Dr Farid Hafez presents the findings from the latest European Islamophobia Report (2021) for interfaith dialogue exploration and discussion – Wednesday 20th July 2022 – 17:00 – 18.30 CET (16:00)

Surprises are not over! ENORB is hosting a further conversation for reflection and connection as part of its programme of interfaith dialogue and continued focus on the rising concerns among faith and civil society organisations about the contemporary development of Islamophobia and resulting anti-Muslim hatred in Europe. We are delighted that Dr Farid Hafez is joining us to present the latest findings from the European Islamophobia Report.

Dr Farid Hafez is a Visiting Professor of International Studies at Williams College, and a non-resident senior researcher for Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative at the School of Foreign Service. He is also the founder and co-editor of the European Islamophobia Report (2021).

We have invited further contributors – especially from close partners at the European Network Against Racism and Faiths Forum London, including Mustafa Field OBE.

The conversation will be facilitated by Manchester-based Sadia Akram, Programme Director of the Forum for Discussion on Israel & Palestine (FODIP) and also consultant at Civil Society Consulting CIC.

Register HERE

Feminism or Fascism? The crisis of masculinity & democracy – online event on Thursday 7th July 2022 – 19.00 – 20.30 CET (18.00 BST)

Amazing event coming in July! ENORB is thrilled to announce that it is hosting a conversation for reflection and connection as part of its programme of interfaith dialogue and topical conversations.

The aim of this session is to analyse the inter-related crises of masculinity and democracy in Europe and discuss the thinking of leading feminist writers and their perspectives on how we all respond.

Are we faced with the prospect of Feminism or Fascism? Are the foundations of democracy imperilled? What does masculinity in crisis mean? What should a ‘good feminism’ viewpoint consider? What is understood in the term ‘White Feminism’? What role does intersectionality play? What role can faith and civil society organisations?

And much more besides…. come and be part of the reflections and conversation!

We will discuss these many questions with the help of leading feminist authors: Rafia Zakaria, Nina Power, and Laurie Penny all of whom have recently published important and vibrant books on these key issues. Moreover, ENORB Board Member Nyanchama – decolonisation and anti-racism expert – will take part on the conversation.

The conversation will be hosted by Director Mark Ereira-Guyer; and facilitated by Communications, Research & Equalities Intern Martina Molinari and Rebecca Pauley from Civil Society Consulting CIC.

This online Together for Reflection & Connection session is part of a programme of interfaith dialogue events being planned by ENORB in partnership with many others, including United Religions Initiative Europe, European Network Against Racism and Civil Society Consulting CIC. Register HERE

Get ready for meeting up with Sahara Sisterhood! IN-PERSON event – Monday 20th June 2022 14.00 – 17.00 (CET)

The European Network on Religion and Belief is pleased to announce that on 20th June 2022, under the Sahara Sisterhood project, an in-person event will take place in Brussels, open to women only.

This moment will be an opportunity to unite, share, build and strengthen the community. It will also be an opportunity to learn more about the Sahara Sisterhood project, which was initiated by All Faiths And None

Indeed, Sahara Sisterhood is a project ran by Navleen Kaur and Rose Codling that has been created to provide a safe and secure space for a way of living life with an embodied experience in modern times. The aim is to empower women and girls, allowing them to rise above the challenges of mental abuse, domestic violence, and trauma in all aspects of life. Sahara Sisterhood aims to strengthen and support the people who choose to embark upon this journey of self-expansion.

Sahara Sisterhood project is one of those ran by AFAN, a registered charity with a varied team consisting of people both religious – Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, and Pagan – and non-religious – Humanist and Atheist – committed to exploring faith, belief, and values within and across the diverse traditions. Among the objectives of AFAN: stimulate discussion, reduce intolerance, build mutual understanding, and encourage recognition of common values and unique differences.

Register HERE

WORLD HUMANIST DAY, 21st JUNE via zoom at 18:00 CET (19:00 GMT) – The Power of Rationality with Steven Pinker

For the World Humanist Day, which is celebrated on 21st June, ENORB is hosting Steven Pinker, experimental psychologist, and Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Pinker in interested in all aspects of language and mind, and his research particularly focuses on common knowledge, language acquisition, emotion, the moral sense, rationality, and trends in violence. In his latest book Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters Pinker attempts to unravel the paradox that, while science has made considerable progress, scepticism towards it is still widespread, leading, for example, to the spread of fake news and conspiracy theories. Please register HERE

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker: Data Shows That Life Today Is Better Than Ever

Who is he?

Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist – particularly interested in language and mind – and a Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. His research area is wide, as it comprehends common knowledge, language acquisition, emotion, the moral sense, rationality, and trends in violence. He has won many prizes for his works. His best-known and award-winning books are The Language InstinctHow the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature, The Sense of Style, and Enlightenment Now. Time included Pinker in the “100 Most Influential People in the World Today”, and the magazine Foreign Policy in the “World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals”. He is also an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, a Humanist of the Year, and a recipient of nine honorary doctorates. He was Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and, among others, he writes for the New York Times, the Guardian, and The Atlantic.  His last book, Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters, was published in September 2021.

What are his works about and why is he relevant for ENORB?

In his latest book, as the title suggests, Pinker explores the subject of rationality and argues that it is necessary to learn the tools of rationality, including logic, critical thinking, and probability. Indeed, rationality can be applied to most of the dilemmas that surround us, and it can help us make wiser and more informed choices.

Since rationality can be defined as the knowledge to pursue a goal, Pinker asks us to review what our values and goals are. This is even more important regarding phenomena such as the no-vax movement, climate change denial, and conspiracy theories. In these cases, the arguments put forward may be logical, but they are certainly not rational, because the aim is to spread untrue information. How should we approach discourses that are based on false assumptions? Pinker’s advice is to find a common ground with our interlocutors, to question the veracity of the sources they mention, and how they have arrived at those conclusions.

