Muslim-Jewish parley seeks 'platform for dialogue'

70 leaders from around the world meet in Kiev to discuss countering Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

Ilja Sichrovsky_311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Ilja Sichrovsky_311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The second annual Muslim- Jewish Conference kicked off in Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday, with 70 students and young professionals coming from around the world to promote mutual understanding between global Jewish and Muslim communities.
The event is sponsored by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding based in New York and the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, among others, with participants coming from Austria, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Israel, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Saudi Arabia and the United States.
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“Most young Jews and Muslims never really meet because of the situation, and only learn about each other from their respective communities and through the media,” Muslim- Jewish Conference Secretary- General Ilja Sichrovsky told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
“The conference is designed to be a platform for dialogue between Muslims and Jews to talk to each other instead of about each other,” Sichrovsky said.
Ayse Cindilkaya, vice secretary- general of the organization, said the political conflict can “overshadow” relations between the two communities but that they are not focusing on conflicts.
“We are trying to start from new but we are sensitive to the conflicts,” Cindilkaya said.
“Instead we are focusing on breaking down stereotypes, sharing our religious traditions and culture, and filling in the gaps on our mutual knowledge of each others faith.
One of the major issues that the conference is addressing is the increasing xenophobia and the rise of far-right groups in Europe.
“We are careful not to equate Islamophobia and anti-Semitism,” Sichrovsky said, “although there are commonalities.
The impact often feels subjectively the same and we are trying to find a strategy where young Jews and Muslims come together and stand up for each other.”
“The conference offers the opportunity to bring together some of the most outstanding Muslim and Jewish leaders in their 20s and 30s,” said president and chairman of the FFEU, Rabbi Marc Schneier.
The conference steps beyond non-communication and estrangement and helps participants connect with each other.
The five-day conference will include working committees on the question of religious practice, fundamentalism and citizen loyalty; countering Islamophobia and anti-Semitism; and methods for conducting sustainable dialogue.