ALDAI – 29/10 – 2014
We are honoured to have saved thousands of lives on the run from the southern shore of the Mediterranean. It reminds us that between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries millions of Europeans migrated to Africa where they settled, contributing substantially to the economic and cultural development of African countries but without having taken root in the social fabric they found themselves expelled, forced to return to their countries of origin. After the Second World War the African countries started a strong campaign of demographic development with the result over fifty years of tripling the number of their inhabitants; but there was also a growing impoverishment because demographic development was not accompanied by adequate economic growth. In the same period Europe has grown economically with an older population that is demographically stable, creating a gap that young Africans are trying to bridge; just think that Egypt’s GDP does not exceed that of the province of Milan alone.
Cultural and technological promotion
Of course, Europe and Italy in particular has an interest in a stable Middle East and North Africa, but such an objective is possible by promoting technological development, guaranteeing the flow of oil, curbing emigration, creating a climate of trust among the populations and achieving the security of agreed and recognized borders. North Africa and the Middle East represent a market of over three hundred million inhabitants just a few hours away from Italy but which receives little investment attention outside the energy field. It is necessary to develop a strategy to favour the expansion of our medium enterprise towards these markets with a profitable return for the actors in terms of development of the exchange area, of the African society in this case Arab society, and of return on the investment made. At the political level, it is important that the West, in technological or market exchanges, knows how to combine cultural exchanges with reciprocity criteria with the effective promotion in the country of the values of civil and religious freedom for all without any discrimination and that, in this regard, there is intense monitoring.
Today in our cities are concentrated various ethnic groups, each with its own habits and beliefs, each inclined to demand exceptions in the legal provisions of the state to allow a given category to survive the social life of the country of origin, with the risk of creating tensions or situations of better favour between the different social components. The immigration of Arabs, Christians and Muslims, has made us aware of the basic identity and values on which our civilization has developed but to which many of us have become accustomed; I consider it an example of the wealth that can be generated by globalization. It is a wealth that can be achieved by offering the immigrant person dignity and the opportunity for human development for proactive integration, in contrast to exclusion. Inclusion, on the other hand, cannot mean moving a little to make room for the other, for any other. It means building with reason a framework of human values, a framework for the common good, and within this framework making room for those who share it, even if of different religion or culture. Without this, there is no true inclusion. This task is eminently political, and politics, if it were to be exempt from it, limiting itself to welcoming without inclusion, would not play its role.
Religion and identity
Religion and civil status of the Mediterranean peoples are inextricably linked to the identity of the person; the Arab citizen, Christian or Muslim, feels his religious identity as a priority over his stable political loyalty. The mental and cultural horizon of populations is a religious horizon. Religions are therefore fundamental elements of national communities. It can be affirmed, for example, that the unifying element of the Arab populations is the religious one, that is, the common Islamic religion within which some differentiations are inserted. They come from countries with laws that privilege Muslim citizens over adherents of other religious beliefs, forming mental prejudices in young people coming to Europe where equal rights and non-discrimination among citizens prevail.
It is essential to ask the Arab world to work on education, media, textbooks in schools and even to invite to this line of education and peace, imams and preachers who have in their hands the formidable instrument of sermons in mosques, where it would be appropriate to proclaim also the verses of the Koran that emphasize “the will of God towards religious plurality and the commitment to compete for good in God’s mercy”. The best response to extremism is to create a united international front relying on universal standards of freedom of belief and religion as an integral part of individual identity. We need a radical change in the formation of citizens, a problem of culture, in order to make everyone understand that they are equal and that violence is intolerable.
Media, communication and Inter-religious dialogue.
We must ensure that Muslims are able to grasp the distinction between religion and society, faith and civilisation, political Islam and the Muslim faith. It was Cardinal Martini himself, who encouraged the “dialogue” between different cultures and religions, who encouraged this dialogue between two people who have something to say to each other.
I hope that every religious Communicator and not, Muslim or otherwise, will feel committed to being a tireless and strenuous defender of the dignity of the human person and of his inalienable rights; ways should be found to pass this ideal in the formulation of the laws of states and that the good intentions exchanged at a high level reach the people of pain that remain truly high.
As a member of ALDAI I intend to make my voice heard so that the political bodies, together with the European Parliament, will always be effective promoters of justice, freedom and peaceful coexistence among the peoples of the Mediterranean area by implementing the necessary strategies.
Giuseppe Samir Eid
Free web translation from the original in Italian
The published articles intend to provide the tools for a social inclusion of the migratory flow, shed light on human rights and the condition of life of Christians in the Islamic world from which the author come from. Knowledge of the other, of cultural and religious differences are primary ingredients to create peace in the hearts of men everywhere, a prerequisite for a peaceful coexistence and convinced citizenship in the territory.