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A guide to protect places of worship

The European project ‘SHIELD’ has concluded with the publication of a guide to reducing threats to places of worship from violence and terrorist attacks.

Synagogues, churches and mosques are of vital importance for social coexistence and cohesion in the European Union; however, they have been, and can become, targets of potential terrorist attacks as witnessed in the last decade.

This has been one of the main reasons for launching the SHIELD project, funded by the European Commission’s Internal Security Fund (ISF) programme. The entities involved in SHIELD, including the Granada-based Euro-Arab Foundation for Higher Studies, are clear about the need to create a “cultural shield” that defends both individuals and religious communities, since, when talking about the physical security of infrastructures, aspects such as the environment, culture, social inclusion and inter-religious dialogue are underlined.

The project consortium was composed of eighteen partners from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Romania, research centres, intercultural institutes, local and security authorities and even religious associations with the common goal of identifying and proposing concrete solutions to burning issues of common interest, such as assessing the risk and vulnerability of places of worship to potential terrorist attacks.

Tackling extremism and protecting religious freedom

The establishment of projects such as SHIELD promote mutual understanding and increase respect, they also facilitate the meeting and sharing of knowledge, creating synergies. In this case, SHIELD has facilitated the development of a common strategy for reducing threats and increasing religious freedom. During the two years of the project, SHIELD has hosted several dialogue meetings aimed at countering religious extremism, with the co-participation of state security forces, the society and security and security technology companies.

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