BOONE, NC--(Marketwired - Jul 16, 2014) - His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, humanitarian and spiritual leader, had dialogues with Iraqi Shite and Sunni religious leaders and social workers on two occasions at his Art of Living International Center in Boone, North Carolina. Sri Sri welcomed these senior Iraqi leaders to discuss peace initiatives to end sectarian violence. 

Sri Sri, who has twice visited Iraq said, "The current situation in Iraq is very difficult and the country has reached a critical juncture where the violence of fanatics spreading in the region must end. In this dire scenario, to even bring dialogue and discussion to the table may seem far-fetched; yet this can be a key factor in bringing together different mindsets to a common understanding."

"Religious leaders and social workers must be involved in finding peace. Religious leaders must come together and issue a fatwa to stop the killing of innocent people," said Sri Sri. "People should adopt the path of non-violence to achieve their goals -- this can happen through dialogue."

Shia religious leader Sayyed Mohammed Al Attar expressed his appreciation for Sri Sri's initiative and said, "If you want peace, bring the religious leaders together with your efforts. Talk about the reality of what is going on and why they are killing each other."

Sheikh Mustafa Akhound of the Imam Ali Center in Virginia noted that youth are easily influenced and enlisted by militia and that we must come up with some ideas how to train and educate youngsters to prevent this. 

Sri Sri's organizations, the International Association for Human Values and the Art of Living have been conducting trauma relief and women empowerment programs in Iraq for the past 10 years. The IAHV team recently trained 35 Members of Parliament in Kurdistan from four different political parties. Following the leadership workshop, they all changed their mind after the program saying we now want to work together. In recent weeks there have been three bombings next to the IAHV office in Baghdad. 

Sri Sri's Iraq peace initiative was a two-pronged mission: stress-relief for individuals through meditation and service initiatives aimed at rebuilding the nation torn apart by war. With a strong belief that inner peace can be a powerful tool in conflict-resolution and rehabilitation of war-torn Iraq, the Art of Living made a commitment to spread the message of peace and non-violence in Iraq.

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Leslye Moore


International Association for Human Values
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