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Study reports mistrust between Islam and West 23 janvier 2008

Posted by Acturca in EU / UE, Middle East / Moyen Orient, Religion, USA / Etats-Unis.
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The Irish Times, 22 janvier 2008, Pg. 10

Patsy McGarry

A majority of people in 21 Muslim and non-Muslim countries surveyed believe that violent conflict between the West and Islam can be avoided, but are pessimistic about relations between both, a new study has found, writes Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent.

Among Muslim majority and non-Muslim majority countries, the proportion who say they think the « other side » is committed to better relations rarely rose above 30 per cent.

The World Economic Forum, with Washington’s Georgetown University, yesterday launched Islam and the West: Annual Report on the State of Dialogue, the first report of its kind.

As a systematic overview of how Muslim and western societies perceive and relate to each other, it also found that majorities in the countries surveyed said better interaction between the Muslim and western worlds was important to them.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) takes place at Davos in Switzerland from tomorrow until Sunday next. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin will attend the forum later this week.

The report reflected « an alarmingly low level of optimism regarding dialogue between Islam and the West », WEF chairman Klaus Schwab said yesterday.

« In all but two countries surveyed . . . a majority believed the interaction between western and Islamic communities is getting worse, » he continued.

The survey was conducted among about 1,000 people each in Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, Netherlands, Pakistan, Palestinian territories, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the US.

Mr Schwab said the report was the first in an annual series that would monitor the state of Muslim-West dialogue and focus efforts by governments, businesses, religious figures and the media on improving relations.

The report also found that Europeans, worried by immigration and a perceived Islamic threat, were alarmed at the prospect of greater interaction with the Muslim world.

By contrast, a majority of people in the US, Israel and the Muslim world felt more interaction would help.

It also presented an analysis of the portrayal of Islam and the West in newspapers and television across 24 countries, 12 Muslim and 12 non-Muslim.

Negative perceptions were most prevalent in the US, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, partly because of violence in Iraq and because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it said.

While two-thirds of people in Muslim countries said Muslims respected the West, almost the same number felt the West did not respect them. Many westerners did not believe either side respected the other.

Incidents such as cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in European newspapers had deepened distrust, with Muslims seeing them as an assault on their religion while westerners were alarmed by Muslim protests, which they see as a threat to free speech.

The full report is at www.weforum.org


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