One more year we would like to invite you to Call to Europe, our main annual event that gathers high level representatives from the academia, the policy making and the civil society to shape a common progressive approach to one specific issue.
“Call to Europe V: Islam in Europe” will address recent developments in society which are increasingly challenging Europe’s basic, fundamental values, such as mutual respect, tolerance, freedom of speech, equal rights between genders, the secular state and the protection of minorities.
There are more than 35 million Muslims living in Europe and Islam has been part of European societies for centuries. Yet in recent years, extremists have sought to breed discontent and division. 2015 began in Paris with the despicable murders of Charlie Hebdo journalists, followed by the brutal shooting of a policeman as well as by the killing of several Jewish customers in a kosher supermarket. Further incidents in Belgium and killings in Denmark intensified the issue.
In each case, the perpetrators of these crimes claimed to be jihadists, acting to defend the dignity of Islam after taking offence to cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed or to affronts to Muslim societies globally. In addition, anti-Semitism is developing among parts of Muslim communities, in particular among the younger generation. The Europe of tolerance, openness and Enlightment values is under threat as people of violence try to quench free expression and to isolate even threaten communities in Europe.
Alienation, populism, xenophobia and disenchantment with our democracies have been festering for decades and reactionary right wing elements have emerged to target Muslims in particular and to create discord within European societies.
Progressives in Europe need to take the lead in preventing reactionary forces from encroaching on the mainstream of public opinion. “Call to Europe V” will look at the variety of influences – local, foreign as well as global – at play to better understand the dynamics we face. The question of social and economic empowerment is key to the understanding of communal marginalisation. If people cannot attain a decent standard of living, it is difficult to feel part of society.
Insufficient effort has been put into understanding the interplay between politics and religion and their underlying values. Divergent religious values and traditions, the secular state and the European Union’s democratic principles need to find ways to accommodate one another. Progressives are required to seek an adequate understanding of how young people become radicalised and also look to an international level to analyse the geopolitical origins and consequences of the present wave of discontent and to find a way in which Europe can play a positive role of comprehensive understanding.
“Call to Europe V: Islam in Europe” will therefore provide an opportunity to develop a truly intercultural narrative on:
how to support the development of genuine understanding of Islam within European societies;
how to restore and enhance tolerance between all groups in European society;
what are the key policy measures and concrete actions that must be initiated to successfully address the fears of minority communities, to prevent radicalisation and to fight intolerance and discrimination, wherever it comes from?
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