Positive Action for Correcting Image of Arabs and Muslims

  • 27 December 2009

Despite the initiatives taken by Islamic and Western states in recent years to prevent tensions and acts of provocation against Arabs and Muslims in the West, such actions have not abated and disruptive forces are still bent on maligning the image of Arabs and Muslims, and on projecting them as a threat to Western identity and civilization. In this regard, the first joint meeting between the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) holds special importance as it prepared an action plan for restoring the image of Arabs and Muslims in the right perspective. The meeting concluded its session in Cairo on December 24. It focused on close cooperation between Arab and Islamic institutions in facing a common threat, particularly in the wake of an unrelenting escalation of tensions by hostile forces and their attempts to foment new troubles on a continuing basis. There can be no doubt that coordination of actions between the Arab League and the OIC would contribute in laying down a comprehensive strategy that would show the understanding of both Arab and Islamic worlds over the seriousness of this situation, and the importance of a joint standoff. What would distinguish this joint effort is that it would be a comprehensive endeavor, which would not be limited to the official level alone, but would accord great importance to efforts at the unofficial levels also. Therefore, the Cairo meeting, during which it was agreed that the action plan would focus on the US society, has reconfirmed the importance of the role that think tanks, universities, civil society institutions, media, Arab and Islamic communities could play in this endeavor, along with religious institutions, US Congress and some influential personalities in America. These personalities and institutions could help in presenting the true picture of Arabs and Muslims, free of the attempted distortions they are subjected to.   The meeting did not make the planned action limited to the framework of the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, but has called on other Arab and Islamic institutions to prepare action plans in this respect, and submit them to concerned authorities at these organizations for adoption and to take necessary steps for its implementation. This will ensure the participation of all parties in submitting their plans, expectations and ideas.

The second report of the OIC on the phenomenon of “Islamophobia,” covering the period June 2008 to April 2009, which was deliberated at the 36th session of the Islamic Countries’ Foreign Ministers Council held in Damascus in May 2009, points out that the menace of “Islamophobia” is still rife in the West and exists at various levels.

The recent Swiss referendum on banning the construction of minarets clearly exposes the distorted picture of Islam, Muslims and Arabs prevalent in Europe. Despite all conferences, seminars and meetings that have been held in recent years to bridge and hold dialogue between Islam and the West, there is still a need for more work and effort.