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Landmark Project to Strenghten Links to Oman

Thanks to the CCP (Cross Culture Programme) Synergy Fund which is administered by the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Germany. Baraza has been awarded an external grant for a groundbreaking initiative titled ‘Tandem for Tolerance’. The scheme pairs Baraza which is based in Munich, Germany with the Al Amana Centre in Muscat, Oman.

The Al Amana Centre is an ecumenical and interfaith non-governmental organisation (NGO) built upon the legacy of over 130 years of Christians working with their Muslim hosts and neighbours from different faiths represented in Oman. The centre provides safe spaces, diverse encounters and engaging approaches for people of faiths to build sustainable peace.

‘Tandem for Tolerance’ includes a series of online and face to face exchanges where they will share mutual experiences of running peacebuilding programmes, compare the diverse geographic contexts within which they operate and learn about their respective governance models. The project will explore the creation of a ‘Tolerance Curriculum’ to strengthen the cooperation in future years.

Georg Popp, President of Baraza formally signed the project agreement on 17th May 2023.
The first online exchange already took place on 22 June 2023.

In July 2023, Baraza and Al Amana Centre did a webinar which included discussions of draft plans for the respective exchange visits this autumn.

At the end of August and early September 2023, Baraza welcomed the Al Amana Centre (AAC) to Munich, Germany.

Baraza organised a range of interactive encounters as part of the exchange which began with a visit to the Dachau concentration camp to learn about the impact of hate and prejudice. This was a profound experience with much to reflect on. Following this a tour of the city of Munich took place. This was to witness various stolpersteine (stumbling stones) which commemorate the ordinary lives of many Holocaust victims. The stolpersteine are placed outside the former residences of people who were part and parcel of German society and who contributed in so many positive ways yet they were singled out for who they were.

A warm welcome was offered at a Buddhist temple where Baraza and Al Amana Centre learnt about the dynamics and demographics of the local community – many of whom who originate from Thailand.

St Boniface’s Abbey provided a valuable insight into multi-faith community living and learning together as part of a collaborative programme. The trip ended just outside Munich in the city of Penzberg where delegates learned about a pioneering mosque, community centre and social enterprise.

The visit of the Baraza deligation to Oman took place on 15th November 2023. The Baraza delegation visited a mosque, church, Buddhist and Hindu temples and a gurdwara. They met worshippers who described their migration patterns and experiences of living as minorities. Both Baraza and the Al Amana Centre have pledged to continue their dialogue and to examine ways of deepening their cooperation. All parties were extremely thankful to the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (IFA) for their support.

The meetings enabled partners to assess ideas for producing some standards of behaviour for tolerance. In other words, what tips and techniques rooted in respect and the principle of ‘live and let live’ could be adopted when engaging in disputed dialogue.

Juma al-Maskari, Vice President of Baraza said, “The most powerful way of bridging divides is to get people to connect with one another. The more we open our minds, the more we have the possibility of opening our hearts. This Cross Culture scheme has strengthened our institutional relationships, enhanced our intellectual capacity and provided us with energy to continue to collaborate”.

Catherine Thiounn, Vice-President of Baraza said, “Our new collaboration with the Al Amana Centre will strengthen Baraza’s footprint in the Sultanate of Oman where we have worked for a number of years to advance intercultural understanding. This pioneering alliance was signed a day after the UN supported ‘International Day of Living Together in Peace’ and that speaks volumes about this programme which we hope will contribute to advancing tolerance and acceptance at global level”.

Revd Justin Meyers, Director of Al Amana Centre added, “Baraza and Al Amana have for many years been in similar orbits. Through this new project, Al Amana and Baraza hope to discover ways to complement each other’s strengths and to develop programmes and curriculums to bring people together across cultures and religions to work for the common good”.