This is an excerpt of Mr. Blair’s piece in The Guardian, dated August 30, 2011.
Faith and Globalisation in the Philippines’ hidden civil war
… I am therefore pleased to announce that the Tony Blair Faith Foundationhas just established a deep and extensive partnership in the Philippines: a schools initiative to make interfaith dialogue a part of social education, a programme that is up and running in 17 other nations; and a consortium of universities that will join the Faith and Globalisation course that was begun at Yale in the US and is now in eight countries round the world.
The Philippines is a great place to have such ideas. It is a country on the move, facing big challenges but with enormous possibility, which it is starting to fulfil. It has a new president with a strong mandate and the determination and capability to succeed, and a people behind him willing him on. It is a nation of 100 million, situated in the middle of the rising east, with resources, culture and beauty to exploit. Its people are hardworking and smart. Its poverty remains real, but so is its potential.
Faith is also a big part of the country. It is predominantly Christian and Catholic but it has a significant Muslim population. In the past years the Philippines has witnessed a tragic dispute in its Mindanao region, where the majority of Muslims live. Largely ignored by the outside world, this conflict has resulted in the death, in recent decades, of 150,000 people, displaced 2 million and inhibited what could be huge investment in the southern part of the island, which is rich in deposits of oil, gas and minerals. It is actually the second oldest conflict on Earth after north/south Sudan.
Hence the need for, and the importance of, faith-based programmes that promote peaceful coexistence. Of course, in all such situations there are many political and territorial issues that complicate. But we cannot hope to establish peace without accepting that religion is part of the problem, and therefore must become part of the solution. To its great credit the government is prepared to recognise this and help make it happen.
The foundation will be working closely with the government on two levels. In the first place we will be working with the ministry of education to bring our “Face to Faith” programme into Filipino public schools. This programme will provide the next generation of Filipino leaders with the opportunity to learn essential communication skills while also gaining greater understanding of interfaith dialogue and the role of religion in the world.
Second, we will work with the commission for higher education, the office of the peace process and a consortium of universities in the foundation’s Faith and Globalisation initiative.
Read the full article HERE