The SOAR (Strengthening the security and resilience of at-risk religious sites and communities) project held a EU level Network Dialogue event on 16th March 2022 in Brussels. In attendance were selected representatives of the partnership and their networks and key agreed stakeholders- including the EU Commission, national government representatives, private and public sector architects and planners, religious leaders, and public authorities. Together the attendees identified challenges and opportunities for security by design for religious sites.

The EU-funded project SOAR aims at increasing the awareness of, and capacity to prevent and mitigate physical and human security threats to places of worship through Security by Design (SBD). The concept of ‘Security by Design’ incorporates security features into the design and fabric of the building and its urban context.

The project partners Enhancing Faith Institutions (EFI), the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, and the Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE) cooperate in this endeavour with an extensive network of professionals, including representatives from all majority and minority faiths practicing within the EU. The project is supported by the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations.

The aim of this network dialogue meeting was to discuss Security by Design (SBD) with selected representatives and private and public sector architects and planners, religious leaders, and public authorities such as police and fire services to:
a) share good practice through security by design examples of current religious sites from the EU and around the world.
b) learnings from attacks on religious sites and their outcomes which provide valuable insights into how assailants operate, and the level to which each attack was mitigated by protection measures in place, vigilance of the targets.
c) the response of the people in the building and the reactions of passers-by and the authorities.

Some key moments of the event are shared below: