Remarks Ambassador D. Brent Hardt Computer Donation to Muslim Youth League Friday, April 27, 2012, 6:30p.m. Anna Catherina Islamic Complex

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1 Remarks Ambassador D. Brent Hardt Computer Donation to Muslim Youth League Friday, April 27, 2012, 6:30p.m. Anna Catherina Islamic Complex (Protocol recognitions) The 21st century has brought a new set of challenges and opportunities. U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has observed that meeting 21st century challenges requires using 21 st Century tools. These tools, she observed can help individuals be empowered for their own development. Today s event -- the donation of desktop computers -- is part of that effort to empower communities and people for development by enhancing their connection to 21 st century technologies. Today, the Internet is changing the way business is conducted, politics is pursued, culture is shared, and individuals communicate with each other. It also affects the way we conduct international relations. Let s just consider three fundamental networks of international relations trade, communications, and mass media. The infrastructure that conveys goods around the globe has shifted over the centuries from - 1 -

2 ships to rail to highways. Our communications networks have gone from post, to telegraph, to telephone. And our mass media has moved from print, to radio, to television. Today, all three of these systems operate largely on the Internet. It is a triple paradigm shift converging on a common infrastructure, the Internet. Today, the U.S. Embassy is partnering with the Muslim Youth League to not only provide the computers we are donating but also to provide a safe space for the community to come together. The Muslim Youth League recognizes the need to provide the people of this community, especially the young people, with resources that can help increase citizen engagement, economic growth, and social empowerment for the future. Even though the computers are located at the Anna Catherina Islamic Complex, everyone regardless of what faith they are will have access to the computers. We are greatly encouraged by the way Guyana s people are able to peacefully coexist in a multi-faith society and support religious freedom

3 Religious freedom is integrally connected to social stability, economic development, and national security. In a world where approximately 85 percent of people have some form of religious belief, restrictions on religious freedom and expression can fuel sectarian tensions, disenfranchise vulnerable minorities, and hinder the ability of faithbased groups to contribute fully to public life and the common good. As President Obama noted in his Cairo speech, freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. The United States and Guyana share a profound common belief in the importance of religious freedom, which is why both our societies have communities such as Anna Catherina that recognize the strength in diversity, embrace the free exchange of ideas, and encourage an atmosphere of understanding and reconciliation, which is so vital to our ability to live in peace and security with our diverse neighbors. President Obama is dedicated to fostering interfaith dialogue, cooperation, and understanding. During his speech in Cairo, the President declared that people in every country should be free to choose - 3 -

4 and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, heart, and soul. The State Department recently convened a U.S.-Indonesia Interfaith Conference in Jakarta, where faith leaders from eight countries joined leaders from the private sector and civil society to identify and work together on common projects that will have an impact on their communities. I applaud Guyana s efforts to create a similar forum, such as the Inter-Religious Organization (IRO), where faith-based organizations such as the Muslim Youth League can address not only religious issues but also broader social and economic concerns in communities throughout Guyana. The U.S. Embassy is grateful for the partnerships we have been able to forge with faith-based organizations such as the Muslim Youth League. Such partnerships allow us to connect with larger sectors of the community that it would be harder for us to reach on our own. Through the provision of computers for the lab here in the Anna Catherina Islamic Complex, everyone in the surrounding communities will have - 4 -

5 greater access to a computer and all the valuable information that the internet can provide. I would be remiss if I did not encourage you to take a look at the U.S. Embassy s informative Facebook page, for instance, or follow the Embassy on Flickr or Twitter there are an endless number of possibilities. The U.S. Embassy will continue to reach out to the people of Guyana to increase access to new innovations and new technologies that will allow you to fully leverage the networks and possibilities of our interconnected world. In this regard, I would like to especially recognize the work of the Muslim Youth League, which is facilitating a range of initiatives beneficial to the whole community, by presenting your community with these five desktop computers to help create better access for your community to global connection technologies. Thank you and let s keep in touch electronically! - 5 -

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