The annual Journées d’Arras meeting, which began in the 1980s in the town of Arras, Northern France, gathers Christians of various denominations from different parts of Europe who are involved in teaching, research or church work in the field of Christian-Muslim relations. The meeting takes place each year over a period of three or four days and its location changes from year to year. This year’s meeting was attended by about thirty persons from 12 different European countries. Fr. Chris Clohessy represented our Institute as a member of the Italian delegation. The meeting was hosted in the Mennorode Conference Center in Elspeet, Nunspeet, a town not far from from Amsterdam, and comprised three days substantially filled with talks and discussions. The input began with an thought-provoking survey on religion in the Netherlands - not, as a number of Dutch politicians insist, a steady ‘Islamization’, but rather a steadily growing ‘non-affiliation’. There are now in the Netherlands healthy numbers of Christians and Muslims who, in terms of religion, define themselves by an identity rather than a belief system. The input included a lecture by Professor Antonie Wessels, who spoke in depth on issues of violence and Islam, and on the resurgence of ‘apocalyptic’ language and concepts in both Christianity and Islam. Many of the group discussions that followed over the next few days focussed on the issues of security, radicalization and the issue of mass immigration.
A trip to the city of Amsterdam including a gathering in a local Moroccan mosque, where the mosque committee explained some of the local projects in and around the mosque to counter radicalization and to smooth and assist the pathy of integration and assimilation into the local community of those coming from Morocco and other countries in North Africa and the Middle East.
Next year’s meeting is scheduled to be held in Hanover, Germany.