KAICIID recently reported on "Multireligious Cooperation Should Lie at Heart of Europe’s Migration Agenda: Metropolitan Emmanuel of France." His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel is the director of the Liaison Office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union.
KAICIID is an intergovernmental organization whose mandate is to promote the use of dialogue globally to prevent and resolve conflict, to enhance understanding and cooperation. Over a seven-year-long negotiation and development process, KAICIID’s mandate and structure were designed to foster dialogue among people of different faiths and cultures that bridges animosities, reduces fear and instills mutual respect. Intercultural and interreligious dialogue helps build communities’ resistance against prejudice, strengthens social cohesion, supports conflict prevention and transformation and can serve to preserve peace.
As an international organization, KAICIID supports the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The Centre also combats all forms of discrimination based on culture, religion or belief. We implement programmes to overcome stereotypes in a long-term process that leads to a culture of dialogue that enables greater understanding of people of other cultures and followers of other religions.
Multireligious Cooperation Should Lie at Heart of Europe’s Migration Agenda: Metropolitan Emmanuel of France
Religious leaders must “facilitate the representation of the ‘other’ and support the initiatives of public authorities and civil society”, said KAICIID Board Member and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel in his address to the European Assembly of Religions for Peace.
The meeting, entitled “Welcoming each other from fear to trust”, was designed to find new ways to combat current challenges facing Europe and the world, including the rise of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and anti-Christian sentiment, as well as the increasing fear of foreigners, and increasing waves of migration as refugees around the world flee war, economic hardship and climate change.
In his address to the assembly, His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel called on religious leaders to contribute to the solution through their unique skills: in mediation, dialogue, mutual recognition, interculturality, and others.
Speaking of the growing waves of migration to Europe, and the tensions that have arisen in some places as a result, the Metropolitan called on religious leaders to do everything they could “to provide the tools necessary for a reconciliation of peoples and cultures. Indeed, behind the term reconciliation we can find the reality of living together, deeply rooted in the acceptance of our differences and even more so, since it concerns diversity in constant mutation, according to an ever-evolving change in migrants.”
“We, as religious leaders, have the mission, through our intensive cooperation, to promote at a national and international level the human dignity (of the migrants) and to assure their good treatment. I am convinced that we should not be able to speak about freedom of expression without intensifying our synergies towards the most vulnerable people.”
Multireligious cooperation and action, he said, lies at the heart of a consolidated response.
He also encouraged policymakers and civil society to look beyond the borders of Europe when tackling illegal migration, and to address larger issues such as “support to the refugees, cooperation in an engaging way with countries which should contribute, tackling with the causes of the wars there where they bring about the migration, policies of development and of ensuring peace in the countries of the larger and deeper periphery of Europe.”
His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel is a member of KAICIID’s nine-member Board of Directors, which is made up of representatives from five major world religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism), and has been an integral partner in KAICIID’s initiatives in Europe and the Middle East . For instance, the KAICIID European Media Forum on the universal human rights of freedom of religion and freedom of expression in June 2015, which gathered European religious leaders, journalists, as well as civil society organizations to discuss ways to “defend freedom of expression and freedom of religion and belief, which are interdependent.”
In September, KAICIID and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople jointly organized a Conference in Athens on protecting the citizenship rights of Christians, Muslims, and other religious and ethnic groups in the Middle East.
The meeting brought together Christian and Muslim religious leaders from across the Middle East, including representatives from the Shia, Sunni, Orthodox, Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Evangelical, and Druze communities. The participants endorsed the Athens Declaration, which calls upon political leaders and civil society to take a strong stand against the growing violent extremism and terrorism that threatens centuries of peaceful coexistence in the region.
This important declaration featured prominently in discussions at a meeting of religious leaders, policy makers, diplomats, academics and representatives of international organisations in Athens, organised by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs to address this urgent humanitarian crisis.