The two relevant reports are:
Strategies for Engaging Political Islam
Political Islam is the single most active political force in the Middle East today. Its future is intimately tied to that of the region. If the United States and the European Union are committed to supporting political reform in the region, they will need to devise concrete, coherent strategies for engaging Islamist groups. Yet, the U.S. has generally been unwilling to open a dialogue with these movements. Similarly, EU engagement with Islamists has been the exception, not the rule. Where low-level contacts exist, they mainly serve information-gathering purposes, not strategic objectives.
The Myth of Excluding Moderate Islamists in the Arab World The map of Islamist movements in the Arab world has changed over the course of the past three decades. There are wide gaps between those movements that use violence, look to change political regimes by force, and seek confrontation with the West, such as al-Qa’ida, and those movements that seek to practice politics peacefully, have respect for the sovereignty of the state, and are willing to work with the reigning political regimes. These latter, moderate groups share a belief in coexistence with the West.
Cordoba Papers: The Socio-Political and Cultural Implications of Monotheism in a Conflict Ridden World
This issue deals with ‘The Socio-Political and Cultural Implications of Monotheism in a Conflict Ridden World’ and was presented by Major Leon Cornwall, a member of the People’s Revolutionary Government in Grenada (1979 – 1983), at The London Muslim Centre on the 1st of February 2010.
This issue highlights the keynote address ‘Bridging the Muslim and Western World for Peace and Development‘ from the World Muslim Leadership Forum: Muslim World in the Face of the New World Economic Order (organised by Faith Regen Foundation and the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute) given by His Royal Highness Raja Nazrin Shah, Crown Prince of Perak, Malaysia on 7th October 2010.OP_01Web
Amidst nervousness at the sharpening of rhetoric against Iran and a frustration of the stalemate in the issue of Israel and Palestine, the 7th US-Muslim world Forum took place in Doha between the 13th – 15th of February in Doha, Qatar.
Conceding that the Obama Administration had not yet delivered on some of its signature foreign policy goals, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pleaded for patience saying that ‘Building a stronger relationship can not happen overnight or even in a year’. Addressing the conference via video link President Obama tried to focus on practical steps that the US had taken in trying to forge a new relationship with the Muslim World. He also mentioned the appointment of Rashad Hussein as his special envoy to the Organisation of Islamic Countries as a commitment to his seeking a new beginning with the Muslim World.
The 3 day forum which had a multitude of guests from all sorts of disciplines across the world included guests such as Anwar Ibrahim (Opposition Leader in Malaysia), Racep Tayyip Erdogan (Prime Minister of Turkey) and Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah (Saudi Arabia) amongst others.
The forum explored issues in 5 different working groups designed to generate dialogue, ideas and policy recommendations to address challenges such as democracy, interfaith relations, diplomacy and civil society development. The working groups were:
- Role of Religious Leaders and Religious Communities in Diplomacy
- Democracy and Islamic Parties: Opportunities and Challenges
- Transformative Partnerships in US-Muslim World Relations: Empowering Networks for Community Development and Social Change
- Scientific, Intellectual and Governance Cooperation on Emerging Environmental Challenges
- New Media to further Global Engagement.
The event was not without its critics though. Some who expressed concerns over the sponsors of the forum itself , whilst others expressed disappointment at the lack of real sign for moving beyond rhetoric and at the failure of the US administration to address burning issues
For more information about the event, please click here
Major Leon ‘Bogo’ Cornwall, in his own words a ‘prodigal son’, was born as a Methodist. He would later become disillusioned with the church for ‘failing to be relevant to the issues of young people’, and in the early seventies, would be attracted to the Black Power Movement and later on to Marxist / Leninist ideals which offered him a new vision for the world and his country.
Speaking at the Cordoba Seminars organised by The Cordoba Foundation in East London on February the 1st, 2010, Major Cornwall explained how justice, peace and equality was what he was after, where the vulnerable would have a significant place in society. In 1979, Major Cornwall would leave his family and join the People’s Revolutionary Army, which overthrew the government and established what was essentially a socialist government and which would work towards ‘Grenada being a better, more prosperous and cultured nation’.
