On Tuesday, 24th March, in Brussels, the European Parliament hosted a conference of MEPs and religious community leaders with a very actual subject in debate, namely “The rise of religious radicalism and fundamentalism and the role of inter-religious dialogue in the promotion of tolerance and respect for human dignity”.
The conference has been opened by the Parliament’s First President, Mr Antonio Tajani and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Mrs Federica Mogherini.
The event had 2 parts, first part was about “The rise of religious radicalism and fundamentalism” led by Mr Elmar Brok, the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the second part presented the subject „Promoting tolerance and respect for human dignity” led by Mr Claude Moraes, the Chairman of the Committee on Civil liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.
Mr. Tajani mentioned in his preliminary remarks that “The founding principle of Europe is solidarity”, and “Europe will not leave Arab countries alone in the fight against radicalism and fundamentalism”.
Other religious cults’ representatives and chairs of various committees on religious issues in Europe took the floor and expressed their convictions that radicalism can be defeated only by remaining united.
The speakers considered that nowadays the issue of religions is too much put into small areas. Despite the fact that there are some antidiscrimination laws, very often this issue is not considered as a part of European values. Nevertheless, the way some religions are threatened today even in some parts of Europe should be also an important subject to be discussed at the European Union high level. The phenomenon of religions and spirituality has been too little investigated and it was considered as marginal comparing with, for instance, the market economies in Europe.
An important element for the comprehension of other people’s mentality is religious literacy in education, including public education. Ignorance about beliefs of the predominant religions are a further ground of misunderstandings and tensions. This is why inter-religious dialogue should be a way to tolerance and respect of dignity. Every cult should be allowed to have its own identity in order to be able to develop in a harmonious way and to be rooted in the place where its practitioners are living. Dialogue is essential in a modern society dealing with diversity.
Mr. Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament said: “We should have the courage to take people on board and encourage dialogue between religions […]. The second half of the 20th century brought the principle of mutual respect […]. We are now living in a time when this respect is no longer to be taken for granted”.
He therefore stressed the relevance of promoting dialogue between people with differing views, so as to “enable us to live together with respect and tolerance”.
The First Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans also participated to the inter-religious dialogue and he mentioned the fact that: „The commission will make a serious effort to take this dialogue to a higher level than just going through the motions which sometimes perhaps in the past was part of this. Because it is my profound belief that if European society does not rediscover the beauty of dialogue, we are heading for more trouble in other areas because the process of dehumanization which is part and puzzle of every, every society based on radical politics or based on a totalitarian system which gives you the right to eliminate from society anyone who doesn’t agree with your views. This process starts when there is no dialogue.
And one of the few ways we have to create the form of immunity against that process is to take dialogue seriously and to see where we can agree and to also discuss things where we disagree“.
You can find more information on the site of the European Parliament, at News: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/content/20150324IPR37224/html/Inter-religious-dialogue-the-way-to-defeat-extremism