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Three-day International Conference on Islamophobia, Integration and Identity
3rd Oct 2010

International Conference on Islamophobia, Integration and Identity

Dr. Mozammel Haque

DUBLIN: IRELAND: The first-ever three-day International Islamic Leadership Justice and Peace Conference on “Islamophobia, Integration & Identity,” organised by The European Muslim Council for Justice, Peace and Equality, was held from 28-30 September, 2010 at the Academy Plaza Hotel, Dublin, Republic of Ireland.

The Conference was officially opened by the Finance Minister of Ireland, Honourable Brian Lenihan, who was later on honoured with an Award by Prof. Dr. Shaikh Shaheed.Satardien, President of the European Muslim Council for Justice, Peace and Equality.

Prof. Hamid Al-Rifaie, President of International Islamic Forum for Dialogue spoke about dialogue. After that Prof. Sheikh Satardien honoured Sean MacBride, one of the Irish people who was Minister for Foreign Affairs and who opened dialogue with Saudi Arabia.

The Conference is dedicated to the memory of late Sean MacBride, one of the first Western figures of note to really engage with Islam. He led a tremendously varied life, the Ist stage of his life beginning joining the IRA at the age of 15 years, becoming Chief of Staff of the IRA at the age of 32 and he resigned from the IRA at the age of 33 and becoming a barrister. In the 2nd stage of his life, he became the Minister for Foreign Affairs at the age of 44 in 1948 – the period during which MacBride served as Minister for Foreign Affairs. He helped draft the European Convention on Human Rights and he continued in politics until 1961.

In the 3rd stage of his life, he was the founding member of Amnesty International and Secretary General of the International Committee of jurists from 1963 to 1971, Chair and then President of the International Peace Bureau in Geneva from 1968 to 1985, and President of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974, American Medal of Justice in 1975, and the Lenin Peace Prize in 1977 and he was awarded the UNESCO Silver Medal for Service in 1980.

In his welcome address, Prof. Satardien emphasised the inter-related and inter-dependent nature of the human community, and the inability of any culture or any economy to folly.”

Speaking about Islamophobia, Prof. Satardien said, “The Issue of Islamophobia – the fear of Islam – is an issue that must be tackled whether we like it or not. This is not an optional extra, an intellectual luxury or theological chess. We are talking about nearly quarter of the population of the world - now more than 1.5 billion people and perpetually growing. The portrayal of Muslims as ‘backward’, as ‘inherently violent’, and other similar descriptions is destabilising, on a communal and global level. In the ‘West,’ it leads to isolation – the opposite of integration.”

While presenting joint paper by Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, President of the World Muslim Congress and Prof. Dr. Hamid A. Al-Rifaie, President of International Islamic Forum for Dialogue, Prof. Al-Rifaie stated, “It is worth mentioning that the dialogue in Islam is not an end in itself. Indeed, it is a wise approach to achieve a venerable aim; it is the acquaintance among the followers of religions and cultures which opens a big door for the understanding among them. Mutual understanding in its turn, creates a safe climate among individuals and communities for cooperating and competition in the fields of life in order to achieve the best for people and for achieving a safe co-existence among communities.”

Shaykh Abd al-Wahid Pallavicini, President, Islamic Religious Community, Italy, said in his lecture, “true peace comes not only from justice and is not obtainable at any price – it will be based on higher justice that can only come from the mutual recognition of the spiritual validity of our different faiths within the Abrahamic tradition to which we all belong. What can really bring together sincere believers is the sense of ‘sacrifice’ in the original and etymological meaning of the word that of sacrum facere; to make every moment of our lives sacred, by means of the religious forms that God has given to each of us.”

Shaykh Pallavicini also mentioned, “For us as men of faith, evils dwell only in the deception that wants to make us look elsewhere and forget God. On the other hand, our familiar eschatology does not describe “the end of the world” but, in the words of Shaykh Abd al-Wahid Yahya Guenon, only “the end of a world.””

Abd al-Wadoud Gouraud of the Islamic Institute for Advanced Studies, while presenting his paper on “The Role of Muslim Western Scholars” said, “it is important to promote interfaith dialogue between representatives of Abrahamic religions in Europe, as an effective key to widely disseminate the spirit of respect and faithful cooperation that can counter religious-based discriminations, such as Islamophobia, and radicalisations. These disturbing and increasing phenomena are both far from the real knowledge and practice of the religious teachings and virtues that are common to true Judaism, Christianity and Islam; and so are they from civil rules and human values, which are as indispensable as the latter for achieving mutual respect, cultural and religious diversity and social cohesion.”

“Indeed, the lack of knowledge about religion in general, and about Islam in particular, risk creating grave confusions, prejudices and unjustified amalgams between terrorism and Islam, provoking phenomena of racism and Islamophobia. Because one cannot think that all immigrants and foreigners of Islamic culture and origin represent a potential danger for the EU’s security and its individual States,” he said and added, “In front of such an ignorance and misunderstanding, as Western Muslim Theologians and believers, we work hard to change wrong ideas and representations by clarifying and reminding our brothers as well as fellow-citizens what Islam teaches, for instance, as the true meaning of Jihad instead of the so-called Jihadists, the worth of peace over violence, the priority of knowledge over blind ignorance.2

Today, Wednesday, 29th September, the following papers were presented; the first paper on “Leadership, Islamophobia and Dialogue” was presented by Dr. Mozammel Haque from United Kingdom, second paper on “The Role of Government in the Promotion of Dialogue” by Dr. Farid Younus from America and third paper on “The reality and future of Pluralism and Co-existence” by Mufti Dr. Walid Hammoud from Finland and then Sheikh Satardien spoke on Serving own goals: Muslim feeding Islamophobia.

Dr. Haque, an Islamic writer, columnist, presented a paper on “Leadership, Islamophobia and Dialogue” wherein he has shown how misleader can sow seeds of hatred, mistrust and Islamophobia and how through proper leadership an atmosphere of communal harmony and tolerance can be fostered.

Dr. Haque has also elaborated in details the measures taken by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to promote interfaith dialogue and understanding. He has also narrated the course adopted by President Barack Obama of the United States of America to bring communal harmony between Islamic World and the West.

The Life-time achievement Award was given to Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, President of the World Muslim Congress, Dr. Hamid bin Ahmad al-Rifaie, President International Islamic Forum for Dialogue, Dr. Abdulaziz Othman Al-Twaijri, Director of ISESCO. They got the award for life-time achievement, award for excellence for the services they rendered to Islam in the first session.

Today, the “Distinguished Ambassador of Islam and Visionary of Peace” Award was given to Dr. Mozammel Haque, Media Advisor of Islamic Cultural Centre, London for his efforts for dialogue, justice and peace in the world. Dr. Farid Younus from America; Mufti Dr. Walid Hammoud from Finland also received the “Distinguished Ambassador of Islam and Visionary of Peace” Award.

 


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