SESSIONS | First Session

First Session: Freedom of Religion & Building and Sustaining Peace


Prof. Tariq Ramadan

Prof. Tariq Ramadan is a Swiss academic and writer. He is also a Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford University (Oriental Institute, St Antony’s College) as well as at the Oxford Faculty of Theology. Furthermore, he is Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Islamic Studies (Qatar), and Director of the Research Centre of Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE) (Doha, Qatar). He advocates the study and re-interpretation of Islamic texts, and emphasizes the heterogeneous nature of Western Muslims.

Dr. Charika Marasinghe

Daughter of Mr. Ariyaratne, Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, Sri Lanka

As a Commonwealth Scholar, she obtained a Master of Letters degree (M.Litt.) and a Doctor of Philosophy degree (D.Phil) in International Law from the University of Oxford, specializing in International Human Rights and Child Rights Law. In a career spanning nearly 30 years, she served as a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law of the University of Colombo for 17 years, as Deputy Chairperson and a member of the National Child Protection Authority and a trainer and a resource person in the field of human rights, child rights and women’s rights at diverse conferences and institutions, both local and international.

Dr. Marasinghe has been a volunteer of Sarvodaya for more than three decades and co- founded the Sarvodaya Legal Services Movement in 1985. She was the co-recipient of the ‘Women and Engaged Buddhism Award’ (2008) of the Buddhist Council of Midwest, USA, , and the recipient of ‘An Outstanding Woman in Buddhism Award’ (2009) from Thailand, for exceptional development of wisdom and compassion in the protection of child rights.



Rabbi Ehud Bandel

Rabbi Ehud Bandel is a graduate of the Hebrew University in Jewish History and Jewish Philosophy and holds a Master degree in Judaic studies from The Jewish Theological Seminary in America. In 1988 he graduated the first class of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary in Jerusalem and was the first native Israeli to be ordained as a Masorti (Conservative) Rabbi in Israel. For five years, he was the director of “Noam” - the Masorti Youth Movement and between 1997 and 2005 he served as the President and CEO of the Masorti (Conservative) Movement in Israel. In 2006 he moved with his family to Melbourne Australia and served five years as the rabbi of Kehilat Nitzan, Melbourne’s first Conservative (Masorti) congregation. Rabbi Bandel is very active in interfaith and human rights issues. He was the Founding Director of Rabbis for Human Rights, and currently he serves as the 1st Vice President of the International Council of Christians and Jews and the chair of the ICCJ’s International Abrahamic Forum. In 2011 he received in the US the Gandhi Peace Award for promoting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Prof. Thomas Michel

Prof. Thomas Michel is a visiting professor in Theology at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar. He is also the former Secretary of the Jesuit Secretariat for Interreligious Dialogue in Rome and Ecumenical Secretary for the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (1994-2008). Fr. Michel is a board member of (among others) Georgetown’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, the Khalidi Library in Jerusalem, and the Journal of Islam and Muslim-Christian Relations. He possesses a doctorate in Arabic and Islamic studies from the University of Chicago.


Gunnar Johan Stålsett (Moderator)

Gunnar Johan Stålsett graduated in Theology in 1961. He taught at the Missionary School in the City of Stavanger in 1964-1969. From 1969 until 1977 he was Secretary General of Mellomkirkelig Råd, the Church of Norways council on Ecumenical and International Relations. Stålsett was State Secretary in the ministry of Church Affairs and Education 1972-1973. In 1977 he was elected chairman of the Center Party and held that position until 1979. He was Secretary General of the Lutheran World Federation in 1985-1994. Subsequently, he was Rector of the Seminar of Practical Theology at the University of Oslo until he became Bishop of Oslo in 1998.

Gunnar Stålsett is a member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

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