(MENAFN - Editorial) In keeping with its mission to frame contemporary Islamic studies in a global context, the College of Islamic Studies (CIS) at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) recently organized a panel discussion on the growing tide of Islamophobia around the world.
Taking place February 2, Global Islamophobia: Understanding its Roots, Challenging its Impact joined the dots between what was once considered a uniquely Western phenomenon to recent events in China and India. Guest panelists were invited to draw comparisons and highlight differences between both manifestations before explaining why Islamophobia has effectively gone global. Consideration was also given to how Islamophobia can be confronted and rolled back at the local, regional and global level.
Global Islamophobia: Understanding its Roots, Challenging its Impact was informed by a dynamic mix of academic perspectives and thought leadership. The guest panelists were: Dr. John L. Esposito, Founding Director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding; Karen Armstrong, a British commentator on religion; Dr. Azra Azyumardi, Professor of History and Culture, Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University, Jakarta; and Dr. Asifa Quraishi-Landes, Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin-Madison. The panel was moderated by Dr. Nader Hashemi, Director, Center for Middle East Studies, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver. Together their expert knowledge has been accessed by senior policymakers, leading governmental and non-governmental organizations and charities, media, and fellow academics.
Karen Armstrong, a panelist and renowned author of best-selling titles including A History of God, The Battle for God, and her latest The Lost Art of Scripture: Rescuing the Sacred Texts, commented: 'Even though - or, perhaps, because our world is more closely linked than ever before - economically, ecologically, and electronically - people are retreating into ever more narrowly-defined ethnic, religious, political, and national groups. They enhance their own identity by denigrating or belittling the "other". We saw where this could lead during the twentieth century, which saw the Armenian genocide, the Nazi Holocaust, and the Serbian massacres.
'Islamophobia is only one of the products of this narrowing of horizons in the 21st century. It is therefore increasingly important that people of the East and West sit down together and reach across these fabricated divisions to find common ground and systematically deplore the misrepresentation that makes us enemies of our fellow human beings. The meeting in Doha between Western and Muslim scholars and the important conversation in the evening panel enabled us all to enter a little more deeply into these challenges. We look forward to repeating these discussions in the future.'
Speaking after the event, Dr. Emad El-Din Shahin, Dean, CIS, said: 'Once associated with populist movements in Europe and the United States, the Islamophobia phenomenon continues to mutate, escalate, and contaminate nations around the world – including affecting Qatar's regional neighborhood. However, efforts to tackle a now global issue cannot be developed in isolation from countries and regions where Islamophobia is an established problem.
'Our panelists have first-hand experience of the challenges posed by Islamophobia in its original heartlands. They also know what works when it comes to countering harmful narratives and negative perceptions. We're grateful that they shared their insights with our audience, students, and faculty members.'
The lecture will be made available on HBKU's YouTube Channel to access these insights. The College of Islamic Studies regularly holds events to highlight its research activities and projects. For more information, please visit cis.hbku.edu.qa.