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Panel Discussion: DIALOGUE AMONG CIVILIZATIONS; A New Paradigm United Nations Headquarters 6 May 1999
Our gathering bears special significance for the international community as it will open a new chapter to better understand the idea of dialogue among civilizations, proposed by President Khatami at his address to the United Nations General Assembly at its the fifty-third session last September. The unanimous adoption of resolution 53/22 of 4 November 1998 by the General Assembly, which designated the year 2001 as the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations, demonstrates the will of the international community to explore new horizons for constructive and enriching interaction among peoples of various cultures and civilizations.
Contents
Remarks by:
* Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the I.R. Iran
* Dean Andersen
* Mr. Picco
* Professor Vartan Gregorian
* Professor Bulliet
* Professor Mazrouie
* Deputy Foreign Minister of the I.R. Iran for legal and International Affairs
* Questions and Answers

Mr. Picco: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. This meeting is called "Dialogue Among Civilizations: A New Paradigm". It is sponsored by the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations and by the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia Carnegie is not alone. The Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the United States Institute of Peace, the Eurasia Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the John D. and Catherine MacArthur Foundation, the Alton Jones Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trust — all major American foundations have made Islam, the study of Islam, Islamic civilization a priority. This is also welcomed for the dialogue. University. I will first call on the Ambassador of Iran and then on Dean Andersen of Columbia University and they will open this meeting.

Remarks by the Permanent Representative of the I.R. Iran

Ambassador Hosseinian: Dean Andersen, distinguished panellists, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. It is indeed a privilege and an honour to welcome you all to this special event to discuss the important idea of dialogue among civilizations.

Our gathering bears special significance for the international community as it will open a new chapter to better understand the idea of dialogue among civilizations, proposed by President Khatami at his address to the United Nations General Assembly at its the fifty-third session last September. The unanimous adoption of resolution 53/22 of 4 November 1998 by the General Assembly, which designated the year 2001 as the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations, demonstrates the will of the international community to explore new horizons for constructive and enriching interaction among peoples of various cultures and civilizations.

Learning from the experience of the twentieth century indicates that humanity is in dire need of a vision to help set its priorities for the twenty-first century. People may well be of different opinions about the criteria to be used in sorting out those priorities. What is essential for the international community, however, is a new paradigm that would promote an international environment through tolerance which would aim to determine the parameters of a world in which peace and prosperity have a better chance than conflict, hatred and poverty; a war in which a greater number of the inhabitants of the earth could potentially enjoy life in peace, security and prosperity. Such a paradigm will serve as a platform that will enable humankind to reduce its vulnerability to the plagues of war and violence and provide a fresh approach to meet the challenges ahead.

The conflicts and the grim developments in the last few years confirm the need and search for explanatory and visionary paradigms that will replace the bipolar structure of international relations during the cold war. Meanwhile, certain developments in certain parts of the world tempted some to envision a new era of cultural and ideological dominance. Others envisaged a paradigm of clash and violence among civilizations along with cultural fault lines. Alternative paradigms have pondered eminent anarchy striking the world against a backdrop of development versus underdevelopment.

Ironically, the problem with these viewpoints is that they are all too simplistic, perhaps so much so as to ignore the sophisticated layers of human interaction for the sake of simplicity and at the expense of objectivity. They all tend to be subjective and deterministic. What seems to be missing from all the proposed paradigms is a call for dialogue and interaction. They treat the whole dynamic and complex process of human advancement either as an orderly defined ideological task or as an arena for strategically formulated plans against illusory adversaries. They simply ignore or underestimate the great potential in diverse human societies capable of mobilizing common striving towards greater understanding and learning from each other — a potential that when cared for can significantly contribute to the betterment of the world we live in.

Dialogue among civilizations purports to provide a framework for enhancing interaction among people of diverse cultural and civilizational backgrounds in order to support causes of enduring peace and to curb the causes of war. Dialogue among civilizations is a vision that sees the diversity among human societies not as a fault line, but as a source of essence, dynamism and advancement. It is also the process in which tolerance plays a central role. Far from being a narrow political or ideological endeavour, dialogue among civilizations is a holistic cultural approach towards mutual understanding, interactive learning and dealing with problems which concern humankind at large.

