To commemorate International Day of Tolerance, President Danny Faure visited various religious denominations this morning. The visits form part of President Faure's programme of visiting various workplaces and institutions.
In 1996, the UN General Assembly, by resolution 51/95, invited UN Member States to observe the International Day for Tolerance on 16 November. The initiative aims to foster mutual understanding among cultures and peoples.
President Faure began by visiting Jehovah's Witnesses at Mont Fleuri. The first witness came to Seychelles in 1962, and over 1000 people attend their services. Jehovah's Witnesses explained to the President how they make a conscious effort to translate all of their brochures into Creole.
The President then proceeded to Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan masjid at Beaufond Lane. Muslims make up just over 2% of the population in Seychelles, and the Islamic community stressed their commitment to fostering strong spirituality and worship to fight social ills in Seychelles. All mosques in Seychelles offer educational services for adults and youth, and family support.
President Faure continued to the Pentecostal Assembly at Mont Fleuri, who do a lot of community work with drug addicts, troubled school children, and prisoners at Montagne Posée. The Pentecostal Assembly began in Seychelles in 1983 and has flourished since.
President Faure next went to the Bin Khalifa Al-Nahyan mosque on Francis Rachel Street, the site of the first mosque in Seychelles built in 1982. The mosque is a popular site for tourists and emphasises teaching and support to build strong spiritual and moral values.
Archbishop James Wong greeted the President at St Paul Cathedral in Victoria following his visit to the mosque. The Anglican community has been present in Seychelles for almost 158 years. They offer several services at church, and Bible study. Archbishop Wong explained how they are in the process of developing programmes to continue serving the community.
The President proceeded to the Bahá'í Centre at Bel Eau next, where he was briefed on the many services the Bahá'í Centre offers the community. This includes spiritual devotionals, moral and spiritual classes for children, classes for youth, and Institute courses for adults to uplift them spiritually. The Bahá'í Centre is located on a property donated by a foreigner in 1957, and was renovated through donations in 2003.
President Faure continued to the 7th Day Adventist Church at St Louis, which has been open since 1930 and has over 1000 active members. The Church offers Sabbath school lessons, prayer meetings, Bible studies and regular meetings with young people.
The President proceeded to the Arul Michu Navasakthi Vinayagar Temple in Victoria, the only Hindu temple in Seychelles. Built in 1992, the temple is named after the Hindu God of safety and prosperity and is a very popular landmark with tourists. The President learned how 100-150 people visit the temple each day, and the major festivals they hold such as 'kavadi'. This year marks its silver jubilee.
President Faure concluded his site visit at the Domus in Victoria, where he was greeted by Bishop Emeritus Mgr Denis Wiehe. The Catholic church completed a monumental task in 2015 by translating the Bible into Creole, and emphasises the importance of good moral conduct, respect for elders, and strong faith in all services.
President Faure commended all religious institutions for the excellent work they are doing in promoting spiritual values and tolerance in the communities. The President took the opportunity to seek their support to join him as of next year in the promotion of three values that he feels need to be strengthened among the people of Seychelles: respect, compassion, and love.
"Thank you for all the work you are doing to promote tolerance and good values. You have respect for other religious beliefs whilst practising your own. This is why we have tolerance and co-existence of different dominations in our country. Essentially, I feel that we need to consolidate values of respect, compassion and love. Respect as a value needs to be promoted within our school - what we see now is an assault on institutions and we can no longer tolerate that," said the President as he met the Heads of those religious institutions. "We need to promote compassion as a value in the workplace and community. And the third which is very important, is love."
During his visits, the President also heard the challenges being faced, the outreach programmes at community level and the success stories.
President Faure was accompanied by the Chief of Presidential Protocol, Mrs Jaqueline Moustache-Belle, and the Principal Secretary for the Vice President's Office, Mr Allain Volcere.