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Clash or Confluence of Civilisations?

March 5, 2010

I was dead tired when I was flying from Cairo to London after the Alexandria conference. I had not slept properly during 4 nights stay in Windsor Palace hotel. I did not get a wink of sleep on the last day of the conference and left hotel early morning on Thursday. I was dead to the world immediately after boarding the plane in Cairo.

I could hear a British gentleman sitting behind my seat with Ruzanna telling her the concern of British people about the Muslims. He was talking about hate preaching Muslim Cleric Abu Hamja. It was like a flight of fancy for me. When we landed, the gentleman looked at me as if I were a Muslim. I wanted to meet and speak with the gentleman, who had expressed his serious concern about Muslims. I was returning with new understanding about Muslims so it was a contrast.

While waiting to collect baggage at Heathrow airport, the English gentleman came and stood next to me. After the hello and hi formalities again, he asked me about my impressions of Egypt. Listening my positive impression about the conference, Muslims and Egypt, he said: “That is alright but you know we are facing problems from Muslims here.”

“I am not saying that all Muslims are threat to us but here is serious threat from Muslims,” he said giving examples of 9/11, London bombing and Mumbai attack. “I am a devout Christian then how can I be an infidel?” he asked me as if I was telling him “you are infidel.”

I have a very positive feeling about the Muslim world after I attended the conference held under the aegis of ICFJ and UN Alliance of Civilisation in Alexandria where Christians, Muslims, Jews and Hindus reverberated their sentiment in one voice.

When some of our friends said “I am first Muslims then …” they were retaliated with arrows of words. Women participants from the Muslim countries reacted angrily saying “religion is a private matter and journalists should not make public their religious belief.” That was a very impressive expression in the conference.

Going further, Egyptian journalist Hani Shukrallah said: “There is no Muslim civilization or western civilisation, I believe that there is one human progression.” Who would disagree with his expression which really reflects the reality? If we start dividing the world on the basis of faiths then there will be many worlds- not just two: Western and Muslim. There will be the worlds of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and so on. That never ends. Those were the positive point of views. I had not expected such encouraging articulation about the convergence of Western and Muslim world. But there was one voice about human civilization. “Humanity.”

“A clash of civilisations is not inevitable,” writes Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the Economist. “A confluence of civilisations is entirely possible.” I see this completely attainable after attending and listening the conference and meeting, discussing and debating with people there. Only a handful of people with extremist posture have hijacked the Islamic agenda and are creating terror across the globe. “… Terrorism is a crime that is neither a holy war nor a struggle for justice,” Says Yudhoyono, president of the largest Muslim population country in the world.

There are over 2 million Muslims in the United Kingdom. But only a handful of people including “hate preaching Cleric Abu Hamja” are discussed as real threat. More than 10,000 Muslim doctors and nurses saving life of millions of people in the UK do not figure out but the four suicide bombers of 5/7 hang around in the mind of people. I am convinced that the uncompromising fanatic ideas are being strongly discarded in the Muslim world more than in the West. That is a positive sign for the confluence of civilisations.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. alia al-rabeo permalink
    March 6, 2010 3:37 am

    iam so happy to see how many journalist from the west have changed their opinion about muslims ,it is a postive sign as you said for you .but do you know ,it is a great postive sign for us,because the muslims all over the world need from the west to know them as a good people not as terriorsts ,thanks alot for your great artical .

  2. ranipani permalink
    March 6, 2010 12:21 pm

    Hi Alia, Thank you very much for your comments. Alexandria conference was very important to understand the viewpoints of the Muslim world. The liberal views expressed in the conference were very encouraging and positive.

    However, the extremists views- either in the West (against the Muslims) or in the Muslim World (against non Muslims) – must be rejected in one voice.

  3. Sasa Milosevic permalink
    March 6, 2010 3:13 pm

    Nice article.
    It is very important to talk with people. Talk and talk and talk again. People are afraid by things they do not know. Media are particularly guilty for that. Unfortunate, people very easy accept media images do not thinking too much about things they see, hear or talk. You are great analytic, Chiran, and it is characteristic of educated people and journalists, who observing things, even while sitting in plane. Keep the writing similar topics

  4. Chiranjibi permalink
    March 6, 2010 6:17 pm

    Thank you Sasa! This is what I felt but this is not so analytic. This is my feeling and observation.

  5. March 7, 2010 4:47 am

    Nice article.
    i agree with sasa we need to Talk and talk and talk again to know each other well. after that we must use our skills as a journalist to chang Media because we are making it not vice versa.

  6. Chiranjibi permalink
    March 7, 2010 5:29 am

    You are right Asma. The only point that can change the mindset of people is through dialogue. That is the only democratic and peaceful process to change conflicts.

  7. Ruzanna permalink
    March 8, 2010 12:33 pm

    I remember that episode Chiran. Glad you had a chance to talk to him. In addition to Sasa’s point, I would add, “listening” : we need to learn about each other more. Thanks for sharing Chiran.

  8. Chiranjibi permalink
    March 8, 2010 6:03 pm

    I fully agree with you Ruzanna, listening is certainly the part of dialogue. Thanks for your comment Ruzanna.

  9. March 9, 2010 6:53 am

    I like your article You know I just believe on humanitarian .I know it is my own philosophy that religion is your identification and just like your name .I believe that humanity first and then other thing because our father is Adam and mother is Eva so we are all brothers and sisters why we are killing to each other .We should protect our other brother and sisters too.We know they have different culture ,different language and different religion but they are from us.

  10. Chiranjibi permalink
    March 9, 2010 10:14 am

    My feelings echo with your statement, Saadia. I completely agree with you and if my memory is not short I still remember that you were the first to mention “humanity” when there was discussion about “religion” during the conference.

    We are human being so we are one with “different culture, different language, different religion” and different colour and ethnicity. Being the descendent of Adam and Eve, there should be no any clash and conflicts among us. Humanity comes first.
    Thank you Saadia for your superb comments.

  11. March 10, 2010 1:18 am

    You are right dear I was the first to mention the Humanity during the conference.

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