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April Deadline for Summer Human Rights Study in Venice

Applying the “rights-based” approach in national, organizational, and humanitarian bodies on human rights is the methodology studied at the Venice School branch of the European Inter-University Centre. This field of study is often helpful for Interfaith advocates working across sectors to integrate or advance fairness ideologies in individual or community settings. These trainings are open to academics and professionals:

from the European Inter-University Centre:

European Inter-University Centre’s Venice School of Human Rights was born in 2010 with the goal of studying today’s challenges in the field of human rights. It allows its participants coming from all over the world to list these challenges and examine their reasons and possible solutions to deploy. The Venice School intends to highlight that the respect for human rights is the responsibility of all, that «Human Rights are our responsibility». Participants of EIUC’s Venice School will benefit from a faculty of well-known academics and practitioners that will merge theory into practice with the scope of creating a dynamic classroom.

EIUC Venice School of Human Rights is aimed at postgraduate students from all nationalities wishing to consolidate and update their knowledge of human rights. The School is likewise open to members from national and international organisations wishing to specialise and to better understand how to integrate human rights in their daily work. Finally, EIUC Venice School is aimed at Alumni from the E.MA and all other regional masters organised under EIUC umbrella.

After an introduction on general challenges, three topics will be examined in depth:

· Freedom of Religion and Belief is a human right that has a longstanding universal recognition. The 1948 Universal Declaration guarantees its enjoyment. Today we witness more and more to a clash between two systems that oppose religious values to human rights in different areas: women’s rights, gay marriages, ritual slaughtering, circumcision, protection of children… What is the status of religious freedom? How can we protect religious minorities? How can we reconcile religious freedom with other rights?

· Another challenge we face nowadays is discrimination based on sexual orientation. Discrimination against LGBTI is extremely common. The aim during this school is to examine the rights recognized at the universal and regional levels and educate the participants about how to protect this particularly vulnerable category of persons.

· Finally, the last topic we wish to address during this year’s School is how international organizations should integrate human rights into their policies. The European Union has, for instance, underlined the need in its action plan to integrate a rights-based approach within its policies. This cluster will try to familiarize the participants with the core elements of Rights-Based Approach raising awareness of common obstacles and challenges and giving a methodology to apply in all phases of the programming process.

Dates: 27 June – 6 July 2013

Type of courses: Lectures in the plenum and smaller seminars

Application deadline: 30 April 2013



Euro Imams, Rabbis Pledge Zero Tolerance for Hate Preachers

British Imam Abdul-Jalil Sajid (in white) seated next to Yitzhak Halba, the Chief Rabbi of Turkey and Mustafa Ceric, the Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Photo by Alan Azaria from Ha’aretz.

by Tom Heneghan and Nicholas Vinocur
from Reuters

PARIS (Reuters)- Seventy European Muslim and Jewish leaders pledged on Wednesday to show “zero tolerance” to hate preachers of any faith including their own ranks, citing what they called rising religious intolerance on the continent.

Imams, rabbis and community leaders from 18 countries agreed to jointly counter bigotry against Jews and Muslims and combat legal threats to common religious practices such as circumcision of boys and the kosher and halal ritual slaughter of animals.

The two-day meeting brought together Muslim-Jewish teams from around Europe to compare experiences in fighting religious prejudice and report on recent trends against minority faiths.

There have been several attacks on Jews in Europe this year, some from radical Muslims. In the worst case, a French Islamist killed a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse last March.

Extreme right-wing political parties are also increasingly agitating against Jews and Muslims, participants in the meeting said.

“We must institute a ‘zero tolerance’ policy against religious leaders of any faith who misuse their pulpits to incite religious bigotry,” they said in a declaration.
Click here to read the full article


September 15th, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Documentary About Albanians Who Saved Jews in Holocaust

by Laura Koran
from CNN

How many people would lay down their lives for a stranger?

It’s the question at the center of the new documentary “Besa: The Promise,” which premiered last weekend at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.

The filmmakers’ answer: “Albanians would.”

During one of humanity’s darkest chapters, when millions of Jews, gays, communists and racial minorities were rounded up across Europe, many Albanians put up a fight to save complete strangers.

They risked their lives to shelter displaced Jewish families under Italian, and later German, occupation during the Holocaust. Many in the small, predominantly Muslim country in southeastern Europe took refugees into their homes despite the risks and the cost, passing their guests off as family members to keep them safe.

At the core of this effort was a concept called “besa,” an Albanian code of honor that holds a person’s oath as sacred.

Under besa, a guest in one’s home must be protected at all cost. The code is uniquely Albanian and is cited in the new film as the main reason that Albanians opened their borders and their homes to displaced Jews when many others in Europe turned them away.

The code is fueled in part by the tenets of Islam under which saving a life is a blessed act.

Click here to read the full article

August 14th, 2012 at 10:55 am

Muslim Converts in UK Energize Community But Face Obstacles

Lauren Booth, a prominent British Muslim convert. Photo from

by Trevor Grundy
from ENI News

Muslim converts in the United Kingdom — a small but growing number — often bring new energy to their faith communities, but also report facing obstacles to acceptance.

“Converts are a bridge between non-Muslim, mainly white, communities and Muslim communities who are mainly from sub-continent communities,” said Fiyaz Mughal, founder and director of London-based Faith Matters, an inter-faith organization, in an interview with ENInews.

However, converts also told researchers last year that they felt cast adrift after their acceptance of Islam. Although mosques were delighted to welcome new members, they often failed to provide support when their new co-religionists faced hostility from family and friends, they said.

