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Brussels, 13 May 2008

Brussels: Public debate on bridging inter-religious divides

The role of active citizenship in bringing together people of different faiths will be discussed on Wednesday 14 May in the third Brussels Debate organised in the framework of the 2008 European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. The debate entitled “New horizons: active citizenship to bridge inter-religious divides" has been prepared by the European Commission in cooperation with the European Policy Centre. It will take place at 18:30 in the Residence Palace and will be opened by EU Commissioner Ján Figel'. Mario Mauro, Vice-President of the European Parliament, will wrap up the Debate.

This third Brussels Debate for the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008 will focus on the ways in which active citizenship can help bring together members of Europe's different religious communities. The EU is a vibrant mix of people of many faiths, cultures and traditions - and Europe's history has been marked by positive and enriching exchanges between these communities. However, conflicts between and within religions have also been a feature of our past and, even today, tensions and discrimination are a challenge for some communities. Ján Figel’, European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, and Mario Mauro, Vice-President of the European Parliament, will discuss with Nadine Iarchy, European Vice-Chair of the International Council of Jewish Women, and Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid, Chairman of the Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony UK.

The series of Brussels debates constitute the core activity of the Year at the European level. Debates were already held earlier this year on (1) migration and immigration and (2) the role of arts and culture in intercultural dialogue. After this week's debate, there will be four more during 2008, dealing with such themes as languages, education, media and intercultural dialogue in the workplace.

The debate will take place in the Polak Room at the Residence Palace, 155 Rue de la Loi at 18:30. It will be moderated by journalist Shada Islam, Senior Programme Executive at the European Policy Centre (EPC) and a Brussels-based journalist specialising in EU foreign and development policies, as well as immigration and anti-discrimination issues. The debate will be followed by a reception.

It is possible to join the debate by sharing views with others from all over Europe on the Brussels Debate Forum in the official website of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue,

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