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Report from Sarajevo: 1000s Gather to Practice Peace

From a Battlefield to an Arena of Reconciliation and Relationship

Several thousand people from all corners of the world and a wide range of faiths gathered to practice peace in Sarajevo on June 6-9. The international conference commemorated the beginning of WWI a century ago. The event began with messages from worldwide renowned peace-builders such as Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire, Noam Chomsky, Hildegard Goss-Mayr, Verdiana Grossi, Chico Whitaker, and Jasmila Žbani.

The three-day gathering continued with over 190 workshops delivered and attended by people from more than 50 countries. In a number of sessions, young people constituted the majority of participants, and were the organizers as well. Standouts included the Singing Tree project (with Laurie Marshall from San Francisco’s Academy of Science) and a workshop on reconciliation delivered by young leaders from United Religions Initiative.

The accompanying cultural activities highlighted the world’s diversity in a multitude ways: theatre shows, peace games, book presentations, recitals, movie screenings, art and photo exhibitions, open-air performances, and street activities. A charity concert featuring local and foreign talents raised significant funds in support of needy people in Bosnia heavily suffering from recent floods.

Concluding with several hundred concrete proposals addressed to the world’s leaders, the conference proved that Sarajevo could be remembered in humankind’s history not only as a symbol of wars but as a messenger of interfaith harmony and peaceful coexistence on this tiny planet we inhabit.