Panorama

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In a survey from 2015, the Eurobarometer concludes that the percentage of Christians in the EU countries is currently 72% (45% Catholic, 11% Protestant, 10% Orthodox, 6% others), and the percentage of those with no religion is 24% (10% atheist, 14% agnostic). The percentage of Muslims is stated as 1.8%, Jews 0.3%, Buddhists 0.4% and Hindus 0.3%. Thirteen of the 28 EU Member States can be classified as predominantly Catholic (with a proportion of over 60%), three as predominantly Orthodox and two as predominantly Protestant. In the Czech Republic, those with no religion are in the majority with a percentage of 64.4%.

Regarding the six largest EU countries, the greatest numbers of professed Catholics are found in Italy (73%), Poland (71%) and Spain (53%), while the majority of the population in France (58%) and the UK (54%) described themselves as having no religion. In Germany, on the other hand, there is an above-average number of Protestants (26%), around the same percentage as the Catholics (25%). France has the highest proportion of Muslims (7%), followed by Germany (5%) and the UK (4%).

On a rudimentary level, Europe is divided along three religious lines: Protestant in the north and west, Catholic in the south and Orthodox in the east. Each of these churches is further subdivided liturgically and nationally. There are state churches in countries like England, Malta, Denmark and Iceland. In other countries, the state religion has decreased in importance since the 19th century. For example, although the Netherlands were officially a Protestant country until 1848, Catholics now form the largest group of believers, with 24 percent of the Dutch identifying as Catholic in 2015. The various Protestant churches are attended by roughly 15 percent of the Dutch.

Sources:

https://www.statista.com/topics/3977/religion-in-europe/

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On the one hand, Islam is experiencing a rapid transformation process in Europe, which is triggering a reflection on Christian identity. On the other hand, migration is leading towards an accelerating religious pluralisation. In 2012, 42% of non-European migrants coming into the EU were Christian, and 39% were Muslim.

According to calculations by the Pew Research Centre, Christianity is projected to remain the most important (numerically) religion in Europe, but by the year 2050 the number of Christians will have dropped by around 100 million to 454 million. This corresponds to a percentage of 65.2% compared with today’s 74.5%. In contrast, the proportion of Muslims in the European population will rise from 5.9% to 10.2%, and that of those professing no religion from 18.8% to 23.3%. The number of Jews in Europe will shrink slightly, from 1.4 million (0.2%) to 1.2 million.

Sources:

http://www.europe-infos.eu/the-religious-landscape-in-europe

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According  to  a  2011  survey  conducted  in  the  27  EU  member  states,  all  immigrant  groups  tend  to  be  more  religious  than  the  native  born  population  of  the  host  country. Overall,  immigrants  pray  more (30.02%)  than  native  populations  (21.86%)  and  attend  religious  services  at  least  once  a  week.

Interestingly, the religiosity of the same immigrant group varies from one receiving country to another. For  example,  certain  destination  countries  such  as  Greece, Portugal,  and the  UK  demonstrate  high  levels  of  immigrant  religiosity,  however,  Scandinavian  and  Eastern  European  countries  (except  Poland) tend to show lower levels of religiosity for immigrants as compared to other countries based on their  “religious  attendance  and  praying.  There  are  also  certain  countries  (like  Cyprus,  Greece,  and  Ukraine) whose native born population is more religious than the immigrant population. Unemployment  and  low  levels  of  income  do  not  increase  immigrants’  religiosity.  On  the  other hand, the level of education and the length of time spent in the host country tend to diminish the level of religiosity. Finally, Muslim immigrants are more religious on the three accounts (prayer, religious attendance, and self-declaration) than other immigrants.

 

Sources:

http://interact-project.eu/docs/publications/Research%20Report/INTERACT-RR-2013-01.pdf

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Radicalisation  processes  draw  on  social  networks  for  joining  and  staying  connected.

Trust  is  of  utmost  importance, radicalism uses  close   networks   based   on   friendship,   kinship   and ethnicity. Recruiters are often charismatic leaders who are able to exploit emotional triggers such as  hatred,  revenge  and  frustration.  Moreover,  direct  contact  with  people  who  have

fought  in  conflict  zones in Bosnia,  Chechnya,  Afghanistan  or  Iraq  can  have  a  powerful

impact, with such fighters, as well as Al Qaeda figureheads, considered role models.

 

Social  media in  particular  have gained ground as  an  efficient  channel  for  recruitment and indoctrination. Since these channels provide easy access to a wide target audience, terrorist  organisations,  including  Al  Qaeda  and  its  affiliates use YouTube,  Twitter, Facebook,  Instagram,  and  other  social  media.  They  take  advantage  of  the  fact  that, in contrast to traditional  channels  that  required  waiting  for  individuals  to  come  to  the terrorists, they can now reach out to their audience. Terrorist organisations can review the   online   profiles   of   their   recruits   and   choose   appropriate   ways   to   approach individuals. The sites also allow them to use' narrowcasting' to target their recruits.

