The Shield project first workshop that was allocated to Italy timely took place on the 1st of December 2022 in Aula Magna of the Grande Moschea of Rome.
On the occasion, prominent institutional, social, religious guest speakers contributed to foster the interfaith efforts and brainstorm the complex phenomenon of violent extremism with aim to design new measures and guidelines to ensure the safeguard of the places of worship and the resilience of believers with different faiths.
Several religious representatives opened the workshop in a real powerful demonstration of interfaith dialogue.
There will be no peace in the world without peace between religions. And there will never be peace between religions if there is no dialogue, which must start from two concepts: love and fraternity.
Nader Akkad, the Imam of the Great Mosque of Rome, said in his opening speech. He added:
Mosques, churches, synagogues are the abodes of the Lord and we must protect them more than our home. We remain hand in hand to bring forward a new model in which all faiths feel like religious brothers and sisters.
Rabbi Rav Scialom Bahbout in his speech emphasized:
terrorism is changing form and adapting to new technologies”, therefore to counteract it, “we must remain united and help each other.
Monsignor Jean Marie Gervais, Coadjutor Prefect of the Chapter of the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, in underlining “the importance of security at the Vatican, with the agents engaged in this every day, without, however, disturbing the spirituality of the place”, also quoted from a speech by Pope Francis, who in 2016 asked to no longer justify the hate attacks claimed in the name of religion:
We must use mutual aid, dialogue and tolerance to defeat the phenomena of violence.
Then four panels of discussants – involving law enforcement, sister European projects and security experts – reported on the key topics of the workshop and the Shield project. From the risk and vulnerability assessment of places of worship, to the analysis of the current safety and prevention measures, trying to understand the limits for potential improvements. From the way to train the security personals, to the way to increase the awareness on a collaborative approach among the stakeholders.
On protecting places of worship, Mr. Arturo Varriale of the Ministry of Interior DCPP, highlighting the Italian approach carried out by the Police, said “ We invests our main efforts in prevention activity through a strong collaboration between security agencies, on the one hand, and a multi-agency cooperation including local authorities and civil society, on the other.”
Mr. Manuel Gonçalves, member of Portugal’s security services, explained the relationship between intelligence and risk management, focusing on risks related to places of worship and how intelligence services work in cooperation with LEAs.
One the sister projects invited in SHIELD’s 1st workshop, NOTIONES, has shown how new technologies could be helpful to intelligence practioners and LEAs to detect and combat international terrorism, including terrorism against places of worship.
In another session, dedicated to the SHIELD’s results, some members of the SHIELD consortium presented the results of research carried out on the protection of places of worship. In particular, on the one hand, the desk research carried out by SHIELD on attacks on places of worship since the 2000s was presented; this research is one of the most extensive ever produced. On the other hand, in the same session, the results of research carried out in the field were presented, in which a number of places of worship and the attacks they have suffered were analysed.
Finally, all participants had the opportunity to test some outputs of sister projects like the 3D reality simulation of training developed in Pactesur and the documentary film on the victims of terrorism and discriminations produced by the Center for Social Innovation.