Yet, the notion of dialogue among civilization needs to be understood and articulated through substantive programmes to facilitate the exchange of views among policy makers, diplomats, scholars and all individuals, groups, governmental and non-governmental organizations in order to advance and institutionalize the idea. I earnestly hope that this event will have a fair share in this regard. While we remain cognizant and considerate of all other affairs and initiatives offered to promote peace and prosperity in the world, we would like to take this conference as a new starting point to renew our commitments and aggregate our efforts in realizing the constructive potential of the innovative call for dialogue among civilizations.

I should not conclude without expressing my warm thanks and deep respect to the distinguished panellists — Professor Vartan Gregorian, Professor Ali Mazrouie, Professor Richard Bulliet and Mr. Picco — for accepting our invitation to enrich this meeting. I am also grateful to all of you, ladies and gentlemen, for attending this panel discussion. Certainly your contribution will make this effort more stimulating and useful as we look ahead to operationalize this concept of dialogue among civilizations. My sincere and special appreciation is also extended to Dean Andersen and to the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and to the Secretariat of the United Nations for the support and collaboration accorded to our Mission in order to convene this panel discussion.

Mr. Picco: Thank you, Ambassador Hosseinian. Dean Andersen, please.

Remarks by the Dean Andersen

Dean Andersen: Mr. Ambassador, ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of the School of International and Public Affairs, I am very pleased to be co-sponsoring this initiative. We style ourselves at the School a sort of small, private but constant conversation about culture and civilization, about human values. Our 900 graduate students come from 75 different countries. Not quite everywhere, but certainly quite a few perspectives and experiences are represented in our halls. These are the public policy leaders of the next century, individuals who will be working for their countries' diplomatic service, for the United Nations as human rights advocates, venture capitalists in emerging markets, environmental conservationists, trade negotiators. We believe they and their counterparts in other schools in other countries must not only have the practical skills to accomplish their goals, but a grounding in the philosophical underpinnings that shape our world today.

If you are able to bring together leaders from around the world to consider the varying interpretations of culture and community, of rights and citizenship, of statehood and political authority, of justice and equity — in other words, the core concepts upon which we all build our public lives — you will be doing a great service to our students. Even and perhaps especially if you find that there are sharp disagreements, clear areas of divergence, you will provide the building blocks for a more sophisticated, more cosmopolitan, more inclusive international society; a place more of us will feel welcome in. I join the Ambassador in thanking our panelists for their willingness to participate. I thank you for your willingness to participate as well and I thank the Ambassador. I wish you great success in your endeavour. I am interested to hear your observations and I look forward to continuing this collaboration in the future.

Remarks by Mr. Picco

Mr. Picco: Thank you, Dean Andersen. Let me just briefly tell you how we are going to run this meeting. We are going to hear from three distinguished scholars on this very matter of the dialogue of civilization. We will then have a conversation with you and at the end of that we have the good fortune of having here today with us fresh from the airport the Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran, Javad Zarif, who will be joining us at the end of this meeting to give us a presentation of what he personally has been doing over the last few days on this very subject, which is the object of our discussions. If that is agreeable, and I suppose I am in a terrible position to win this, I will proceed according to this suggestion. Mr. Ambassador, distinguished ladies and gentlemen — and if I may say also dear friends, for some friends I do still have here in this house — I am honoured to chair this meeting today. I have not been chairing meetings in this house for some time.

When I left the UN seven years ago, outside these walls the tragedy of Bosnia was unfolding. There, where various cultures, religions and civilizations met, the murder of any dialogue was being perpetrated. At the same time, in some academic circles and in others the so-called theory of the clash of civilizations was gaining mileage. There was even a danger that it would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It did not. Inside these halls the talk was about a new phrase, about ethnic conflict. It took many by surprise. I did not believe then, I do not believe now in the purity of blood, neither as a physical fact nor as a discriminatory element. And therefore I never used the expression, but rather I used to call "the so-called ethnic conflicts".

