Event Report: Attending the Srebrenica Memorial Day

Event Report: Attending the Srebrenica Memorial Day

Head of Research at The Cordoba Foundation and editor of Arches, Faliq was tasked by the foundation to deliver messages of support and sympathy to the victims of the genocide and their families. During his 10-day stay, Faliq met a number of survivors and victims of the war, as well as visiting various sites and projects throughout the country. He met representatives from the Islamic Community of Bosnia-Herzegovina, namely the Grand Mufti Dr Mustafa Ceric; Katheryne Bomberger, Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons as well as its Chief Operating Officer Adam Boys; Professor Enes Karic, Faculty of Islamic Studies – Bosnia-Herzegovina; and Sehija Dedovic, An-Nahla Women’s Centre.

 

Reflecting on his trip, Faliq said “despite visiting Bosnia several times and having lead numerous delegations, every visit for me is very emotional and inspirational. It’s emotional because of the sheer tragedy and shock suffered by the Boshniaks (Bosnian Muslims), namely the Srebrenica genocide. But it is also very inspirational witnessing the strong resolve of the people to live normal and dignified lives despite the dark past.”

 

Ahead of the memorial, the foundation’s CEO Anas Altikriti spoke of hope and peace despite the gruesome reality witnessed in Srebrenica and other parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina: “the Srebrenica Memorial Day provides a timely reminder to us all of the challenges that can only be met in a sense of togetherness and community.”

 

The Cordoba Foundation released a special edition of the Occasional Papers series, in commemoration of the Srebrenica Memorial Day. The publication featured two important articles by the Grand Mufti titled “Spiritual Revolution: The Challenge for the 21st Century”, and by Professor Enes Karic, “Who is the ‘Other’ Today?”

Arches Quarterly: Vol 4 Edition 8 (5MB)

Arches Quarterly: Vol 4 Edition 8 (5MB)

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

Download Publication (PDF, 5195kb)

In this edition, Arches Quarterly  explores early Muslim contacts with European Societies,  their contributions to culture and civilisation as well as their historical legacies, in an attempt to better understand Europe’s Islamic roots and the place of Islam and Muslims in contemporary Europe.

News Release: Srebrenica Memorial Day

News Release: Srebrenica Memorial Day

As the Srebrenica Memorial Day anniversary on the 11th of July approaches its 16 year, we are once again reminded of the lengths that man could potentially go to when immersed in a state of fear, hatred and division.

The Memorial Day puts to rest any naivety that the lessons of the past have not only been learned, but well and truly headed. Not only are human beings chronically capable of committing the most repugnant of acts against fellow human beings, regardless of the advancement of time, the catalysts for these crimes are invariably similar whatever the different and unique circumstances of each.

Though recent court rulings and the capture of Ratko Mladic are bringing about some closure to a painful period of history in this region, it should not be underestimated that the most heinous of crimes committed against particular people of faith, race, creed or colour in generations gone by could never be committed again. These remain dynamic challenges for us to overcome.

However the past should not become a ball and chain for the future.  There is a need to provide humanity with a space for personal and social transformation. There is a need to work towards higher values and ethics that concern human nature and purpose, leading to peace and harmony with one and others) and towards building understanding based on common features in a language understood by most people.

The Cordoba Foundation has been working tirelessly to raise awareness of the threat man poses against his fellow man, should particular conditions become established on the ground. Whether Srebrenica, Auswitz, Rwanda, Gaza, Kashmir or Somalia, and whether in the last century, this or the one coming, injustice establishes fear which breads suspicion and ultimately hatred. From there, the
move on to violence is neither a difficult nor inconceivable step to undertake.

Our objective is to work in common collaboration to remove the very initial elements on that tragic path, and to counter the root causes for clashes based on false and misguided understanding and implementation of the concepts of ‘self’ and ‘the other’.

The Srebrenica Memorial Day provides a timely reminder to us all of the
challenges that can only be met in a sense of togetherness and community.