 

The  increasing  prevalence  of  the  media and  emerging  social  media  have hastened  and magnified the impact of Islamist propaganda. It is even suggested that 90 % of terrorist

activity  now  takes  place  on  the  internet  through  social  networking  tools.  The  reasons are   evident   as   these   channels   are   popular,  mainstream,   accessible,   user-friendly,

reliable  and  free,  providing  easy  access  to  the  target  audience.

 

Sources:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/EPRS/EPRS-briefing-551342-Religious-fundamentalism-and-radicalisation-FINAL.pdf 

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Perhaps the most effective way for university and higher education staff to identify students vulnerable to extremism and radicalisation is through indicators and signs from the individual students themselves. These can be manifested both in their beliefs, and perhaps more clearly in the outward behaviours that stem from them. In particular, it is important to observe how they react and interact with fellow students. Such indicators may be most easily identified when an individual’s attitude, actions, outlook, and behaviour change significantly and suddenly. These behaviours may include:

 

  • Expressed anger, frustration and outrage at society
  • Distancing, disengagement, isolation and segregation from others
  • A distrust of society and blame for their circumstances

Many of these attitudes and behaviours are, however, common to students who are becoming politically and socially active, challenging societal norms, and adopting critical thinking. Of more concern are attitudes and behaviours which demonstrate:

 

  • A belief and acceptance of extremist narratives
  • Identification and support of such narratives
  • A lack of tolerance for the ideas or actions of others
  • Attempts to impose these beliefs upon others

Evidence has shown that some of the individuals who get to this most extreme stage in their beliefs and behaviours either become a threat to domestic security in their own countries, or seek to travel to conflict areas such as Syria and Iraq.

For those working at universities and higher education institutions, much of this identification of extremist beliefs and behaviours is predicated on a good knowledge of individual students and that an organisational level, this requires universities to have appropriate mechanisms for counselling, guidance and pastoral care, suitable staff training, welfare programmes and IT policies – both to identify these signs and to respond appropriately.

Sources:

https://www.eaie.org/blog/radicalisation-at-universities.html

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The proportion of young adults (16-29)  with no religious affiliation (‘nones’) is as high as 91% in the Czech Republic, 80%  in Estonia, and 75% in Sweden. These compare to only 1% in Israel, 17% in Poland, and 25% in Lithuania. In the UK  and France, the proportions are 70% and  64% respectively.

 

70% of Czech young adults – and c. 60% of Spanish, Dutch, British, and Belgian ones – ‘never’ attend religious services. Meanwhile, 80% of Czech young adults – and c. 70% of Swedish, Danish, Estonian, Dutch, French and Norwegian ones – ‘never’ pray.

 

Catholics make up 82% of Polish, 71% of Lithuanian, 55% of Slovenian, and 54% of  Irish 16-29 year-olds. In France, it is 23%; in the UK, 10%.

 

Only 2% of Catholic young adults in Belgium, 3% in Hungary and Austria, 5% in Lithuania, and 6% in Germany say they attend Mass weekly. This contrasts sharply with their peers in Poland (47%), Portugal  (27%), the Czech Republic (24%), and Ireland (24%). Weekly Mass attendance

is 7% among French, and 17% among British, Catholic young adults.

 

Source:

https://www.stmarys.ac.uk/research/centres/benedict-xvi/docs/2018-mar-europe-young-people-report-eng.pdf

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The European Council of Religious Leaders (ECRL) brings together senior religious leaders from Europe’s historical religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam together with Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and Zoroastrians. ECRL was established in 2002 as platform to enhance communication between seniors religious leaders of different faiths across Europe.

ECRL is built on the belief that dialogue and co-operation between religious is essential to tackling some of the most important and pressing challenges in Europe today.

ECRL is part of the Religious for Peace worldwide network.

ERCL Strategic priorities for 2017-2020:

  • Advocating for the freedom of religious practice and belief for all
  • Bringing religious leaders together to promote community cohesion and dialogue
  • Understanding and supporting the integration of refugees and migrants across Europe
  • Countering the rise of popular nationalism and associated xenophobia
  • Addressing social and economics inequities and exclusion
  • Building understanding and awareness of the conditions that give rise to violent extremism

 

Source:

 https://ecrl.eu/wp-content/uploads/Introduction-to-ECRL-Brochure.pdf

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The European Academy of Religion (EuARe) is a research initiative launched under the high patronage of the European Parliament which offers an exchange platform to academies and scientific societies; associations; research centres and institutions; university labs, clusters, and departments; journals, publishers, media and scholars coming from Europe and the surrounding regions. It's based in Bologna (Italy).

