A two-day international conference titled “The Issue of Religious Harmony in Europe, South Asia and the Middle East” ended on Thursday on a note that a meaning full dialogue between religions of South Asia, Middle East and Europe is inevitable to avoid clash of civilization and further division of world on basis of religion, ethnicity and other identities.
The conference was organised by Area Study Centre for Europe (ASCE), University of Karachi, in collaboration with the Hanns Seidel Foundation. Talking about the topic, German scholar and Research fellow, Dr Thomas K Gugler, University of Munster, Germany, briefed participants about the history of religious freedom in Europe and said it was not until the Treaty of Westphalia, back in 1648, that parity among religion and state emerged and notion of modern Nation State came into being.
“The 9/11 is the turning point to start discourse on religious freedom and question of Hijab along with other symbolic presentations put before policy makers,” he said. He further added that sometimes the steps in western societies might have perception of Islamophobia but it was not true despite several events of separate incidence.
Sharing the crux of his presentation, veteran diplomat and political analyst, Ambassador (r) Shahid M Amin said that terrorism was started in Non-Muslim world even before it became rampant in Muslim societies. He shared the examples of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Irish Republic Army (IRA) and Algerian crises in this regard. He said: “It is a fairly complex world with serious ethnic and religious identity problems but it can be solved through meaningfull dialogue with intention to solve the problem. He further added that there was growing perception among the Muslim societies that war on terror along with other measures is against the Muslim societies”.
Professor Dr Jamal Malik of University of Erfurt said that cultural identity crises among immigrants of Europe resulted in violent behaviour. He said the role of religion in modern nation state had to be defined in contemporary world affairs. Dr Malik recommended that new set of hermeneutics tools should be introduced on orient and western discourse in order to develop inter-religious and inter-cultural harmony.
Prof Dr Syed Nomanul Haq of Institute of Business Administration adopted philosophical approach to describe religious harmony, their context, narratives, and conceptualisation and said that no interpretation on growing extremism in the Muslim societies had been made without studying the impact of colonial rule, especially in Middle East where borders were drawn during the period of WWI.