Wed 7 May 2008
Brussels May 5, 2008. "Islam today is part of Europe. It is important to understand this. One should not see Islam as outside Europe. We already have an important presence of Islam and Muslims among our citizens," José Barroso told a press conference this afternoon after an informal dialogue between EU leaders and around twenty high-level representatives of Christianity, Judaism and Islam in Europe. He also condemned the concept of clash of civilisations.
How will Barroso prevent this clash which is obviously going strong - due to the EU´s efforts?
Traugott Schoefthaler, 1. director of The Anna Lindh Foundation: “Javier Pérez de Cuéllar and Amin Maalouf come to similar conclusions: Cultural policies need to avoid schematic concepts such as the popular distinction between “Us” and “Them”. They even warn against further using the term of “The Other” which is standard in almost all intercultural education concepts, since it opens the gate for imposing collective identities on the individual” .
Purpose of the Anna Lindh Foundation: Promote knowledge, recognition and mutual respect between religions and beliefs, culture and values which prevail in the partners.
Identify, develop and promote areas of cultural convergence between the EuroMed countries and peoples, with the aim in particular of promoting tolerance, cultural understanding and avoiding stereotypes, xenophobia and racism.
Underline the vital importance of ensuring that all partners encourage the development and deepening of the cultural and human dimension of the EuroMed partnership in all its aspects and its various components.
The Anna Lindh Foundation was founded by the EU in 2005 in cooperation with the Council of Europe, the Arab League, the ISESCO, and the UNESCO. The Anna Lindh Foundation´s address is the Library of Alexandria, Egypt.
The EU has appointed 2008 to be the Year of Intercultural Dialogue . This blog has reported
on it here, and here and here.
"1001 actions" of the Anna Lindh Foundation
Dialogue between people, and intercultural coexistence, is one of the main challenges at the start of the twenty-first century. This issue is especially important to the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, the far-reaching political framework between the European Union and its partners in the southern Mediterranean region, which created the Anna Lindh Foundation and which embraces the values of the ‘1001 Actions’ campaign
Action locations map here
Principal objectives of the campaign include:
to connect the disparate initiatives and actions for dialogue which are taking place in the Euro-Med region
to raise the visibility of the organizations, individuals and actions for dialogue in the region
to create a sense of community across the thirty-seven National Networks of the Anna Lindh Foundation
to demonstrate the level of visibility and impact that can be achieved through collective action
to raise the importance of dialogue work within civil society and the wider public
About 1001 Actions
During the establishment of the Foundation in 2005, each government of the thirty-seven member states of the Euro-Med Partnership appointed an organization to support the coming together and networking of civil society organizations actively working for and dedicated to the promotion of dialogue between people in the region: the ‘Anna Lindh National Networks’.
The Networks, which currently bring together over 1500 member organizations from diverse fields of civil society, constitute the basis of the Foundation’s core programme which today focuses along three main lines: •support for the development of its National Networks of civil society organizations • implementation of high visibility projects and programmes involving several National Networks and grant support for members in implementing dialogue actions • assuming the role of ‘observatory’ of elements contributing to the evolution of comprehension and coexistence in the region
Peace is a word most frequently used by people who plan war or chaos.
Here is a peace dove from former communist DDR (GDR)
Through this unique approach, the Anna Lindh Foundation today continues to enlarge its Networks, raise the visibility of dialogue action in the region, and play a leading role in shaping the Euro-Mediterranean space as an area of ‘co-operation, exchange, mobility, mutual understanding and peace.’
About the Year of Intercultural Dialogue
Recent events at the international and local level have demonstrated how intangible elements such as culture and religion can affect the coexistence between people and communities. It is for this reason that the European Union has dedicated the year 2008 to the theme of ‘intercultural dialogue’.
The objectives of the EU Year of Intercultural Dialogue are to promote intercultural dialogue as an instrument to bring together individuals and communities of different cultures.
Intercultural dialogue contributes to a number of strategic priorities of the European Union:
such as respecting and promoting cultural diversity; favouring the European Union’s commitment to solidarity, social justice and reinforced cohesion; allowing the European Union to realize new efficient partnership with neighboring countries.
In the countdown to 2008, the EU Year of Intercultural Dialogue, the Anna Lindh Foundation is preparing to launch a major international campaign: ‘1001 Actions for Dialogue’.
Second phase - Mobilisation
"Network puzzle": the purpose of the work of the Anna Lindh Foundation in the service of the EU, the ISESCO, the Arab League (ALECSO), the UNESCO.
This second phase aims to: • Mobilize civil society groups and the wider public to take part in the campaign through joining and organizing dialogue actions • Launch a large scale visibility campaign involving national and international media • Information and promotional meetings across the Networks
• Prepare the calendar with the different actions
Third phase - Celebration
This third phase will see:
• The implementation of a huge number of actions at the beginning of May 2008
• The “Dialogue Night”
Building on the Foundation’s unique role as a network of thirty-seven national networks of civil society organizations, the ‘1001 Actions’ campaign sets out to mobilize people and groups across the region to implement activities under one common banner for the promotion of dialogue.
