‘Fryshuset’ is a nationwide organisation who aim their focus to all young people, especially those living in isolation. All the different projects in‘Fryshuset’ range from school to culture and entertainment on to projects that address today’s toughest social challenges. The nearly 50 projects and activities are divided into Education / Employment, Social perspective, passionate interests and Schools. The main focus is on young people and their chances to grow and develop, regardless of ethnic, religious or social background.
“Together for Sweden” is one of the many projects at ‘Fryshuset’- with a focus on inter-religious guidance and training for young people aimed at combating xenophobia, racism and extremism. The project is based on human rights and wants to show how religion can be a path to integration and vigor for young adults in the work for peace and understanding.
- create a common platform where young people from different backgrounds can come together
- remove misconceptions and prejudices between people in society
- achieve a deeper understanding of the other person
- create collaborations around issues such as diversity, democracy and coexistence
- create depth knowledge, debate and gradation about religions
- increase the understanding of gender issues in religions
- prevent conflicts that may occur when different religions and social groups come together
- provide support and guidance to young people who want to deepen their faith and use it as a tool for promoting peace and understanding
- counter islamophobia, afro-phobia, anti-semitism and extremism
- assist young people at risk of exclusion
Aims of the project
Many of our democratic values are derived from a rich source of religious ethics. The importance of creating spaces and platforms for interfaith/cultural exchange is indicated in various political rapports and studies within the European Union. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is an international human rights treaty that grants all children and young people a comprehensive set of rights, including the freedom of religion which declare the right to have access to spiritual development as an indispensable foundation for a democratic society.
Therefore, the main goal for the project is to strengthen the youth with religious and secular backgrounds and together, reflect on existential questions based on our common human rights. We believe that this form of dialogue contributes to the molding of cultivated, educated, and respectful individuals who will contribute to a multi-faceted and pluralistic society.
We believe that religion can serve as a positive driving force, increase understanding and breach both social and cultural gaps between young people from different backgrounds. Through dialogue and engaging activities we seek to create bonds of friendship that will mitigate suspicion and discrimination. Furthermore, we believe that individuals who feel themselves caught between the demands of society and their familys gain an opportunity to work with building up their character and identity.
A nuanced picture of religion in combination with respect, hopefully will lead to an improvement of the democratic dialogue in society, decrease the risk of xenophobia, and the usage of religion for racist expression.
The main goal can be divided into sub-goals:
• Generate a process where both young and adult representatives of various religions can cooperate in the exchange of experiences and mutual empowerment.
• Develop an education manual as well as an efficient methodology that can be used as a viable template for inter-faith work.
• Prepare the selected group of 20 young participants to, within the space of a year, be ready to hold their own lectures, seminars, visit different academic forums, and take their own initiative to host inter-faith activities.
• To give our youth the opportunities to formulate their experiences in order to actively contribute and participate in various forums in society.
• Create an inter-faith website that is supervised and maintained by our youth which will facilitate further communication with other youth groups seeking similar forms of interaction and activities.
• Provide the opportunity for our youth to create a sustainable interfaith network in Sweden that can cooperate with other similar organizations within Europe, youth from the remaining international community, and youth who have experienced the “Arabic Spring”.
• Through international exchanges and conferences we seek to give our youth the chance to learn about how the questions of religion and human rights are interpreted in other European contexts as well as how “The Arabic Spring” has influenced the religious dialogue among youth in the MENA region.
• Spread our seminars and discussion groups through Fryshuset’s facilities in Gothenburg, Malmo, and Stockholm
The target group, estimated numbers and distribution of sexes.
Description of target group
The central target group is young people from 16 and upwards. Each month ‘Fryshuset’ comes into contact with over 10000 young people via its different activities.
The project will participate by cooperating in:
Management courses, youth camps and initiating its own discussion groups made up of youths from different religious backgrounds. By making use of all our contacts we aim to reach both girls and boys.
The project will also provide courses for those responsible for different youth activities, schools, courses at ‘Fryshuset’ and in the rest of the community.
Another target group is representatives from different religions and youth leaders from different associations and organisations. By means of regular network meetings the project will cooperate and offer invitations to ‘Fryshuset’ to debate the issues of youth, diversity and democracy. The project also participates in different courses held by religious associations and organisations.
How do we impact the target group?
By educating, creating meeting places and continuity for young people and those responsible for youth activities.
As the work progressed, the interest for the project has grown. The fact that a priest and an imam are working in partnership is seen as innovative and has caused many positive reactions and expectations, not only from ‘Fryshuset’ but from various religious associations and the community at large.
How the project has been promoted?