I thought during those days that the moment a multi- cultural, multi-religious and multi-civilizational Member State of the UN was defeated that part of the UN itself would die with it. After all, is not diversity the very foundation of this house? Since then I came to know and appreciate a man I am proud to be a friend of, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate of 1998, John Hume. I spent my professional life, for some twenty years, under the aegis of this house, working in very unorthodox ways across civilizational boundaries. I walked and worked through three conflicts and four disputes. John Hume taught me that a mind-set of war is to believe that diversity is a threat, that diversity is a threat. If that is a mind-set of war, it is only fitting that the hope and the impulse for a dialogue among civilizations started in this very house, where it properly belongs as in no other institution I can think of.

With this I would like to introduce to you our speakers and we will start in a manner which is very familiar to you. I will start in alphabetical order.

Professor Vartan Gregorian is President of the Carnegie Corporation, but before that he was President of Brown University for a long time. He was educated in Iran, Lebanon and the United States, and I think he is in a perfect position to talk about civilization and dialogue of it because dialogue of civilization is part of his own being, of his own nature.

Remarks by Professor Gregorian

Mr. Gregorian: First of all, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to tell you how happy I am to be here today, because this is one time I can tell you what great affection I have for my country of my birth, Iran, my city of birth, Tabriz, and the great province of Azerbaijan. When I left home at age 15, I never thought that one day I would be addressing such a distinguished group of my compatriots and fellow beardsmen. Thank you very much.

Islam is one of the world's greatest faiths. It is practised on every continent. Islam is the second largest world religion. Today Muslims make up one fifth of the world population. Islamic civilization is very rich, with many regions, ethnic groups, races, colours, nations, peoples, languages and dialects contributing to its diversity as well as to its unity. It provides a creative interplay between the universals and the particulars. Islam has always been a bridge, a crossroads of culture, a place of transit, a passage, and above all else, a refuge.

In a 1996 speech at Oxford University Prime Minister Mahathir of Malaysia, while criticizing Muslim religious scholars for "misinterpreting Islam and warning Muslims not to trust the pronouncements of the ulema as infallible" , remarked that Islam is perhaps the most misunderstood religion in the world today. There are suspicions in the Muslim world that the West wants to seek the removal of Islam as a faith, the way Communism was debunked, and that Islam has replaced Communism and the Soviet Union as the target of the new cold war, resulting in the denunciation of the West as the Great Satan by voices across the Muslim world.

Then, of course, there is Samuel Huntington's The Clash of Civilizaton. It uses, or I should say appropriates or expropriates, Arnold Toynbee's scholarship to reach a completely different conclusion. Civilizations, instead of becoming bridges of understanding, became walls of separation, destined for clashes. In addition, of course, there is often the total lack of historical knowledge, theological knowledge, cultural knowledge and knowledge of anthropology related to the histories of Muslims peoples' stories which stretch from the Atlantic to the Far East. In the absence of such knowledge we have seen often a crude stereotyping and caricature of Islam and the Muslim world, easily drifting into ignorance and promoting prejudice, or at best condescension and paternalism.

In 1965, the Second Vatican Council issued an unprecedented and welcome announcement known as Nostra Aetate, which, according to Muslim scholar Ismail Ibrahim Nawab, constituted a turning point in Muslim-Christian dialogue. In it the Vatican's church doctrines recognized for the first time the Muslims as believers included in God's salvation plan because Muslims "acknowledge the Creator and profess to hold the faith of Abraham and together with us they adore one merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day". Although over the course of centuries, the Council said, many quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Muslims, the most sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to strive sincerely for mutual understanding. On behalf of all mankind, let us, the Council said, make a common course of safeguarding and fostering social justice, moral values, peace and freedom.

Let me quote from that Council declaration, which did not become a major document, nor was it promulgated across the newspapers which usually print anything about Islam.

"The Church looks with esteem at the Muslims who adore the only God living and existing, merciful and omnipotent, Creator of the heavens and the earth, who has spoken to men. They seek to submit themselves with all their heart to God's decrees, even heathens, as did even Abraham submit himself, to whom the Islamic faith gladly refers. Although they do not recognize Jesus as God, they nevertheless venerate him as a prophet. They honor his religious mother, Mary, and sometimes they even invoke her with devotion. What is more, they wait for the day of judgment when God will reward all men resurrected. Thus they too hold in esteem moral life and pay homage to God above all with prayer, charity and fasting."

