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Anna Lindh Forum: A Need for Cross Cultural Approach to Ensure Diversity

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Father Paolo dall’Oglio speaking at the Anna Lindh Forum in Marseille in April 2013. Foto: Anna Lindh Foundation

Published on Anna Lindh Forum
Highlights of the 3rd day include: Strategic debate on Diversity, discussions on ethical cross cultural reporting, a debate of Young Arab Voices representatives with president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz.

Promoting Diversity in the Euro-Med

How to value diversity and share universal values? was the main question of one of the strategic debates that took place on Saturday morning, marking the general line of the third day of the Forum. Father Paolo dall’Oglio, Italian Jesuit priest exiled from Syria by the Assad’s regime, reminded about the ongoing conflict in the country: “Population of Syria have been abandoned by the knowledgeable so called international community. Now it is in a chance to express for the Academy.” He also underlined the necessity to show more support for Syria from civil society organisations by developing initiatives on a common ground, criticising one scale approach for different values: “Our idea or your idea for the civil society must be linked. Society is only healthy when it is like western society. We look for people who look like us. We choose our partners that look like us. I really encourage your society to be a fertile society. Destructive differences can exist not only on different shores of the Mediterranean, but also in the same religious community.

“My country suffers from fundamentalism in all three religions. Can we all be equals? Religion does not represent our identity, we should define a common ground for the identity. When the power embraces religion, there is no diversity.” pointed out Asmae Al Ghoul, Palestinian blogger and women rights activist. “Anthropological changes during centuries have not been properly accepted by my religious community. My concern is how can we reconcile ourselves with this anthropological revolution?” added father Paolo. 

Cross Cultural Reporting

Promotion of the diversity is also responsibility of the media. The Agora workshop on media tackled ethical reporting issue across cultures. “The quality of a media system is the main measure of our society,” said Paul Gillespie, Irish Times journalist and academic writer. He pointed out that by ignoring the complexity and highlighting the clashes, media forget the ethics. “We should develop cross culture reporting. Journalism across cultures are defined as foreign. It is not adequate do describe the problems,” he added. Ethical reporting is also highly influenced by the imperative of the online world – get it our as quickly as possible and opportunities for everyone to be an ‘online publisher’ by posting anything and any time. “We have to understand the role of journalist which is distinct from the freedom of expression,” Aidan White, director of Ethical Journalism Network in the UK, pointed out. “Freedom of expression without constraints is quite different from media freedom. Media freedom includes responsibility and humanity. There is a collapse of commitment in journalism. Investigative journalism has disappeared. It is a collapse of the capacity of the democracy to function,” he continued.

Young Arab Voices debate

As a conclusion of the day was the discussion of debaters from Young Arab Voices (programme by the British Council and the Anna Lindh Foundation) and president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz. Young debaters aimed direct questions on education, access to visa and mobility for young people from the Arab region and the EU policies of cooperation. “Denial of a Shengen visa denies intercultural dialogue,” young debater said. Schulz noted that youth unemployment is a shared problem of the two shores of the Mediterranean and that access to the education and to the labour market is the best way to social cohesion. “A society which is not open to its own young generation is a society of fear,” Schulz added.

Breaking Bread and Building Bridges

Parallel to the workshops, a bread tasting from the countries across the Mediterranean was organized by ‘Project Aladin’ from France. The aim of the event was to bring together the different peoples of the two shores of the Mediterranean and to exchange views on a highly traditional and symbolic food for all, both in popular culture, literature and religion: bread.The exhibition ‘Breaking bread and building bridges’ focused on presenting bread according to customs of various cultures and tasting of different kinds of bread from the Mediterranean area.

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