Dominic AsquithHMA, Cairo
The way that some have reacted to the murder, however, deeply troubles me because it is (perhaps unintentionally) creating conditions for a more vicious cycle of distrust between Muslims and non-Muslims. To conclude from Marwa’s death that the whole West is Islamophobic cannot be right. I know from personal dealings with my own political leaders how untrue that is. They continually try to find ways to create the conditions for building trust. They sincerely and passionately believe it. To call for dialogue between the faiths to be closed down cannot be right either. Now more than ever there needs to be trust and respect – and that can only come from understanding and therefore contact.
I spent most of last night with an extraordinary group of people engaged in humanitarian work around the world. They came from different faiths and were extremely devout. But what chiefly motivated them was to reinforce the point that the concept of humanitarian assistance was not a “western” but a common principle. One of them told me how he had succeeded over the past decade in ensuring, for example, that Christian Aid, Caritas and Islamic Relief had been contributing funds to each other’s projects – madrasas in Asia or schools in Central America.
At the heart of this lies the requirement to change mindsets. It is not easy to get rid of personal prejudices or to be honest about one’s own faults. My question to you who read this is: how do we best do this in a way that builds trust? Please send me your ideas.
15 July 2009