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.
The Joint Statement on commitment of action can be found here
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.
The participants also endorsed the Dusit Declaration of 28th June 2006 and committed themselves to implementing its shared action plan across the region.The participants also pledged to engage in multi- stakeholder partnership with governments, inter-governmental bodies such as the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the United Nations.
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)
The objectives of the BMF shall be as follows:
- 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