In order to maximize the visibility of this collective movement, the majority of actions will be timed to take place at the start of May 2008. These actions will culminate in ‘Dialogue Night’, during which cultural events will be held in synchronization across thirty-seven countries.
The conviction at the core of the ‘1001 Actions’ campaign is that we can achieve much more if we act together, …. that we can thereby create a maximum impact.
It is through this collective mobilization of people and actions, that we can connect together our initiatives and significantly increase the visibility of dialogue actions across the Euro-Mediterranean region.
What is most important is that all projects involve dialogue between people and focus on the aim of knowing the ‘other’.
There are a range of activities which could be developed under the ‘1001 Actions for Dialogue’ banner, with examples including: an international seminar on cultural conflict, film screenings and debate, an intercultural night at university, issue-based workshops in your local school or youth group
On the evening of Thursday 22nd of May 2008, The Euro-Mediterranean Dialogue Night is a unique cultural event held simultaneously across the 37 Euro-Mediterranean partner countries developed by the Anna Lindh Foundation, its Network and partners including Ministries of Culture, the European Commission and COPPEM network of regional and local authorities.
The event has been planned to take place exactly one week before the first meeting of Euro-Mediterranean Ministers of Culture to be held in Athens Greece in order to present the results of the Night to the Ministers..
Activities planned for the Night include public debates culminating in music concerts, theatre performances with local artists, food festivals where different communities come together and their main objective is to offer the audience a cultural and pleasant experience to understand their neighbour better and develop a sense of curiosity towards the other.
The Anna Lindh Foundation honours champions of Islamization: The Anna Lindh Foundation´s “EuroMed Journalist Prize for Cultural Dialogue.”
1. Jamila Zekhnini from Belgium, lends recognition to women who promote an alternative image of their religion in her series of articles "Musul Women" , published in Agenda Interculturel. The journalist praises a new movement of Muslim women who are standing for their rights by explaining that Islam, and contrary to common perceptions, can be in favour of gender equality.
2. In his article "Why wait for another massacre ?", published in Dnevnik Newspaper, Uros Skerl from Slovenia, deeply explores the worrying situation of the Bosniaks, this precarious population living in the neighbourhood of the European Union. Despite the end of the Bosnian War in 1995, the article alerts the international community of a latent conflict that may explode between Serbs and Bosniaks.
3. Gideon Levy from Israel, tackles a sensitive issue in his article "The Children of 5767", published in Haaretz. While at the date of its publishing Israelis were celebrating the Jewish New Year, the article reviews different stories of Palestinian children who got killed by the Israeli Defence Forces during the Jewish year 5767 (September 2006 - September 2007 Gregorian calendar). The article is not only written in a very courageous way, but also emphasizes a question rarely covered by the Israeli Media.
4. Furthermore, two journalists have received a honorary mention from the jury; Nadia Al Awady from Egypt, for her article "Inside the Palestinian resistance Movements", published in Islam Online, and Valentino Stefano from Italy, for his article "Cosmopolitan Pyla: Where Cyprus is already re-unified", published in Il Venerdi
Role of the EU in this melting pot
This European year of intercultural dialogue includes a series of debates between European Commissioners and parliamentarians, representatives of interest groups and think tanks, journalists and students on how the EU can foster dialogue between cultures.
The focus of this third debate is on promoting respect and understanding between races and religions, embracing cultural and religious diversity and bringing people of different faiths and beliefs together.
The first two discussions looked at the impact of immigration on intercultural dialogue, and using art and culture to access and understand other cultures. Four more debates will take place before the end of the year – on intercultural dialogue at the workplace, multilingualism, education and the role of the media.
Comment: Have you read Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen? This man had no personality, no core, and was, therefore, to be fused together with other weak personalities in a big mass to something useful upon his death. What the EU and the Anna Lindh Foundation makes with us reminds me of this scene. Besides, this reminds me of the attempts to carry the German youth of the Hitler Jugend and later in the FDJ of the DDR (GDR) away for dictatorship and its own destruction. This attempt occurs desperate: The EU tries to achieve within 1 year what our ancestors have so decidedly opposed for 1400 years: Islamic supremacy in Europe. Why?
Finally, the whole project occurs oldfashioned to me: Probably most psychologists and sociologists know approaching each other through dialogue is ony possible when no firm ideological difference exists. For in that case dialogue will more often than not move people away from each other. As even Anna Lindh Director, Traugott Schoefthaler had to ascertain during the "Muhammad Cartoon crisis"("What Went Wrong With the Dialogue Between Cultures?"), wherefore he would only let trained people (NGOs) join the dialogue in the future.
The Problem is, that the EU knowingly disregards the contents of the Koran and the descriptions of Muhammad´s life.