Confronting Islamophobia

UN Chronicle, December 2004 | Go to article overview

Confronting Islamophobia


The "Unlearning Intolerance" seminar series resumed on 7 December 2004 at UN Headquarters in New York. The groundbreaking series, organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI), aims to raise awareness by examining manifestations of intolerance and exploring ways to promote mutual respect and understanding among different cultures. Attended by more than 600 participants, the seminar devoted to "Confronting Islamophobia: Education for Tolerance and Understanding" is the first of its kind held at the United Nations. An accompanying exhibit entitled "Islam", by Iranian photographer Abbas, former President of the Magnum photographers' cooperative, was also launched that day. The first seminar in the series on "Confronting Anti-Semitism" took place on 21 June, with Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel as the keynote speaker (see UN Chronicle, issue 2, 2004).

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In his welcoming remarks, UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Shashi Tharoor, who moderated the day-long seminar, noted that "no one is born intolerant, only taught to be so". In his opening address (see page 4), Secretary-General Kofi Annan outlined a multi-dimensional strategy for effectively combating Islamophobia: limiting the influence of hate media, embracing laws, education, leadership, integration, interfaith dialogue, policy awareness and combating violence carried out in the name of religion.

Starting his keynote speech by saying that it was "very easy to learn intolerance and unlearn tolerance, but difficult to unlearn intolerance", Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University, traced the root causes of Islamophobia. Noting that it referred back to the rise of Islam, he stated that the Christian West's fear of Islam was both religious and political, adding that this dark reservoir of historical consciousness had been resurrected in the past decade, leading to new waves of fear and hatred.

Mr. Nasr said four "myths" about Islamophobia needed to be dispelled. The first was that Islam was a monolithic whole--a presumption, often found in the Western media, that disregarded the various schools of Islamic thought. Another illusion was that Islam wanted to rule over the Western world, he said. The Islamic world was not anti-Western in itself because, according to surveys, some 70 per cent of adolescents in Islamic countries were interested in studying in the West. Similarly, it was false to believe that Islam was against modernity or democracy, as it affirmed the inherent dignity of each human being. Finally, Islam was a religion of tolerance, he stressed. Over the centuries, Islamic countries had frequently shown more understanding towards non-Muslims--accommodating Jews or Christians fleeing persecution--than Muslims generally had received in their societies.

In combating Islamophobia, Mr. Nasr concluded, it was important to take into account not only the role of extremism in Islam but also among Christians and Jews. The paradox was that many people afraid of Islam knew very little about it. Muslims needed to utilize the media and the role of education in fighting intolerance, the professor said. Three important groups in the West were crucial in overcoming Islamophobia: well-intentioned citizens who knew that hatred bred hatred; honest scholars whose voices needed to be heard; and Muslims themselves who sought to bridge the existing gap with the West.

The Islamophobia seminar featured three panels, comprising prominent scholars, writers and community leaders from all over the world. The first panel discussion on "Perspectives on Islamophobia Today" featured Ahmed Kamal Aboulmagd, Vice-President of the Egyptian Council for Human Rights and Professor of Public Law at Cairo University; Hany el-Banna, President of Islamic Relief, London; John L. Esposito, Professor and founding Director of Georgetown University Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding; Asma Gull Hasan, author of American Muslims: The New Generation; and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, President of the American Sufi Muslim Association. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Confronting Islamophobia
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.