So its 2011, the supposed “Clash of Civilisation” hasn’t happened, but it still could. Multiculturalism and Political Correctness once hailed as being the only way to deal with “people different to us” is failing. The issues created when “others” moved into an area are still there. Nothing is improving and in some places cultural tensions are increasing.
There are a few reasons why multiculturalism is failing.
The fear of the “Other” still exists. We say say we aren’t racist, we may say we respect them. But neither of those statements cover up for the indirect racism or the misrepresentations we make of people from other cultures who may even live on the same street.
There is no interaction. Multiculturalism and Political Correctness have left people afraid to say things to each other out of fear of offending someone. Since when do we worry about this? If we do not mean to offend, people will know this! We no more understand people from other cultures as we did when they came to our countries as we are afraid to interact with them.
So I think German Chancellor Angela Merkel is correct. Multiculturalism has failed. Its time for a new approach. Can things be better with interculturalism?
Since getting involved with the Anna Lindh Foundation and the concept of “Intercultural Dialogue” I am more and more convinced that this is the way forward. We need not just to accept people from other cultures, we need to interact with, and I mean really interact with them. Not just going to joint events, but going to events aimed mainly at one group.
It is only this way that we will socialise with people from other cultures and move outside our comfort zone. This is the only way we can learn how to truly be accepting. Through the Anna Lindh Foundation I have learned this and the more events I attend the more I think this is true. The recent Anna Lindh Exchange Forum meeting confirmed this for me. The more we are willing to interact with people from other places and cultures the more we learn about them and they about us. It will mean we have to worry less about Political Correctness as there will be a level of understanding that will be beyond the need for this.
So its time time we stopped being understanding each other on a deeper level by being intercultural and not paying lip service as being multicultural.
This week the Anna Lindh Exchange will take place in Tunis, Tunisia between the 23rd and 26th June. This will be a region-wide meeting of civil society players acting for democracy and freedoms with an intercultural perspective.
Gathering between 150 and 200 participants from all over the Euro-Med region who work in the fields of Artistic creation, Media and Social Networks, Civil society development and Resources for Citizenship, the event will be a great opportunity for participants to learn from each other, exchange experiences, best practices and project ideas as well as to build partnerships.
I shall be attending the Exchange and I will be part of the team covering the event through twitter, facebook and blogs. As part of that I have posted a blog post on the conference up on the official blog just on the background!
Do check out the website tunisforum.org for all the ways to follow the Forum. On twitter follow the #tunisforum tag! Or follow the list I created on twitter which will be updated over the course of the exchange. On Facebook like the Anna Lindh Foundation Page and the Believe in Dialogue Page to get updates there! There will be some live coverage and videos on the website so do keep an eye on it!
Im really looking forward to it now!
As protests inspired by Tunisia move across the Middle East, with protests in Egypt, Jordan and Yemen, its hard to imagine that a few years ago these protests would not have been tolerated, let alone successful as we have seen in Tunisia.
Since getting involved in the Anna Lindh Foundation I have met many people from these countries bordering the Mediterranean. Some of these people, while proud of their countries and their heritage, were not happy with their Governments. Whether it be lack of Women’s Rights or controls on internet access, these people wanted more. They wanted freedom and they wanted a say in how their lives were run.
This is what is amazing about these protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen. The people have seen what can be done. They have seen that change can be brought about with revolution.
This is a hard lesson for the ruling elites in these countries who are quite used to not being challenged. They are now facing the challenge that will cement their memory in the national consciousness of these countries. Either a memory of a Government that will not listen to its people and put down the protests, or of a Government willing to change, it meet the protester’s demands, either in part or full.
In the title I made use of the phrase “Euromed Consciousness”. I used this because while these countries share a common Arab and Muslim Heritage, it is through their contacts across the Mediterranean that these people have realised that more is possible. That freedom is available. These people do not want to leave their countries. They want them to be modern societies with the rights, freedoms and technology available to those across that small sea.
Whether or not the European mindset have contributed to these protests, these protests prove the effectiveness of modern technology in organising people against their governments. Facebook, twitter, mobile phones and the internet in general has galvanised people and have ensured mass turn outs in Liberty Square in Cairo and other cities across Egypt, Tunisia and the Middle East.
As these protests become successful, expect more to happen in other sates where the Government have left their people behind.
The Anna Lindh Foundation have issued the following declaration in response to the terror attack a Christian Church in Alexandria, Egypt.
The Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures, which has its international headquarters in Alexandria (Egypt), expresses its deep sadness and pain about the terror attack which affected this city on the night of 31st December. The President of the Foundation, André Azoulay, and all of his team, wish to express their solidarity with the victims, their families and the Egyptian people.
In response to this act of violence, the Anna Lindh Foundation will intensify its efforts in favour of dialogue in the Euro-Mediterranean region by involving and engaging in this mission all those who share the need to eradicate the culture of hatred, and to build societies based on mutual respect between people of different origins, traditions and beliefs. Committed against a Coptic church in Alexandria, the attack aimed to provoke sectarian tension between the different religious communities that have lived together in peace in Egypt for centuries. This crime, carried out against civilians who were practising their faith together, demands the mobilisation of all those who promote the right to practise freely religious beliefs. The Anna Lindh Foundation condemns any pretention to exploit religions and take religions hostage for the sake of fuelling violent behaviour and terrorism, whilst they carry a message of peace and fraternity for the immense majority of believers.
