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Ottawa— March 11, 2015International Christian Voice, in collaboration with the Office of International Religious Freedom- Canada, organized an International Conference on Religious Freedom in order to address the various difficulties being faced by countries under attack for religious freedom. This conference was also organized to commemorate the life and struggles of human rights champion Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti.

The conference was held at the Parliament Building on 1 Wellington St, Ottawa, Canada. People from different walks of life participated including dignitaries. It began by Rev. Dr. Rashid Gill who said the opening prayer and then briefed the audience on the work and purpose of conference organizer International Christian Voice. The speakers for session one, moderated by Mr. Tahir Aslam Gora (Founder, Canadian Thinkers Forum & Muslim Committee against Anti-Semitism), included Fr. Angelos Saad (Chairman & Spiritual leader, Canadian Coptic Center) who addressed the Root Causes of Religious Extremism in the Middle East, followed by Hon. Senator Don Meredith who shed light on the Issues Surrounding Religious Freedom in Africa. Imam Abdul Hai Patel (President, Ontario Multi-faith Council & Director, Interfaith Relations-Canadian Council of Imams) addressed the Issues Surrounding Religious Freedom in Asia.

The second session which proceeded after a lunch break was moderated by Mr. Tanveer Joseph (Vice Chairman, International Christian Voice). The key speaker, Hon. Dr. Paul Bhatti (Former Minister of National Harmony and Minority Affairs, Pakistan Chairman, Shahbaz Bhatti Memorial Trust and All Pakistan Minorities Alliance), discussed the Growing of Religious Intolerance and Extremism in Pakistan.

The speakers for session three, moderated by Dr. Colin Saldanha, were Hon. Ambassador Dr. Andrew Bennet (Canadian office of Religious Freedom), Hon. Ambassador Jackie Wolcott (US Commission on International Religious Freedom), Hon. David Kilgour (Former Canadian Secretary of State) and Fr. Robert McCulloch (Missionary Society of St. Columbian-Italy). The topic discussed during this session was How Canada and the rest of the Democratic World is affected by Religious Intolerance and Extremism.

Every session concluded with a question and answer period which allowed participants to ask questions from the panel speakers. All questions were answered enthusiastically by the speakers present.

The conference was concluded by a Celebration of the Life of Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti, hosted by Ms. Nitasha Bhatti (General Secretary, International Christian Voice). This session was graced by Hon. Minister Jason Kenney (Minister of National Defense and Multiculturism, Canada), Hon. Dr. Paul Bhatti, Hon. Ambassador Jackie Wolcott and Ms. Lesley- Anne Leighton (Missionary & Human Rights Activist, New Zealand). The speakers shared their fond memories of Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti and paid tribute to his life and achievements.

Mr. Peter Bhatti (Chairman, International Christian Voice) in closing thanked all the participants and speakers for making the conference successful and helping reach conclusive results. The conference closed with a prayer by Pastor Michael Corretti (Weston Road Pentecostal Church) followed by dinner. 

Christina Yousif

Media Coordinator

International Christian Voice


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