Obama Can Engage Muslim World: Mowahid

Mowahid Shah addresses American University students in Washington, DC on
Western-Muslim connections


Washington, DC: President Obama's speech in Cairo last year was a rejoinder to the notion of clash of civilizations and he is well-placed to lead constructive engagement with Muslim countries, Mowahid Hussain Shah, a noted expert on the Middle East, and a regular columnist of Pakistan Link said.
The United States can play such a role by following its own proclaimed values of fairness, due process, and rule of law, Mowahid stated at a talk at the American University.
He argued, speaking in the backdrop of post-9/11 turmoil and Afghanistan and Iraq wars, that both the West and the Muslim world need to look inward and move forward with an honest and courageous assessment of their policies and actions.
 "The three religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam had their origin in the same region, so the notion of so-called clash of civilizations is wrong and intellectually fraudulent," he emphasized in the talk on Western-Muslim relations.
Mowahid pointed out that extremist tendencies are not specific to any one society or country and cited several examples of violent manifestations from contemporary events in some of the leading Western countries. He said the best course to bridge differences is
to address political tensions.
 "Peace will only come through resolution of longstanding disputes including Palestine and Kashmir," the gifted Pakistan Link columnist said. He remarked that occupation of territories inflames militancy while lack of governance in Muslim countries allows it to spread.
Mowahid said oversimplification of issues, deployment of religion- based stereotypes and use of hate terminology are other factors that give rise to feelings of confrontation and therefore need to be discouraged everywhere. He said Obama has done well by resisting the use of inflammatory language as practiced by the previous Bush administration officials.
In the Muslim world, the intelligentsia has to come up with an enlightened response to dissatisfactory political and socio-economic conditions that affect progress of people, he said.
Dr Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at the American University, underlined in his introduction the key importance of having a clearer understanding of contemporary issues to move forward.



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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