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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Hundreds of people pack Reykjavik Church to welcome His Holiness to Iceland

June 3, 2009

Reykjavik, 1 June, 2009:  The most prominent Church here, called
Hallgrimskirkja, was today packed to capacity with 1200 people as they came
to hear His Holiness the Dalai Lama on his first ever visit to Iceland.
Many people were also seen standing on the sides of the church hall with all
seats being filled and many others unable to fit in waited outside to have a
glimpse of His Holiness as he made his way out.

The Tibetan Nobel Peace laureate was invited by the Bishop of Iceland, His
Grace Karl Sigurbjornsson, to address the special inter-faith gathering of
“peace and prayer” held in the Church located in downtown area of the
country’s capital Reykjavik.  This public inter-faith event attended by
representatives of various religious and faiths such as Islam, the Catholic
Church of Iceland, the Bahai Community of Iceland, the Russian Orthodox
Church of Iceland, etc., was organised especially to coincide with His
Holiness’ June 1-3 visit to Iceland. 

Bishop Sigurbjornsson in welcoming His Holiness spoke about the Tibetan
leader’s untiring witness to peace and hope.

“The suffering of your people and country, Tibet, from which you had to flee
fifty years ago, has touched a deep cord in our hearts. We Icelanders are a
small nation cherishing our freedom and we can identify with the pain of
oppression. In a world of escalating violence, hate and retaliation your
witness to the way of peace, compassion and reconciliation has been beacon
for us all,” the Bishop said.

The Church leader further said that they wanted to pay their respect and
gratitude to His Holiness for “your work for understanding, tolerance and
love between peoples, nations and religions”, adding, “That is a message our
world needs to hear and take to heart.”

Speaking on the occasion, His Holiness said that on his first visit to
Iceland he was pleased that his first public engagement was an inter-faith
event that was keeping in tune with one of his main commitments of promoting
inter-religious harmony.

Commenting on the topic of “Peace and Hope”, His Holiness told the large
gathering that it was good to base our life on hope because no one can
predict the future.  He said if a person lost hope then sometimes they
commit suicide and this is why it is much better to remain hopeful and
follow the path of peace and non-violence.

“Only through cultivation of inner peace can we attain lasting and long-term
peace in the world. All the religions and faith have the same potential to
promote peace,” His Holiness said, adding that “Religion must be the method
to solve problems and not create problems”.

Thorhalla Bjornsdottir, head of the Organising Committee of the “Dalai Lama
in Iceland” group, at whose initial invitation His Holiness was visiting
Iceland, said that the visit of His Holiness, who arrived here last night
from Copenhagen, Denmark, has had a positive impact on the people here.

“His Holiness has reached out to many people in the country. One percent of
the people in Iceland have bought a ticket to attend his sold-out public
talk on Tuesday. It seems he has opened the heart of everyone and given hope
at this critical time the people of Iceland are facing”, she said.

Iceland is a small country inhabited by 300,000 people and the country is
still in the grip of the major economic crisis. Many here believe that His
Holiness’ visit could not have come at a better time to give a sense of hope
to the people and the wisdom that money alone cannot bring about happiness.
It is apparently with this in mind that the organisers of His Holiness’
public talk tomorrow has suggested “Compassion, Value and Happiness” as the
topic for the public talk.

His Holiness’ remarks at the inter-faith gathering in the Church received a
positive response from all sections of the people.  As the Bishop and other
religious and faith leaders were leading His Holiness to his motorcade
waiting outside the Church, a lady walked up to say, “Thank you for coming
to Iceland and for opening everyone’s hearts”.  Many people with smiles on
their faces and some whose eyes were filled with tears of joy had also
assembled outside the church to greet and wave at His Holiness.

Earlier in the morning, His Holiness gave an audience to the Ambassador of
India and members of the visit Organising Committee and volunteers.  He also
gave an interview to Iceland’s oldest newspaper Morgunbladid and addressed a
“meeting with the press” where he answered questions ranging from the Tibet
issue to his impression about Iceland, which he said, like Tibet, enjoyed a
clear blue sky.

Tomorrow, His Holiness will be visiting the Parliament of Iceland at the
invitation of the Parliament Speaker, Mrs. Asta Ragnheidur, to address
members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.  He will also be visiting the
University of Iceland to participate in an educational seminar with top
academics especially in the field of philosophy and religious studies.
Among others, Iceland’s Minister of Environment and Minister of Health are
also scheduled to separately call on His Holiness. 

“The facts that government ministers and other political leaders are
approaching us for meeting with His Holiness clearly show their regard for
the warm public mood and positive response to His Holiness’ visit to
Iceland”, said Mr. Tsering Tashi, the London-based Representative of His
Holiness the Dalai Lama, responsible for coordinating the Iceland visit and
who is accompanying the Tibetan leader on the Denmark and Iceland leg of the
current four country visit.

His Holiness’ visit is also receiving good coverage in Iceland’s TV channels
and newspapers.

Report filed by the Office of Tibet, London
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