West slammed over failure to communicate with Muslim world
|Thursday, July 3,2008 09:21|
|By Khalid Hasan|
WASHINGTON: Western governments should engage those Muslims who matter, instead of simply pretending that no differences exist between Muslims and others, according to Islamic scholar Genieve Abdo.
She criticises those in the West, especially the growing number of scholars and politicians engaged in “interfaith dialogue”, who rather than deal with extremism, avoid the discomforting work of addressing global conflict that in hindsight makes the Cold War look like a small ethnic squabble. Those who emphasise the commonalities between Islamic and Western societies and among the three Abrahamic faiths, downplay or avoid completely the very real differences as if they don’t exist and make Westerners feel comfortable by convincing them that extremism is a temporary phenomenon that exists only on the fringes of Islamic societies.
“Happier narratives” about Muslims help large institutions as well as smaller organisations that focus on the benign and irrelevant exercise of “interfaith dialogue” raise millions of dollars from US foundations and governments in the Persian Gulf. The Saudi royal family has a great interest in downplaying the divide between Muslim and Western societies. “Merely embracing Muslims who are already converted to a Western school of thought while shunning and alienating those who have influence over the very extremists who challenge the West’s vision of the world is not only misguided, it is dangerous. By avoiding the fact that there are profound differences between Muslims in the East and non-Muslims in the West, we are hindering solutions that could prevent the next terror attack in London, Madrid or Washington, Abdo argues.