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  • Writer's pictureStewart Yarlett

World Parliament of Religions Panel: "Standing Together: Countering Hate & Defending Human Rights"

August 14th-18th 2023

In August 2023, the Parliament of World’s Religions returned to the birthplace of the modern interfaith movement after 30 years away to celebrate 130 years of history in the city of Chicago. The Parliament’s 2023 Theme was ‘A Call to Conscience: Defending Freedom & Human Rights’. The Parliament convening attracted participants from more than 200 diverse religious, indigenous, and secular beliefs and more than 95 nations. Attendance estimates range from 7,000-10,000 individuals.

CFCF was there in partnership with the KAICIID International Dialogue Centre to deliver a panel on "Standing Together: Countering Hate & Defending Human Rights in Europe."

The session centred on the work of the International Dialogue Centre –

KAICIID and the Cities Faith and Community Forum (CFCF), a network that facilitates the sharing of best practice between organisations working in cities throughout Europe. Both organizations are encouraging the development of robust and comprehensive multilateral programmes through interreligious dialogue. The session presented case studies from around Europe. It presented the work of policy documents elaborated in the framework of the European Policy Dialogue Forum, convened by the International Dialogue Centre – KAICIID. The work of three CFCF organisations around countering hate-speech, hate-crime and intercommunal tensions in Barcelona, Edinburgh and Dublin. The Blanquera Observatory (Barcelona) shared their research into countering divisive rhetoric in the media and its impact on religious freedom and hate crimes in Catalonia. Edinburgh Interfaith Association contributed insights from their preventive educational programmes that work to inoculate against the spreading of hate narratives. Dublin City Interfaith shared their experiences of responding to communal divisions and extremism, cultivating dialogue, resilience and restoration, through their Safe Haven programme.

The panel promoted the ethos that by sharing knowledge, insights and best-practice, organisations working throughout Europe can all develop more robust responses to hate-speech and those forces that work to undermine religious rights and freedoms. The panel generated several questions and contributions from the audience. A number of audience members had been involved in educational initiatives around combating hate speech and extremism shared contributions reflecting their experiences. A representative from Interfaith Dialogue Utrecht CC (URI) expressed a keen interest in joining the network. Several questions were asked on the process of reporting hate crime and details were shared on third-party reporting systems. The was discussion concerning the definition of hate-speech/hate crime and the importance of reporting incidences even when it was not clear whether they fell into the strict definition was emphasised, as greater levels of reporting and more data helps those looking to combat hate and clearer and more comprehensive picture of developments across the region. Attendees found consensus in the notion that hate speech and the undermining of religious freedoms was a mounting challenge on a global level. A global challenge that those working in the interfaith and dialogue space needed to face together. Thus, highlighting the importance of the work of organisations like KAICIID and CFCF.

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