Youth, women, police, youth workers and local policy makers discussed problems young women face in Molenbeek with different identities, lack of perspective, destruction and gaps in society.
IDEA NL and partners in the Netherlands and Belgium from the police and youth welfare sector organised an exchange between more than 80 youth, women and police from so called 'polarised neighborhoods such as 'Molenbeek' (Brussels), 'Schilderswijk' (The Hague) , Borgerhout and Kiel (Antwerp). This exchange is supported by Erasmus plus Youth.
The goal of this exchange was learn more about the background of the communities and the people who grow up in those neighborhoods. The participants seek answers to address polarisation. They want to understand the threats and opportunities to develop better relationships and mutual understanding among the various people in the communities. The participants like youth, police , women and youth workers had a varied program to stimulate debates about current issues that occur in their communities, such as; the relationship between youth and police; or the misunderstandings, stereotypes and distrust in the multicultural neighborhoods due to different cultures, religious and educational backgrounds. There were many recommendations done during round table discussions and debates. Those will be presented in a report and will be launched soon. Some quotes that address the question 'how to avoid polarisation and contribute to resilience and peace':
"Everything starts with respect between the community members. This is weak now, people react very often on the basis of ignorance and emotions. However respect will grow and strenghtened when we meet each other on a regular basis so that we get to know and understand each other. We need to spend much more time to discuss problems, ideas, tensions and to debate solutions. As Amartya Sen says; 'combined informed reasoning with informed undstanding of what is needed in the world, will support change'".
"It would be therefore beautiful when neighborhoods and cities will invest in infrastructures to create bridges between police, youth, youth workers, shopkeepers and other stakeholders from different backgrounds in the neighborhoods. We need to make time and space for dialogue and debate to create this understanding among each other. And it is also very important to drink tea together and to say 'hello' to eachother, who ever you are or whatever role you play."
"See what happened in Molenbeek, Brussels. Terror attacks occured unexpected. And at once, everyone stood against each other. The cliff of distrust deepened in the neighborhood and in societies. Terrorist can drop a bomb in our neighborhoods too. And for sure, this will generate negative sentiments towards people who share the same relgious background as the terrorists, while of course they don't have anything to do with those attacks. But we all know that there are people in the society who answer the emotions of fear by mobilising negative sentiments to weaken and polarise our multicultural society. And we don't want that this will happen in our neighborhoods. We don't want to stand against each other in our multicultural neighborhood. That is why we need to invest in each other, in order to understand ourselves as people, our values, history, perspectives desires. We need to put of our masks and to see each other as a human being, so that those networks and trusts can sustain.'
'Debates and dialogues can help us in this to help us to open up and to share our own perspective on current problems, to listen carefully to other opinions and to be better informed and understand more deeper the complex problems we face. This deeper improved understanding of the different perspectives on problems will help us to reason well informed and to seek to better solutions for the common good'.
Those and more points will be discussed when the participants meet again in the Hague in the beginning of 2018.