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[casi] Speech at the Tolerance Award Ceremony (Fwd)

Dear List,

This is a speech by Prince El Hassan of Jordan
relating to tolerance - and Islamophobia. He does
a lot of work on that. I hope no one takes umbrage
because it's a bit off-topic.

I like the way he tells this western audience that
western culture, however admirable, is not the centre
of the universe.

Elga S.

<Start Fwd>

Eulogy by HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal at the Tolerance
Award Ceremony for Former President Professor Dr. Roman
Herzog at the Evangelische Akademie
Tutzing, Germany, 14 May 2000


Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is comprehension that we should seek; for comprehension
precedes understanding, which in itself prevents any clash
of cultures. Comprehension can only develop out of
interaction and dialogue so as to overcome stereotypes and
eliminate misconceptions. Just as Orientalism is important
we should also promote what has come to be known as

This idea is clearly outlined in your [President Herzog's]
book "Preventing the Clash of Civilisations - A Peace
Strategy for the 21st Century", where you places a strong
emphasis on dialogue. As a Muslim, like many other
Muslims, I recognise that dialogue is an effective tool
capable of building bridges of cooperation between
representatives of different faiths and cultures, giving
exposure to different perspectives, serving to enlarge
areas of agreement.

Most importantly, dialogue encourages the holders of
conflicting opinions to recognise that neither side has a
monopoly on the truth; rather that the two share this
truth between them and that each has a vision which is
incomplete without the other.

Distinguishing boundaries between civilisations is surely
to ignore the ongoing debate over their definition. The
global effort to eradicate anti-Semitism, apartheid,
Islamophobia and xenophobia is certainly of prime
importance, but it is also time now to work for another
goal, to work for the development of a Parliament of
Cultures, a proposal which I recently presented to the
International Parliamentary Union (IPU) in their last
meeting in Amman.

For when we consider the question of minorities and the
conditions of tolerance, we have to immediately realise
that there is a difference between the recognition of the
great contribution of Western culture to human
civilisation and its impact on other cultures, on the one
hand, and the claim that modern Western culture is alone
capable of generating progress, democracy and modernity on
the other.

Through working towards a "single world" built upon ten
thousand cultures, *** a world in which commonalities are
the foundations and the peculiarities are the
cornerstones, we can truly achieve a world characterised
by cooperation, a world that works together "for"
something, rather than "against" something.

When Dr. Andrea Pacini wondered whether one could
legitimately compare the term "Western" - a geographical
term that includes a cultural meaning - with what is
obviously a religious term "Islamic", I am reminded that
Islam sprung from the same sources and convictions as
Judaism and Christianity. Islamic and Western
Civilisations are together grounded in a combination of
Semitic monotheism and Greek philosophy. There is no
irreconcilable dichotomy.

Distinguished Guests:

Any world-wide proposal, in order to have legitimacy for
all concerned, must be related to the various religious,
cultural, legal traditions. If this can be done,
globalisation will not be perceived as a western or
American imposition on the rest of humankind.
Globalisation will be accepted as a way to modernize and
enlarge each tradition while remaining faithful to its
roots. By the same token, each tradition will discover
that the challenges human beings faced for centuries were
met in more or less similar ways. In doing so, different
civil societies might be inclined to accept the other as a
brother sharing the same human destiny and not as a
potential enemy or barbarian.

Quoting the well-known Asian phrase, Professor Peter Graf
once said: "If the winds of change are blowing, some build
up walls, whilst others set up windmills", I am glad to
say that our windmill is an ethic of human solidarity
based on the respect for life. It incorporates a
responsibility towards future generations, a protection of
the human habitat, as well as a sense of altruism nurtured
by a sense of mutual interest and a recognition of human
dignity and worth. To quote Cicero, one of the greatest
Roman orators, "There is no duty more indispensable than
that of returning a kindness. All men who distrust are
forgetful of a benefit."

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

I come from a country yearning for peace, but at the same
time suffering from the fear of peace, the fear of the
other. The time is long overdue for the construction of a
culture of peace that employs pragmatic and effective
methods to eliminate strife and give people tangible proof
of the viability of peace.

During your [President Herzog's] visit to Jordan, you gave
strong impulses to mobilise all possible efforts to
achieve this noble goal of peace. You are a person who
believes strongly in equal rights and obligations and you
dedicate your personal and professional life to tolerance
in all fields of human life.

If I may, I would like to quote a few words from:
Goethe's Faust Part I

(The following is the English translation of the quote.)

[When in our narrow cell each night, The lone lamp sheds
its friendly light, Then from the bosom doubt and fear,
Pass off, like clouds, and leave it clear, Then reason
reassumes her reign, And hope begins to bloom again, And
in the hush of outward strife We seem to hear the streams
of life.]

I would also like to read you some words from Ibn Arabi,
Spain, 1165-1240

'My heart is open to all the winds: It is a pasture for
gazelles And a home for Christian monks, A temple for
idols, The Black Stone of the Mecca pilgrim, The table of
the Torah, And the book of the Koran. Mine is the religion
of love. Wherever God's caravans turn, The religion of
love Shall be my religion And my faith.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you very much.

Frieden, Salam.

*HRH Prince El Hassan, November 1998
** Disturbing the Peace, pgs.10-12.
*** Professor Malitza: One World, Ten Thousand Cultures.

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