Hollande urges ‘firm’ response to Trump

French President Francois Hollande urged Europe to form a united front and provide a “firm” response to US President Donald Trump, at a gathering Saturday of southern European Union leaders.

“We must conduct firm dialogue with the new American administration which has shown it has its own approach to the problems we all face,” he said at the end of the gathering as he was flanked by the other leaders who took part.

Trump has rattled America’s traditional European allies with a range of radical policy plans.

On Friday he also signed a sweeping executive order to suspend the arrival of refugees and impose tough controls on travelers from seven Muslim countries.

During his first phone conversation with Trump late Saturday, Hollande stressed the “economic and political consequences of a protectionist approach”, adding that the principle of “acceptance of refugees” should be respected.

“Faced with an unstable and uncertain world, withdrawal into oneself is a dead-end response,” Hollande was quoted as saying in an Elysee Palace statement.

Hollande had earlier told the gathering that “when he adopts protectionist measures, which could destabilise economies not just in Europe but the economies of the main countries of the world, we have to respond”.

“And when he refuses the arrival of refugees, while Europe has done its duty, we have to respond.”

While officially the new administration in Washington was not on the agenda, the six other European leaders who took part in the summit also alluded to Trump.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Europe was “ready, interested and willing to cooperate” with the Trump administration. “But we are Europe, and we cherish our values,” he added.




Lawmakers ask Obama for religious diversity summit

Nearly 40 members of the U.S. House, among them Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and Muslims, sent a letter to President Obama on Wednesday (July 17) urging him to convene a “Religious Diversity Summit” and do more to fight discrimination against religious minorities.

“The targeting of religious minorities in America is reaching a crisis point and we believe your leadership is crucial to stemming this rising tide of violence,” the letter writers said.

The letter comes just ahead of the first anniversary of the Aug. 5 attack by a white supremacist on a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., that killed six worshippers. Muslim advocacy groups say there has been an increase in attacks against mosques and Muslims since the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15.

All 37 signatories were Democrats, including Buddhist Hank Johnson of Georgia, Hindu Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Muslims Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Andre Carson of Indiana, and Jews Jared Polis of Colorado, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, and Henry Waxman and Alan Lowenthal, both of California.

“The terrible and very public episodes of violence this country has seen over the past several years deserve a response, and as elected leaders we have an obligation to be a part of that response,” wrote Arizona Democrat Raul M. Grijalva, one of several Christians to sign the letter.

Pope Francis wants a meeting with Christians, Jews and Muslims in Rome

May 30, 2013

Pope Francis will be attending a summit in Rome between the leaders of the three great monotheistic religions to launch a message of peace against violence and terrorism.

Pope Francis is planning to organize a meeting in Rome between Christians, Muslims and Jews, as Israeli government sources revealed after a meeting between the Pope and Shimon Peres. The meeting between the leaders of the three monotheistic religions as designed by the Pope should be used to convey a message of peace and to clarify that all religion is opposed to violence. In particular religions do not condone the use of God to justify brutality and terrorism.


Tariq Ramadan Response to Papal Renunciation

*Tuesday, 12 February 2013
I am not a Christian, and have frequently taken issue with Pope
Benedict XVI’s theological positions and historical
interpretations, both in form and in content.

We met on two occasions: the first, while he was still Joseph
Cardinal Ratzinger, the second, in Rome, when he was Pope, as a
participant in interfaith dialogues. I have read him closely,
and listened to him carefully.

His knowledge, his intellectual rigor and the depth of his
analyses made a strong impression on me. Behind a face that
often appeared cool and distant, and despite an introverted
manner, he radiated goodness and gentleness. He was surprising
in the most contradictory way. Despite our deep disagreements, I
always respected the man, his intelligence, his generosity and
obvious courage. He was never afraid to state what he thought
was just, to challenge his opponents or the majority view. As
Pope, he often seemed out of touch, his thought much deeper,
darker—that of a theologian—than the visionary and hope-filled
message of we normally associate with his position as a Pope.

Today, recognizant of his age and responsibilities, he has
stepped down. The difficult last years of his predecessor must
have been on his mind. His decision must be saluted. Sincerely.
As a lesson rich with multiple messages for both the Church, and
for the world at large: know your limits; take leave of power by
choice and not by fate’s decree.

Will the Church hear the departing Pope’s message and call to
the summit of power younger figures with the same knowledge, the
same intellectual rigor? Will world leaders, men and women
alike, grasp that above and beyond the question of age, what is
ultimately at stake is humility? Can we recognize that we are no
longer able to fulfill our commitments; can we learn to take our
leave, to turn our back on power? The lesson is valid for
everyone, religious or not; for agnostics and atheists, for
Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jews and Muslims. For we are
never aware enough of our limitations, never humble enough.

The best measure of a successful life is the way we turn away,
we renounce, and even by the way we depart it.


Tariq Ramadan

Catalonia will receive the II Iberian-American Interreligious Summit

21 June 2012
Starting on Monday, the 25th of June, Barcelona hosts the II Iberian-American Interreligious Summit.
Among others, the program will address issues such as freedom and human rights, brotherhood and solidarity, dialogue and coexistence, inclusion and equity. The findings aim to provide the XXII Iberian-American Summit with proposals to achieve stable and equitable funding of the states, improving social cohesion and strengthening public safety. Also, this second summit wants to consolidate the Iberian-American Interfaith Network as a forum for exchange between the confessions and to follow up the conclusions and recommendations of the Iberian-American Interreligious Summit.

