The German Bishops’ Conference and Pope Benedikt XVI are determined to strengthen their dialogue with Islam and collaborate to fight injustice, violence, and intolerance. According to the head of the Bishops’ Conference, Robert Zollitsch, this intention aligns itself with many Muslims’ and Christians’ desire for fair social conditions, more individual rights, and genuine democracy.
In Solingen, the beginning of Ramadan is clouded by the news that the two German Muslims, who were recently arrested on terror charges at the port of Dover (as reported), were originally from Solingen and members of a regional group of Salafis. Solingen’s Muslim communities distanced themselves from any radical Islamic tendencies and, instead, emphasized their interest in promoting successful integration. Eray Ünver, the Ditib’s local commissioner for integration and also responsible for the local inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue, criticized that news about arrests of radical Muslims disrupt the process of dialogue and integration, as they trigger fear and feed prejudices. Similarly, members of the local Islamic Center distanced themselves from radical preachers such as (Salafist) Pierre Vogel.
14 representatives of various Muslim and Christian communities have initiated a dialogue platform in Villingen. Their first meeting last week was the kick-off to a more concrete inter-religious dialogue between these groups. They discussed their community structures, services and prayer times as well as leisure activities for old and young people, offered by both Christians and Muslims.
October 28, 2010
The anniversary of the day for the dialogue between Christians and Muslims (it was introduced by Pope Jhon Paul II in 1986) has been celebrated the 27th of October in the Chamber of Deputies. The aim of the event is to build trust and mutual understanding among people, religious and non religious. 100 initiatives of dialogue between Christians and Muslims have been launched. They will take place all over Italy. Many religious communities lament a deficit in pluralism, secularism and religious freedom in the country. The Imam of Florence and President of the largest Islamic association in Italy (UCOII) urges for a new culture that engages, recognizes and respects Others. He also exhorts the Muslim community to avoid any form of isolation and victimization.
This week, hundreds of mosques and Islamic organizations across the country have been encouraging their members to invite non-Muslims to attend prayers, discussions and tours of Islamic centers as a way to defuse hostility toward the Muslim population. “A Week of Dialogue,” materialized from a summit of Islamic leaders last month in New York and was, in part, a response to the furor surrounding a plan to open a Muslim community center and mosque near ground zero.
A New York Times poll in August found that 75 percent of New Yorkers had never visited a mosque, and that those who had, or who had a close Muslim friend, were more likely to support the Muslim center planned in Lower Manhattan. “In terms of rectifying this Islamophobia and bigotry, we should focus on our relationship with our neighbors,” said Zaheer Uddin, executive director of the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan New York, an umbrella group of mosques and Islamic groups in the city.
Juan Williams gave voice to such concerns this week when he said on the Fox News Channel, where he is a political analyst, that he got “nervous” when he saw people in “Muslim garb” on an airplane. National Public Radio, where Mr. Williams had also worked, terminated his contract on Wednesday; Fox gave him a new contract on Thursday. The organizers of the weeklong dialogue said the open houses were intended to help dispel just the sort of concerns that Mr. Williams expressed.
Delegation of spiritual leaders from Europe visits US to learn about ‘twinning synagogues’ initiative aimed at advancing interfaith dialogue, battle anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. A delegation of over two dozen European imams and rabbis in a meeting late last week at the White House pledged participation in American-led efforts to combat Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. The declaration, signed by leading clerics from nine European nations came at the conclusion of a four-day interreligious mission to the United States that brought the group to the White House, State Department, Congress, United Nations, Ground Zero, US Memorial Holocaust Museum and even Yankee Stadium. The mission was hosted by The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) in conjunction with the World Jewish Congress United States and the Islamic Society of North America.
When German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble called a conference to open dialogue with the country’s Muslims in the autumn of 2006, aims were set high. Schäuble said then he wanted to send a signal that Muslims were welcome in Germany. At the same time, the dialogue was also intended to prevent the radicalization of the Muslim community. Representatives of Germany’s federal government, and Muslim organizations addressed the issues of Islamic religious instruction at German schools, education in accordance with Western values and ways to prevent young Muslims from drifting into militant circles. On Thursday, the German-Islamic Conference will meet for its final session.
Comments by Pope Benedict XVI about the difficult of interfaith prompted both questions and praise. The pope cast doubt on the possibility of interfaith dialogue but called for increased discussion concerning the practical consequences of religious differences. He was quoted as saying in a letter to Marcello Pera, a center-right Italian politician: “intercultural dialogue which deepens the cultural consequences of basic religious ideas.”
Jewish and Muslim leaders cautiously praised the remarks. A spokesperson for the Italian Muslim group, UCOII, called for further clarification, saying: “dialogue among believers exists: We don’t hold a dialogue on our faiths… but we do on how we can coexist, each in our diversity.”
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New York Times
Over fifty leading Muslim and Catholic scholars and religious leaders from the Middle East, Europe, and America sat behind closed doors in a Vatican building, discussing issues about what divides, and can unite the two faiths. The landmark talks were a hopeful attempt to establish new, positive dialogue after a fall out two years ago concerning a speech by Pope Benedict. The scholars and clerics issued a 15-point declaration asserting a mutual love of God and care for one’s neighbor. Pope Benedict XVI urged Christians and Muslims to overcome their misunderstandings. Some of the topics discussed during the talks included issues on the freedom of religion, freedom of consciences, apostasy, and violence. Noted scholars Tariq Ramadan and Ingrid Mary Mattson praised the meetings, citing positive results that “exceeded” expectations.
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Washington Post, November 6
Washington Post, November 4
The New York Times
Associated Press, November 6
Associated Press, November 4
United Press International
A German far right group has stirred Muslim anger worldwide by holding a three-day “Anti-Islamisation Conference” to protest against the construction of mosques and Muslim immigration.
Prominent members of Europe’s far right, including French “Front National” leader Jean-Marie le Pen and Belgian far-right politician Filip Dewinter, have said they will attend the meeting in Cologne which is aimed at forging a European alliance against “Islamisation.” The conference will include a rally in the centre of Cologne tomorrow which police say could lead to clashes with left-wing groups that plan a counter-demonstration. Trade unions, churches and other groups have also announced plans to protest against the conference. The conference organiser is a local protest group called “Pro-Cologne” which campaigned against the city’s recent decision to allow the construction of a large new mosque with two 55-metre tall minarets. Around 330,000 immigrants live in Cologne, about a third of the city’s population. “Mosques are shooting out of the ground like mushrooms, the muezzin call and headscarves are flooding our streets,” Pro-Cologne said on its website. It said 150 “politicians and publicists” from all over Europe and 1,500 other participants will attend the conference at which it plans to launch a petition “against the Islamisation of our cities”. The meeting has drawn fierce criticism from German politicians and city leaders in Cologne. The premier of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Juergen Ruettgers, said: “Those who abuse the cosmopolitan and democratic city of Cologne as a meeting place for right-wing radicals are against tolerance, against reconciliation, against humanity.” David Crossland reports.
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