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1. What are my fears?
Arriving in the Netherlands as an immigrant, Mohamed Sini was directly confronted with negative aspects of immigration: an intense conflict between Turkish and Moroccan migrant workers on one side and host community on the other. He saw his father, a respected personality in Morocco, pushed into a very weak position due to partial illiteracy and language barriers. In his opinion, globalization has led to an even more suspicious and conservative attitude against immigrants.
Denzil Nurse criticised the role of media in the dialogue of multiculturalism: they spread stereotypes and prejudices, building walls instead of connecting cultures. ‘”Muslim” is not a synonym for “terrorist”, and not all asylum seekers are begging for state aid’ he said. In his opinion, we are too fast to adopt the medias’ information as fact, not personally researching the details of the cases. One reason in particular might be the fear of leaving our comfort zones.
2. What are my motivations?
Mohamed Sini emphasized a sense of responsibility: a personal responsibility to learn Dutch, to help his community overcome language barriers, but also of the government to concentrate on better education of migrants, a key issue of integration. Most importantly, he emphasized the responsibility of civil society “to combat a black and white picture of migration”, to keep the multicultural dialogue effective, constructive, and calm, and to approach the fear of the unknown by concentration on a mutual understanding.
Denzil Nurse’s message was clear: ‘What you have to say matters, no matter how insignificant you feel. Step out of your comfort zone and grow!’
3. How can we move on?
The Toolkit for Conducting Intercultural Dialogue launched by the Council of Europe’s Conference of International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGO) on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 was also presented to the conference participants as a potential means of progress.
According to Christoph Spreng and Denzil Nurse, the aim of the Dialogue Toolkit is ‘to provide a hands-on and user-friendly manual’. It strives to ‘build social cohesion and a human-rights based approach to diversity issues’ in the face of increasing xenophobia. The toolkit contains two crucial elements. It provides practical indications, that can be done to set up a dialogue, and provides a long list of references and resources to enable further research on the topic.
Who we are: Initiatives of Change (IofC) is a world-wide movement of people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, who are committed to the transformation of society through changes in human motives and behaviour, starting with their own.
Purpose: We work to inspire, equip and connect people to address world needs, starting with themselves, in the areas of trustbuilding, ethical leadership and sustainable living.
Omnia Marzouk, President, IofC International
'Nothing lasting can be built without a desire by people to live differently and exemplify the changes they want to see in society.'