Even before it started the project caused a stir and was debated in the media and several interviews have been performed during the process. Today “Together for Sweden” serve as one of many social projects run by ‘Fryshuset’ in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö.
The academic community has also shown an interest and over the years they have observed and followed the project. Gothenburg University and Södertörn College have written articles about the project and have passed on information to their students.
The three-year national project “Togather for Sweden” is led by two coequal project-leaders, imam Othman Al Tawalbeh and priest Maria Kjellsdotter Rydinger.
The appointments are mobile, meaning networks and partnerships are created across different religious and organisational boundaries, both inside and outside ‘Fryshuset’. The project-leaders’ previous experience and networks are used for the benefit of the project.
A management-team has been made up by representatives from the Church of Sweden/Parish of Sofia, the Islamic Society and ‘Fryshuset’.
Interreligious training for youth
Methods developeted by 3FF and adapted for a Swedish context by TFS
To launch a one-year training programme for young people who are members of a religious community or tradition.
- Provide chosen leaders among the youth with training in interreligious methods. This will enable them to guide and lead other youths and also help them become cornerstones in the development of an interreligious network for young people.
- Show young people from different religious traditions how they can use their faith in working towards development, involvement and a deeper understanding of our Human Rights.
- Provide young people with the tools to develop an interreligious network at regional, national and international levels.
- Produce training material for young people that can be used within training in multi-religious environments.
- Provide opportunities for young people from different countries to meet and share their knowledge and experiences from different European contexts.
Training in a multi-religious environment
The project will develop its methods as it proceeds. The foundation for the project is the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Entry points will be different articles in the declaration which will allow the participants to contribute with their own stories and experiences from their different religious traditions. These stories will be used to explore and illustrate our shared rights and responsibilities. This way of working will help build an understanding among the youth of their own traditions, as well as for the traditions of others. It will also help them create a vision for what a democratic society could look like.
The project is partly based on the inspiration and methods from the French organisation CIEUX (Le Comité Interreligieux pour une Ethique Universelle et contre la Xénophobie). CIEUX, which is one of two international collaborating partners in the project, has for many years gathered local members of religious and secular communities in order to promote co-existence according to the principles of citizenship.
Further inspiration and methods come from the British organisation St Philips Centre in Leicester, which is the other international partner in this project. Both of these organisations have been founded from a need to meet across borders of faith and religion. Their successful work, development and good results have been an important background for the planning, methods and objectives of the Swedish project Tillsammans för Sverige (Together for Sweden).
Working with young people on interreligious issues is relatively new in Sweden. Therefore the project would like to develop methods and material which can be used in connection with training of youth in a multi-religious environment. The participants will receive a diploma after the training which will show that they are qualified to become leaders and facilitators of groups that discuss these issues, as well as the qualification to be trainers of other youth.
Youth leaders from respective tradition will be selected by the responsible partners within the different organisations and communities. The training team will consist of sixteen young people from five religious traditions. Four Christians (responsible: Tobias Nellvik/Nacka församling and Maria Kjellsdotter Rydinger/minister at Fryshuset), four Muslims (responsible Othman Al Tawalbeh/imam at Fryshuset), four Jewish (responsible Jonna Wolff/The Jewish congregation), two Buddhists (responsible Trudy Fredriksson, chairperson for the Samfundet för Tibetansk Buddhism) and two with hindu-zoroastrian backgrounds (responsible Sudhagar Raghupathy/Sveriges unga Dharmis och Asharvaner).
All in all, the group will consist of 16 participants in the ages between 18 – 24 years, who all come from the larger Stockholm area. A profile has been developed in order to make sure that the participants will be compatible with each other and that there will be equal representation of the sexes.
The youth must meet the following criteria:
- Be between 18-24 years
- Be willing to participate in, and improve, interreligious work and dialogue
- Have an open mind towards “the other”.
- Be interested in developing the work and become a future resource for further interreligious youth work.
Reporting and Evaluation
A written report and evaluation will be done at the end of the training year. We furthermore anticipate that we will publish articles and stories about the project during the year. A larger evaluation will be done in collaboration with the collaborating partners CIEUX and St Philips Centre.
During 2013 we plan, in collaboration with the study organisations Sensus and Ibn Rushd, to develop a training material that builds upon the experiences from the project.
The idea is that young people, who are firmly grounded in their own religious tradition, shall be given the opportunity to develop as human beings and leaders through contacts and meetings with other young people who are willing to share their own experiences from other traditions. To create opportunities to meet across religious borders will provide young people with a possibility to develop not only their own religious identity, but also a citizens and community members. It will also give an opportunity for the responsible adult leaders to create a foundation and develop methods for how we can raise young leaders within inter-religious work and dialogue.