Interreligious Dialogue and Peace in the Balkans: Past Challenges and Future Opportunities

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal 48 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Zoran MATEVSKI, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, Macedonia
Dushka MATEVSKA, South East European University in Tetovo, Macedonia
Sociologically interpreted, tolerance is patience, accepting other people’s beliefs, allowing the validity of principles which do not belong to one self, and yet they have to be recognized in the spirit of civil freedom and public opinion. Tolerance is an accepted deviation from one’s own beliefs. Interreligious tolerance may be the most difficult task especially of the present. To accept something we are unfamiliar with, something which deviates from our tradition, customs and habits, is indeed a challenge. Of course, if it does not develop into religious fanaticism and extremism. Certain organizations or groups which are directed against the peace process in the Balkans and other regions in the world, continue to use terrorist tactics and methods in an attempt to destabilize the delicate balance of peace. Religion is able to mobilize social groups who strive for power and influence in the globalized society where they feel marginalized or consider the globalized society as some kind of threat.  This is the reason why identity crisis makes religious fundamentalism the most prevalent and most controversial ideology of modern time. The Balkan Peninsula is a place where different religions meet. Interestingly, despite the fact that all these religions are essentially similar to one another, being derived from a common ancient basis in Judaism and all preaching peace as an ideal, the Balkans have always been considered among the most conflicting regions in the world. These religions are also very collectivistic. They claim that their adherents make a special and morally superior community. Connections with them easily become a sign of political or national loyalty.  Moreover, if the Abraham religions become factors in politics, they, because of their uncompromising positions, essentially lead to a constant conflict with the religious others.