Germany’s 5th Integration Summit

31.01. & 01./02.02.2012

Last Tuesday, Chancellor Merkel hosted the fifth German integration summit, bringing together politicians and representatives of different immigrant groups and organizations.

When Merkel initiated the first integration summit in 2006, she made the integration of Germany’s migrant population a top political priority. At this first summit, the participants agreed on developing a national integration plan, which was presented at the second summit in 2007 and meant to be the basis for integration work in subsequent years. The third and fourth summits were, then, opportunities to assess what had been achieved – with many critical voices as to the progress with respect to integration made so far.

Amongst other things, this year’s summit focused specifically on the issue of language skills, which had already been a priority of recent summits as well as in the national integration plan. In addition, the summit focused on structures of the German state that essentially prevent immigrants from working in the civil service or civil service organizations. In this context, a particular goal formulated at the summit was to raise the number of migrants in these official positions. Furthermore, the summit’s participants talked about the recently uncovered right-wing terrorism cell in Germany. They called for more tolerance and a new “culture of welcome” in Germany as a clear sign against racism and right-wing ideologies. The participants then agreed on an “national action plan” to bring forward the practical implementation of the National Integration Plan.

As in previous years, the summit was – once again – criticized by opposition parties and migrant organizations for its mere symbolic character. Kenan Kolat, for instance, chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany, argued that the euphoria surrounding the first integration summits is over and it has now turned into a mere show-event.

German Interior Minister Warns of Violent Islamist Group

02.07.2011/ 04.07.2011

Germany’s Interior Minister Friedrich warned of an increasing danger posed by Salafi groups in Germany. Salafi Muslims follow a violent and ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam and generally aim at fundamentally re-structuring the liberal democratic order of Western states. According to estimates, there are currently approximately 2500 Salafi Muslims in Germany, who allegedly receive (financial) support from Saudi Arabia. Friedrich warned of a potential growth of this radical group and expressed the need to strengthen the “security partnership” between Muslim organizations and German authorities. This agenda had top priority during the prevention summit held at the end of June.

Friedrich’s “Prevention Summit”

24.06.2011/ 25.06.2011
Earlier this year (as reported), German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich invited Muslim groups and security services to a meeting to discuss strategies for fighting Islamic radicalism and preventing further radicalisation. What has come to be called the “prevention summit”, in which the Interior Minister met with Muslim community leaders, politicians, and representatives of the police and German security services, was held by Interior Ministry on June 24th.

During the meeting, Friedrich called for the highest vigilance within society against the radicalisation of young people by Islamic radicals. According to him, Muslim citizens and residents can play an especially important role in the prevention of radicalisation, by counteracting radical tendencies in the private sphere, clubs, and religious meetings. More specifically, Friedrich urged Muslim families to help prevent young Muslims from turning into jihadists by being “observant about what their children are up to and how they are changing” (DW News). Overall, he aimed at initiating a “security partnership” (Stern) between security services, Muslims in Germany, and Muslim associations.

Both the political opposition as well as several Muslim organisations criticized the meeting for its specific focus on the radicalisation of Muslims, which bears the risk of stigmatizing the entire Muslim community in Germany. Parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats, Thomas Oppermann, for instance, called for increasing support of moderate Muslims to isolate those who are prone to violence (DW News). Similarly, Muslim organisations, such as the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, are sceptical about the meeting’s focus. Chairman of the Central Council of Muslims, Aiman Mazyek, who had already voiced his concern ahead of the meeting (as reported), argues for a clear distinction between Muslims and extremism. According to Mazyek, by dedicating a conference to Muslim radicalism, the small group of radicals in Germany are merely strengthened. Instead, the government needed to work harder to make Muslims feel “at home” in Germany and to campaign against Islamophobia (Stern). Mazyek also called for the improvement of integration measures, as a lack of integration was a main cause for radicalization. Similar criticism was voiced by Kenan Kolat, head of the Turkish Community in Germany, who questioned the purpose of the summit. Both Kolat and Mazyek point to the already existing security stream within the Islam Conference; they are concerned that a strengthening of the security aspect of the dialogue between German Muslims and the government may reinforce a general suspicion against Muslims in Germany.

Central Council of Muslims Rejects “Prevention Summit” Against Extremism


The Chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, Aiman Mazyek, criticized plans to hold a “prevention summit” against extremism. The plan to hold the summit was announced by the Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich at the Islam Conference held earlier this year (in March). Friedrich saw the “prevention summit” as an opportunity to encourage a closer collaboration between Muslim communities and security services – independent of the Islam Conference. His plans were criticised for supporting a culture of denunciation within Muslim communities.


Mazyek argued that security questions had already been dealt with as part of the Islam Conference. According to him, it is now more important to evaluate what had been discussed and draw conclusions from that, rather than initiating another security summit. While the Council criticized the event, the Ministry of the Interior is still hopeful that Council representatives will attend the summit.