Al-Azhar University in Egypt recently hosted a symposium to shed light on the importance of peaceful coexistence between different religions. The symposium also included discussions on countering extremism and hate speech.
Under the title “Islam and the West: Diversity and Integration”, Al-Azhar University, the oldest university in Egypt, held a conference which involved both local and Western scholars. Al-Azhar, which is regarded as the most prestigious university in Sunni Islam, has often been at he centre of cross-civilisational and cross-cultural dialogue, with this latest conference demonstrating the institution’s willingness to tackle the false issue of the clash of civilisations and to promote understanding between societies instead of rivalry.
Scholars from Al-Azhar addressed the perception of rivalry between Islamic and Western civilisations, stating that coexistence between so-called Western and Eastern societies is possible through honest dialogue.
“In the East, there are defects and disadvantages that contributed to the spread of the phenomenon of Islamophobia among Western crowds. One of the most serious defects is the suspicious silence regarding terrorism, which has enabled armed political movements to link Islam to its terroristic crimes”, said Dr Sayyed al-Tayyib, a sheikh at Al-Azhar University.
Dr Al-Tayyib’s comment is linked to the lack of honest discussion about root causes of terrorism, Islamophobia and misunderstandings caused by isolated violent incidents and movements.
The conference was also attended by Egyptian Christian community leaders, whose presence at such events is of importance for Egypt especially in the aftermath of terrorist attacks against the community last year.
“These seminars and calls will bring us together and enable us to understand each other. Thus, it forms a very important ground for coexistence”, remarked Alqas Bols Haleem, the official spokesman for the Coptic Church in Egypt.
Over the course of three days, the participants will discuss a number of issues including the development of relations between Islam and the West, the relationship between Muslims and Europeans, immigration, and the future development of these issues, in an attempt to mitigate the negative effects of these problems.