– Jewish and Muslim communities in Europe are confronted with rising xenophobia, hate crimes, and policies that are curtailing their right to religious practices, leaders of these communities said at the first plenary meeting of the European Muslim Jewish Leadership Council (MJLC) in Amsterdam on Tuesday.
The Council was founded to serve the need, more urgent than ever in today’s Europe, to free religious people and religions from prejudice, false claims, attacks, and violence. They were meeting in Amsterdam to discuss how European Jewish and Muslim communities can work together to protect their respective communities’ religious practice and promote solidarity between their communities in the face of adversity.
The Council is chaired by Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, Chief Rabbi of Moscow, and Mufti Nedzad Grabus, of Slovenia, and facilitated by the Vienna-based International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID), which supports interreligious platforms for dialogue in Africa, Asia, the Arab Region, and Europe.
Representatives of Jewish and Muslim communities from Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom described the challenges facing their communities in different parts of Europe, and described efforts that they had undertaken to promote Jewish-Muslim dialogue in their countries.
The participants agreed that Jewish and Muslim communities faced common challenges, including the rising instrumentalisation of religion for political ends, restrictions on the right to practice their religions freely, and the rising influence of right-wing xenophobic movements. Participants also noted that discussions of “European identity” often excludes Muslims, and that Islam is seen as un-European, even though Muslims have been part of the fabric of European society for many decades, and even centuries.
The meeting was hosted by the Municipality of the City of Amsterdam and supported by KAICIID. It was held under the patronage of the Vice President of the European Parliament, Mairead McGuiness.
In his opening address, the Secretary General of KAICIID, Faisal Bin Muaammar called on the members of the Council to show leadership in promoting Jewish-Muslim dialogue: “Europe needs your commitment to equal citizenship, and respect for diversity. We need your commitment to advocate for the shared rights of religious groups in Europe, and to build trust and cooperation between Muslim and Jewish communities.”
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