Prince Ghazi fears the worst if interfaith tensions flare

July 30, 2008

“Christians and Muslims routinely mistrust, disrespect and dislike each other, if not popularly and actively rubbish, dehumanize, demonize, despise and attack each other.”
Hmmm … this doesn’t sound like your usual speech at a conference on Christian-Muslim dialogue.

“With such an explosive mix, popular religious conflicts, even unto genocide, are lurking around the corner.” Um, er … the gloves are really off.

“God forbid, a few more terrorist attacks, a few more national security emergencies, a few more demagogues, a few more national protection laws, and then internment camps, if not concentration camps, are not inconceivable in some places.”

Jordanian Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal at Yale University, 29 July 2008/Tom HeneghanThe speaker was Jordanian Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal, sponsor of the Common Word project, at the opening of a public conference of 150 Christians and Muslims meeting at Yale University to discuss love of God and love of neighbor as the core principles of the world’s two largest religions.

Instead of speaking about love, however, his remarks focused mostly on the hate and violence he fears could erupt if the two faiths do not reach a better understanding of each other. Two other quotes give a further glimpse of his fears:

  • The Holocaust of six million Jews, then the largest religious minority in Europe 65 years ago and still in living memory, is something that Muslims in the West now should contemplate as seriously as Jews do.
  • This is the stage where Hutus and Tutsis, both Christian tribes by their own confessions, were at in Rwanda before the popular genocide by machete of nearly a million people in 1994. How much easier would it be for Muslims and Christians who have been fighting for over a millennium and have viewed each other with the deepest suspsicions since St. John of Damascus to slaughter each other?

See our news report here. Excerpts from Ghazi’s speech are on the next page.

Bosnian Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric at Yale University, 29 July 2008/Tom HeneghanReactions to the speech were mixed. Several participants said it echoed fears widespread in the Middle East. Some thought it was overdone, but others felt it was a sober assessment of what could happen if … One pointed out it was hard to dismiss the possibility of violent religious strife when one of the leading figures at the conference is Bosnia’s Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric. Although he kept the meeting amused with his witty speech, his mere presence is a reminder of the murder of an estimated 8,000 Bosnian Muslims by Bosnian Serb forces in Srebrenica in July 1995.

Relations between Christians and Muslims are often in the news these days. What’s your opinion about the state of understanding or tension between them?

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