Successful launch of the book "Knowing the Religion of the Other"


Successful launch of the book "Knowing the Religion of the Other"

Wednesday, February 13         


With the presence of Eric de Rothschild, Jacques Toubon, Cheickh Al Jaber and the ambassadors of European countries and the Muslim world.



From left to right : Eric de Rothschild, Cheikh Al Jaber, Leah Pisar


From left to right: Ghaleb Bencheikh, Hubert Védrine, S.Exc. Filip Vucak, 

 Chief Rabbi Alexis Blum, Mgr Claude Dagens, Cheikh Al Jaber, Judith Pisar, Special Envoy for Cultural Diplomacy, UNESCO ; Leah Pisar, Philippe Gaudin, Pr. Waleed El Ansary, Rabbi 

Yann Boissière, Mohammed Moussaoui, Pr. Bernard Kanovitch, Mgr Jérôme Beau


From left to right:  Hubert Du Mesnil, director of the Collège des Bernardins


Jacques Toubon, Human Rights Defender




 Mgr Alexis Leproux


It was in front of a packed hall that Wednesday, February 13, 2019, at the Collège des Bernardins, a prestigious place of reflection, that took place the launch of the book "Know the Religion of the Other", a collection of texts written by experts, "approved by the highest authorities of Judaism, Christianity and Islam", representing the three monotheistic religions, on the initiative of Aladdin Project, an official partner of UNESCO.

An evening filled with reflections and exchanges around essential themes, a book that Renaud Girard, international columnist of Le Figaro, who presented the evening, described in these terms: "An essential book. If I were Minister of Education, I would put this book on the Philosophy program. ". Timely work as, Leah Pisar, President of the Aladdin Project, pointed out, "humanity seems to have an excessively short memory. We must warn future generations against the dangers that lie in wait again. "Its vocation," for Renaud Girard, “is to seize national consciousness when there is a risk of the specter of religious hatred returning. Indeed, we are confronted today with "growing tensions between the three monotheistic religions, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, as well as the instrumentalization of religion for political ends. "

The vocation of this book goes well beyond France’s national borders as Monseigneur Alexis Leproux, president of the Board of Directors of the College of Bernardins, emphasized in his welcoming address, because "the immense challenge of our time is to fight Ignorance …, which the Aladdin Project is providing a response to by having made it possible for the three main religions to write together a book designed to discover properly the religion of the Other. A necessity for Monseigneur Jerome Beau, Archbishop of Bourges, who pronounced the speech of Honor, considering that it is necessary, indeed, "to give each person the means to know his own religion as well as the religion of the Other. Knowledge of the Other requires removing prejudices. We need to tell each other what our anthropological bases are... we need to avoid syncretism ... a danger for all that would make us deny the point of view of the other because we would feel that our point of view is being threatened.” This was completed by this beautiful image of Ghaleb Bencheikh, President of the Foundation of Islam of France," Men need their two wings to fly: knowledge and sociability. But this sociability can only come with otherness. ". He added this optimistic note: "God created diversity by design. We will succeed in creating a prosperous and fraternal nation for all. "

The tone of the Speech of Honor given by Hubert Védrine, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, President of the Institute François Mitterrand, was somewhat less confidant as he tempered things by making this observation: "Because of their ignorance but also their fanaticism, I think there are actors in civilizational and religious ensembles, who consciously or not are looking for a clash ... In history, knowing the religion of the other often meant converting them. He added: "I am more of a realist by experience, and you are engaging in an idealistic approach. I do not want to go for a killjoy. “ He added, however,: "That being said, I find the ambition of Project Aladdin magnificent and courageous. "

For this is indeed the originality of this book, which aims to be an essential and so far unpublished educational tool for the training of theologians, imams, priests, pastors and rabbis, and which is also accessible to the general public, "in order to overcome obstacles created by centuries of distance "between the three religions, as emphasized by Rabbi René-Samuel Sirat, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois and Doctor Ali Gomaa, three personalities who participated in its elaboration.

