Rabbis and imams together: “the world’s quite unique”


Jews and Muslims in Europe want to increase the number of shared word. It is a completely new development in the area of religions. And a response to the rise of right-wing populist parties in Europe.

The venue is remote. But it has symbolic power. In the South of Italy, Matera, one of the European capitals of culture in 2019, will meet from Sunday evening to Jewish and Muslim clergy from around 15 countries. You want to report in future and to work together to word.

“This is, I believe, in this constellation is quite unique in the world. And it is a small flower that is part of maintained and further promoted,” said Tarafa Baghajati of the German wave. Baghajati, a civil engineer in Vienna, is one of the more prominent imams in Austria. With some other of the now 58-Year-old in 1999, founded the “Initiative of Muslim Austrians” (IMÖ), 2006, “platform-the Christians and the Muslims followed”. And now he travels to Matera.

Matera, in southern Italy, the cultural capital of Europe

In the future, together

It is not only for Europe-unique step. In General, Jews and Muslims come together only in the case of public appointments from the political side, in Trialog events of Christians, Jews and Muslims, or in the case of inter-religious conferences. But three years ago, Abdullah centre for interreligious and intercultural dialogue (KAICIID) in Vienna, a “Muslim Jewish Leadership Council” (MJLC) founded on the king. First of all, it was a small circle, one of the from the beginning, the President of the European rabbis conference (CE), Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt,. In the case of a series of Meetings grew in confidence, began to exchange.

Hurdles in Vienna

Currently this is funded with Saudi money and in specialist estimated KAICIID in Vienna in circles still at risk. Since mid-June, the Austrian national Council for the withdrawal of the country from the international institution for the resolution of the agreement, the Vienna as the seat voted sets. Austria had founded the centre in 2012, with Saudi Arabia and Spain. The KAICIID-the future is uncertain.

Rabbi Gady Gronich, Secretary-General of the European Rabbi conference

And yet the Meeting of the clergy of both religions to a new Dimension of the Jewish-Muslim Dialogue, which is overshadowed in General by the middle East conflict. According to Matera, imams and rabbis from Ireland to Greece and Romania, from Lithuania to Portugal. The choice of the Venue for the conference, said CE Secretary General, Gady Gronich, the German wave, to illustrate, on the one hand, and “we belong to the European culture”. In addition, there have been a couple of months ago in Italy, as in other right-wing, populist-ruled countries in Europe, an Initiative that the restrictions have the aim of religious practice-slaughter and circumcision of boys. These plans are now off the table.

Fear of right-wing populists

According to Granich such political efforts to restrict the religious practice of Jews and Muslims in these two topics a burden, “the Jewish community in Europe and at the same time, the Muslim community at the Moment”. Both sides wanted to put in Matera, a Committee with two Muslims, and Jews, which are expressed in Controversies and publicly in Brussels or in the capitals of member States of the EU talks could lead.

Jewish, Christian, Muslim, spiritual

Also Imam Baghajati speaks to these specific Experiments, religious practice restrict. But then he also refers to “the rise of right-wing extremism” in European countries, the AfD in Germany, very right-wing parties in Austria, Matteo Salvini in Italy and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands. They operated as “Islamophobia, in particular against refugees, but also against Muslims overall, as a political program in a populist direction,” and, unlike ten or twenty years ago, partly to do with the Power. “That’s why we say: ‘Nip it in the Bud’. And who should operate a Wake-up call, if not Muslims and Jews.” Baghajati: “We want to work together to show that a Europe of liberalism, of human rights, openness is the right path.”


This is the MJLC and also in Matera as well as at some of the preparatory meetings, also to the hatred of Jews among refugees and migrants go. “The cases of anti-Semitism by the migrants a burden on us. We know that, unfortunately, more and more often and every week,” says Rabbi Granich. “But we are, nevertheless, a Jewish community on the Muslim side, in Europe, also friends and partners who stand with us against it.”

The CE Secretary-General already speaks dialogues of “formal and informal”. You will not forget”: There is on the Muslim side, many groups do not want to speak with us. Since everything is not pink, and not all of them are ready for dialogue. But with those who are ready for dialogue, we want to replace us, to simply build a new shared future.”

An example

Tandem drive against anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Berlin

Many things happen under the Radar of public perception. As an example, visited Tunisia last year, some 30 rabbis together. In Berlin there are for years, pointedly joint commitment of rabbis and imams. And on several occasions more recently, young Jews and Muslims visited with clergy in the Dachau concentration camp memorial of Auschwitz in present-day Poland. Baghajati reported, in turn, an example of a “very positive contacts” on both sides in Austria. Imams and rabbis, went together with members of their respective communities to travel; there are joint events and mutual solidarity in an anti-Semitic or Islamophobic incident. For him, the “example could be a model for Europe”.

Young Jews and Muslims together in Auschwitz

Remarkable be, says Baghajati, “that imams and Rabbis find directly to each other, without the mediation of a third party. In Europe, beyond the middle East conflict. And they say: We do not want to dictate how the contact between the Muslims and the Jews should be. Who should not do it if it will make intellectuals on both sides, or if it is not religious would tackle-makers, imams, and rabbis?”