Presentation of an International Intercultural Interconvictional colloquium
"Social cohesion in a multicultural Europe: role and impact of currents of thought and religions"
Presentation at the hearing of NGOs on 5 October 2006 by François Becker,
co-secretary of the European Network Church on the Move/Eglise et Libertés,
coordinator of the project
We are many having observed that the diversity of cultures and religious or philosophical convictions might prove to be a cause of social disruption. Unfortunately current events remind us of this periodically. We also note that a number of responsible bodies at European level feel concerned with interreligious and intercultural dialogue but that dialogue is mostly established with hierarchies.
Awareness of this situation has brought about humanist associations gathered in the 'Humanist International Union and the European Humanist Federation, humanist/lay associations gathered in the International League of Teaching and Culture, associations of Christian conviction gathered in the European Network Church on the move, associations of Muslim culture such as the Manifest for freedoms, and associations of Jewish culture such as the Gaston Crémieux Circle to meet and consult together over the last six months to demonstrate, through examples and witnesses that:
- the different currents of thought and religions are able to effectively contribute to building a cohesive society, should certain conditions -to be identified- be met,
- a number of NGOs gathering men and women of different religious or philosophical convictions already bring an original input to the building of a cohesive society.
To that effect these NGOs propose to set up an international, intercultural and interconvictional colloquium on the subject: « Social cohesion in a multicultural Europe: role and impact of currents of thought and religions ». The objectives of the colloquium are:
1) to carry out a reflection as constructive as possible, fruit of a dialogue between citizens of different religious or philosophical convictions (and not between communities), on what the different currents of thought and religions can do to achieve in Europe a cohesive society growing richer with its different cultures, currents of thought and religious convictions. The purpose is to give voice to the people.
2) to carry out the reflection starting from concrete examples and achievements from NGOs having locally brought about social cohesion by breaking off cultural, social, conviction-based barriers, specially important in a society in which immigrants carry different religious, philosophical and cultural convictions.
3) to open the way to a democratic move allowing men and women of different convictions to get heard and thus contribute to reflection thanks to their know-how.
4) possibly to consider what we could do together to foster social cohesion.
As a conclusion, the colloquium aims at contributing to change mentalities and making more explicit the foundations and values on which the proposed moves and actions set out do rest, values that somehow transcend conviction-based communities as they are widely shared. Let me hope that making explicit these foundations and values may contribute to achieve a greater social cohesion, to reflect on the conditions for achieving it and to identify the processes being or to be carried out in order to achieve social cohesion, through cross-enriching with our respective diversities, in a spirit of reciprocal openness in freedom, humility, solidarity, responsibility, gender equality and respect of human rights.
This colloquium is to take place at the Palais de l'Europe after the NGOs' session so that these can attend it, on Wednesday 3 October 2007 and on Thursday 4 October 2007. It is to comprise in addition a public meeting on Wednesday at 8 PM. It fits in DG4's concerns which Ms Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni just set out to us and it corresponds in particular with the spirit of the White book on culture currently being worked out to which our NGOs are invited to contribute. It also meets DG3's work and particularly the subject of the Forum being prepared by this General Directorate to be held on next 8, 9 and 10 November on: « Which social cohesion in a multicultural Europe? » which Ms.Gilda Farrell just presented.
In agreement with our President and the Presidents of the Groupings concerned, all interested NGOs are invited to join the ones that have launched this project, within the framework of an inter-grouping working party with a view to preparing and setting up this colloquium. A meeting of this working group is already scheduled during the session of January 2007. All those willing to contribute to the work before this meeting are kindly requested to contact me.
 This neologism is used instead of inter-religious to mean that this colloquium is willing to include all convictions and not only religious ones.