——

To mark the 16th Anniversary of the Srebrenica Memorial Day, The Cordoba Foundation is releasing a special edition of the Occasional Papers, dedicated to Srebrenica, by two distinguished people, the Grand Mufti of Bosnia Dr Mustafa Ceric and Professor Enes Karić, professor of Qur’anic Studies at the Faculty of Islamic Studies, Bosnia. The issues raised in the two articles provide timely reflections and observations on human relations, of dialogue between people and cultures as well as the attendant challenges of a spiritual revolution today. The report can be downloaded from here

A special sermon given by the Mufti of Bosnia, can be downloaded from here

Statement: 26th June – International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Statement: 26th June – International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

The 26th of June will mark the  International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Torture is one of the most profound human rights abuses that take a terrible toll on people and their families.  An invasion of the privacy of an individual’s personality, intellect and body is one of the worst crimes that can be committed against human beings.

 

 

As Kofi Annan said, ‘This is a day on which we pay our respects to those who have endured the unimaginable.  This is an occasion for the world to speak against the unspeakable’.

 

 

In the 21st century, The Cordoba Foundation deplores the fact that torture is still used in many parts of the world especially by countries that have signed up the Convention Against Torture.

 

 

The Cordoba Foundation encourages relevant agencies and countries to redouble efforts to address the issue of torture and put in place tangible measures to eradicating torture and abuse across the spectrum.

Viewpoint: The Killing of Bin Laden – the end that never was

The killing of Osama bin Laden on Monday 3rd of May was indeed a historical advent which ought to signal the end of one of the most difficult phases in the relationship between the West and the Muslim world.

For nearly a decade, Bin Laden had become not only the world’s most wanted man but also the main signifier in a troubled relationship with Islam and Muslims worldwide. In the immediate aftermath of 9-11, the world lived a brief moment of unity in which all nations expressed shock and outrage as to the attack that claimed the lives of thousands of innocent people. Sadly that moment was scuppered rather than capitalised on, with the launch of the ‘War on Terror’ and the apparent intent of the US administration to seek vengeance through a military, intelligence and security campaign that claimed the lives of thousands upon thousands of innocent civilians.

The war in Afghanistan followed by the invasion and occupation of Iraq, brought not only unspeakable misery, pain and strife upon those who in normal circumstances would not support Al-Qaeda ideology and tactics, but severely damaged relations between the West in general and Muslims as a whole. With terrorist attacks following in London, Madrid, Paris, Istanbul and countless other locations resulting in the death of hundreds of innocent by-passers, it was clear that those intent on bringing death and destruction operated on both sides, with the global population caught in the middle and suffering as a consequence.

Over the past years and on frequent occasions, mainstream Muslim organisations, groups and figures have consistently condemned the ideology espoused by Al-Qaeda, the wave of terror and fear it was waging. The message from mainstream Muslim community was constant and unequivocal:  Islam, as well as universal human values, forbids the shedding of innocent blood regardless of colour, creed, race or culture. It was immoral and criminal to consider commuters in New York or London as legitimate targets, as it was to consider passers-by in a Kabul or Baghdad market mere collateral.

Few disagree that for years, Bin Laden has been little more than a spiritual leader rather than an effective operational commander of Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda has rapidly become an idea and a brand rather than an organisation with any tangible structure or base, as a result of a number of factors including some which the USA, the UK and several Western governments must contend with and answer for. His capture and death should have signalled the end of a difficult chapter in the lives of countless people around the world. However, the manner in which he was killed and subsequently disposed of, adds to the long list of mistakes that cements the state of mistrust, lack of faith and goodwill between the West and the Muslim world.

The celebrations that broke out on the streets of several US cities, while understandable on some level, displayed an unsavoury side of the US to the rest of the world. Civilised nations do not celebrate the death of an individual in that manner, nor do they consider vengeance a palatable objective. It is also likely that this will lead to more young people sympathising with rather than rejecting the line which Al-Qaeda promotes, and rhetoric of an extreme nature is already appearing on online blogs and discussions forums. Instead of moving on, it seems we are in for a long haul of staying exactly where we are.

