.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Muslim "dialogue"

There was a conference last week in Copenhagen for 25 selected international Muslim youth to "dialogue" with Danish youth, to "build bridges."

It was marred by one Muslim preacher who insisted that Denmark owed the Muslim world an apology, but otherwise the Muslim participants thought it went well, according to Egypt's Al-Ahram.

No wonder. Look at what they consider the success of their "dialogue":
The first day of the two-day conference was dedicated to dialogue among the youths. They discussed who Islam's prophet is; what Islam is all about; freedom of expression from the Muslim point of view; respect of the other's holy scriptures. Young Muslim participants also proposed practical projects encouraging mutual respect and co-existence.

"The Danish youths were impressed and we, too, were very happy to find that many Danes are friendly to foreigners, had no biases against Arabs and Muslims, and in some cases, wore the Palestinian scarf to show solidarity with the Palestinian issue," Barakat said. The impression was based on field survey the young Muslims carried out, talking to Danish people in the streets, and asking them questions about the cartoon crisis.

"Many said they were against the publication of the offensive cartoons, but that they were equally offended to see their flags and embassies burnt," Barakat went on. "The dialogue was indeed a step forward on the way to building bridges. People should realise that the Danes are not a single entity and that we still have friends there. It's enough to know that we left with tears in our eyes."

Once again, the Muslim idea of dialogue is to have an opportunity to preach without having to listen to the other side's point of view. Nowhere does the author say that "I had never realized how important free speechwas inthe West" or anything remotely resembling a change of his attitudes or opinions. Only that he felt he impacted Danish thinking.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a dialogue - this is a monologue, a lecture under the pretext of being two-sided. And almost every single time you hear the word "dialogue" in the context of Islam they really mean the opportunity to spread their message, whetherit is religious or political (and usually the two are one and the same.) As can be seen, the recommendations of the conference are completely one-sided:
The conference concluded with recommendations, including the establishment of a cultural centre in Denmark, adding some information on Islam in school textbooks and promoting dialogue with various parties.


Of course, even this one-sided "dialogue" is criticized by Islamists:
The very concept of promoting dialogue with the Danes, even though the Danish government insisted it will not apologise for the cartoons, had already been a bone of contention among Islamic scholars. Many, like Qatar-based Egyptian Islamic scholar Sheikh Youssef El-Qaradawi, who heads the European Council on Fatwa and Research, argued that dialogue is an unwanted compromise for the time being. The Danish government, El-Qaradawi said, had blown the matter out of proportion when it refused to apologise or meet a delegation of Muslim figures to settle the matter. Meanwhile, El-Qaradawi was happy that "what happened in Denmark has stirred the Islamic world to move and unite after suffering long years of rifts."
But then we return to our theme of pretend bridge-building when it is actually buildin a mosque in Copenhagen:
For Khaled, however, the cartoon crisis should be invested to build bridges with the West, eliminate misconceptions and stereotypes about Islam and abort attempts by antagonists to Islam to attract neutral non-Muslims to their side and alienate Muslims. Which was, more or less, the same conclusion reached by 170 Islamic scholars at a recent conference in Qatar. The conference concluded that while public furor was only a normal reaction to the cartoons, it was high time for more dialogue with the West.

Prominent Al-Ahram columnist and Islamic thinker Fahmi Howeidi, however, insists that Khaled, although a "superb preacher", was not qualified enough for the job. Howeidi argued that fostering dialogue with the West involves many "sophisticated dossiers" that need the efforts of more experienced Western- based organisations that are acquainted with the Western mentality and legally complicated issues like freedom of expression and coexistence. Howeidi expressed widespread fears that Khaled's initiative would be abused by the Western media in attempts to abort more serious efforts by such well-known Islamic organisations as the World Islamic Conference.

Khaled had also repeatedly said he was greatly encouraged to launch the initiative "after 93 per cent of some 100,000 Muslim youths polled opted for a dialogue with the Danish people."

A very long article about dialogue without a single example of dialogue - only preaching and lecturing, not a bit of learning about the West or accepting the legitimacy of Western thinking.

It is important to realize when we are being taken for a ride.