Adapted from Moussa Al-Hassan Diaw’s summary
International Women’s Day, 2014: Muslims and Jews in Vienna, Austria, come together to learn about “Women in our religious communities”. This meeting of the European Muslim Jewish Dialogue, EMJD, organized by Tomer Weil and Moussa Al-Hassan Diaw, honored the role of important female heroines and figures in Jewish and Muslim history, as well as confronted the difficult questions of women in religion, tradition, custom and the current situation for women in religious communities worldwide.
Tomer, an active member of Jewish Students Organization of Austria (JÖH), and Moussa, a member of the European Union of Independent Students (EUISA); a representative of the Islamic Religious Authority of Austria (IGGiÖ); and a member of FFEU’s European board, first met at a 2013 Weekend of Twinning event.
Rabbi Dr. Kikel spoke with an audience of around 20 Muslim and Jewish students about circumcision, and the contentious ongoing debate on Europe to ban circumcision, prohibiting practice of both Muslim and Jewish traditions. Tomer and Razi Berger, also of JÖH, organized this event that encouraged a positive atmosphere of peace and understanding.
As Razi said, “these meetings are vital as they increase understanding between two peoples, an understanding that both sides are interested in love and not hate; it is only ignorance about the other that creates disagreement.”
Following the event, Tomer and Moussa decided to work together to create EMJD, an ongoing dialogue initiative that will sustain Jewish-Muslim conversation and cooperation in Vienna. The International Women’s Day event kicked off this initiative. Vienna is not the only city in which these groups are forming; FFEU has initiated Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committees through North America as well.
Moussa explained his motivation and incentives for this work: “We, Muslims and Jews, have so much in common and share common values. Also, it seems that, as citizens in Europe and “the other” in our own societies, we sometimes have to struggle for the same causes to protest our religious freedoms. I feel a strong bond between Jews, as “people of the book”, and us, Muslims.”