The Anna Lindh Foundation has had the opportunity to consistently observe in Alexandria how the coexistence between Muslims and Christians, which is part of the daily life in Egypt, is a major asset for peaceful relations between the different religious communities that exist in Middle Eastern societies, from where they originated. In view of the brutal attack that the Alexandrian people suffered, the Anna Lindh Foundation feels closer than ever to the Egyptian people and its institutions, and sets out to preserve the diverse heritage which is essential to building a Euro-Mediterranean space of peace and freedom.
Now more then ever the work of the Anna Lindh Foundation is important across the Mediterranean.
I got this in the email account today and could be of interest to UK Readers.
It is our pleasure to announce ‘Rethinking Dialogue’, an international event aimed at reassessing approaches to building cross-cultural relations within the UK and across societies in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
Tuesday, 7th December 2010 (Registration from 9.30)
One Birdcage Walk, Westminster, London
‘Rethinking Dialogue’ begins with the UK launch of the Anna Lindh Report 2010, a pioneering study based on the very first Gallup Public Opinion Poll on the evolution of perceptions and values between people in Europe and the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region.
The panel debate, which will be chaired by the BBC’s Bridget Kendall, will feature leading commentators on international affairs, including André Azoulay, President of the Anna Lindh Foundation and Counselor to the King of Morocco, and Martin Davidson CMG, Chief Executive of the British Council.
Places for the event are limited, so please register as soon as possible by writing to the British Council’s Louise Phillips at: rsvp(dot)events(at)britishcouncil(dot)org
The ‘Rethinking Dialogue’ event is organised by the British Council and the Anna Lindh Foundation, in association with Gallup Europe, the European Commission and the Foreign Press Association in London.
It looks like an interesting event.
I received this today which may be of interest to some readers.
The European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) and the Anna Lindh Foundation (ALF) have the pleasure to announce the launch of the Third Edition of the Sea of Words Literary Competition.
We encourage the production of short stories that portray the different realities of the Euro-Mediterranean region from the point of view of the young people who live there, through the organisation of a Euro-Med short story competition.
This year, the theme is justice, equality and inclusion in the Mediterranean and in Europe in line with the objectives of the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion.
Applicants must be under 30 years of age and residents in one of the forty three countries of the Union for the Mediterranean, and write in one of the languages of the countries of the Union for the Mediterranean.
The short-stories should be submitted by e-mail before midnight (Spain Local Time) 15 September 2010.
For more information, please visit the competition website. For further queries, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Join Now and Become the Next Winner of the Sea of Words Competition.
Thank you for your involvement.
European Institute of the Mediterranean
Anna Lindh Foundation
So its been over a week since I arrived home from the Anna Lindh Forum and I have spent most of the time since I came home cathcing up with college and work. It dose not feel like I got home over a week ago!
I really enjoyed the experience of the Forum. I learned lots and made lots of connections. I got to know the other members of the Irish Network of Anna Lindh, of which I am now a member! So expect blog posts about the Irish Network.
I did have some criticisms about how the forum operated. Especially in the Agora sessions, but I was delighted in the closing ceremony to hear so many recommendations from the various sessions.
The Forum did change my outlook on art and music bringing people together, well the music bit anyway! (See the video from the concert)
The Forum in my mind was a success. It was great to work with the web and press team of the Anna Lindh Foundation in running the blog and there was a great sense of solidarity.
I learned loads from the other particpants and those who presented at the Forum. Hopefully contacts made at the Forum will lead to more projects, more changes, and more inprovements for people and society across the Euromed!
So I arrive in Barcelona and the blogging goes quiet…. Whats the deal you ask?
Well Anna Lindh Foundation have set up a group blog where a bunch of us are blogging our experiences at the Forum. There are some cracking blog posts over there so do check it out.
Tonight I met with some of the members of the Irish Network of Anna Lindh and I hope to get to know them better back in Ireland and get working with them a bit as well as with the Foundation.
Good afternoon from a warm Barcelona. I have reached my destination (unlike my luggage) and I am ensconced in my hotel room waiting for things to start across the road at the CCIB.
I may have neglected to inform you why I’m actually here. Well apart from blogging over on Conference Blog (shhh its not live yet! 😉 ) I will be giving my thoughts on the blogger trainer i did last year.
From the Programme
Intercultural Dialogue 2.0.
Xavier Baro (ALF Bloggers Network)
Room (127) – 5 March at 18:00
The session will focus on the presentation of the new Intercultural Dialogue Tool Kit developed by the ALF for training bloggers. The main aim of the Tool Kit is to engage social media as innovative tool to promote Intercultural dialogue in the Euro-Mediterranean area. The workshop will
introduce the manual, have a short practical phase and
present some results of the first training course. Other four
bloggers who participated in the pilot training course will
attend the workshop and give a vision from their side:
Carmel Vaisman (Israel), Ahmed Youssry (Egypt), Stephen
Spillane (Ireland), Majd Beltaji (Palestine).
It should be fun.
Its now time to head for the Opening Ceremony which will be happening in half an hour!