Wed 13-12-2017 12:50 PM
ABU DHABI, 13th December 2017 (WAM) – Entering its third day, the 4th Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies this morning examined the causes of a ‘Fear of Islam’, from a Western perspective.
The panellists included Dr. Mohammed Al Bechari, President of the French National Federation of Muslims, Professor Stephen Weidner, a German writer and translator, Professor Dr. Sherman Jackson, from the University of Southern California, and Professor Dr. Hisham Hellyer, a senior fellow at the US-based Atlantic Council.
Dr. Jackson noted that there were two kinds of Islamophobia in the United States, one being ‘manufactured’ by opponents and the other being of a type he described as ‘genuine’, which he described as a fear that was genuinely felt, even though the causes of that fear were not real or justified. Only through a real engagement between followers of Islam and of other faiths in the United States would it be possible to address and to overcome the ‘genuine’ fear, he suggested.
Dr. Hellyer noted that there was a long, but often overlooked, history of Muslim engagement with Europe, as well as a long presence of local Muslim communities, adding that there were different historical perspectives and narratives, both within countries and more widely. In the period since the 9/11 attacks in the United States and the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005, it had become apparent that anti-Muslim feelings had become entangled with racialism, he said, suggesting that a re-examination of definitions would be of value.
Commenting from the floor, Abdul Wahid Pedersen, Secretary-General of Danish Muslim Aid, said that the fact that many mosques in Denmark used Arabic, Urdu or Somali as their languages of worship meant that it was difficult for non-Muslims in Denmark to comprehend and to engage with the Muslim community. His own mosque, he said, had adopted from mosques in the United States the practice of holding services in the national language – Danish – with the result that interaction with the rest of the community had improved.
[Image credit: 4th Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies - Twitter:@PPeacenews]