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Partes Workshop in Amsterdam: Enhancing Protection for Places of Worship

Last week, the coordinator of the Protone project was in Amsterdam to participate in a workshop on the protection of places of worship. The event was organised by the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) within the Partes Project framework. The participation in the event turned out to be an opportunity for the Protone representative to express support and establish synergies with the twin EU co-funded project, Partes. 

In recent years, a surge in terrorist attacks and hate crimes targeting Places of Worship (PoW) across European nations has raised serious concerns for the safety and security of religious communities. Recognising the critical need to confront this issue, the Protone and Partes projects were initiated with the aim of bolstering the protection of Places of Worship against such threats while also fostering inclusion and engagement within communities. In line with this mission, a workshop was convened on February 15, 2024, at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. 

The workshop featured small group discussions focusing on various aspects, including existing security measures at Places of Worship, experiences of religious discrimination, and perceptions of safety within communities. Participants also examined the communication channels currently in place between religious communities, public officials, and the media, elaborating on proposals to improve them further.

The workshop saw the participation of religious representatives, public authorities, and subject matter experts from the Netherlands to delve into the recent attacks against places of worship and identify the existing security gaps. 

The workshop led to productive discussions and collaborative efforts among the stakeholders involved. It started with an analysis of the main findings of the research activities conducted within the Partes framework, underscoring the relevance of non-terrorist attacks, such as arson and other acts of vandalism. A second analysis, conducted by Gemeente Noard-East Fryslan, was useful in shedding light on the undercurrents of right-wing extremism targeting refugee centres, offering valuable insights into related security concerns. In the afternoon, interactive exercises and simulation scenarios were conducted to improve participants’ skills in identifying the vulnerabilities in the cases considered and the more recurrent factors that allow for an incident or attack. 

During the lunch break, participants had the opportunity to network and exchange ideas informally, fostering greater connectivity and cooperation.

Overall, the workshop served as a crucial platform for stakeholders to come together, share insights, and forge partnerships in the collective effort to safeguard Places of Worship and promote social cohesion. 

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