By Robin Marsh
Renowned scholar Professor Akbar Ahmed is on a tour around Europe on a research project to write a book on, ‘Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Empire’. Last night UPF-UK had the honour to host one of the programmes on the tour. The tour is being supported by ‘Muslims, Trust and Cultural Dialogue’ represented by Prof. Peter Morey and others last night. One of Prof. Ahmed’s team, Asmaa Soliman, who is also a core team member of YouthUPF, was the MC and one of the main organisers of the event.
Professor Ahmed explains, ‘The lessons of a society in which different religions and cultures can live together, create art together, and worship freely while respecting each other, is a desperately needed model to guide us today.’ He highlights several eras in European history, like Cordoba’s ‘La Convivencia’ when this occurred. Please see below for the written explanation of the Tour.
I had the opportunity to introduce Universal Peace Federation and mention Father Moon’s response to 9/11 was to sponsor three intra-Muslim dialogue conferences in Jakarta, London and Washington DC at which the then President of Indonesia (Gus Dur) Wahid and his wife participated along with many other dignitaries from across the Islamic world.
Last night was an opportunity for Prof Akbar’s team to feature the artists in his documentary and to interview them. They think that the sphere of arts and culture is relevant and want to shed light on Muslims’ involvement in creative arts that is unfortunately often ignored in mainstream media. This was organised in collaborationEntertainment with ‘Rumi’s Cave’ including comedy, poetry, song, art and rap.
Professor Ahmed introduced Commander Mak Chishty of the Metropolitan Police explaining that he is the highest ranking Police Office from a Pakistan community background. He is currently the Commander for West London with pan London responsibility for Anti-Social Behaviour, Drugs & Alcohol, Hate Crime and Children & Young People. He is the national lead for the sensitive area of honour killings on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers, helping to formulate policy on a national level. Commander Chishty emphasised the need to counter alienation among young people that leads them to fight in Syria or similar conflicts.
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