JPM International Visiting Fellows Biographies
Glasgow Delegation (Selected by the Scottish Inter Faith Council)
Dr. Beltagui became the Convenor of the Scottish Inter Faith Council in October 2007. He was a founding member of SIFC and Vice chairman of the organisation since 2004. Salah is also vice convenor of the Muslim Council of Scotland and is a member of the Muslim Council of Britain. He is on the Executive board of the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Organisations. He is a member of the Public Involvement Group at the Chief Scientific Office of NHS Scotland. Professionally, Salah has a BSc from the University of Alexandria and a PhD from the University of Glasgow, both in Mechanical Engineering. He has held senior research and lecturing positions in Universities and research institutions in Britain, Egypt and Oman.
Rita (Henrietta) Docherty
Henrietta Docherty is member of the Baha’i Faith and has served on national Baha’i elected institutions for 20 years. She has been involved in interfaith for many years but more specifically in the past 2 years with the Scottish Inter Faith Council (SIFC) (representing the Baha’i Council for Scotland), and serving as its executive for that time.
Chief Executive, SIFC. Pramila brings a wealth of experience in the area of equality, diversity, research, campaigning, policy development, sustainable development and training. She has a Masters in Business Administration and a Bachelor in Laws (LLB). In her spare time, she supports the work of the following external organizations through their Boards of Management: The Inter Faith Network for the UK, Glasgow Anti Racist Alliance and Womankind Worldwide.
Magdalen Lambkin Represents the SIFC Youth Steering Committee on the Executive Committee. She is a PhD candidate in the field of Inter-religious relations and has a Masters degree in Interfaith Studies from the University of Glasgow.
Sharon Newall has been a volunteer with S.I.F.C., and she is currently studying for a masters in Interfaith Relations (MTH). Formerly she completed an MA in philosophy, and with a fine art contingent to the course went on to work for Sothebys briefly. She had three sons, and then returned to University to do a Bachelor in Divinity (BD). She worked briefly with socially excluded and emotionally disadvantaged children.
Ravinder Kaur Nijjar
Ravinder Kaur Nijjar has made a vast contribution in the field of interfaith. She has been an ambassador for her own community (Sikh) and her selflessness, dedication and commitment in taking interfaith and equality initiatives forward has brought her respect from many communities and organizations. During the past 16 years she has worked tirelessly to bring faith communities together within Scotland, UK and also currently in Europe.
Mohammed Irfan Rabbani
Councillor Irfan Rabbani is the Executive member for Equalities in Glasgow City Council’s decision making body. He chairs the Equalities Network Forum, as well as chairing the City Council’s Equalities Commission, which he established in 2008. He is convener of the Glasgow Forum of Faiths which was congratulated on its work in creating important linkages between faith leaders and city officials by the Interfaith Center of New York.
Rabbi Soudry is the leader of the Garnethill Hebrew Congregation in Glasgow. He was born in Morocco, and lived in Israel for 10 years before coming to Britain in 1975. For many years Rabbi Soudry has taught Judaism to students of the Glasgow University Divinity Department and to local secondary school pupils. Last summer, the Scottish Interfaith Council invited Rabbi Soudry to explain and illustrate the role of music in the Jewish liturgy.
Rev. Kamburawala Rewatha Thero
Recently appointed Chief Monk of Great Britain by the Sri Lankan Sangha Council, Rev. Thero has a resident full time teaching position of Buddhist Meditation Studies and Buddhist Philosophy. Rev. Rewatha is a member of the Faith Liaison Advisory Group, the Religious Leaders of Scotland, and Scotland’s Buddhist Vihara- the first ever Theravada Buddhist Temple in Scotland in 2002.
Barcelona Delegation (Selected by UNESCO Catalonia)
Manuel Perez Browne
Mr. Perez has a Degree in Journalism and a Master’s in the History of Religions. He is the Director of the magazine “Dialogal” specialised in religious diversity and published by the UNESCO association for Interreligious Dialogue. He has collaborated with different local media on these subjects. He is also a member of the Interreligious Dialogue Department of the UNESCO Centre of Catalonia for whom he develops programmes on mediation and conflict prevention related to religious faith. He is particularly involved in work in the Catalan local areas of Badalona and Blanes.
Josep Pera Colome
Born in Badalona in 1965, he studied Catalan and Romance Languages. He has been an active member of Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya since 1979. Until 1987, he was actively involved in the cultural and associative life of the town of Badalona. From 1987 to 1992, he was the local President of the CDC in Tiana. In 1992 he took on responsibilities within his party at a national level when he collaborated with the General Secretary. He worked at the Ramon Trias Fargas foundation, was Councillor of the CiU at Barcelona Local Council from 2003 and was a member of the Barcelona Regional Council. Since July 2007, he has been Councillor for Citizenship and Social Cohesion at Badalona Local Council.
Coordinator of the International Network on Religions and Mediation in Urban Areas, he is also Programme Coordinator of the Department of Interreligious Dialogue, UNESCO Centre of Catalonia. A graduate in Theology (SITB, Buenos Aires, Argentina) and in Philosophy (University of Buenos Aires, Argentina), he has been an adjunct professor at the Baptist Seminary in Buenos Aires and editor at Ediciones Kairos in the same city. Currently he is a member of the Barcelona Mennonite Church, where he also collaborates in the Peace and Mediation Service.
Mohammed Halhoul Debboun
Mr. Halhoul is spokesperson for the Islamic Cultural Council of Catalonia, which has a pro-Moroccan tendency and brings together different local Muslim communities to represent their rights and interests before political parties, media and public institutions. Among other things, the Council seeks to train the leaders of Muslim communities to act knowingly within Catalan society.
Berta Natalia Reverdin Effront
Nathalie Reverdin is a Swiss female pastor of the Catalan Evangelical Church (a united church made up of Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists and Lutherans) who lives and works in Rubí. She is very active in defending women’s rights, both within religious communities and in society at large. As president of the UNESCO Association for Interreligious Dialogue, she has long helped to promote pioneering initiatives such as the Catalan Parliament of Religions and the introduction of a secular approach to the teaching of religious curricula in schools.
Montserrat Castella Olive
Monserrat is the first president of the newly created Catalan Coordination Center of Buddhist Organizations, which aims to organize Catalonian Buddhists to present their tradition and contribution to society. She is a Buddhist texts translator and professor of Buddhist theory and practice at the Center for the Study of Religious Traditions. Montserrat has been very committed to interfaith dialogue, and currently is organizing an interfaith march for peace.
Jaime Aymar Rogalta
Born in Barcelona in 1957, he is a priest of the Archdiocese of Barcelona and holds a PhD in art history from the University of Barcelona (1993). He is a professor in the Faculty of Philosophy and in the Faculty of Communication, both at the Ramon Llull University, where he has taught courses in history, art history, aesthetics and iconography, and courses on media for educators. Between 1998 and 2005, Fr. Aymar was dean of the Faculty of Philosophy at the Ramon Llull University. He is currently rector of the parish of St. Francis of Assisi in Badalona. Since September 2008 he has been director of Radio Estel, the archdiocese of Barcelona’s station, and of the weekly religious culture publication “Catalunya Cristiana”.