A Mosque in Sleepyville
1. Read out the description of the problem in the handout on page 85. Explain that all participants are citizens of Sleepyville and all are troubled by the problem of whether a new mosque should be built on a piece of derelict council land.
2. Show participants the list of different roles and ask everyone to select one for themselves.
Hand out the role-cards and the description of the problem and indicate where people and groups can meet up beforehand, and where the “Council Meeting” will take place later on.
3. Explain the rules of debate that will be used during the meeting.
4. Explain that there will be 30 minutes before the actual meeting so that people can meet other citizens, prepare what they want to say and decide how they want to vote! Tell them that the Town Council meeting will last 40 minutes, and that there may be very little time for actual speeches because of the number of people attending. For that reason, they should try to prepare just one or two points that they want to make.
5. Use the preparation phase to set up the space for the “Council Meeting”. Ideally people should sit in a semi-circle or horseshoe shape, with the Mayor at the front, in a slightly elevated position. Parties or groups should be able to sit together, and you should place their name-tags on the tables in front.
6. After 30 minutes, call the citizens for the meeting (or ask the Mayor to do so). He/she should remind people of the basic rules of debate and give a short speech to introduce the meeting.
7. At the end of the meeting, after 40 minutes, the Mayor should call for a vote. When the votes have been counted and the result declared, you should announce the end of the activity, and invite people to bring their chairs into a circle for the debriefing.
Debriefing and evaluation
1. Start the feedback round by greeting everybody by their real names or using another technique allowing participants to give up the roles they had assumed during the simulation. This is important to do before starting the debriefing.
Ask the participants what they feel about the process they have just been through:
• Were you surprised by the result of the vote, and did it reflect the position of the person you were playing?
• How much influence do you think you (in your role) had on the result?
• Did interaction with other people or groups make you alter your approach or your attitude towards the problem?
• How easy was it to identify with your role? Why or why not?
• Do you think that this situation could arise in real life? Can you think of any similar cases?
• How would you react if this case arose in your town / place of residence? Did the activity
alter your attitude at all?
• What do you understand by the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion?
Do you know of any cases in history (or today) when this right has been denied?
• Why do you think that religious freedom is a fundamental human right?
• To what extent do you think this right is observed in your community