Addressing the European Jewish Parliament in Brussels

May 18, 2012 § 2 Comments

I just returned from a short trip to Brussels where I had the pleasure to address the inaugural General Assembly of the European Jewish Parliament (EJP). The EJP is a collective effort of the Jewish community in Europe to come together on a regular basis and discuss issues of mutual concern. I was particularly impressed with the wide breadth of participation in the event – delegates came from traditionally large Jewish communities in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, but also from places like Azerbaijan, Turkey, and the Republic of Georgia.

I was invited to address the Parliament twice during my visit. In my first speech, which I delivered in the European Parliament building, I expressed my belief that Sephardic Jews from primarily Muslim countries can play an important role in fostering understanding between the Europe and the Middle East and discussed the important contributions Jews have made to the history and politics of Bahrain.

During my keynote address later that evening, I discussed Bahrain’s success in building a culture of tolerance and respect for religious minorities. During my time in Washington, many people I speak with are surprised to hear that churches, temples, and synagogues exist peacefully next to Bahrain’s many mosques. This is a source of pride for all Bahrainis.

I continue to believe that my story, that of a Jewish woman who rose to the heights of civil society in a predominantly Muslim country on my merits, has only been possible because I am from Bahrain. Opportunities like these are important to share Bahrain’s unique story of religious tolerance and religious freedom outside of a media narrative that ignores this important part of my country’s history.

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