YES-Parliament 2007 – a great success!

Exploring Islam in Europe is vital in our changing interdependent world. All of us, as young Europeans, see it as our responsibility to share our thoughts, ideas and knowledge with others in order to make this World a better place for all.

The YES 2007 gathered nearly 450 participants, who all joined the YES Parliament at the end of the event. The YES Parliament, which adapted the UN (United Nations) working methods, summed up the seminar, expanded the knowledge gained during workshops, and got deeper into the topic of whether Islam Classes should be offered in Public Schools or not.

After the official opening by INES-Chairman Erik Breves and the French YFU-volunteer Elise Plissoneau, a motivating and inspiring speech was given by Joachim Braasch, board member of YFU Germany, who joined the YES Parliament as the special guest. Mr. Braasch pointed out that all the attendees of the Parliament were able and willing to discuss the issue and get into the dialogue on a very European level.

All participants were split into 39 host country groups, where they had to analyse the question and adapt one resolution, acceptable to the country they represented. There were 4 resolutions presented:

Resolution A: No discrimination of World religions
Resolution B: Europe is a Christian cultural community
Resolution C: The state and religion should be strictly separated
Resolution D: Freedom to actively practice one’s own religion.

It was extremely interesting to visit all negotiation groups and listen to their discussions. Surprisingly, nearly all the groups, even though considering different resolutions, had rather similar ideas, such as all religions being equal, religion being everyone’s fundamental right, necessity for more information and dialogue, importance of breaking stereotypes, etc. Even though there was a lack of time for an in-depth discussion of suggested resolutions, and resolutions could not be modified, each group succeeded in making a decision, representing their host country’s opinion best.

Afterwards, back in the plenary, each country group delivered a speech, summarising their discussions, after which the voting took place. Participants of the YES Parliament voted twice – expressed their host country’s as well as personal opinion. Resolution A has been chosen both times – with 170 and 185 votes respectively. The conclusion of the YES Parliament 2007 proves that participants have broadened their minds during their exchange year as well as during the YES 2007. There still is a lot to learn and discuss, but the base for future dialogue has been set, and we believe that this initiative will continue further.

Ieva Dirvonskaite, YFU Lithuania/Denmark

Opinions of the participants:

The best idea would be to have a religion course where information about different religions is taught. I do not think that other religion courses are necessary. It is the best design for Finland because there are a lot of immigrants and people should know about their religion.

Liudmila L., Russia

Ich habe nichts gegen Islamstunden, solange ich nicht daran teilnehmen muss.

Nina S., Germany

I have three Muslim friends who do not complain about not having Islam classes at school. They discuss religious topics at home or at the mosque.

Simonas V., Lithuania

Ich finde es gut, wie es an meiner Schule ist. Dort gibt es für muslimische Schüler nachmittags eine Art Koranschule, die auch benotet wird. Die muslimischen Schüler können zusätzlich den allgemeinen Religionsunterricht besuchen, wenn sie möchten.

Janika W., Germany

In general, I do not like religion. No religion is compatible with human rights. Individuals forget themselves in religion and they are not independent anymore but dependent on a god.

Jens A., Belgium

Ich finde, es sollte einen Religionsunterricht geben, der von einem Religionswissenschaftler unterrichtet wird und in dem alle Religionen erklärt werden. Dieser Kurs sollte nicht nur theoretisch sein, sondern zum Beispiel Exkursionen enthalten, um den Schülern die verschiedenen Religionen näher zu bringen.

Victoria U., Germany

There should be Islam classes in any case, so it can be controlled what is taught. I also think that all religions should be explained in every religion class.

Christopher K., Germany

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