Healing Christian-Muslim Conflict Through the Youth

Feb 21st 2006

Five centuries of conflict have divided Christians and Muslims in the Philippines. Elsewhere in the world, there is a similar fracture between these two cultures and religions. Several attempts have been made in the past to bridge the fap, but reconciliation seems to be elusive.

CFA proposes to try a new approach, this time using the youth as agents of change. In the summer, CFA will assemble a group of Christian and Muslim …

Five centuries of conflict have divided Christians and Muslims in the Philippines. Elsewhere in the world, there is a similar fracture between these two cultures and religions. Several attempts have been made in the past to bridge the fap, but reconciliation seems to be elusive.

CFA proposes to try a new approach, this time using the youth as agents of change. In the summer, CFA will assemble a group of Christian and Muslim high school students in a “peace camp.” The project is called “Impressions of Conflict, Expressions of Peace.” Funding is likely to come from Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst (Church Development Service, or EED) of Germany. A resort in Antipolo, about 30 kms south of Manila, has been selected as campsite.

CFA’s partners in the project are the Episcopal Commission on Interfaith Dialog (a subset of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines) and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines. Endorsements and support have come from the Bishops-Ulama Conference and Council of Moderate Muslims. The students may come from the Ramon Avancena High School in Manila and from the Muslim community of Taguig, a suburb of Manila.

In the camp, a noted historian will familiarize the young participants with the roots of Christian-Muslim conflict. The campers will be asked to focus on the points of commonality, rather than on the points of divergence, between the two cultures. They will be encouraged to propose actions that would bring about healing and reconciliation, whether on the personal or extra-personal level.

To enable the students to concretize their thoughts and opinions about conflict and peace, they will be taught the basics of media forms, including essay writing, painting, dramatics, photography and video production.

Their outputs will be compiled on CD, copies of which will be sent to government officials, academic institutions, church leaders, NGOs, and other parties concerned with Christian-Muslim peace. A traveling exhibit will also go the round of schools and shopping malls for public viewing.

After the camp, peer groups, each consisting of a Christian and Muslim will be formed. They will be urged to continue their relationship beyond the limits of the camp – helping each other in school work and inviting each other to family and social functions. A speakers’ bureau will be formed. The students will be taught public speaking, which will allow them to accept invitations to public forums.

A video documentary about the peace camp will also be produced.


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