Monologue or Dialogue? | 2007

Inter-religious dialogue meets fundamentalism

32 participants from Europe and Middle East coming from Christian and Muslim backgrounds gathered from the 9th to the 16th of December, 2007 in Volos, Greece, for the seminar “Monologue or Dialogue? Inter-religious dialogue meets fundamentalism”.

The event, organised by EYCE in cooperation with the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations (FEMYSO), was kindly hosted by the Volos Academy for Theological Studies in cooperation with the Metropolis of Demetrias.

Young people coming from various local, national and international movements and organisations shared their understanding of fundamentalism and fundamentalist approaches. During the discussions participants realised enormous difficulty in finding definition of fundamentalism applicable for all their contexts. Indeed, for such a topic one week seminar is not enough and that is also a reason for commitment of EYCE to continue focusing on this rather controversial term in the future.

For understanding better the concept of fundamentalism and its manifestations in daily life, various methods were used. As the local experience matters the most, 3 case studies were presented: Co-existence of Muslims and Christians in Northern Greece (presented by Dr. Georgios Tsigaras from the Holy Metropolis of Xanthi and Peritheorion), Detention laws in the UK after terrorist attacks and Christian-Muslim reality in Syria (connected to cartoons’ debate). Difficulties linked with migration (as Greece is one of the “gates to Europe”) were presented by Association for the Social Support of Youth (ARSIS) which has its branch in Volos.

Panteleimon Kalaitzidis, Director of Volos Academy for Theological Studies, deepened the understanding of fundamentalism by giving some historical and current examples and connecting the discussion to contemporary scholar debates. Participants had also a possibility to study the relation of emotional and rational reactions on how is fundamentalism presented in the media and experience how it is to be called a fundamentalist and act in that way during a role-play “A Mosque in Sleepyville”.

After a nice trip to discover Greek monastic tradition in Meteora participants focused on gathering and elaborating ideas for what they can do with fundamentalist approaches in their local contexts after returning home.

The seminar was run in the framework of the “All Different – All Equal” European Youth Campaign for Diversity, Human Rights and Participation.