2016 UN World Interfaith Harmony Week: Thursday
Photo: University of the West Indies, Administration Building, Trinidad. The event took place at UWI under the leadership of Dr Jerome Teelucksingh.
Day: Thursday February 4, 2016
Focus location: Trinidad and Tobago
Focus person: Jerome Teelucksingh
Format: Event / Lecture
On Thursday February 5, 2016, Pr Jerome Teelucksingh of the University of the West Indies positively replied to EUCLID’s invitation to organize a UN World Interfaith Harmony Week event in Trinidad and Tobago, a small island state known for its cultural and religious diversity.
Report of Panel Discussion to observe Global Interfaith Harmony Week
by Jerome Teelucksingh, PhD
In coordination with EUCLID, a panel discussion was held on Thursday 4 February 2016 at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine in Trinidad & Tobago. This was the first observance of Global Interfaith Harmony Week to be held at this university.
The two panelists were Ms. Michelle Loubon, who is a senior writer at the Trinidad Express newspaper; and Mr. Tyehimba Salandy, a PhD student and Rastafarian. The audience comprised undergraduate and postgraduate student. Each speaker was given 20 minutes to speak and then the audience was allowed to ask questions.
Ms. Loubon, the first speaker, a Christian, and spoke of her diverse racial and religious background. She explained that her upbringing and exposure to other faiths allowed her to be more understanding and appreciative of other Christian denominations and religions. Ms. Loubon also believed that religious harmony cannot be achieved if there are stereotypes of religions and religious leaders.
Mr. Salandy, the second panelist, is an adherent of Rastafarianism. He believed that religious harmony has not been achieved in Trinidad and Tobago because of the religious discrimination perpetuated against Rastas. His discourse also focused on the colonial era when Rastafarianism was stigmatized.
One of the outcomes of this panel discussion was the realization that despite economic and political challenges, there is a high level of religious harmony that exists in a Trinidad and Tobago. This religious harmony in a multicultural society could be adopted by other countries that experience religious tensions.