action.

General Secretary Abdullah Amir told the press, “Our members are literally working themselves to death in the cause of Jihad. We don’t ask for much in return but to be treated like this is like a kick in the teeth”. Speaking from his shed in Tipton in the West Midlands in which he currently resides, an Al Qaeda chief executive explained, “We sympathise with our workers’ concerns but Al Qaeda is simply not in a position to meet their demands. They are simply not accepting the realities of modern-day Jihad in a competitive marketplace. Thanks to Western depravity, there is now a chronic shortage of virgins in the afterlife. It’s a straight choice between reducing expenditure and laying people off.  I don’t like cutting wages but I’d hate to have to tell 3000 of my staff that they won’t be able to blow themselves up.”

Spokespersons for the union in Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Essex, Glasgow and Australia stated that they would be unaffected as there are no virgins in these areas anyway. Apparently the drop in the number of suicide bombings has been largely put down to the emergence of the Scottish singing star, Susan Boyle. Now that Muslims know what a virgin looks like, they are not so keen on going to paradise.

[Apologies to the great Susan Boyle. Probably shouldn’t point this out – but you may be very wise.]

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