Ann-Belinda Preis, Head of Section at the UNESCO - Intercultural Dialogue, Sector for Social and Human Sciences, highlighted the importance of this book and this evening at the first round table, on the theme "Getting out of the Crisis of Living Together: what Role for Religions?, when she noted: "What has been said here together with the book driven by the Aladdin Project could inspire us with an event like the one taking place tonight, but at an international level. "


From left to right: Antoine Bellier, Philippe Gaudin, Mohammed Moussaoui, Ann-Belinda Preis, Arnaud Schaumasse, François Clavairoly


First round table

François Clavairoly, president of the Protestant Federation of France, recalled, for his part, that "laïcité is the pluralistic condition of our modern societies, societies that emerged out of wars of religion from below, in humility," adding: "Whether God exists or not, the religious question remains strong. Each religion makes us face our responsibilities as citizens and must start by chasing its own demons so that we can build together a society that remains democratic.” At the same round table, moderated by RCF journalist Antoine Bellier, Philippe Gaudin, director of the European Institute for the Science of Religions, said he felt it was normal for us to be in a crisis because "we live in a full world - sciences, economics, law and politics - and this is our difficulty ", adding," I trust science, I am wary of people who despise economy and I believe that all people aspire to democracy and politics. "Key points were raised by Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the Union of Mosques of France and honorary president of the Council of the Muslim cult:" We must not instrumentalize religions. The Aladdin Project works in this direction, " and " Presenting the religion of the Other at home with respect and esteem is the first step in living together. He added: "Fraternity, unlike freedom or equality, does not really have any legal definitions. "

Praise for secularism was expressed with these words by Arnaud Schaumasse, Head of the Office of the Cults at the Ministry of the Interior: "Secularism is a regime that must allow everyone to live fully their convictions ... it is a tool to find bridges between each other’s beliefs. We can build with what everyone believes and thinks and not beyond that. " We must therefore "liberate secularism from the grip of one religion over another. And then, there is the question of the teaching of religion. "It's not about convincing one religion to be better than the other, but to show that History is cross-cultural and that this provides bridges between religions," he said. He concluded that one must have "the ambition of a good life for oneself and for others in fair institutions. "

Regarding dialogue and religion, Philippe Gaudin, director of the European Institute for the Science of Religions, drew this conclusion: "Any power wants all powers. Quoting Montaigne he added that it is therefore important that there be counter-powers. Moreover, "religions do not have to wait to be given a role to play. It's up to them to show their vitality.” Dialogue, of course, is necessary, "but on condition that there are dialogues everywhere. Another aspect, evoked by Ann-Belinda Preis, referring to Freud, "working on minds to fight against the impulse of hatred".

 "For having conducted an inquiry about the religious in prison, I think that religion is always two things at once: a pedagogy of the order received and also a pedagogy of indignation. It allows both accepting and refusing, " a conclusion drawn by Philippe Gaudin, director of the European Institute in Science of Religions.


Second round table

"Knowing the Religion of the Other": a strategy for religious formation in the service of living together. Why and how? This was the theme of the second round table moderated by Antoine Bellier, journalist with RCF. It was introduced by Rene Gutman, Grand Rabbi Emeritus of Strasbourg, for whom "The three of us - Jews, Christians, Muslims - are part to the truth. As far as he is concerned, "this book does not promise a magical solution to young theologians. It has been written to make it clear that the beauty of religions is to be found in the questions they raise ... and it will probably not be enough to ensure peace between religions.” However, patience is necessary, he added.

From left to right: Antoine Bellier, Chief Rabbi Alexis Blum, Rabbi Yann Boissière, Mgr Claude Dagens, Pr.Waleed El Ansary, Elias Tubiana, translator; Chief Rabbi René Gutman

"Without dialogue, each one of us will end up shrinking and being stuck in a corner. The duty of religion is to bring out plurality and promote fraternity,” Professor Waleed El-Ansary, an Islamic scholar at Xavier University emphasized and added: “if you take the example of the Israeli-Palestinian question, it is not so much religions as politics that create disaccord. There can be a theological dialogue on a level that will be different from political issues.” Yann Boissière, rabbi of the MJLF movement, believes that "the common mission of religions is to provide answers in a fluid world". He issued a warning as "human knowledge is made of curiosity and there is a risk of being convinced that one holds the truth.”  So, "today, the relevance of religions is their contributive function to society. They must bring new answers in our societies that are asking for them ". Without forgetting about secularism, as Bishop Claude Dagens, Bishop of Angouleme expressed when wishing " in the framework of secularism, to allow young people to express the reasons for their religious faith or their religious indifference. "

The great value of the book presented that evening was emphasized by Alexis Blum, Grand Rabbi Emeritus of Neuilly, as "knowing the religion of the Other, starts with having a global view of the practices and the beliefs of the religion of the Other.” And for Bishop Claude Dagens, "the destiny of this book depends on how it will be received" and it is therefore important that "this meeting should not just be an elitist meeting. It must go far beyond. "

Which is exactly what the Aladdin Project intends to achieve.


With the support of:

·         The Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah

·         Institut Alain de Rothschild

·         The MBI Al Jaber Foundation

·         Foundation’s Edmond J. Safra

·         Matanel Foundation

·         The Collège des Bernardins