Camelia Sadat, president and one of the founders of the Sadat Peace Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting world peace, speaking at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, as part of the 1992 Peace Prize Forum “Striving for Peace: Resolving Cultural Conflicts”. The theme of address was “Islamic Culture and the West.” Camelia Sadat is the daughter of the late Egyptian president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Anwar Sadat. She is an assistant professor at Bentley College in Massachusetts and is writing a book about the changing role of Arab women in Muslim society.
Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.
It is great to share in a day. the combines a diverse efforts to attempt to try Define Solutions. Twin issue that will determine the future of coexistence and Harmony between people's living together on one Earth. The recent success of United States Secretary United States Secretary of State James Baker and getting Middle Eastern parties to meet face-to-face regarding issues affecting the region is impressive. However, at the same time the process highlights misperceptions about the Muslim world that continuously complicate efforts that are designed to bring about an effective dialogue particularly ones that juxtapose Western and non-western perspectives. Be understanding of where Publix regarding the Muslim word are further Complicated by news reports and editorials that point out the emergence of religious fundamentalists in the Middle East nations with the term from The Mentalist being equated with wild-eyed radicalism. Images and thoughts flooded mine such as home a nice Islamic revolution in Iran and with its prosecution and execution of women and other persons who are perceived by the governing Powers as none conformist. It to the TWA hijacking. the bombing of US military barracks in Lebanon Mama qaddafi's allege sponsorship of terrorist assaults on airports Travelers and Airlines and the people attack on my father on what it said that that's resulted from a bridge over his making peace between Egypt and Israel. some years ago is astrologist named Danielle Lerner Advance the proposition that empathy which he defined as the ability of individuals to mentally put themselves into those into the shoes of the place of others. what the Hallmark of adaptivity Unfortunately several factors militate against the likelihood that non-muslim people would be able to think as the Muslim people might. A major factor is the contribution of mass media to a collective Consciousness about the Muslim world. Those media that Herald the world events regard conflict. As a principal determiner of what constitutes news. Also, there is a dependency about the mass media. As political communication scholar than Nemo notes. We really experience events firsthand. Most of the time we depend on the mediated images of reality provided by the mass media. Visual media coverage is Complicated by the tendency of the media to produce Express on Islam. Nothing of the Arabic language. And this is more of the religious social historical and cultural foundations of Islam. There is a tendency to present Strife in the Middle East as though the context should be self-evident. Muslims are presented too often in the western mass media as an isolated and backwards it or reactionary people with little braids and perspective. What is taught in Western textbook that counters that point of view the truth is that Islamic empire during the years from 6:35 to 1200 contributed to World Civilization and ruled an Empire that switch from the south of France to the Indus River and embrace North Africa and the Fertile Crescent Persia and the Arabian peninsula. The Muslim influence brought to the world early advances in The Sciences such as algebra sociology and astronomy to name a few. On the whole Islam has not being devoted to Conquest and colonization. However, it sprays activities led to the expansion of its influence into Africa similarly the Chinese contracted with with Muslims to manage the business activities leading to an expansion of Muslims into the Far East. Throughout the world. There are some 800 million Muslims. Muscle names and vocabulary are sprinkled throughout many nations of the world. Yes, again Islam is Lambs lack of concern with spreading the Arabic language to help ensure Colonial control and the repair chew ation of the cultural influence is a smart variance with the ways that many other cultures introduced and enforce the teaching of Spanish French and Portuguese to name a few Colonial examples. The conflict bass reporting also leaves the erroneous impression that Islam Embraces. a barbaric way of life characterized by in humanity and terrorism however, the truth is Does Islam and the Holy Quran represents an integrated system that incorporates tents of social justice communal peace and individual dignity? Why providing extensive guidance on Pence for daily life affecting Society the family the Commerce for example? moreover Islam makes no distinction between church and state or between Doctrine and wall. in essence Islam is less a religious State then it is an integrated belief system that dictates a way of life. Attempts have been made to explain the exotic or different characteristics of Muslim Behavior as being Oriental as opposed to Occidental. The implicit premise is that if the Arabic people were more like westerners, they somehow could be understood and can be trusted. It is as though empathy cannot be can conceived of being applied with peoples who are so different. Discolored advertising and discussing the history of the Palestinians in the question of Palestine Edward side is a Christian Palestinian who wrote extensively on Muslim issues points out evidence that the discussion of the Balfour resolution was apparently affected by the belief. The Jewish peoples were like westerners why Palestinian people were so alike westerners as to Merit no particular sympathy or favor. The collective consciousness of the Western World also seem seems to be afflicted by the kind of short-term memory limitation institutional memory. is one example Egypt and Saudi Arabia broke with Middle East traditions in supporting President George Bush military initiative to expel the occupying forces of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. Yep in the following year. Discussions in the United States continued about whether the United States should rely. Or come on any of the Muslim nations in the time of need. As another example President Jimmy Carter reportedly could not comprehend why the Iranians chose to take US Embassy employees in Tehran hostages characterizing them as Americans as innocent. Mean why it rain in the Main Street Theatres and speakers active out of the world news media their rage over the Fallen Shah of Iran who had