The Academy acts as an independent scientific and professional organization under the terms of its statute. EuARe aims to constitute an inclusive network, to act as an open platform, and to provide a framework to foster research, communication, exchange and cooperation concerning important religious issues for the academic world and society at large.

Objectives of EuARe :

  • Annual organisation of the EuARe Congress; as well as regional symposia on scientific, political and practical issues within the field of religion in order to establish contacts among its members;
  • encourage an open collaboration for the development of research programs and academic training inside and outside EU borders;
  • endorse applications to make research funds or facilities available to EuARe members and young scholars;
  • facilitate the cooperation of its members with EU institutions;

 

Source:

https://www.europeanacademyofreligion.org

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One of such guidebook “Multidisciplinary Pedagogical Approaches to Teach History of Religions “ was created in the EU project co-financed by Erasmus + Programme called “Paths through religious”.  The guidebook provides secondary school teachers with a set of new pedagogical approaches to teach history of religion according to a multidisciplinary approach and the use of history of religion to enrich the curricula of humanistic programmes (history, literature, geography etc.). In most European countries, Religion is taught as a separate programme. Within this guidebook the teachers will be able to find easy to use teaching materials in order to support, integrate and further contextualise their lessons according to a historical and comparative analysis on how religious beliefs affected and interacted with artistic, social, economic etc. aspects. Teachers could find there following chapters:

  1. Teaching Sacred Books as Literature
  2. Teaching Religion through the Personal Experiences of Prophets and Saints
  3. Teaching Secular Values, which Coincide with Religious Values
  4. Peer Learning in Teaching History of Religions
  5. Teaching Religions through Visual Arts (Paintings, Sculpture, Architecture)
  6. Teaching Religions through Music
  7. Teaching Religions through Poetry

Source:

https://pathwaythroughreligions.pixel-online.org/path_TG02.php

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One of such guidebook “Managing Multicultural and Multi-Religious Classes “ was created in the EU project co-financed by Erasmus + Programme called “Paths through religious”.  The guidebook addresses some of the challenges of teaching a multicultural class and proposes a set of tools and strategies for developing its potential. The key features of the supportive learning environment are outlined and special attention is given to the importance of empathic communication. Three pedagogical approaches are discussed in detail: cooperative learning, the use of distancing and simulation, and the interpretative approach to teaching religion. There are also some suggestions for culturally relevant family involvement and teacher training. Practical activities, guidelines and other useful resources are provided.  Teachers could find there following chapters:

  1. Supportive Learning Environment
  2. Empathic Communication
  3. Cooperative Learning
  4. Use of Distancing and Simulation
  5. Interpretative Approach
  6. Family Involvement
  7. Teacher Training

 

Source:

https://pathwaythroughreligions.pixel-online.org/path_TG05.php

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The Teacher manual “Prevention of Violent Extremism” was created with  the  assistance  of  the  United  Nations  Development  Programme  (UNDP)  and   cooperation  with  the  European Foundation for Democracy (EFD) . It was addressed to the teachers working in Kosovo, but its overtone is universal and can be used in majority of the education systems. The most important is that its content is based on the real questions asked by teachers, who is working in the inter-religious classes. Authors tried to answer those questions in very practical way. The Manual  presents  useful  and  practical  options  for  action  demonstrating   how   teachers   can   respond   to   challenging   situations   in   professional, legal, or other appropriate pedagogical terms. The Manual  will  assist  teachers  in  turning  their  classrooms  into  safer spaces where controversial ideas and issues can be freely and openly discussed.  Creating  such  an  environment,  by  providing  them  with  the  skills  and knowledge to critically analyze social, cultural and  political issues, while using facts to construct reasonable arguments will help students challenge and/or counter extremist arguments.

 

Here you have sample:

 

How  do  I  react  if  students  fast  during  the  month  of  Ramadan  and  cannot 

concentrate in the classroom?

 

Challenge:

Many  students  in  Kosovo  consider  fasting  during  Ramadan  a  part  of  their  religion, culture, or tradition, and expect schools to understand and support them. During the month of Ramadan, students refrain from eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset, so that they may feel very physically sluggish and mentally  unprepared  to  cope  with  classes.  There  are  even  cases  of  very  young pupils fasting in elementary school.

 

Options for action:

If  appropriate,  you  can  talk  to  the  parents  of  young  students  (elementary  school  age)  and  explain  to  them  that  their  child  is  too  young  to  fast  during  Ramadan, and that fasting may affect their health, level of concentration, and success in school (homework, class participation, exams). You can discuss these issues with the parents and explain to them that teachers and educational  staff,  in  general,  are  responsible  for  the  well-being  of  students 

while in school.

 

Source:

http://europeandemocracy.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Handbook-Kosovo-English.pdf