A fear and a rejection result from lack of knowledge. Xenophobia is like a poisonous mold. It occurs where enlightenment rays cannot truck through, and blight from the ignorance has existed over the years. At the last, this mold has eaten away its carrier. That is why it is so important to instil in children from early age a respect for the people’s otherness, to acquaint them with the diversity of the surrounding world, to talk about traditions, culture and customs of different nations, including religions, beliefs, and their histories.
The teachers of Ukrainian schools and higher educational institutions understand this simple truth. Moreover they put it into practice. They are trying to instill in their students the striving for inter-ethnic, inter-religious peace and cooperation. Often, in churches, preaching-houses, mosques, synagogues, dojoes, one can see not only the parishioners, but also guests, who came for information purposes. Recently, a group of children-pupils of a Kyiv private school has visited the Kyiv ICC mosque.
Tariq Sarhan, the head of the Islamic History and Culture Department of Kyiv Islamic Cultural Center met those small visitors. Schoolchildren learned about the countries, in which the most inhabitants were Muslims; Islam advent and its early days in the territory of Ukraine; principles of building up the relationships between different religious communities; approaches to establish friendship and cooperation between Muslims and non-Muslims.
It is pleasant to note that, according to the questions the children asked, they are less likely to demonize Muslims and identify Islam as terrorism, than some adults. Despite their young age, the children demonstrated a fairly good awareness of world religions and did not show any hostility towards believers of other faiths. Of course, this is not only due to their parents, but also due to their teachers’ efforts, who cultivate in their pupils a respectful and friendly attitude towards people.