The study, by Kevin Brice of Swansea University in Wales, said there were about 100,000 converts to Islam in the U.K. in the 2000-2010 decade, up from 60,000 in the 1990s.

The report, called “A minority within a minority: a report on converts to Islam in the United Kingdom,” was sponsored by Faith Matters, which is supported by the British government and faith groups. There are about 1.8 million Muslims in the U.K., out of a total population of 62.5 million.

British converts to Islam — “muhtedis” in Arabic — can serve as a bridge over which Muslims and non-Muslims can meet and exchange ideas, said Mughal.

Click here to read the full article

Europe’s Biggest Buddhist Temple to Open Outside Paris

The new temple in Bussy Saint Georges, near Disneyland Paris DR/

by Angela Diffley
from Radio France Internationale

With a month to go until its official opening on 22 June, workers are adding the finishing touches to the biggest Buddhist Temple in Europe, situated in a special eco-friendly zone, just outside Paris.

A church, a synagogue, and a mosque in the same environmentally-friendly complex, will eventually complete this special ecumenical venture.

The huge 8000m2 construction in Bussy-Saint-Georges is built mostly in glass, wood, and unrefined concrete dotted with roof gardens. It is set amid extensive grounds filled with fruit trees.

The structure houses both a place of worship and a Buddhist cultural centre, and was designed by the Frédéric Rolland firm of architects.

An area open to the general public will include a vegetarian restaurant, and space for regular calligraphy workshops, meditation sessions and activities such as oriental tea-tasting.

Click here to read the full article

Strengthening Muslim-Jewish Ties in the Face of Evil

Jewish and Muslim leaders attend a silent march on March 25 to honor the victims of the Ozar Hatorah school shooting in Toulouse, France. Photo by REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Jewish and Muslim leaders attend a silent march on March 25 to honor the victims of the Ozar Hatorah school shooting in Toulouse, France. Photo by REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

by Marc Schneier and Shamsi Ali, JTA
from Jewish Journal

As a rabbi and an imam, we deeply mourn the tragic loss of innocent lives in the murderous terrorist attacks in France. We express our heartfelt sympathy and compassion for the bereaved.

Amid the wall-to-wall media coverage of the attacks and their aftermath, one piece of the story has received less attention: the inspiring manner in which Muslims and Jews in France have stood side by side in denouncing these heinous acts.

Thousands of Muslims and Jews reacted to the savage killings of three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse and the earlier murders of three French soldiers, including two Muslims, by joining together in solidarity marches in communities throughout Paris.

Click here to read the full article

April 3rd, 2012 at 7:55 am

The Greater Jihad of Friendship

The Rev. Dirk Ficca, Executive Director of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, addresses the current climate of Islamophobia at a recent Friendship and Dialogue Iftar dinner hosted by the Niagara Foundation.

Rev. Dr. Dirk Ficca from Niagara Foundation.

October 8th, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Pew Forum Publishes New Report on European Muslims

Muslim women at a fruit and vegetable market in Berlin.

Muslim women at a fruit and vegetable market in Berlin.

From Pew Forum

Over the past two decades, the number of Muslims living in Western Europe has steadily grown, rising from less than 10 million in 1990 to approximately 17 million in 2010.1 The continuing growth in Europe’s Muslim population is raising a host of political and social questions. Tensions have arisen over such issues as the place of religion in European societies, the role of women, the obligations and rights of immigrants, and support for terrorism.  These controversies are complicated by the ties that some European Muslims have to religious networks and movements outside of Europe. Fairly or unfairly, these groups are often accused of dissuading Muslims from integrating into European society and, in some cases, of supporting radicalism.

To help provide a better understanding of how such movements and networks seek to influence the views and daily lives of Muslims in Western Europe, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life has produced profiles of some of the oldest, largest and most influential groups – from the Muslim Brotherhood to mystical Sufi orders and networks of religious scholars. The selected groups represent the diverse histories, missions and organizational structures found among Muslim organizations in Western Europe. Certain groups are more visible in some European countries than in others, but all of the organizations profiled in the report have global followings and influence across Europe.

The profiles provide a basic history of the groups’ origins and purposes. They examine the groups’ religious and political agendas, as well as their views on topics such as religious law, religious education and the assimilation of Muslims into European society. The profiles also look at how European governments are interacting with these groups and at the relationships between the groups themselves. Finally, the report discusses how the movements and networks may fare in the future, paying special attention to generational shifts in the groups’ leadership and membership ranks as well as their use of the Web and other new media platforms in communicating their messages.

It is important to note that the report does not attempt to cover the full spectrum of Muslim groups in Western Europe. For instance, it does not include profiles of the many Muslim organizations that have been founded in Western Europe in recent decades, including local social service providers, or the governing councils of major European mosques. Rather, the primary focus of the report is on transnational networks and movements whose origins lie in the Muslim world but that now have an established presence in Europe. Influential Islamic schools of thought, such as Salafism or Deobandism, are discussed in terms of their influence on various Muslim groups and movements rather than in separate profiles.2

Click here to read the entire report.

September 18th, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Six out of Seven Continents

To date, Pre-Parliament events have been scheduled in Australia, North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, in countries representing over three billion people!  Unfortunately, we cannot report any events right now in Antarctica, so the penguins and seals will have to hear about the 2009 Parliament by word-of-mouth.  In the meantime, take a look at Pre-Parliament Events of the past and future here or learn about organizing an event in your own community by clicking here.