Religious leaders overcome odds to affirm right to water


It’s not often that religious leaders come together to take a common stand on an issue of national significance.

Over the years, Aliran organised a couple of seminars – one on corruption and the other on the human being – that looked at these issues from the perspective of the various spiritual traditions.

In recent times, we have seen religious leaders coming together to protest against the invasion of Iraq and, last weekend, to reaffirm the right to water in an interfaith seminar. But this time, the plan by various religious and civil society groups to hold the event at the National Mosque was scuttled at the last moment.

Obviously, some quarters are uncomfortable with the idea of Muslims and non-Muslims putting aside their differences and coming together to take a common stand on an important public interest issue especially at such a prominent landmark as the National Mosque.

In this piece for IPS, I looked at the run-up to the seminar and the last-minute change in venue.

When religious leaders from different faiths sought to jointly affirm the sacredness of wateron scuttle interfaith harmony as well as support plans to privatise a common resource.

Plans to hold the highly symbolic interfaith forum on the right to water at the National Mosque, a major landmark in the capital Kuala Lumpur, on Saturday had to be scuttled when the organisers were suddenly forced to shift the venue to a location five km way.

But, the last-minute change did not stop prominent leaders of the Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, and Sikh faiths from signing a landmark joint declaration on water and affirm that the element is a sacred gift bestowed by the creator to people to be conserved and used to fulfil the basic needs of all living things on earth. Full article: Water a sacred gift, affirm interfaith leaders

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