Cultural identity, democracy and peace was the main theme of the confence in Sigtuna , arranged by the Sigtuna Foundation in cooperation with Oikosnet Europe, Riseci, The Swedish Christian Council and the Swedish Muslim Council. The program started out with a dialogue between Anas Altikriti, Founder and president of the Cordoba Foundation in the UK, Ute Steyer, Rabbi of the Jewish Community in Stockholm, Josep-Maria Carbonell, Dean at the Blanquerna School of Communications and International Relations at Ramon Llull University in Barcelona, Mia Lövheim, Professor in the Sociology of religion at Uppsala University and Mona Sahlin, National Coordinator against violent extremism and previous leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party. Coming from different religous backgrounds and different cultural contexts the speeches given really shed some light on the challenge of having an open dialogue – not only with the ones with whom you share your values.
In the following part of the conference, several members of Oikosnet Europe shared their experiences by giving speeches and presentations. Björn Wallén from the Academy of Lärkkulla gave a presentation about community based learning, Sören Lenz from Liebfrauenberg gave a speech on Laicité – the french way of living together, Angela Berger from Evangelische Akademie in Berlin gave a presentation on Pegida, the the new right wing populism in Germany, Erin Wilson, Director, Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain at Rijksuniversiteit in Groningen, gave her perspectives on religion in the public sphere, followed up by a speech on the relationship between state and religion in Germany by Sabine Federman from the Academy of Villigst. On the second day of the conference Aleksei Bodorov from St Andrew´s Biblical Theological Institue in Moscow shared his perspective on religion, cultural identity and democracy in Russia, followed up by Roman Juriga from Pravoslavná akademie Vilémov presenting the project “Night of Open Churces” and finally Gernot Meier from Evangelische Akademie Baden shared his experices of a religious dialogue project named In the mirror of the other.
All contributions were very valuable in their own right, giving inspiration, concrete examples and good ideas for the future. In the concluding discussion it was very clear that the members of Oikosnet Europe do have a lot in common when it comes to the challenge on how to create a fruitful dialogue on religion and democracy, based on the freedom of and speech as well as respect for one anothers differencies. That could be a real “Vision for the Future”.
Presentations from the conferences will be published at the website of Oikosnet Europe later on.
Sofia af Geijerstam, The Sigtuna Foundation