Combatting Religious Discrimination
Date du début: 31 déc. 2015,
Date de fin: 30 mars 2016
The phenomenon of religious discrimination was selected given that it constitutes a common form of intolerance tainting contemporary European reality today. It is evident in the public sphere in policies, laws and court judgements but also in the private sphere, for example, in employment and education. In this light, the youth exchange brought together 25 young people and their leaders to enable them to understand human rights and the right to the freedom of religion, be able to distinguish religious discrimination, to make them aware of the dangers posed by religious discrimination to any functioning democracy and also to the victim, to decrease the level of acceptance of religious discrimination, to learn where EU citizens can file complaints pertaining to religious discrimination on a national and European level and to allow participants to consider the role of youth in fighting against this phenomenon through a rights based approach. Also, participants were able to critically assess the interlink between religious freedom and terrorism, extremism, immigration and globalization, understanding how and why stereotypes and hate towards particular religions arise therefrom. Further, participants developed their knowledge on the functioning of the European Union and considered intercultural education and dialogue as well as interreligious dialogue as tools which they can use within their own communities for purposes of positive social change.
To achieve these objectives, the methodology adopted was based on principles of non-formal learning, adopting a solidarity-based, learner-centred approach. More particularly, there was a melange of theoretical presentations accompanied by debates and discussions, human rights education activities, intercultural learning, European learning, a cultural outing and intercultural evenings during which countries presented their cultures. Participants were prompted to develop the necessary skills, knowledge and attitudes to achieve the above objectives. The methodology adopted in this youth exchange emanated from principles of non-formal learning, implementing activities from Council of Europe handbooks such as COMPASS, COMPANION and All different All Equal and were thus geared to developing the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary for recognising and fighting religious discrimination. In relation to knowledge, participants understood the meaning of human rights, freedom of religion, religious discrimination and freedom from religious discrimination while becoming acquainted with the theoretical, contextual and conceptual frameworks which underlie religious discrimination. Participants cultivated an array of skills interlinked with human rights education and non-formal learning such as cooperative group work, organisational skills, creativity and self-confidence which were enhanced by the solidarity, learner-centred activities. The development of attitudes necessary for a human rights culture lie at the heart of any human rights education activity. More particularly, participants developed a sense of solidarity towards victims of religious discrimination in a spirit of equality and non-discrimination looking at the differences between citizens of the European Union as its richness rather than its fall. They were also endowed with a sense of justice and active citizenship in order to take a stance in the fight against religious discrimination in the EU and the role of youth within this framework.
The results of the project were a final report on the objectives, methodology and learning outcomes of the project and were widely disseminated to other organisations in Cyprus and abroad aiming to facilitate the implementation of similar activities by other organisations thereby promoting the impact of this project on the combat of religious discrimination more generally. The impact of the project is also furthered through the participants themselves who were inspired and empowered to return to their communities and take action against religious discrimination whilst simultaneously teaching others about the tools and mechanisms learnt during the exchange. Participants also made a video of their learning experience which was widely disseminated online. The longer-term objective of this project was to contribute to the combat of religious discrimination on a national and European level and to embed the role of youth as a key group that can contribute thereto.
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