Interfaith Cooperation in Europe

Ismeta Begić, President, UŽ “Mozaik,” and GNRC Coordinator – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Religion in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and across Europe, is treated as a private matter, making it difficult to engage in interfaith activities that protect children. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, GNRC’s interfaith engagements began on the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children in 2012, when we mobilized children and religious leaders around advocacy and promotion of children’s rights.
Bringing religious leaders from different faith traditions to a common platform wasn’t easy. To encourage cooperation, we picked a topic they could comfortably speak about publicly.

unnamed.jpgThe International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (IDEP) in 2013 also created a wonderful opportunity for interfaith cooperation. For the first time ever, religious leaders visited and supported vulnerable families. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we organized online activities to promote the role of religious leaders in providing guidance in this critical time. We now have three religious leaders from the Muslim and Christian faiths as members of GNRC Bosnia and Herzegovina committee.

In my academic studies, I conducted research which clearly showed that learning about others and cooperation are crucial to peacebuilding. We believe there is much to be done for interfaith cooperation to gain full acceptance. However, what hold us back, is the constant uncertainty about how our messages and activities will be received in new situations, and more critically, the limitations in our technical and material capacities. Working for and with children through the GNRC interfaith platform has facilitated and made it easier for us to bring faith leaders from across religious traditions to speak together, thus increasing mutual understanding.