EUJS vice-president Jane Braden-Golay joined 35 young leaders from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, representing the biggest European faith-based organizations as well as social activists and journalists from Egypt, Lebanon and Morocco, for a four-day dialogue seminar. The main topics of the seminar included “dialogue for solving conflicts”, the Arab Spring and the economic crisis, followed by the annual summit of the Religions for Peace – European Interfaith Youth Network (EIYN).
The seminar took place on the premises of the Nansen Academy of Lillehammer, the Norwegian Humanistic Academy, founded in 1938 as a sign of protest against the growth of totalitarian ideologies in Europe. Dialogue sessions were led by leading trainers of the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue, known for their dialogue method and work for reconciliation in different parts of the world. The topic of the Arab Spring was introduced by professor Wajih Kanso of the Lebanese University, with contributions of two young journalists from Egypt and all Middle-Eastern participants. The participants also took part in sessions targeting the economic crisis, led by Fredrik Glad Gjernes, who has been leading campaigns against poverty eradication and economic injustice in many organizations. The diverse group shared their personal stories and experiences on how the economic crisis affected their life and their organizational work, and discussed the possible role of spirituality in overcoming the crisis and economic injustice.
The summit of Religions for Peace – European Interfaith Youth Network (EIYN), established four working groups/committees that will be overseeing interreligious cooperation on four thematic areas: education towards peace and coexistence, ecology, economy and media. Each of the committees consists of youth experts on those subjects from different religious organizations, and has its action plan. Young religious leaders committed themselves to increased cooperation in those four areas and to change the way media usually portrays relations between religions as conflicted with each other. As Stein Villumstad – Secretary General of the European Council of Religious Leaders (ECRL) said in his lecture: “Religions can have a big impact only when coming together to politicians”. It is therefore very important , said Villumstad, to build instruments and platforms for joining forces. The education committee of EIYN will prepare ideas on how the new campaign of EIYN – “Religious Youth Say NO to Violence Against Women” should be implemented in Europe. For more information on the global campaign, go to http://restoringdignity.religionsforpeaceinternational.org/
At the end of the summit, EUJS vice-president Jane Braden-Golay was elected into the EIYN core group.
The Dialogue Seminar was organized by EIYN, UngDialog (Norwegian youth interfaith group), Nansen Academy, European Council of Religious Leaders and ADYAN – Lebanese foundation for interfaith studies and spiritual solidarity. It was financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Religions for Peace International.