The Conference of European Churches (CEC) conducted a training for Polish churches in Warsaw, focusing on crisis management and ways of ensuring security for religious communities. The training was held as part of the Safer and Stronger Communities in Europe (SASCE), a European Commission-funded project, carried out by CEC and other European faith organisations.
The hybrid event was held on 29 March in cooperation with the Polish Ecumenical Council.
The participants discussed how the low rate of violence in Polish society throughout the pandemic has recently been impacted by the Russian aggression on Ukraine. It was shared that security risks, challenges, and threats in Poland have been triggered by the war, which is reflected in the dynamics of ideologies related to religious identities and any association with them.
The participants identified other issues such as religiously motivated threats, challenges with Islamic militants in the public spaces, far-right extremists, and their activities, which are mainly online and include hate speech, hate crime, and cybersecurity issues. It was noted that these threats translate further into fake news, mostly onset by the war in Ukraine.
The training was conducted by CEC Executive Secretary for Human Rights Dr Elizabeta Kitanovic and Dr Tomasz Bialek, a retired Polish colonel.
The SASCE project was presented by Dr Kitanovic with an emphasis on two cases, namely the vandalism of the Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery in Nowa Wieś Ełcka, which took place in June 2021 in Poland, and the Halle case study in Germany, an attack on a synagogue during Yom Kippur in 2019.
“Cooperation with all religious communities and local authorities is the best way to keep our communities safe,” emphasised Dr Bialek in his message.
“Today’s meeting was of great importance in bringing Polish churches closer and to work more on security together, especially when we are faced with the challenges posed by the war in Ukraine,” said the director of the Polish Ecumenical Council, Rev. Dr Grzegorz Giemza.
On behalf of the Polish Ecumenical Council, Ms Weronika Kluza was nominated as the SASCE ambassador for Poland.