19 November 2015 - 14.00-15.30 - Hôtel de Ville, 9 rue Brûlée, Strasbourg, Interpretation: FR/EN - Sponsored by the City of Strasbourg and the INGO Conference of the Council of Europe


Is fear rooted in the ignorance of the culture of ‘the other’?  How can we create cooperative and positive relations between people of different religions or beliefs? Are interfaith initiatives capable of bridging the gap of misunderstanding between various religions?  

Initiative 1 Initiative 1

Facing Facts!, CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe

Facing Facts! is a concerted effort of NGOs aiming to unmask the reality of hate crimes in Europe and keep governments accountable to their international commitments. 50 trainers have been trained from Jewish, Muslim, Roma, LGBT, anti-racist, human rights and disability awareness organisations from across Europe. Facing Facts! advocates for greater cooperation between governments, law enforcement and NGOs. It has been recognised as a best practice by several intergovernmental organisations. Currently, Facing Facts! is being converted into a Massive Open Online Course including a module dealing specifically with hate speech.  



Ms Robin SCLAFANI, Belgium, Director of CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe

Robin Sclafani is the Director of CEJI-A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe, the leading European Jewish organisation in the field of diversity education, intercultural dialogue and anti-discrimination advocacy. With over 25 years experience in developing and delivering anti-prejudice diversity awareness training programmes, Ms. Sclafani is the architect of the suite of training programmes linked to the award-winning project Belieforama: A Panoramic Approach to Issues of Religion and Belief. With an MA in Conflict Resolution from Antioch University, she was a 1998 Fulbright Scholar to the European Commission. 

Initiative 2 Initiative 2

Interfaith Tour, Coexister, France

From July 2013 to June 2014, five young people from different faiths, Ilan (Jewish), Samuel (Christian), Ishmael (Muslim), Victor (atheist) and Josselin (agnostic), decided to carry out together the first world tour of interfaith initiatives. Each year, a new team will be participating in documenting the increasingly large world of interfaith issues. The first InterFaith tour was the pilot project of the observation of the interfaith world. As with the previous edition, the second InterFaith will document its travels in each country, producing documents for educational or journalistic purpose. This year, the team will create computer graphics and web-documentaries in addition to the written articles and weekly videos produced by the first team.



Mr Victor GREZES, France, Development Manager of Coexister

Born in Vichy-France, Victor Grezes travelled abroad for the first time when he was 16. He spent one year in South Africa thanks to the Rotary Club’s exchange program, where he was trained to manage humanitarian projects. After his one-year experience in Africa, Victor seized the opportunity to represent French high school and college students in the main EU organizations, and all across Europe. In the process, this young man saw how cross-cultural issues are a major component of international exchanges and conflicts. In 2011, Victor joined ‘Coexister’ (the French interfaith youth movement) and participated in 2013/2014 in the InterFaith Tour project (a one year travel around the world to encounter and monitor interfaith initiatives – along with a team of 4 other youngsters from different faith - interfaithtour.com). Today, Victor is 23 years old and shares his time between his studies in International Affairs at Sorbonne University in Paris, and his position as Development Manager of Coexister.

Initiative 3 Initiative 3

“ComUnitySpirit- Interreligious Dialogue”, Afro-Asian Institute, Graz, Austria

One of the focal points of “ComUnitySpirit- Interreligious Dialogue” is to promote understanding and peaceful coexistence. The results of the interreligious international expert conference in 2013 opened out into the project “ComUnitySpirit. Religions and Cultures in Dialogue” with sustainable and ongoing activities including promotion of dialogue, project work, networking and also coordinating the Interreligious Council of the City of Graz. This year’s focus points on the field of prevention of radicalisation. Besides networking and various activities the project “ZusammenHalt!” has been implemented, a prevention of radicalization and extremism project for young adults in schools and youths groups.



Ms Claudia UNGER, Austria, Head of the Afro-Asian Institute Graz

Dr. Claudia Unger is head of the Afro-Asian Institute Graz. She studied Literature and History, and worked as lecturer at the University of La Habana, Cuba and Pecs, Hungary as well as as educational consultant specialised on young adults and social policy at the diocese Graz-Seckau. Since 2010, she is the head of the Afro-Asian Institute in Graz. She is member of the Human Rights Council of the City of Graz, board member of “Friedensbüro” of the City of Graz, and chairman of the association “Friends of Cuba”.

Discussants Discussants

Discussants are invited to take part in the Labs in order to share their experience with the presented democratic initiatives and try to bring broader perspectives to the following discussions.

Mr Vladimir GRADEV, Bulgaria, Professor and Head of the Theory and History of Culture Department to the Faculty of Philosophy at Sofia University

Vladimir Gradev is Professor of Theory of Religion at the University of Sofia. After studying in Sofia, Paris VIII and EUI, he became assistant professor (1996) and later full professor (2007) at the Sofia University, where he also served as Head of Department of Cultural Studies. He has been a visiting scholar at NIAS, MSH (Paris) and has led seminars and given lectures at several European universities. He has been Ambassador of Bulgaria to the Holy See (2001-2006). He is author of 6 books and more than 100 publications in religious studies, contemporary philosophy and political theory.

Ms Nawel RAFIK-ELMRINI, France, Deputy Mayor of Strasbourg

Nawel Rafik-Elmrini is Deputy Mayor of Strasbourg in charge of International and European relations, town twinning and decentralized cooperation since 2008. She represents the City of Strasbourg in the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe where she focuses mostly on questions related to education on cultural diversity and the fight against discrimination. Ms. Rafik Elmrini chairs the Information Centre on the European Institutions and she is Vice President of the Regional Institute for Development Cooperation.

Moderator Moderator

Mr Antoine SPIRE, France, Vice-President of Ligue internationale Contre le Racisme et l'Antisémitisme (LICRA)

Cartoonist Cartoonist


Challenges 2015 Challenges 2015