been brought to Power by us intervention in Iran's politics and the inhuman practices of the security force not to mention this disregard for his country for his countrymen's positioner religious sensibilities sensibilities. Other than hostage-takers or terrorists themselves. No one condones political prisoners or acts of terrorism against civilians populations. At the same time it is hard to pretend that extreme act always result from a rational or undefinable basis. Careful attention to history provides a context for understanding the Grievances that divided peoples and how they might be addressed redressed or the or the accused. This scenario should not. End on a gloomy note note. Some encouraging new trends are developing. Also, there are prospects that improvements could be made provided that same that some organizations or agencies would take the initiative. Give me news network has provided an outlet for more voices in the international forum. An accomplishment that contributed to Time magazine's designation of Ted Turner as its Man of the Year. This is not to say that the different views are all well-received as in the case of the Hostile reception given to CNN broadcaster Peter Arnett's reporting from Baghdad during the recent Persian Gulf War. Did you know listic profession? Good, no more enable working reporters to become specialists in Middle Eastern issues. I do fear here to the Nieman fellowship program. additionally more activities could be arranged to enable Middle Eastern journalists to meet with their Western counterparts to discuss both issues and how they are covered. The WordPress Institute in Saint Paul, Minnesota provides one framework for such activities. For the more Middle Eastern governments might consider providing Western journalist Community leaders and Scholars with opportunities to visit their countries and benefit from more or less independent visitations and study programs. The United States initiated a similar program that would be the end of World War II to enable leaders from foreign Nations to understand the United States its institutions its people and its concern with democracy. What's an academic Institute Western academic institutions might be encouraged to increase their activities for mitigating Middle Eastern studies? There's some sensitivities that must be recognized. For example a buildup in one academic discipline often involves resistance when faculty members believe that the activity deprives another area of office horses. Also one find government software resources to make it possible to develop or expand an area study program. There may be too concerned that the foreigners are trying to buy respectability or the advocacy of point of view. Set beginning may be modest, but the long-range benefit to the process of understanding and peace can be a men's. Let me share one. personal story with you here today It was 11 years ago when I moved to the US. Two weeks later. My father was assassinated. I didn't speak any language when I came here. I had other languages but my English was the sun is out. The grass is green no more than that. Understanding a language. Does it mean you understand the culture? I spend two years trying to find Clues every time I hear word I go home put the dictionary try and find the interpretation for that. Sometimes I found answers and sometimes not. but one of the most significant things As you have misperceptions here. We also have misperceptions over there of other parts of the world. So before I move to the United States the advice don't initiate a discussion with politics of religion in America. One other thing Americans have no moral values have no. Sense of religion they they have none of those sink thing. So, don't try it. Now when I say that it's because if you look at how we are in Egypt how you break a conversation in Egypt. It's always either politics or religion because both present a great importance in our lives. We didn't have the micro. We were living under emergency laws. So we better follow with politics every day to see what's going to happen to us. So you break a conversation by saying? Oh did hear what the president said today or we here and you interpretation of Islam from the Move tea and we come and say oh my God women are going to win fail again. So this is the way you start a conversation. Stop by the weather took me a while to understand that you see the weather yesterday. So takes a while until you learn that and then probably 6 months later. I hear my professor. In class say Jesus Christ. Oh my God, somebody's religious finally in this country. That's what I thought. My interpretation was Jesus Christ. I know it's Jesus prices. I don't need to go in and find the answer in the dictionary. So this guy must be now. I heard it from another one and another one and another one and all the time. I thought that oh my God, I'm so lucky that I found religious people here so I can eat no talk to them. Don't you live in a culture you pick a few words, you know here in the air idioms. So Jesus Christ was one of the things that I picked up and I started as a Muslim. I don't understand it. Just wear except when a friend says I used to take me a while to talk to my professor about that and start the conversation. Are you religious again? You know, you start talkin about your things but it's that inquisitive mind because I was one of the children in the family was always, you know, say no rebellious. Why do this? Why do I have to do it do it? I never liked do it. You have to tell me what it was years 11 years now living in this culture. Talking the language doesn't mean that you understand the culture. Fix a long while I no understand jokes American jokes, I can see American jokes XI into the culture the lot that you need to learn and I'm sure you live in this country your friends. I have a neighbor that is from another country. You can't just depends on what you really hear or read one in the newspaper. You can ask this colleague. You can ask that colleague in school. What about the culture really and try and understand that? Oscar Wilde once Define the cynic as that who knows the price of everything and knows the value of nothing and I didn't want to be that and I don't think any of us wants to be that. Let me conclude. by saying that the United States as the superpower that is leaving the world to a new world order as President Bush put it. Is a great privilege for those of us who are being part of it as well as a responsibility. It is our responsibility as citizens of citizens of this great power to help others of lesser power. To be more analytical and critical in what we read about other people and cultures to get beyond the special interests of the media or the experts. They say there was no way to peace peace is the way. And it's our responsibility to make that way peace be with you.