Remarks by Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
International Peace Conference
Friday, March 22, 2019
- Carl Greenidge, Minister of Foreign Affairs, performing the functions of the President of Guyana
- Bharrat Jagdeo, Leader of the Opposition
- His Excellency Mr. Greg Quinn, British High Commissioner
- Janine Cocker, Charge d’Affaires of the Canadian High Commission
- Gulzar Namdar, Acting President of the CIOG
- Shaykh Moeen ul-Hack, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Education of CIOG
- Members of the Media
- Distinguished Guests
- Ladies and Gentlemen
Thank you, Shaykh Moeen ul-Hack. Thank you and good evening to all of you. Thank you for coming tonight and attending this very important conference on peace. Asalam-a-lekum.
Over the course of my career in the Foreign Service with USAID and as a Peace Corps Volunteer before that, it has been my privilege to learn more and more about Islam, from Morocco to Afghanistan and Iraq to Bangladesh. I have broken the fast at the end of a long day, celebrating Iftar with my Muslim neighbors, and exchanged gifts with Muslim colleagues at work at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Eid-al-Fitr. Of course, I am also privileged to come from a country founded by religious refugees and on the principles of religious freedom; a country with a large and ever-growing Muslim-American community; and, a country whose citizens are increasingly electing representatives who reflect their great diversity, including a record number of Muslims.
I think it was a bit of a surprise for my friends from other parts of the world, when they sent me congratulations on my confirmation to be America’s ambassador to Guyana, that Guyana is a country with a similar religious diversity, including an important Islamic tradition and significant Muslim community. In fact, as I have come to learn in my short time here, Guyana is a model to the world on religious tolerance and understanding.
I am immediately impressed by how the Guyanese people come together to celebrate the holy days of the world’s great religions and how they learn from a young age to respect those diverse faiths. I know my own faith has been enriched as my family and I have journeyed around the world, meeting so many wonderful people of different religions. Throughout my career in the foreign service, I have learned a lot about the differences in various religions, but more importantly, I’ve learned about the commonalities. It has been fascinating to observe that so many of our faiths take the time to reflect, atone, and then share. I believe that these commonalities more often than not bring us together, rather than drive us apart. And, no matter our faith, we bond in the common spirit of humanity. I hope that this conference is such a moment of reflection for each of us and an opportunity to bond and share with one another.
So, we have a lot to honor and be thankful for tonight, despite any travails in our world and trespasses by our neighbors. We are thankful for you here — to C.I.O.G. for organizing this conference and bringing us all together; to our speakers, panelists, and contributors, many of whom traveled great distances; and, to all of you, who are finding the time to participate in this Peace Conference’s sessions.
It is the Embassy’s, and my, great pleasure to support this initiative, not only to celebrate our diversity, but also to highlight our commonality, our unity, and, therefore, our very real capacity to find, no, to create peace.
Shokran. Gracias. Thank you.