journeys at home and abroad
The CEJI course on combating religious discrimination finishes tomorrow – what a blast. An extraordinary bunch of people involved in so many different organisations, groups and movements. We shared tagine and couscous after a certification ceremony at the local Town Hall in Brussels.
CEJI and our course is based in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode/Sint-Joost-ten-Node, which describes itself as:
The smallest commune in Brussels also happens to be the most densely populated. Although small, this commune is full of striking contrasts. The international-class hotels on Place Rogier/Rogierplein, the tower blocks of offices on Place Madou/Madouplein and the little Manhattan of the North rub shoulders with neighbourhoods where the mainly Turkish population has recreated the chipper, bustling atmosphere of an Eastern city.
The Mayor’s representative reminded us of Martin Niemoller’s poem – and particularly of our responsibilities as educated people and intellectuals to keep raising awareness and to keep fighting injustice and discrimination. In our privileged position we cannot say we didn’t know.
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.
There are always hopes at the end of weeks such as this that people will stay in touch and be able to support each other, but a reality check means that this takes time and effort and people quickly get caught up with their lives back home.
My hopes include exchanging ideas and resources on Faith Literacy UK with those who are involved in other countries.
I’d also like to keep in touch with one of the participants who is keen to develop links between the academy and local communities – just as Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network is doing with the Open University and (funding permitting) University College London.
Best of all, it would be good to meet up with people again. There are plans for a summer conference in Switzerland which sounds unusual – I’m up for that.
Ruth and Luc, the wonderful people guiding us through the material, have somehow managed to keep a very disparate group together and learning from one another all week. Dank u wel & merci bien.