Skip to main content

interfaith inter-ethnic coalition building in central & eastern europe.

Alice Vesela, President of the Council of Jewish Women of Czech Republic, reports on an event on Interfaith Inter-Ethnic Coalition Building in Central & Eastern Europe.

In November 2016 we took part in the project of National Democratic institute (NDI) - “CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE: INTERFAITH INTERETHNIC COALITION BUILDING TO COMBAT RACISM, XENOPHOBIA AND RELIGIOUS-BASED DISCRIMINATION”.

Goal of the NDI project: To develop responses to xenophobia and religious-based discrimination in Central Europe by building a critical mass of national and regional activism.

Context: 
Europe’s refugee crisis, terrorism, and economic recession are driving prejudice against religious and ethnic minorities and xenophobia across the continent. In the “Visegrad” countries of Central Europe—the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia— xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia increasingly dominate public 
discourse. Civic groups can combat intolerance but need support to increase their effectiveness. Groups focused on individual minority communities need to build crossover alliances to achieve ‘critical mass’. If civic groups in Central Europe take collective action, reach out to mainstream audiences, and network across Europe, then they can respond to xenophobia, racism, and ethnic and sectarian discrimination in informed, integrated, and sustainable ways.

Program: 
25 participants of NDI project, who represented civic minorities groups in Slovakia and Czech Rep., have developed their skills, relationships, and shared objectives, to promote democratic pluralism. Civic representatives of groups included religious and ethnic minorities communities, as well as mainstream organizations working in human rights, multiculturalism, or migrant aid across the Czech and Slovakia.

Verona Miletin as a Czech representative of the Jewish group attended three workshops and one strategy meeting in the period November 2016 - April 2017. The NDI workshops were organized in cooperation with the PDCS (Partners for Democratic Change Slovakia). The lecturers and facilitators from PDCS as a nongovernmental organization provided a professional training and facilitation services, consultancy and advisory services according to a conflict situations in the Slovak and Czech society. They showed the methods of citizen participation in a civil society development.

The representatives from Slovakia (20) and Czech Republic (5) were from diverse ethnicities and religions – Muslims, Protestants, Romas, Jewish, Vietnamese, Ukrainians, Hungarians. Czech Republic was represented by 5 representatives of minorities and religions – Muslims, Jews, Vietnamese and Romas. The final activities, which will be chosen and awarded by NDI grants by May 15, will show the possibilities to build the interfaith and multicultural coalition of minorities in Slovak and Czech society. These projects will be a way how to solve xenophobia and racism and will keep the main goal - to work for democracy and live in the democracy.