History and current affairs: The objective is to question the responsibility of the institutions but above all to raise awareness among young people.

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The increased availability of the means of transport and communications has facilitated the emigration to Europe of young Arabs from countries governed by laws that favor Muslim citizens over members of other religious beliefs. This state of affairs has been the cause of misunderstanding among young people who come to Europe where equality of rights prevails and non-discrimination among citizens. At this moment Islam holds the whole world with its suspended soul, for its relations with the West and the Christian world, because one can really speak of two different worlds, which meet, collide and merge. The phenomenon of emigration from Muslim countries to European countries has been increasingly accentuated in recent times. It has generated problems of coexistence between different cultures, ways of life and customs. The widespread poverty, illiteracy, population growth and wars, push a large number of young people towards Europe and Italy in particular. It should not be overlooked that they are mostly Muslims bringing with them a set of traditions and practices which, besides being very different from ours, constitute a sort of prism through which they see and judge European societies.

In Italy these immigrants live in a condition of inferiority both on the socio-economic level and on that of communication. For this reason they tend to live in small cultural ghettos characterized by their respective countries of origin, language, tribal customs and religion. Among the Muslim immigrants the religious brotherhood influence is very much present with its mosques, cultural centers and call for prayers, and is becoming an increasingly present reality. The management of the process of evolutionary change cannot be left to the improvisation of individuals motivated by the search of economic return.
Myself, Egyptian by birth, from parents of distant Syrian-Lebanese origin, Catholic, particularly attentive to the problems of the Arab world, I am willing to promote a campaign of mutual understanding in all areas to create the premises for an inclusive welcome and peace among people living together.
Founding member of the Ambrosian Center of Dialogue for Religions in Milan under the auspice of Cardinal Martini and of the Europe Near East Center, I found in the West a favorable ground for the possibility of starting to fill the gap that divides men of different faith but who believe in the same God , the only Allah, father of all men. I, myself, Italian by adoption, having arrived in Milan, I found tolerance and non-discrimination.
After demonstrating my interest in exploring the culture of the host country and wanting to integrate myself with its customs and traditions, I found equality of treatment. Equality, unlike tolerance, is the positive meaning of the reception received in Milan and in Italy in a broad sense. This convinced me to put my experience of international life to bring the peoples of the two shores of the Mediterranean closer together: to introduce the other, their historical, sociological, cultural, religious reality, certainly involves inconveniences at different levels but can lead to a mutual enrichment; it is one of the fundamental condition for the realization of a peaceful coexistence and for a good management of the immigration phenomenon.

As a Christian of the East, I cannot fail to place particular emphasis on the reality of the Christian minority in Arab countries, also present among immigrants in Italy. The choice to talk about this forgotten minority who survived centuries of Muslim dominance stems from the belief that this community can play an important role in the development of a new relationship between the different religious and cultural identities present in the Middle East and today also in Europe . It should not be overlooked that the problems created by immigration in our country must be solved by seeking parallel solutions also in the countries of origin of immigrants. Therefore the testimony presented here aims to offer concrete indications on these issues. Through the common commitment of Christians and Muslims in the West, it is possible to establish a reciprocal exchange that fosters mutual knowledge and set an example on how to live with people who have different mentality, faith, traditions, and who are coming to accept that differences can be a source of enrichment for everyone.

These relationships of coexistence and understanding can be transferred and implemented in Arab countries, by those Muslims who decide to return and be included in bilateral agreements between states: the promotion of the values of civil and religious freedom for all in their countries without any discrimination with the aim to of creating a culture of equal rights, sharing of duties among all citizens without exclusions.

Bridging the cultural gap that still today separates the Islamic world from the Western one can start from the experience of the Christian Arabs.

This is a summary of the objective contained in these reflections, hoping that differences will finally be transformed into opportunities for mutual enrichment.

Giuseppe Samir Eid

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