Some expressions of sympathy that have emerged from some corners whom were renowned to have always condemned the statements, policies and actions of Al-Qaeda, should be taken in the spirit of both Islamic tradition as well as political reality, rather than support for the demised. Islam forbids its followers from speaking ill of the dead especially those killed, and calls upon them to pray for their forgiveness. Furthermore, in light of failing Western policies throughout the Muslim world and particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, amongst other reasons, Bin Laden was seen as the West’s nemesis. This afforded him popularity amongst disenchanted and disenfranchised masses despite them rejecting his ideology. Some groups and figures, chose to recall his earlier days of fighting against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan forgoing the life of lavish luxury he could have well enjoyed, before an extreme ideology and skewed interpretation of Jihad and liberation took hold of him. He espoused an ideology of hatred, isolation, fear, violence and bloodshed.

Such statements must not be mistaken for support. Indeed, the Arab Spring that brought peaceful protests and revolutions throughout the Arab world in the past four months were the perfect antithesis to Al-Qaeda and its poisoned rhetoric, and were as much a rejection of extremism and terrorism as they were of corrupt despots and dictators.

Muslim leaders in the UK and the West must capitalise on this and act and speak responsibly as young people are searching for leadership and for guidance at these tense times. We must, at all costs, avoid initiating a new era where recriminations and counter-recriminations coin West-Muslim relationships. If anything was learnt from the past decade, it is that violence begets violence and the cycle of bloodshed is virtually impossible to break.

Western Muslims must join efforts with fellow country folk to reject policies which deem human lives dispensable and war an easily ready option. Just because the death of an innocent person is initiated by virtue of a government state decree does not make it any more acceptable than if decided by a rogue individual.

The challenge is for us all to truly turn a leaf and set a new standard for West-Muslim relations. This requires a new vision, new dynamics and people of courage, clarity and faith.

News Release: Moving Beyond Osama

News Release: Moving Beyond Osama

The death of Osama bin Laden, should signal the end of one of the most difficult phases in the relationship between the West and the Muslim world. It should bring closure to a painful 10 years after 9/11.  It should lessen the need for mainstream Muslim organisations to feel always under pressure to condemn the ideology espoused by Al-Qaeda and like many other historical moments, should provide us with a chance to think, ponder and reflect.
The state of mistrust, lack of faith and goodwill between the West and the Muslim world should be reflected upon along with methods of reparation and how we espouse the values of justice and how we pursue them.  Retributive justice that inspires cycles of violence becomes a ball and chain for a future without reconciliation.

The Arab Spring that brought peaceful protests and revolutions throughout the Arab world in the past four months are a perfect example of moving towards a sense of restorative justice.
The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) emphasises that now more than ever is the need to move towards a sense of peace and mutual respect for and between people. Spiritual scriptures all envision a pluralistic world, mutual understanding and religious tolerance, emphasising love of the Creator and love of the neighbour in contributing towards meaningful peace around the world.

There will be those who will seek to divide the community but there is a need to ensure that community relations are strengthened so that we can collectively ensure that British society as a whole emerges from this turbulent time stronger in its moral and ethical fabric and able to lead the way in peaceful coexistence with mutual respect and understanding.

Commenting on this, Anas Altikriti, CEO of TCF said ‘We must, at all costs, avoid initiating a new era where recriminations and counter-recriminations coin West-Muslim relationships. If anything was learnt from the past decade, it is that violence begets violence and the cycle of bloodshed is virtually impossible to break. Western Muslims must join efforts with fellow country folk to reject policies which deem human lives dispensable and war an easily ready option.’

We at The Cordoba Foundation stand proud in our aspiration that different cultures, civilisations and, thoughts can thrive and strive for the common goal of understanding, respecting, accepting and celebrating diversity.