MY NEIGHBOUR'S FAITH AND MINE
Religious identities : For better or for worse?
An interreligious encounter in Geneva
12-14 November 2005
|How does one best to come to terms with a society of religious and cultural diversity?
This colloquium will enable a meeting of minds, where the discussion focuses on :
1. Experiences of living as a minority with a different cultural or religious background;
The theme 'An end to tolerance ?' has been chosen because it would help us to take a closer look at the concept of 'tolerance' itself, and would open up many dimensions of relationships of living in pluralist societies especially as minority and majority communities. Some points to illustrate various dimensions of the reality behind tolerance:
1. The minority feels marginalized and at the mercy of the majority. There is a sense of not really being welcome but at the most tolerated in society. One is thrown back at one’s real community (religious, ethnic, racial, cultural). It is here one seeks the safety net needed for dignity. There is no integration. Tolerance is not enough.
2. Among those in majority, in power or in authority, there are many who say that the problem plural society faces is the reward for having been too lax and tolerant. All and everyone have been accepted. Too many have been allowed to enter. The end result is a ghettoization or the development of parallel societies in society, suspicion, stereotyping, and xenophobia. There is a call for an end to tolerance. More restrictions in immigration and refugee policy are seen as the panacea. Integration of the foreigner or stranger is understood as obligations to adjust to the majority culture and religion.
3. Today we need to go beyond tolerance, because today tolerance is mostly understood as non-interference. We need to move towards positive respect. We need to create space for the integrity of the other, while ensuring a living together and a sharing of responsibilities. We need to find a new concept of society, where plurality is affirmed, where we do not look upon minority - majority as the defining category of society, where the minority status depends on the benevolence of the majority. What does co-citizenship mean?
4. Can we re-imagine and rethink a society that is able to cope constructively with religious and cultural plurality? In such a process, there are some questions to be addressed