These sentiments received a favourable response when in 1997 the rector of Al-Azhar University, Ahmad Omar Hashim, appealed to the Muslim and Western peoples to seek the common good in all ways possible, coming together as the aim of the earlier generations was to stay away from each other in order not to fight with each other. After all the suffering and indescribable affliction that humanity has gone through, Mr. Hashim said:
"We hope that humanity will be pervaded with a feeling of peace to which all religions and principly Islam will contribute."

President Khatami of Iran went a step further; I would say a bold step. The issue was not knowledge of religion alone, but knowledge of civilizations and peoples, their diversity, their history, their uniqueness as well as their universality. He therefore advocated a meaningful dialogue between the civilizations and peoples comprised in those civilizations. When President Khatami, on January 6, 1998, and then subsequently last year in September, advocated dialogue between civilizations, he declared:
"We intend to benefit from the achievements and experience of all civilizations, Western and non-Western, and to hold a dialogue with all of them. The closer the pillars and essences of the civilizations are, the easier the dialogue will become."

Islam, he said, is a religion which calls all humanity, irrespective of religion or belief, to rationality and logic. Relations among nations must be based on logic and mutual respect. Islam recognizes the right of all human beings to determine their own destiny. In the multi-racial, multi- ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious world of today we need civilizational dialogue, and not conflict. That need makes the relations between the Muslim world and the Western world, as well as the Eastern world, a necessity.

In Greek, dialogos means conversation, sharing, rational discussion. The term logos in ancient Greek philosophy stood as the controlling principle in the universe. The term later became a representative of the divine wisdom manifest in the creation, government and redemption of the world.

I agree with President Khatami that a dialogue, in order to be meaningful, must be an open one. A dialogue must be an honest exchange of views. A dialogue must be based on knowledge, not opinion only. A dialogue must be based on historical knowledge of religions, cultures, civilizations. A dialogue must not be a diatribe. A dialogue must be one that searches to know, to discover, to appreciate; a dialogue about universal norms and particular practices; a dialogue about convergences as well as divergences; a dialogue about common good; an honest dialogue among peers, rather than patronizing partners — a dialogue is not an apologia about individual and community rights — a dialogue about the rights of women and men; a dialogue about the rule of law; a dialogue about the right of asylum; a dialogue about human rights; but above all else, a dialogue about human dignity, which was what President Khatami stressed.

In sum, instead of building walls, we need to build bridges. The challenge before us is how to maintain and develop our own set of values and at the same time co-exist and interact with other value systems and cultures which continue on their own paths.

The anthropologist Clifford Geertz contends that you cannot assert yourself in the world as if nobody else were there because this is not a clash of ideas. There are people attached to these ideas. If you want to live without violence, you have to realize that other people are as real as you are. As somebody mentioned — Bishop Pike, years ago in San Francisco, the Episcopal Bishop, said — categorization is sin. When you categorize, you tend to dehumanize and when you dehumanize, everything is possible because you see categories rather than human beings behind those categories.

In his address in December 1997 here, repeated here but given at the University of Teheran, United Nations Secretary- General Kofi Annan stressed several important points concerning the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and shall act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. Human rights are what reason requires and conscience commands. The denial of tolerance and the denial of human rights is the denial of one's dignity. He reminds us that faith in all religions elicits respect, brings belief and elevates human beings and God, and that fanaticism in all religions provokes hatred.

Since I left Tabriz as a boy, I still don't remember much except all my poets. I remember Saadi. I remember Ferdosi. I remember Hafiz. I remember Babatair. And a few others. Sady, the great thirteenth century Persian poet, spoke of tolerance and equality among all peoples and nations when he said the children of Adam are limbs of one another and their creation comes from one substance. When the world gives pain to one another, the other members find no rest. Those who are indifferent to the suffering of others do not deserve to be called men.

