Flights for Peace, 22 September 2013

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Left to right: Zehra Balman, Shaheen Mirza, Aliya Azam (President, Christian Muslim Forum) and Nicole Belfon

The London Peace Network met during the Summer to plan events to mark the UN International Day of Peace.

As well as prestige events, reported elsewhere, we set out to organise one which would bring together ordinary people of faith and no faith, to discover similarities and explore differences. "Let's get out of our comfort zones and meet people we would never normally talk to".

The idea of putting together small mixed groups in cable cars on the Emirates Air Line was attractive. A trial run showed it was possible.

With TFL, operators of the service, agreeing to our request for privacy for groups, each group comprised as much a mix as possible. Participants included Jews, Muslims, Christians, Baha’is, Hindus and those with no faith as well as those from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Europe.

As they crossed the Thames, each group could refer to a range of thought-starter questions - or choose not to! That was up to them. They then walked to the nearby Crystal, the new sustainable cities initiative built by Siemens. Over tea and cakes, discussions continued.

After about an hour, the parties re-crossed the river and upon landing, each participant received a Flight For Peace certificate. Group photos, in the air and on the ground, record the event and most people left their contacts, hoping the initiative is sustained, in one way or another.

See the pictures on the Day of Peace Facebook page here

David Wardrop
United Nations Association Westminster branch (one of the members of the London Peace Network and Forum partner)

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