This story is from the experience I had when I went to Germany for a one week academic program at Bremen University about four years ago. I had two roommates in my hotel room and we were all from different regions and different social and religious backgrounds. One was from Romania and the other was from Germany( I prefer not to mention their religions in this story.) For no obvious or known reasons, there was some kind of misunderstanding and mistrust between us during the first two or three nights. We really seemed to be educated and open-minded people and were doing pretty well out of the hotel in the academic program, but didn’t feel comfortable being with each other in the room.
The two guys freaked out when they knew that their roommate (me) was a Muslim coming from Yemen. In my first night at the hotel, they seemed to be very afraid of me and treated me as if I was a terrorist. I don’t really think they could sleep that night. They were asking me some questions about Islam and that if I was religious and pray. I told them I am a Muslim and I pray. One asked me what I think about Jews and Jerusalem issue and the other one asked if I had Christian friends back home. I told them they should not be worried to have a Muslim roommate and explained that Muslims are not terrorists and that Islam, Judaism and Christianity worship the same God and share certain sacred texts and the study of them can be particularly helpful in understanding and identifying shared values. Days one and two were hard for all of us, but the discussions we had in the hotel helped us become good roommates and good friends for ever. We were talking and discussing about our religions, social and political backgrounds and thoughts and exchanging ideas and perspectives on some things and issues that matter to us.
Personally , I used to think and pretend that I was accepting and very open person to the other religions since I have friends from different countries and backgrounds and have been abroad several times, but I really learnt a lot from this experience.This experience, looking back, was an interfaith dialogue where we had to reach a solution in order to repair the misunderstandings between us.
This is just one example of the important work produced YaLa’s citizen journalists, a program funded by the European Union’s Peacebuilding Initiative in order to enable young leaders from across the Middle East and North Africa to document and share their experiences of the region.