It’s unlikely that any good will come of this. From Associated Press of Pakistan, with thanks to Morgaan Sinclair:
LONDON, June 1 (APP): British Prime Minister Tony Blair is to meet Muslim leaders from all over the world at a major conference on Islam, hosted by University of Cambridge next week. The June 4 and 5 event, aims to explore ways in which greater unity and understanding might be fostered between Muslims and non-Muslims in the societies in which they live. Representatives from more than 30 countries will be attending, said a media release of the Cambridge University….
That is, they want to foster greater unity and understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims in the West. They will almost certainly not discuss the plight of non-Muslims in Muslim countries, although it is getting worse all the time.
The conference is being organized by The Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme (CIP), based in the University’s Faculty of Divinity. CIP is a teaching and research programme that seeks to achieve a deeper understanding of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. It also aims to develop public outreach programmes for the benefit of faith communities and wider society.
The event will open with a video message from HRH Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, while the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, will host a reception in the evening.
Other speakers will include the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Shaykh Ali Gomaa; the Grand Mufti of Bosnia, Mufti Mustafa Ceric; Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Glasgow; the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres; the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Ruth Kelly and the Leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron.
About Ali Gomaa, see here. Mustafa Ceric has repeated the misleading fiction that “the Muslims and Jews have contributed to European development [as much] as Christians did”; while he is right that the Jews made an immense contribution to European culture, historically Muslims have contributed to Europe the way the fox contributes to the henhouse. About Cameron, see here. About Ruth Kelly, see here.
Professor David Ford, Director of the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme, said:
“There is an urgent need for Islam and traditionally Christian cultures to understand one another specifically from a religious perspective.
“The conference will focus on the relationship between Islam and the non-Muslim world, inviting Muslims from this country and abroad to discuss the challenges we all face in creating communities that can accommodate and thrive on the religious diversity that exists in Britain, Europe and beyond.
“In the past, policy has too often focused on the question of integrating Muslims into secular society. In fact we live in a complexly religious and secular society where the expression of religious beliefs remains important to huge numbers of people.”
So forget about getting Muslims to integrate — at least until they start rioting as in France. Then the government will be blamed for not integrating them.
Speakers and guests will be encouraged to consider the contribution Islamic debate has made to a host of contemporary topics including citizenship, the place of Islamic law, women and human rights.
What does this mean? What contribution has “Islamic debate” made to questions of “citizenship, the place of Islamic law, women and human rights,” except to threaten the rights of women and non-Muslims, as well as the very concept of citizenship itself? How does Islamic law make any contribution to Britain except as the goal of those who would destroy British civilization once and for all?
Timothy Winter, lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge, said:
“The question facing British society, and society as a whole, is not how we encourage minorities to engage with western countries, but how those countries define themselves as a collage of different religious cultures. We hope that this conference will enable those responsible for encouraging and building unity in communities to approach the task from that perspective.
Once again we hear that Britain has no culture of its own, but is a clearinghouse, or here a “collage,” of different cultures. And indeed, if Britain has no culture of its own that any British leader thinks is worth defending in itself, it certainly will lose the vestiges of what it does have.
“If we are to overcome the problems of religious ignorance and misunderstanding, we need to have precisely these sorts of conversations and collaborations across religious and secular boundaries.”