Why a European Project for Interreligious Learning between Christian and Muslim women?

Although religion has been a source of conflict in Europe, it has also inspired people to struggle for greater freedom, human dignity and emancipation. Even in modern Europe’s secular societies, religion continues to influence the formation of values, deeply held convictions and life styles.

Traditionally, Europe has seen itself as a Christian continent, obscuring the roles that Judaism and Islam played in its history. The religions of the Book have often been hostile to each other, and the memory of old tensions lingers, often fed by ignorance, fear and popular prejudice.

This tension has become particularly strong today in the interactions between the majority Christian/secular societies and the growing communities of Muslims in many European countries. Many of these Muslims, who came as migrants, wish to continue practising their own culture and faith. Mutual suspicions surface around everyday issues such as food, dress codes, religious buildings, language, education and the secular framework of European societies. These suspicions are further aggravated by global developments, such as the growth of fundamentalism in both Christianity and Islam.

Meanwhile a new generation has come of age. They want to know how “integration” and the common future will affect their lives. In order to answer that question, they must learn to perceive ethnicity, religion and culture both as sources of identity and vehicles for the recognition and respect of differences.

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