Logo SAVE - Sisters against violent extremism

14. May 2009

Participants Mosque Event © WwB

Robi Damelin & Ali Abu Nawwaz mosque © FoG

Robi and Ali in front of the Regents Park Mosque in London

Edit Schlaffer, Robi Damelin, Ali Abu Nawwaz © WwB

Edit Schlaffer, Robi Damelin and Ali Abu Nawwaz

The Courage to talk to the Other Side. Exit Strategies to overcome Violent Extremism

A Women without Borders SAVE event in London with Robi Damelin/Israel and Ali Abu Nawwaz/Palestine

Mosques are unknown territories, feared and misunderstood by mainstream society. Non-Muslims are mainly worried by media coverage on life inside these places of worship, but have often not set foot in a mosque themselves. In their latest research “Mosques Made in Britain”, the London-based Quilliam Foundation suggests “to use the huge potential to contribute to British society in order to enhance social and community cohesion by preventing tensions between communities on religious and political grounds. This requires mosques and Muslim communities to become resilient to extremist groups operating in their midst, and a strong sense of belonging to Britain in order to protect Britain’s values and freedoms”.

SAVE is committed to fostering the dialogue between Muslim and non-Muslim communities to engage these groups in meaningful conversations in order to enhance understanding, bridge-building and the joint commitment to prevent ideologies leading to radicalization and extremism.

SAVE is working with Robi Damelin and her Palestinian partners who are prominent voices of bridge-building across the Israeli-Palestine divide. They present the “Parents Circle”, an organization that brings together Israelis and Palestinians who lost family members in the conflict.

The event in the Regents Park Mosque on May 8th was unique in many ways. It was the first time that an Israeli citizen addressed an audience in this Mosque. In cooperation with City Circle and the Radical Middle Way we  tried to target the SAVE event at younger Muslim communities around the mosque in particular.

Interestingly, the expected fierce exchange of opinions, particularly about Gaza, was not at the forefront of the discussion. People picked up on the key messages of the film, the human face of the conflict. The audience was a good mix of young and old, Muslims, Jews and Christians who were quick with their responses. One Muslim woman stood up and enthusiastically asked how she could join this kind of dialogue. The Muslim participants in general were particularly interested in how they could become part of new ways to break down the barriers created by stigma and stereotypes.

We had the opportunity to get individual feedback in informal conversations after the official program ended. People did not leave after the event; they stayed and stood together in groups in the courtyard of the mosque.

The overall mood can be described as one of positive surprise that it was possible to hold such an event in a leading mosque. Everybody felt welcome and respected and it was an excellent message that the driving force behind this was SAVE - that women had made this unique event possible.

Click here to read an article about the event.


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