Very interesting interview and certainly touches on an issue that does have profound impact on our lives wherever we happen to live. The main take away from this interview is the desperate need for a global/ongoing dialog about religious/cultural tolerance that can focus on contemporary issues and help develop convergence of thoughts/attitudes in relation to these matters. Here are my initial thoughts on this;

  1. (Identifying Stakeholders): I do not believe any national political institutions are able to deal with such an important issue because politics carries with it fault lines that tend to shift from one end to another depending on purely political objectives-and possibly time of year. As such focusing on trying to influence governments as a key objective is a non-starter. It is therefore important to define key stakeholders which in my view are;
  • National/International NGO’s
  • Main religious institutions (like the Vatican, Orthodox Church, Al-Azhar University/Egypt etc…)
  • General Public (obviously the target of these efforts)
  1. (Structure/Operation)

Here are some initial thoughts;

a) The effort should be defined as a global project with a very specific set of objectives & modes of engagement

b) The project should be adopted/managed by the United Nations to give it proper clout, which in turn partners with regional NGOs/Religious institutions to help further project objectives with the proper level of oversight. This structure also helps provide a level of protection to local NGOs from autocratic regimes that try and suppress any form of free speech and/or descent while at the same time allows the UN to fund some of the activities involved.

c) In terms if activities these could include-among others;

  • Public forums/workshops
  • Online activities/interactions
  • Research Projects to help develop pragmatic proposals to be adopted by the UN on this topic

Finally what I would also suggest is to start developing this project in the West initially for 3 reasons;

  • Likely to be quicker in implementation as there is less obstructive forces that may prevent development
  • With the rise of the ultra-right movements in our region as well as potential increase of terrorism I would think it makes sense to help build consensus against all forms of extremism
  • Developing this project in the West will help us build a successful model that we can then help adapt/promote in other regions.

Hope this could be an interesting thread of thought that has potential to build upon.


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