Austria – Singapore: A Bilateral Initiative on Dialogue of Cultures and Religions
Between 21 and 24 June a Singaporean delegation of 7 members lead by Senior Minister of State Zainul Abidin Rasheed visited Vienna and took part in a programme arranged and accompanied by the Task Force "Dialogue of Cultures" of the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs. The programme included visits and meetings to federal, regional and local authorities, the University of Vienna as well as to several organisations and representatives active in the field of intercultural and interreligious dialogue.
The main objective of the jointly prepared dialogue programme has been giving insight into structures and activities of Austrian institutions dealing with immigration and integration, the management of ethnical and religious diversity, in particular the situation of Muslims and Islam in Austria and Europe, focussing on issues related to fundamental and human rights and anti discrimination regulations in Europe, and also giving insight into cultural institutions.
The public was invited to Senior Minister of State Zainul’s lecture held in the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna on 23 June 2010 focussing on “Managing social, cultural and religious pluralism and diversity – the Singapore experience” as well as to lectures held at the University of Vienna on "Managing Racial and Religious Harmony in Singapore" and "Singapore’s Muslim community’s experience in the promotion of social cohesion and religious harmony".
In a joint meeting, Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger, stressed the significance of the dialogue of cultures for the future bilateral relations Austria and Singapore. Senior State Minister Zainul Abidin Rasheed underlined the potentials for co-operation for both sides that should be further intensified in the economic, cultural and scientific fields. Furthermore the delegation visited the Austrian Parliament and the Local Government of Vienna and held meetings with Members of Parliament and officials. In the Austrian Integration Fund (ÖIF), the delegation was welcomed on highest level by the director and members of staff. Further meetings were held at the Islamic Religious Community in Austria (IGGiÖ), with the Muslim Youth of Austria and at ZARA (Centre for Civil Courage and Anti-Racism Work), CARITAS Austria, and the European Fundamental Rights Agency. The Austrian National Library presented a selection of Oriental Manuscripts to the Singaporean guests and offered a guided tour through the exhibition on "Jews, Christians and Muslims - Intercultural Dialogue in Ancient Manuscripts".