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6th Talks On The Hill

Countering Imported Conflicts Peacefully: The Role Of Interfaith Dialogue

Project Period: Contact: Department: Programme: Theme:
17 Jul 05 - 19 Jul 05 Asia-Europe Foundation Governance & Economy Department Talks on the Hill Intercommunal Dialogue

Bali (Indonesia)


There has been an increased tendency in recent years for local ethnic or religious communities to play out or react to conflicts in other parts of the world and "import" then into their local communities.

An example is the increased tensions between Muslims and Jews in Europe that have arisen as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Demonstrations in universities have taken on increasingly violent turns, and acts of vandalism have occurred to synagogues and mosques as well as other symbols of the communities, despite the fact that there are no issues related to this conflict in some European countries.

Similar tensions resulting from the conflict in the Middle East have also surfaced in East Asia -- in some cases culminating in large-scale attacks. Arguably, this also happened post-September 11, as "westerners" turned against local Arabs/ Muslims as a result of the Al-Qaeda attack on the US.

Increasingly, it is important for local governments to find ways to prevent segments of their local populations from turning hostile against each other, and having their countries become proxy-sites for these foreign conflicts. Religious communities too have felt the need to step in as a mediating body between conflicting groups.

The sixth instalment of the Talks On The Hill series focused on interfaith dialogue as a way to help communities disassociate themselves from foreign conflicts, as well as peacefully move forward to bridge divides caused by external forces.