Polarizing the splitters

Representatives of the Central Council of Jews and the Central Council of Muslims are satisfied after the first top-level talks between the two associations. The meeting was "very critical and very constructive," both sides emphasize – and announce a continuation of the dialog.

Islamophobia and anti-Semitism have been openly discussed both in society as a whole and in their own communities, the chairman of the Central Council of Muslims, Aiman Mazyek, told Berlin's "Tagesspiegel" on Monday (24.01.2011).

Dieter Graumann, president of the Central Council of Jews, Graumann called Sunday's exchange in Frankfurt "very open, fair, honest and direct". They have been friendly with each other, but they have not pasted over problems with friendliness: "Our guests have listened to a lot of criticism."For example, they are very concerned about anti-Semitism among Muslim youths. "We hope that the Muslim associations will also do more about this; we have been ared of this."

"Not a flash in the pan"
According to the will of both sides, the meeting should "not remain a flash in the pan" but become a permanent institution, Mazyek emphasized. They have been invited to pay a return visit to the Central Council of Muslims for one of their next plenary meetings. Graumann said he would like to see a long-term dialogue, to which other Muslim associations should also be invited. Sunday's talks were "a good start".

"We are not just announcing dialogue with Muslims in the country, we are starting it immediately," Graumann had said before the meeting. "Trust can only come from talking to each other – not about each other," emphasized the new head of the representation of some 108.000 Jews in Germany elected Central Council President. "We do not leave the field to polarizers and dividers in our society," continued Graumann's statement Friday on the meeting. Where there are problems and deficits in dealings between the two religious communities, they are addressed openly. "In doing so, however, we are not forgetting that Jews and Muslims have much more in common than separates them," he added.

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