Statement of the Muslim-Jewish Leadership Council, Matera, September 2019

We, twenty-nine leaders of Muslim and Jewish religious communities from nineteen European countries, commend the efforts of people in every walk of life to establish and maintain deep and lasting peace in Europe, and call upon religious leaders, policy makers and European institutions to place freedom, justice, respect and plurality at the heart of their vision for a stable and cohesive European society.

 

Gathering regularly as Muslim and Jewish religious leaders, the Vienna-based Muslim Jewish Leadership Council- Europe (MJLC) recognizes that though our traditions have many important differences, we also have much in common- including the duty to respect those different to ourselves-  and can beneficially build up relations of trust and support through interreligious dialogue;

Determined to ensure that our faiths are not misinterpreted or misrepresented, either to drive our faiths apart, or to cause hostility between the religious communities and secular society;

Celebrating the diversity which the governments and constitutions of the European Union uphold as a prerequisite for peace and solidarity, and reiterating commitment to the defense of human rights and equal citizenship so precious to minorities such as the Muslim and Jewish faith groups;

Recognizing, on the occasion of United Nations International Peace Day, the Pax Matera celebrations organized by our host Fondazione Città della Pace peri i Bambini Basilicata with support of the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID), and the commemoration of the courageous uprising of citizens in Matera seeking to throw off Nazi oppression in September 1943, that peace is more than an absence of open conflict, but must be founded upon freedom, human dignity and justice, with inclusion even of the most vulnerable;

Deeply concerned at an increasingly polarized political discourse and spread of misinformation in Europe which is endangering fundamental rights, provoking mistrust, and encouraging rising levels of Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia with attendant hatred and discrimination on a political, social, legal and personal level;

The members of the Council take this opportunity while visiting Matera, Europe’s beautiful Capital of Culture 2019, to call upon European institutions, policy makers, religious leaders from every faith and civil society at large to support our efforts:

  • To protect religious freedom and its expression, particularly by refraining from setting limitations upon, or seeking to determine, the practice of Muslim and Jewish faith through limitations to choice of clothing, preparation of food and the raising of children;
  • To point out and take steps to stop divisive and discriminatory discourse and hate speech, including Islamophobia and Antisemitism, designed to isolate our communities, make them appear foreign to Europe and its values or to set our communities against one another for political gain;
  • To stand by the principles of European law, that all citizens shall be treated equally and have equal access to institutions so they can fulfil their responsibility as active members of society.

For its own part, during the session in Matera, the MJLC has decided to:

  1. Produce a background documents detailing the links between Muslim and Jewish faiths in matters of common concern which should provide a basis for collaboration and advocacy for policy change where necessary;
  2. Form two commissions on kosher and halal and religious freedom, consisting of members with expertise in these fields, who can offer advice, review data and produce communications on emerging issues;
  3. Conduct outreach to European institutions and seek opportunities to collaborate to protect European religious minorities.

The founders of the European Union have always framed the essence of its society on the concept of unity in diversity, recognizing the added values of a plurality of religious and cultural identities. Should this be lost, the root of the European project and society is at risk.

Therefore, we welcome and seek to encourage those who agree that freedom of religion and freedom of expression, among the many others articulated in the Declaration of Human Rights, constitute cornerstones of a dynamic, diverse and culturally-rich society in which peace is not stasis but expressed in the vibrancy of curious, authentic and open-hearted human relationships.

Signed,

 

Grand Mufti Dr.

Nedzad

Grabus

Slovenia

Chief Rabbi

Pinchas

Goldschmidt

Russia

Imam

Yahya Sergio Yahe

Pallavicini

Italy

Rabbi

Lody B.

Van de Kamp

Netherlands

Mr.

Mohamed Adham 

Abdelaal

Poland

Rabbi

Jehoschua

Ahrens

Germany

Sheikh Dr.

 Umar

Al-Qadri

Ireland

Imam

Tarafa

Baghajati

Austria

Mr.

Muhammad

Bascelic

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Mr.

Shimon

Cohen

United Kingdom

Chief Rabbi

Izhak

Dayan

Switzerland

Mr.

Muhammad

Escudero

Spain

Cheif Rabbi

Ariel

Finzi

Italy

Rabbi

Bruno

Fiszon

Frances

Rabbi

Herschel

Gluck

United Kingdom

Mr.

Gady

Gronich

Germany

Rabbi

Rene

Gutman

France

Imam Sheikh

Mohammad

Ismail

United Kingdom

Mufti

Romas

Jakubauskas

Lithuania

Imam

Senaid

Kobilica

Norway

Rabbi

Steven

Langnas

Germany

Rabbi

Jair

Melchior

Denmark

Ms.

Shorena

Mikava

Germany

Sheikh

David

Munir

Portugal

Mufti

Iusuf

Murat

Romania

Imam

Abdul-Wahid

Pedersen

Denmark

Ms.

Halima

Rubbo

Italy

Ms.

Anna

Stamou

Greece

Ms.

Channi

Van de Kamp

Netherlands