REFUGEES OF THE MIDDLE EAST AND THE CULTURAL BACKGROUND THEY COME FROM

On Dec 14 Prof Egdūnas Račius from Vytautas Magnus University in Lithuania gave a public lecture on „What Cultural Environment the Refugees of the Middle East come from: A Look Beyond Islam”. In his lecture Mr Račius focused on two key topics. Firstly, he argued that it’s important to understand that not all refugees of the Middle East are Muslims – a common misconception. Mr Račius underlined that, in fact, non-Muslims face a bigger risk of being the target of insurgents and rebels due to which they are forced to flee their countries. Secondly, in order to draw some conclusions on the cultural background of the refugees, one ought to understand what it actually means to be a Muslim in contemporary world. Yet, given the West’s lack of knowledge of both Islam and Muslims, there is a tendency to dislike everything related to Muslims: their behaviour, beliefs and culture. Mr Račius stressed that one should make a difference between muslimophobia and islamophobia. While the former is culture-focused hatred, the latter is religion-focused hostility.

This public lecture was organised by ESD in the framework of Estonian Network of Anna Lindh Foundation. In Feb 2016 ESD was elected the head organisation of ALF Estonia.