On the 9th and 10th of May 2023, the Intercultural Dialogue Platform was honoured to host the eight consortium members of the Protone project in Brussels for a kick-off meeting. This diverse consortium seeks to bolster security within Christian, Jewish, and Muslim places of worship through interfaith dialogue. On the first day, at the heart of the discussions was the urgency to protect sacred spaces and foster dialogue among the faith communities. Key topics revolved around identifying security threats, developing metrics for social hostility towards religious groups, and formulating robust responses to security challenges. The consortium outlined unique features that set the Protone project apart:
Ethnographic Insights: Pioneering ethnographic research will delve deep into the heart of community dynamics.
Holistic Methodologies: Merging Vulnerability Assessment with Ethnographic Research, offering a comprehensive approach.
Widening Horizons: Expanding the geographical parameters of security strategies.
Unity in Diversity: Promoting interfaith alliances and setting up collaborative bodies.
Grassroots Focus: Emphasising local narratives and neighbourhood dynamics.
Human Touch: Prioritising humane methods for detection and reporting.
Special guests, including the EC project officer and a representative from the SOAR project, were present to impart valuable insights from their experiences.
On the second day, the visit to the House of European History in the European Quarters turned out to be an outstanding formative experience. Moreover, it underlined how the response to the threats to places of worship cannot be communitarian and shared in the attempt to unify and coordinate individual efforts to increase the security posture of these places. Finally, the day’s activities were completed with a visit to the grand mosque of Brussels to discuss its security measures and principles of cooperation with state and local authorities. This provided the opportunity for some members of the consortium to learn further about security issues experienced by mosques and initiate the dialogue process with communities belonging to the three Abrahamic religions. The assembly not only laid the groundwork for this ambitious two-year project but also sowed seeds of unity, partnerships, and a renewed determination to safeguard places that people hold sacred.