New Centers Open in Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands
SGI-Spain held the opening ceremony for its first official center on October 15 in the city of Rivas-Vaciamadrid. The opening coincided with celebrations on the 50th anniversary of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's first visit to Europe in 1961.
Guests included Rivas-Vaciamadrid Vice Mayor Fausto Fernández Díaz, Director José María Contreras Mazarío from the Religious Affairs Commission of the Ministry of Justice of Spain, President Florencio Serrano of the Federation of Buddhist Communities of Spain and President Margarita María Pintos de Cea-Naharro from the Madrid Community Interfaith Dialogue Association. The new center is a four-story building with one basement floor and it includes conference rooms and an exhibition space, as well as a library.
At the opening, guests were treated to piano and chorus performances as well as to an aria from The Magic Flute and a flamenco performance where people stood up and danced.
Mr. Contreras commented that SGI-Spain's contribution to society has changed citizens' perception of religion. He also shared his hope that the center would provide a forum for dialogue where people can exchange ideas freely.
SGI-Portugal also opened its first center in Lisbon on October 17. A message for the occasion was sent from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda in which he conveyed his great expectation for SGI-Portugal members to take responsibility for advancing peace through deepening ties of friendship and trust within their local communities.
Similarly, in the Netherlands, a new SGI center was opened in Amsterdam on October 10, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's first visit to the country and the start of the spread of Nichiren Buddhism. This is the second SGI center in the country.
[Adapted from articles in the October 18, 22 and 23, 2011, issues of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]