Antwerp: Jews and Muslims call for tolerance

Antwerp: Jews and Muslims call for tolerance

The chief editor of Belgian-Jewish magazine Joods Actueel and Muslim Open Vld politician Hicham El Mzairh are making a joint appeal for peace and calm in Antwerp due to the recent tensions in the city regarding the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

They want to make it clear that there are more mutual similarities than differences, despite the separate communities in which they live.  After the riots of last Wednesday and the recent death threats against the Jewish community they hope that the conflict in the Middle East won't be imported to Antwerp.

"We are Antwerp residents, Flemish and Belgians," write Freilich and El Mzairh in a joint press release.  "In an open society different ideas and opinions should be expressed freely without it leading to violence or intimidation."  The authors of the appeal recognize that they have different opinions about the conflict between Israel and Palestine, but according to them that should also be possible in a democratic society.

According to the prominent representatives of both the Jewish and the Muslim communities in Antwerp it is important that the good relations between both groups will continue.  Certain organizations such as the Arab European League (AEL) should not have a negative influence on it, according to the release.

The signal that they're now giving together is seen by Freilich and El Mzairh as a token of good will with great symbolic value.  They hope that people from their communities join with them and realize that the problems in the Middle East shouldn't be fought out in Antwerp.

Next Sunday the Forum of the Jewish Community in Antwerp will hold a demonstration regarding the matter of the Gaza Strip.  The Antwerp city council will make arrangements with the organizers in order to ensure things go well and will almost certainly allow the protest.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

See also:
* Norway/Denmark/Belgium: Demonstrations
* Antwerp: Requests to ban demonstrations
* Antwerp: Arab riots, Jewish neighborhood sealed

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