2nd Training of trainers for the protection of religious sites – Warsaw 13th May 2022

Polish National Security Association together with DG HOME of the European Commission organized another training devoted to the protection of religious sites against terrorist attacks. The training, like the one held on 14 March 2022, was under the honorary patronage of the Head of the National Security Bureau. Participants included representatives of the Catholic Church, among others, from the largest Polish cities, representatives of the uniformed services, state security officers, and representatives of governmental and local governmental institutions dealing with security issues. The University of Lodz was represented by Dr Rafał Batkowski (key expert of the ProSPeReS Project). During his presentation he familiarized the participants with the main assumptions and ideas of the EU project implemented by an international consortium and aimed at improving security at places of worship (project ProSPeReS- Protection System for large gatherings of people in Religious Sites).


The workshop on challenges and good practice in protection of places of worship – 21.04.2022

On 21 April 2022, within the framework of the PoSPeReS project, a workshop devoted to the issue of protection the places of worship to terrorist threats was held via an online platform. The meeting was organized by the University of Lodza and , KEMEA. The meeting , was attended by representatives of religious communities from various EU countries as well as representatives of various services and institutions interested in the issues of security in a broad sense. During the workshop the results of the current work carried out in the framework of (WP2) Vulnerability Assessment & Needs Analysis of Religious sites, specifically the activities undertaken in the area of Activity 2.3 (Investigation of additional case studies in Europe- identification of common and distinctive challenges, risks, gaps, and good practices) were presented and discussed. The meeting was opened by the project coordinator Mr. Marcin Podogrocki from the University of Lodz, who briefly presented the agenda of the meeting and the planned order of speeches.

Then, the representative of the Orthodox Church in Greece expressed his Easter wishes to the participants of the consortium and thanked for their commitment to improving security at religious facilities. After presenting the introductory issues, Konstantinos Apostolou from Center for Security Studies (KAMEA) – leader of WP2 pointed out the key tasks of the conducted work in the field of Vulnerability Assessment & Needs Analysis of Religious sites and described the manner of proceeding with the use of diagnostic tool based on VAT/VAC by DG HOME (which was used, during the workshops at religious sites in Ioanina, Lodz and Warsaw). Next, Dr Rafał Batkowski, key expert from the University of Łódź, referred to the conducted visits religious facilities in StatesEU countries and introduced speakers representing expert institutions, services and religious communities from: Finland (Hellenberg International), Poland (WSB University, UL § Jewish Community, SO § Wroclaw Regional Police HQ, SGSP) and Greece (KEMEA), the Netherlands (DITSS).  During short presentations, results of case studies religious facilities such as Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Evangelic Churches, Synagogues and a Mosque Church were presented. The vulnerabilities in security systems and ways to address them were also demonstrated. After the break, the floor was taken by Koralia KONTOU from the European Commission (DG Home & Migration), who topresented key areas for future activity (including the creation of guides to improve awareness at places of worship, and future synergic actions as part of a broader campaign to improve security at places of worship).

The next speakers were experts who are retired officers of the Polish special forces (GROM formation), who pointed out the risk of using improvised explosive devices in religious facilities. During the speech, the consequences associated with the potential use of pyrotechnic in churches, and ways to neutralize and counteract this type of threat were presented.

The last session was a panel discussion led by Konstantinos Apostolou and Rafal Batkowski with invited representatives of faith-based organizations. The panelists were: Iman Atta – Director – Faith Matters, Leslaw Piszewski – President of the Jewish Community of Warsaw,  Juhani Korte – Parish Dean, Evangelic Church, Alan Wąsowski –  Archdioces of Lodz.  In addition, Mr. Alessandro Calgano – COMECE and Mr. Athinagoras Soupourtzis, Archimandrite of the Greek Orthodox Church – delivered their opinions on paper.   Panel members talked about their perceptions of the safety of worship and worshippers based on their personal experiences, taking into consideration distinct needs and challenges of each representative religious community. Participants had the opportunity to share experiences and ask questions. The discussion was successful and all questions were answered. The workshop ended with conclusions and comments that will be useful on the next stage of activities.

Panel for students – The Role of Interfaith Dialog in Limiting and Preventing Mass Atrocities

On 23 March 2022, as a  part of the 3rd day of the 18th Science Festival at WSB University, a panel for students was organised within  the planned events of  WP7  Awareness raising campaign of ProSPeReS project.

Objective of the panel peruse  the main goal of project which is to strengthen the security of religious sites. The panel was concentrated to:

  • Experience and best practices with radicalisation and violent extremism with focus on religious sites/public places with a high concentration of people,
  • Dialogue between religious sites operators, security units, managing, local and governmental authorities and the communities.

The lecture on the role of inter-religious dialogue in countering the threat of terrorism and mass atrocities was led by Adrian Siadkowski, PhD, prof. AWSB, with special participation by Piotr Cywiński, PhD – Director of the Auschwitz – Birkenau Concentration Camp Museum. In his interview, the Director drew attention to the parallels between past and present, the role of interreligious dialogue and the attitude of the Orthodox Church towards the current war in Ukraine triggered by Russia’s attack on a sovereign and independent country. We invite you to watch the interview.

Training of trainers for the protection of religious sites – Warsaw 14 March 2022

Polish National Security Association together with DG HOME of the European Commission, acting under the honorary patronage of the Head of the National Security Bureau, prepared trainings dedicated to the protection of religious places from terrorist attacks.

The first one, organized with the support of the Center for Crisis Protection and Management of the European Jewish Congress, was dedicated to the representatives of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland. Dr. Rafał Batkowski, the representative of the University of Lodz and the key expert of the Prosperes Project, also took part in the meeting. During his short speech, Dr. Rafał Batkowski presented the assumptions of the project, the plan of undertakings within particular working groups and pointed out to the need of constant improvement of cooperation between European partners in order to improve the security of religious buildings. The presentation met with great appreciation among the audience.

The next training will be attended by representatives of the Catholic Church. Representatives of the Polish Police and State Protection Service will also participate in the trainings.