Despite all "Dialogue of Civilizations" forums held worldwide with the purpose of bridging gaps between peoples of the world and combating all types of extremism and racism, and despite the big role played by the media to promote the principles of amity, tolerance and cooperation, Western media reports and publications intended to give the impression that these forums were nothing but a kind of talk and reality on the ground was the opposite. The talk about tolerance seemed to be circulated only among the elite without even reaching to public opinion circles or decision makers so as a new base for violence and hatred-free world is built.
Examples of the West's false calls for tolerance are so many, but here two stories proving Westerners' hypocrisy. Once, the US media reported bad news about an American citizen of a Syrian origin being arrested with an alleged "charge" of saving some people and animals from drowning amid the hurricane which hit the American coasts in 2005. News reports from America that time, pointed out that the peoples of the hurricane-hit areas, including those saved by Abdul Rahman Zaytoun, the US citizen of Syrian origin, had decided to celebrate the man by building him a statue to be a model of tolerance, humanitarian deed and sacrifice. But, all of a sudden, the man became wanted and he was later arrested by the FBI and led to solitary confinement with the pre-made charge of being an al-Qaeda member. Of course, the FBI's alleged "evidence" was that he was a Muslim of an Arab origin and that he didn't provide help out of humanitarian motives but to propagate Islam and al-Qaeda mentality.
This incident brings to the minds another story, this time of a Pakistani with a US citizenship. The man, who lived in New York, saw a dog attacking a child in a garden, so he hurried to save the kid. A person, who then introduced himself as a journalist, suddenly approached him and asked him about his name in order to prepare an article about the incident and publish it in his New York-based newspaper, but the man refused. The journalist told the man: "Well, I will write that a New Yorker saved a child from a mad dog with your picture beside." The man said: "I'm not an American, I'm a Pakistani. Next day, the shock was that the newspaper headlined the article as follows: " A Pakistani attacks a dog in a New York garden and the FBI suspects he belongs to al-Qaeda."
These two examples are true evidence of the West's deeply rooted hostility to the Arabs and Muslims, particularly in the United States. This leads to key questions; what kind of relationship will be established between the West and the East in the new millennium? Will it be that of conflict or that of cooperation? Will it be that of civilizations conflict or that of a cultural race based on cooperation and harmony among human beings? Many questions like these need to be answered by intellectuals and politicians.
Dr. Khalaf al-Moftah