We conduct this dialogue through a range of cultural relations and education policy instruments. We attach great importance to activities that stimulate debate within Islamic societies, generate new ideas and encourage more nuanced attitudes that help undermine stereotyped thinking. There is a strong focus on topics appealing to younger people. We are very keen to involve partners whose outlook is not western-oriented. What we seek is a genuine exchange about values, standpoints and opinions, we are not afraid of controversy.
Such a dialogue cannot be realized merely through political talks at the highest level. What is needed is concrete projects with civil society partners that have a long-term impact on the community. Here multipliers have an important role to play. Given the wide range of countries and themes involved, we see our projects as experimental in nature and, ideally, as piloting approaches that might be copied elsewhere. We support projects – mostly abroad – run by a wide variety of partners.
While we do not select projects according to hard-and-fast criteria, we do consider the following questions:
Given the dominance of the capital in many countries, how can we reach people in other parts of the country?
In view of the Islamic world’s demographics, how can we reach the younger generation, how can we appeal to young people?
Are we communicating with people who are critical of “the West” yet prepared to engage in dialogue?
Given the gender issues in the Islamic world, are we giving men and women equal opportunities to participate, are we contributing to a debate on this subject?
Are we helping to create an environment that fosters initiative/societal debate?
Are we promoting sustainability through network-building?
Might this be a pilot project that could be copied elsewhere?
Given the great interest in this issue, what are we communicating about Islam in Germany and relations with our own Muslim communities?
Will Germany’s image benefit from public awareness of our engagement?
The Arab word “qantara” means bridge. The internet portal Qantara.de contributes to the dialogue with the Islamic world.