Mission21 The interfaith symposium organized by Mission 21 gathered more than 80 participants. Mission 21

“Which values apply?” Mission 21’s interfaith symposium

The debate regarding a common denominator in a multicultural and multireligious society attracted more than 80 interested participants to the interfaith symposium on February 13, 2017, in Basel.

Hans Georg Signer, a practitioner who was responsible for education in the Canton of Basel-Stadt until 2014, believes that schools make the greatest contribution toward integration in multicultural societies. He thinks cultural conflicts that trigger legal problems, for example when parents do not consent to letting their daughters take swimming lessons, should be solved using legal means. However, when it comes to regulations facilitating coexistence in schools (as was the case in the handshake debate in Therwil), stricter laws – or even a stricter constitution – would be the wrong approach, Signer commented.

Mouhanad Khorchide, Professor of Islamic Theology in Münster, in Germany, gave us a fundamental insight into an enlightened, Muslim understanding of values. He believes that there is a need in our society for a common set of values and that human dignity is non-negotiable.

Muslim, lawyer and women’s rights advocate Seyran Ates from Berlin also contributed with her interfaith and multicultural experiences. According to her, from the point of view of Muslims, the structures have become stuck and, at the same time, prejudices influence people’s perceptions of Islam. The lawyer stressed that people have to stick to facts and use human rights as guidance.

Charity proved to be a recurrent theme as various people took to the podium. All of the speakers emphasized how this is an enriching value of both Islam and Christianity and transcends the need for people to behave in a “reasonable” manner – which also has a positive impact. The important thing is to strengthen our ability to discuss things with each other.