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„The different faces of democracy.“Pluralism and Change in European and Arab Societies
Start date: Sep 1, 2016, End date: Mar 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

There is a lot of talk about democracy; in Europe and in Arab countries. But do we mean the same when speaking of democracy? Did the concept change – in our minds, in different periods of history? In this project, the participants – “activists of civil society” – will find answers to those questions. We will focus on four aspects: 1. The concept of pluralism: What is the idea behind it? Which groups are meant? We will share experiences on the different paths to democracy in our countries. In practical exercises – based on the Betzavta democracy training concept – we will learn about managing diversity. 2. Religion: What’s religion got to do with it? In many countries, religious groups play(ed) an important role in implementing political change. We will speak with dialogue experts, go to churches and mosques, share impressions from back home in order to assess the role of religion in local and international politics. Dialogue training will provide skills for implementing a productive process in cooperation with religious groups. 3. Extremism: How can we confront the forces that threaten democracy? We will analyze political radicalism and religious fundamentalism and look for ways to stabilize democracy. We will compare concepts of democracy education and learn from practical tasks of civic intervention in situations of conflict. 4. Civil Society and migration: How can we strengthen civil society in our countries? How can we stabilize the situation in Northern African countries in order to prevent emigration and implement concepts of long-term integration in European countries? Visits to NGOs and model projects will inspire us to develop further activities and concepts. This will be a key issue for creating sustainable results of this project. After all, this is not only about ten days in Germany, this is about making a difference and making an impact in our home countries – in Germany, Poland and Lithuania, in Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia. Providing concepts for handling pluralism, for dealing with religion influencing politics, for combating extremism through civic intervention and for strengthening civil society are the major objectives. The project will include 6 participants plus one team member from each country. Methods will combine Betzavta democracy methods, diversity education concepts, dialogue training and civic intervention approaches (based on anti-bias concepts). Follow-up projects will be designed for each country in regional and/or international settings. Dissemination will be secured through local, national and international networks (such as NECE, Euro-Med, IJAB, Federal Foreign Office) and the GSI publications (vision 7).

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