Interview of Beate Olekte from Latvia after the Training Course "It's about choice" in Berlin.
Can you give us your opinion about the project “It´s about choice“?
The project opened up a lot of questions about a sensitive topic. It really opened my eyes, because I think that I come from a safe environment where all of these things are still unknown and we do not have to deal with them on daily basis. It was really interesting for me to hear what the other country participants have to say and how they deal with this topic in their own countries. The main thing is that we live in very similar society - it doesn't matter if you are from Romania, Italy or Latvia. The basic stereotypes about a lot of subjects stay the same. So we all come from the same backround and it's only us who can change the society how to look on a diffrent subjects.
Do you think Islamophobia is a threat for our society?
In my opinion, in today's society, almost everything is a threat, because people do not educate themselves. They only have some assumptions about the topic, but no one wants to learn what is beneath the surface. And I think that is the main thing why Islamophobia is a threat to our society, people just do not what really is behind Islam. All we can is in the media is just a terrorist attacs, which is the main thing that associates with Islam. To eradicate that we need our media to work both ways - not to only tell that there is one problem Islam, but to tell what are the things that actually Islam stands for. So in general we need to educate our society to not just understand the surfice, but to dig deeper.
What can be done to combat Islamophobia on community, national or international level? I think that the only way to combat Islamophobia today is to educate people in schools from a young age about all religions. In that way we can open up a discussion and learn that no religion comes with an assumption of an anger. Of course on every subject there are radicals and there is no way to sidetrack that. But you do not have to asociate those radicals with the religion that only wants to come with peace. So in my opinion, we have to talk about these sensetive subjects, open up about them, do not take them drasticly and only in that way we can make up a way for a better understanding about everything. Lets open up our minds and hearts for the scary unknown.