Archive for March, 2009


Beating Retreat

There is no retreat nor way of flight for anyone save unto God, and no refuge nor asylum but in Him. `Abdu’l-Baha, Bahai writings

One of the challenges of travelling is that it is so hard to find time to write this blog! At the end of February I went to see my father and step-mother and my twin sisters Tina and Gina and their families in California. Too short a visit! From there, I went to New York where I attended the Commission on the Status of Women
at the United Nations in New York for two weeks, representing the Baha’i International Community, EBBF and the UK National Committee for UNIFEM. Hard to condense into a few words a UN event with 45 country delegations and over 2500 NGOs in attendance!
Here are some pictures (thanks to the photographers – you know who you are!):

BIC and EBBF team at CSW 2009
The Baha’i delegation to CSW

Briefing at the CSW 2009
Briefing at the CSW

Simon, Wendi, Carl and Fulya CSW 2009
Simon Batchelor, Wendi Momen, Carl Murrall, Fulya Vekiloglu

At BIC offices CSW 2009
Survivors of the second week of CSW

No sooner had I returned to the UK than on 21 March, the first day of the Baha’i year, Moojan and I travelled to Delft to attend the wedding of Sylvia Karlsson and Onno Vinkhuyzen – a beautiful ceremony in a beautiful old city.

And today Moojan and I were the Baha’i representatives at the final Thanksgiving Service for Bedfordshire County Council. The Council, which came into existence in 1889, will go out of existence on 31 March this year, to be replaced by two unitary authorities. If you do not live in the UK, this will be completely meaningless to you – actually, it may be completely incomprehensible no matter where you live! – but, basically, the existing form of local governance is being abolished and a new form is coming into being. If you are fascinated by such things, you can read about it here. Have a look at this blog for the details of the service.

Bedfordshire Coat of Arms

The British do this sort of thing really well – a long peal of bells before and after; a packed church with the bishop and several other clergymen in full clerical robes; local country councillors and partners; mayors and partners from all the towns in the area – many, many heavy gold chains on show – plenty of rousing hymns including Bedford’s `own’ hymn, `To Be a Pilgrim’, with words by local son John Bunyan, he of `Pilgrim’s Progress’ fame; a sermon about beginnings and endings; the Salvation Army band playing fast-paced music including, incongruously, show tunes; and the Minden band of the Queen’s Division providing a Sunset and Beating Retreat ceremony at the end, marching up and down the road in front of the erstwhile County Council building as the County Council flag was lowered and handed over to the retiring chairman of the Council in a tearful moment – all in the sunshine of a beautiful spring day with daffodils in the grass around us and swans on the river. And as the sun began to set, the handing over of governance to a new team – the peaceful transfer of power in the presence of local people – women, men, children – representing all political flavours, all nations, all races and all religions.


While all this was going on, I was thinking of our Baha’i friends and their supporters in Iran, whose fate is in the hands of people who, apparently, are not interested in diversity or truth or peace or justice. Perhaps such people will themselves soon beat a retreat.

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