First Symposium on Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue, “Connecting Actions”

URI Europe Report upon participating at the

First Symposium on Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue, “Connecting Actions”at Salle Paris at the FIAP, November 23-25, 2016, convened by MJC (A), COEXISTER (F),  Faith Matters (GB), EUJS (G), 3FF (GB)

Representatives of Conveners:

Ilja Sichrovsky,  Director of MJC, Muslim Jewish Conference, Austria

Rafael TYSZBLAT, MJC Director of Content - Representative in France

Participants from URI Europe: Deepak Naik and Vjekoslav Saje

Presentation and Expectations of the convener: Sharing best practices on citizen, intercultural  and interreligious dialogue, and  setting the stage for collaborative action!


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How to overcome the tendency to stigmatize  Muslims, Jews, immigrants, how to deconstruct stereotypes, and be the change of what you want to be in the world, how to deal with radicalization, sharing the pain, goals, exchange experience and build the network, common toolkits, declaration, common identity, and ground, best practices, Ilja from MJC has suggested an Innovative network of cooperation, but to avoid a risk of forming a fixed identity, maximize our impact..How we get to people who are not for dialogue, how we are managing diversities, folklor versus ghetto, fear of change, as people like simple answers.


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Presentation and Expectations of participants: Learn more on the Wisdom of violent conflicts prevention, conflict transformation, how to discourage evil, positive examples from different countries, decide on quote of the conference, like “vivre ensemble”-living together, make projects together, enable young people to meet and work on

The format of the discussion was structured around  three main themes:

1.   What are the issues that you consider most important when it comes to coexistence? What topics would you like to address during our encounter?

2.   What are the main challenges that you face as an organisation to carry out your mission of bridge builder?

3.   On what kind of project(s) would you be ready to partner with other organisations working for coexistence and social cohesion?

Facilitation of discussion happened by using techniques, like the  Open Forum, and  the World Café, as well as the brainstorming.


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Very effective was a simulation exercise-a role play on President elect and Brexit, led by Dr. Ashok, from India, who insisted on staying in inquiry mode.

Participants had a chance to present their respective organisations, in the local context, and exchange experience, and best practices. The dialogue was around obstacles , resources, social messages, role of media, common identity, and how to reconcile secular and non secular, liberal and undemocratic, and what are the eventual innovations in this field.

As a part of the Joint action, and platform of collaboration, URI Europe explained its launching of the intercultural 2020 campaign, inviting others to join and contribute. It will comprise the range of activities, in the period to come. One of the proposals evolving at the conference was to organize a peace workshop train, visiting different towns in Europe, stop and make dialogue with local people and organizations. Another idea is to make a  directory of interested actors, establish radio stations, introduce remote (virtual) meetings.

To that end URI participants explained how long and complex was a process of composing and agreeing about the charter, and that there were some  600-700 URI Cooperation Circles currently operating at the local level, throughout the world.

This was important for participants to realize that there was no need  for rush in making some final document, and that this was  a process, and we were on the journey, and personal contacts were the best line of communication.

Deepak also had a chance to mention URI support of the recent event in Coventry on Hate speech, “Words Matter”, and his participation in it.


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After a long discussion it was decided that a joint declaration or statement was not useful at the moment. Therefore, the agreed format was developed, participants were reporting on the activities and discussions that happened in the last two days, without announcing anything else than the creation of a collaborative online platform, and whatever joint collaborations some of the participants have had initiated.


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The value of the joint work, and projects  would be in changing attitudes, learning from each other, increasing mutual respect, and enjoying diversity in the world. Exchange of the experience and disseminate the knowledge and lessons learned could help in preventing, or resolving conflicts globally. This should be just the first in the series of meetings to follow, and projects to be developed.

Before the closing of the conference, some public institutions from Paris were represented and journalists were able to ask questions on  the conclusions and announcements of the symposium.

Individual participants were able to say a few words in their name and answer questions.

Here is the list of participating organizations:

- Muslim Jewish Conference (Austria)

- Coexister (France)

- Faith Matters (GB)

- Three Faiths Forum - 3FF (GB)

- European Union of Jewish Students - EUJS (Germany)

- A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe - CEJI (Belgium)

- Together for Sweden - TFS (Sweden)

- Exit (Sweden)

- Salaam Shalom (Germany)

- Respect (Switzerland)

- Sharing Perspective Foundation - SPF (Netherlands)

- United Religions Initiatives - URI (International)

- Meta-Culture (India)

- Comunita Religiosa Islamica Italiana - COREIS (Italia)

- We Act (Denmark)

- Parisiens d’Ici, Parisiens d’Ailleurs - PIPA (France)

- EnQuête (France)

- Amitié Judéo Musulmane de France - AJMF (France)

- Groupe d’Amitié Islamo-Chrétien - GAIC (France)

- Initiatives et Changement (France)

- Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research - SIETAR (France)

- Institut HOZES (France)


Vjekoslav Saje (URI Europe Board member)