One year on from the Paris attacks on 13 November 2015, the dread and the dismay has gradually given way to a need for aid, support and sharing. Living in what seems to be an increasingly divided and fragmented world, we must continue to resist violence and remember our common humanity, regardless of ethnic origins or religious affiliations.
Due to the fact that the group involved in the attacks committed violence in the name of their intrepretation of Islam, some may sadly make a connection between this group and all Muslims. This stigmatisation of a religion can only cause more hatred and fear. And national unity can never be built around hatred and fear. Such stigmatisation will only increase social fragmentation and exclusion of parts of the population.
It is to tackle this challenge that the local association Maison du Dialogue et de la Paix—Mandipax—was set up. Its main aim is to create spaces that welcome people of different faiths and beliefs, promoting dialogue and a spirit of mutual tolerance.
According to President of the association, Jacques Hubert, if we really want to surpass the crisis we are going through, one marked by violence and hatred, we have to create events that appeal to people’s consciences and support people on the margins before it is too late.
Involving young people is essential. One of the association’s projects is to promote social cohesion by intervening in schools and colleges. It has launched discussions around issues such as peace, human rights, citizenship and intercultural dialogue. The aim of the dialogue is to allow young people to appreciate social and cultural diversity, as well as to better understand religious principles and convictions and their own place in society.
To encourage young people to participate in these discussions, a public-speaking contest around the themes of diversity and peace has been implemented. The objective is to promote intercultural dialogue as an antidote for all kinds of fundamentalism and isolationism.
“ The various projects of Madipax can be the seeds of peace and fraternity. It is our hope for tomorrow and for the future. ” – Jacques Hubert
The organisers and sponsors of the ruthless acts that struck Paris last year want to provoke division between communities in France, and beyond. This makes fraternity and solidarity all the more important. Men and women passionate about peace must join together, countering disunity by embracing and celebrating cultural and religious diversity. In this way, we can overcome the trauma of last year’s attacks and, together, work towards a more peaceful future.