Belgian Jewish and Muslim organisations start communal activities
Tuesday, 16 June 2015
The Committee for the Coordination of Belgian Jewish Organisations (CCOJB) and the “Citizens initiative for a Belgian Islam” collective (ICIB) want to start communal actions and activities. The aim is to recreate a connection between the Jewish and Muslim communities in Belgium. The organisations announced their plan during a press conference on Monday. The CCOJB is made up of around 40 associations, and is well supported by the Jewish community in Belgium. The ICIB is a new platform created by organisations and citizens in reaction to the attack on Charlie Hebdo. “We represent a stronger and stronger trend within the Muslim community in Belgium. We need to work together to deal with anxiety and threats from abroad”, explains Khali Zeguedi, a member of the ICIB.
The two organisations say that foreign conflicts affecting communities in Belgium, in particular the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, can make it difficult for the Jewish and Muslim communities to live together harmoniously. “Previous initiatives to try and bring the communities together have failed due to foreign conflicts”, says Serge Rozen, president of the CCOJB. “This time, we will make sure conflicts in the Middle East don’t ruin it”.
The CCOJB and the ICIB want to fight racism together, whether its antisemitism or anti-Islamism. They say they are worried by “the increase in “ordinary” anti-Semitic acts such as insults, threats and bullying. The perpetrators are usually a small number of young Belgian Muslims”. Islamic radicalism is “a plague that harms young Muslims, and a threat to our democratic society”, they say.
The ICIB is now inviting young Jews and Christians to join in the Aïd celebrations, which mark the end of Ramadan, on the 17th of July. The CCOJB will also invite Muslims to join in Jewish celebrations. The two organisations also hope to start projects within schools. The program of communal activities is not yet known. “We don’t know each other anymore. Learning about the other culture is therefore a priority”, says Serge Rozen.