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The workshop of the Youth for a United World moves into the social projects of the Focolare Movement and of other organizations working to answer the needs of the territory. Interreligious dialogue is the note of the day

1430461141.jpgThe day dedicated to the festival, inside the international workshop of the Youth for a United World, celebrates diversity as a bridge for dialogue. Those present are joined by Zain, a young Indian journalist, correspondent for Channel News Asia that having learned of this international workshop, decided to come in person to verify the work and the effects of it because "it's important that young people ask themselves how to be generators of dialogue."

Members of different religions decline this word through theoretical insights and experiences. Metta, a Thai and Buddhist philosophy professor, starts by explaining: "Wanting to open to dialogue means to create a relationship. When I met the Youth for a United World, I felt free to express my religion all the way. And since then, I realized that, here in my land, I could be a bridge between Buddhists and Catholics, and I realized that even as a citizen I'm called to make an active contribution to the building of our society and not to limit myself to only verbal sharing."

Vinu, director of the Shanti Ashram, a Gandhian movement, and honorary president of the World Conference "Religions for Peace", states that dialogue should be made with "all of themselves: with the voice, with ideas, with concrete actions. Dialogue is, first of all, action: listening to each other, understanding each other all the way, and then taking action. In this historical moment then it's very important the intergenerational dialogue."

Dialogue with Islam is deepened by Marco, an Italian who has lived many years in the United States of America. "In 1997, Chiara Lubich came to see Imam W.D. Mohammed in the Malcolm X Mosque in Harlem (a neighborhood in New York). Three thousand African-American Muslims from the American Society of Muslims listened to her and, since then, we tried to continue that intense dialogue. I remember, for example, that following the attacks on the Twin Towers on September 2, 2011, the Muslim community was very shaken. The tension at Indianapolis was very high. One night, some of our Muslim friends told us that they had received threats and a warning not to approach the mosque. We had to do something. The following Friday, the day of their community prayer, we decided to make feel our affinity by witnessing throughout the celebration. They were our brothers, and had to feel free and safe." He tells many other experiences that, taken together, draw a beautiful and practical history of dialogue between two communities. "Three months ago I knew that I had to go back to Italy. To my surprise, a few days before leaving, I received a phone call where the imam said: "I have to thank God because, in my life, I had two brothers. One of them is you.'"

Racid, a young Algerian Muslim, comes after and tells us how he tried to make feel welcomed some young Catholics in a predominantly Muslim community: "We started from small gestures, such as a dinner or a celebration together; concrete actions that build bridges of fraternity between people and cultures."

Munal, of the organization "Anem Prem" (Unconditional Love), says that in the face of differences, "all of us may choose to withdraw into himself, or to start building personal and real relationships, to begin a dialogue with all the people we meet. We have to be careful because, often, we think that the opposite of love is hate. Instead, the opposite of love is indifference towards people and social situations."

In the afternoon, eight groups visited some social realities of the city. Udisha (in Urdu "The ray of sun that brings a new dawn") for example is a project that involves, every year, over 100 children and young people and a lot of mothers. But there are someone who went to an institution that takes care of leprosy patients and some others who have seen how to organize a shelter for homeless children: all touching experiences. In short, it would be many stories to tell. But just look at the eyes of young people who come back to find out that, for each one, it was a very powerful experience, touching, but also exciting and that left inside a real will to do something!

In the evening, we closed with a real festival in Indian style with food, music and colors, where each participant presents their culture through dances and songs: art remains a bridge of universal meeting.

From CIttà Nuova, Francesco Ricciardi

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