URI Europe Participates in Zagreb Conference

Dear friends,

Our time in Zagreb was a great success. At this conference there were about 150-200 participants. The topic was: “Do religions have a significance for Europe?” We used the chance to promote interfaith peace and understanding in many good ways. We had prepared A5 URI Europe cards, explaining what the URI purpose and mission is and how one can found a Cooperation Circle and join. They were right at the entry where everyone registered, for everybody to take a copy. This way we could share our experience that joining hands with like-minded interfaith groups globally has important benefits, e.g. mutual learning, inspiration and partnership.

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The conference was organized by Screcko Koralija OP from Croatia, who had contacted URI Europe by email some time ago and who had done a wonderful job organizing the event. He organized this congress with and on behalf of the Dominican community, honoring the 800th anniversary of the Dominican order. It was very high-level: Participants were various researchers and professors of various domains – theology, politics, philosophy etc., Dominicans, political people, such as the responsible officer for religions at the French Foreign ministry etc. …. High-ranking dignitaries addressed the audience on the first day: the Bishop, Mufti, Orthodox Metropolitan, Rabbi, University Director and Lord Mayor of Zagreb. The official host was the Master of the Dominican order, a French man, very modest, very open. It was great to see in the following three days, how a very, very open dialogue between people of faith, seculars, practitioners etc. evolved. The programme was full with lots of talks, panels and presentations.

Everything was simultaneously translated into English, Croatian, and French.

Together with Angelina Vladikova, Europe Cooperation Circle Liaison, I presented URI to the audience as a great network offering tools how people of religion can work together to make the world a better place.

The audience was impressed, and it was just fantastic that Angelina and I were a team; two women, coming from Christianity and Islam, East and West, to show people that we can all work together.

Another URI person, Father James Channan OP, the Pakistani URI Coordinator, spoke about his work in Christian-Islamic dialogue in Pakistan.

There was a lot of media attention, and media work done by organizers, and Angelina filmed by the Dominican team explaining URI in a few sentences.

We met lots of people and made very interesting contacts for URI Europe with people from various countries, such as Croatia, Malta, Serbia, etc., etc. And for sure Cooperation Circles will come out of that, and URI’s profile was raised a lot. Dominicans worldwide will now know about the URI network. Also I managed to make contact with the Mufti’s office, and they picked me up on the last day, showed me the mosque and their institutions, and I gave them a Golden Rule poster and explained about URI – they are also very interested.

Vjeko had introduced us to his wonderful Croatian friends Natasha and Sandro, and we met with them and one of their Muslims friends, Zinka, and had a great time at the conference and one evening in Zagreb, with interesting conversations. They plan to found a URI Cooperation Circle.

URI Europe’s Lejla Hasandedic had done an amazing job, being in touch with Screcko in the months before the event and publishing the photos and materials before and during the event.

Angelina was fabulous, getting the URI publicity cards printed, and on location with her mobile and computer always connected, sending on photos, making meeting arrangements and emailing URI materials to interested people within a few hours.

Still on the last morning, before flying home, we met for coffee with a man from Croatia who is very interested in URI and wants to work together with us.

All together this was just a great event which will bring much benefit to URI and the interfaith peace work.

Many warm greetings from

Karimah Stauch, Regional Coordinator, URI Europe