9th October 2023
For 27 years, The Council for Religious and Life Stance Communities in Norway (STL) has gathered faith- and life stance communities for dialogue and worked politically to promote equal treatment of religious and life stance communities in Norway. We wish to build a society open to religions and life stances. A society with room for us all, regardless of what we believe in or don’t believe in. We call it a community of disagreement.
From the start it has been important to focus on Norway – not on distant or nearby conflicts. Our member organisations have the experience of being a minority in one place and a majority in another. They have members from all over the world, including areas where the relationship between different faith communities are more conflict-ridden than in Norway.
The conflicts in the Middle East and Israel-Palestine are no exception. This conflict is not for STL to solve, and we have made efforts not to let it set the tone for our dialogue work in Norway. This does not mean that the Israel-Palestine conflict does not affect us – it does. Among our member communities there are different opinions about cause and effect, blame and solutions to this conflict, like in other conflicts.
We stand together for the right to life for all, and we stand together in condemning Hamas’ terrorist attacks against arbitrary civilians that we have seen these last few days in Israel. We are concerned about the escalation we already see and which will also lead to great Palestinian suffering. We strongly denounce killings and abductions. We bear the victims and those affected on both sides in our thoughts.
We are concerned about how this affects our society, and we fear increased anti-Semitism and hate against Muslims. Both the small Jewish minority in Norway and our Muslim communities are especially affected by what is happening. We want to stand together for the right to life for all.
The dialogue between religious- and life stance communities in Norway is essential and have created strong bonds between us. It is a part of our country’s civil defence. In our Council we talk about sensitive issues and solve potential conflicts between faith- and life stance communities in Norway, and we do so calmly and in respectful disagreement. We shall continue to do so.
We will not let the situation in Israel and Palestine come in the way of our fellowship and our dialogue work in Norway. We call it unity in diversity.