To tell the truth, according to the psychologist, this dialectical exercise is always useful because it is also through debate that society becomes more rational as long as the debate is not framed like a sport, where there must be a winner and a loser.

Pinker’s passage on journalism is also essential. He describes recent journalism as ‘events-driven’. Journalism, in fact, according to the psychologist miseducates people because it competes to give the latest events without, however, putting them in a context. Pinker’s advice is instead to accompany events with data, graphs, trends. Rationality and the tools that derive from it are nowadays of fundamental importance. As Pinker teaches, some phenomena – such as conspiracy theories, fake news, the no-vax movement – have not experienced an increase but have always existed. It is up to us, however, to put these phenomena into context and use the tools that rationality offers us to combat them.

Meet our Board Members! What’s in a name? Let’s meet Nyanchama

From now on, we would be glad to introduce our amazing Board Members. This month we share the story of Nyanchama. A name is never just a name. It brings with it experiences, living stories. And if this can be generally said of all names, it is even more true of Nyanchama’s case. Indeed, the Board Member we would like to introduce you today is Nyanchama, consultant and campaign coach for the non-profit organization Hand in Hand against Racism. 

Her complete name is Mary Antoinette Stellamaris Nyanchama Okemwa. She comes from Kenya, but she holds the Belgian nationality 30 years now. She is parent of four; the eldest son is 36, while the younger daughter 23. Also, she’s a grandmother. When her granddaughter Sarange was born, Nynchama consciously chose to revert her given name in honour of her niece’s birth. Nyanchama literally means “one with charms”, and it alludes to being “the chosen one” or “one with a calling” in terms, for instance, of healing, divination, and clairvoyance. Nyanchama was named after her great-grandmother who was a healer and ritual priestess. And maybe it is not a coincidence if the relationship she now has with her granddaughter reflects somewhat the one she had with her great-grandmother. Sarange calls Nyanchama magokoro, which is a typical title of respect accorded to a grandmother amongst her people. It is a complex term that is derived from “mother” (ma), a “movement towards” (go) and “ancestor” (koro). Hence, it means “heading towards ancestor-hood” or “outgoing/departing ancestor.” Instead, the translation for “grandchild” – “mochokoro” – stems from “coming” (ogocha) and “ancestor” (koro), and, therefore, it means “coming from ancestor-scape” or “incoming/emerging ancestor”.  Being a decolonial expert, Pan-Africanist, anti-racism activist and defender of human rights, Nyanchama has a wide academic background and a varied work experience, including more than 30- year-experience in voluntarism and activism. You can find out more about her academic and professional background on our website: ENORB’s Board

Although she has Belgian nationality for 30 years, Nyanchama is very close to Kenyan culture and traditions. She reveals that religion plays an important role in the life of most Kenyans. Many people visit their place of worship both to practice their religion as well as to socialize with friends, family, and acquaintances. Also, she tells us that in Kenya, religion is not understood as mutually exclusive, but as an incubator of different beliefs and practices. 

Undoubtedly, religious harmony is reflected in Nyanchama’s personal visions. “I view the world in terms of mutuality and oneness within and between people, planet and profit” – she says – “I believe that we are all intricately intertwined with our habitat (personal, social, economic, political, religious) and with those with whom we interrelate within our habitat. Hence our (co) habitation is both inhabiting (living) and habituating (forming or reforming habits) within our “relationally-constituted” habitat. Accordingly, we are mutually co-constituted in terms of our inter-relational habitation in the world we inhabit, which in its turn is also inhabiting in us”. A vision that was inspired by her grandmothers, who taught her that not only we are one in the world we now live in, but we are also one with our ancestors. 

Talking about ancestors, Nyanchama reveals that they emerge as grandchildren named after them. So here we come again to the names, to untie another knot. Nyanchama explains to us that, since grandmothers are their grandchildren’s name-givers, their relationship is held in high esteem. Indeed, name-giving is akin to opening a portal that channels ancestral forces. It embodies our interconnection with the sacred realm and ageless ancestral wisdom shared amongst elders and between them and their descendants. 

“The transmission of grandmothers’ wisdom is like being a torchbearer endowed with a flame that ignites other torches thereby creating torchbearers who would ensure that this knowledge is preserved and can be transmitted to their progeny”.  

Now that she is a grandmother, Nyanchama does not forget to fulfil its role. Her family became a space where she can transmit her ancestral wisdom. However, this is not a one-way relationship – you might have already understood that – rather a space where members mutually narrate their narratives, share their triumphs and tribulations, commiserate about their anxieties and traumas, and bond in mutual harmony. Nonetheless, her role as grandmother expands outside the family sphere, as she always finds time to give attention to young people who approach her via email or social media with their questions, doubts, and fears. 

As we said, the value of names transcends the mere action of naming people and things. A name, Nyanchama, unravels the value of relationships with the world and people. Today, starting from a name, we have learned a harmonious vision where we are all one with our current and past world. Not only, but this holistic view is also reflected in concrete actions. We can but leave you with the words Nyanchama uses to describe herself.  

“I see myself as a custodian of the hearth wherein flames are kindled from the glowing embers of ancient ancestral wisdom. I am committed to passing on the wisdom imparted to me by my grandmothers and the many other forebears who lived before them. I am the bearer of the shared knowledge of my ancestors, and it is my calling to pass that legacy on to my children and grandchildren, to those who are not yet born and to the wider world. I rely on my African spirituality and the ability it endows me to transcend duality, embrace life to its fullest”.