However the Revolution was short-lived as Cornwall admits, ‘the internal struggles between members and the failure to grasp the totality of the situation’, meant that disputes arose. By 1983, the leader of the Revolution (and president of Grenada) was himself overthrown and executed by his colleagues, prompting an invasion by the US army. Major Cornwall and sixteen other colleagues were caught and imprisoned. Though they were sentenced to death, the sentences were changed to life imprisonment and Major Cornwall spent some 27 years in prison before being released in September 2009.
Today, Leon Cornwall is a changed man. Having rediscovered God and religion in prison, he says that ‘my vision for a world has not changed, but my philosophy of how to go about it has’. He now professes non-violence and education as a movement of social change. So transformed is he, that everywhere he goes, he acknowledges his mistake for the Revolution and asks for forgiveness: ‘I am deeply sorry for the pain, the sorrow, the loss, the chaos, the confusion that was brought to Grenada through our impulsive, thoughtless actions’ he remarked at the seminar.
From his own life story, it is evident Major Cornwall believes that part of the problem associated with the demise of the Revolution was that the revolutionaries had turned away from God and therefore lacked a spiritual base. “The Revolution gave men and women power, with the gun as the source of that power. Many were accountable only unto themselves and few dared question the doings of the leaders. For many of the players, the Revolution was a god. This left us in deep trouble, unable to appreciate human weaknesses and unable to make sound spiritual decisions when they truly mattered”, reflected Major Cornwall.
Major Leon Cornwall’s story is incredibly moving and inspiring. It is not about social recognition or acceptance but it is about leadership taking responsibility for their actions on their people and for any catastrophe that may have been caused by their actions. In today’s climate, as world leaders are being challenged to take responsibility for their actions, they would do well to learn from Major Cornwall’s humility in acknowledging his mistakes.
The full speech by Major Leon Cornwall at the Cordoba Seminars is published here
A quarterly journal providing deeper and nuanced analysis of the issues and developments in the arena of dialogue, civilizations, and a rapprochement between Islam and the West
In this edition, Arches Quarterly provides deep analysis on war, peace and reconciliation. As individuals, groups and societies, we cannot circumvent these as they involve us all in some form or another either through our beliefs, ideals or socio and geo-political circumstances.
The Cordoba Foundation welcomes the launch of the European Muslim Research Centre (EMRC), which published their first ground-breaking report on ‘Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: A London Case Study’. Held at the London Muslim Centre on 28 January 2010, the report was co-authored by Dr Jonathan Githens-Mazer and Dr Robert Lambert MBE, of the University of Exeter. The report illuminates how the contexts of fear and prejudice against Muslims are providing a basis for violence against Muslim communities.
According to the report, Muslim Londoners face a threat of violence and intimidation from primarily three groups: a small violent extremist nationalist milieu that has broadly the same political analysis as the British National Party (BNP); street gangs with no allegiance with or affinity to the BNP and thirdly from a small group of the general London public. All groups as illustrated by the report appear to be acting on prejudices gained via negative media portrayals of Muslims as terrorists and posing a security threat.
The report explains, “The perils of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crime threaten to undermine basic human rights, fundamental aspects of citizenship and co-existing partnerships for Muslims and non- Muslims alike in contemporary Europe.” Moreover, “routine portrayals of Islam as a religion of hatred, violence and inherent intolerance have become key planks for the emergence of extremist nationalist, anti-immigration politics in Europe – planks which seek to exploit populist fears and which have the potential to lead to Muslim disempowerment in Europe”, assert the authors of the report. In addition, some “sections of the media have created a situation where… unfounded claims and anxieties of the other – such that politicians from Austria to the Britain, and the Netherlands to Spain, feel comfortable in using terms like ‘Tsunamis of Muslim immigration’”.
The report is intended to introduce politicians, public servants, police, media and the general public to Muslim community perspectives and thus comes up with some preliminary recommendations for dfferent key stakeholders within the community. A detailed report with further recommendations is expected to be launched in July 2010.
The Cordoba Foundation will be working very closely with EMRC to ensure the research findings are publicised so as to empower marginalised and disadvantaged communities and promoting community cohesion.
The full report is available from here