Islam also advocated diversity. I would like to cite one passage, which I am sure Mr. Mazrouie and others will also do. Different religious communities are explained in Islam as part of God's plan. Diversity is caused primarily by different reactions to the various prophets. The fact that humankind is divided into various communities is explained as a test for people of faith. The emphasis falls on responsible behaviour in this life. Let me quote from the Quran, 5:48:
"...If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single People, but (his plan is) to test you in what He hath given you; so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute."

Now let me come back to my last point. All of this is an abstraction about Islam. However, Islam is a reality in the United States now. Islam is and will soon be in the United States the second largest religion after Christianity as a whole. There are already more Muslims in the United States than there are members of several Christian communities, especially Episcopalians. In the United States there is a slow but growing gradual awareness that Islam is not a foreign religion any more. But, along with Judaism, it is one of our country's three monotheistic and prophetic faiths. While we cannot deny our differences, we should also seek our common religious heritage, an heritage which has Abraham as a common creator and common ancestor.

There are today, for the first time, many mosques in the United States. The United States Armed Forces have military chaplains to administer the needs of some 10,000 Muslim soldiers in the United States Army. A Muslim prayer has been included in the opening ceremonies of the United States Congress. In 1996, for the first time the White House held a reception to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr.

In setting our new guidelines, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, whose President I am, has placed major emphasis on inter-group relations: ethnic, racial and religious. In the latter realm we have placed important emphasis on the relationship of the three monotheistic, prophetic religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — which have a common God, as I mentioned, and Abraham at the core of their beliefs. Understanding these faiths, religions and the cultures and the civilizations of their adherents is essential if we are to continue to adhere to our tradition of religious tolerance, tolerance that one hopes will be based not only on law, but on understanding as well. Understanding religious beliefs and cultures of people is imperative if we are to continue having a nation based on religious freedom as separation of church and state in America.

Carnegie is not alone. The Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the United States Institute of Peace, the Eurasia Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the John D. and Catherine MacArthur Foundation, the Alton Jones Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trust — all major American foundations have made Islam, the study of Islam, Islamic civilization a priority. This is also welcomed for the dialogue.

Let me just conclude by saying in the Muslim world there are today many traditional universities: Al-Azhar, of course, the University of Medina in Saudi Arabia, the International Islamic University in Islamabad, the Institute of Al-Jamaa Islam Negeri in Indonesia, the Imam Buhara Higher Religious Institute in Tashkent, numerous ones in Iran, especially in Qom, and the Faculty of Divinity of Marmara University in Istanbul. In order to have a meaningful dialogue, with great respect I would like to suggest that there should be dialogue first of all between the traditional universities of the Muslim world and the secular ones. There should be dialogue between traditional and secular universities, not only in Iran, but elsewhere in the Muslim world. There should also be dialogue between theological institutions of Iran and all the other Muslim countries and theological institutes in the Western world as well as the Eastern world.

There should be dialogue between universities in the Muslim world and the Western world and between artists, writers, teachers and scholars, representing the creative genius of the Muslim world and the West. Universities of the West should make knowledge of Islam and of the Muslim world and civilization an integral part of their curricula and should welcome student and faculty exchanges with traditional as well as secular universities in the Muslim world as well as the Eastern world. As for exchange and reciprocity, Muslim universities should not be isolated and ossified silos. They should also welcome the kind of creative exchange of ideas that President Khatami was suggesting.

Dialogue is a road. It will lead us to understanding at best and if not to friendship or at least to understanding with respect. Hopefully, as I am an educator, it will lead to understanding with respect as well common understanding for common goals, if we are going to have peace and security and the dignity and rights of all acknowledged in the twenty-first century and not repeat the follies of the twentieth century - World War I, World War II, a holocaust, a genocide, all kinds of regional wars - all in the name of and in the seat of what was supposed to be the cradle of human civilization, namely Western Europe, China, the Middle East and elsewhere.

With that I would like to thank you for inviting me. I was going to give you a speech on Huntington but I could not find my speech that I had given to MESA two years ago. I promise once I find it, I will send you a copy of it. It is entitled "Toynbee, Huntington and Islam", namely, stressing the fact that Toynbee saw Islam and all the religions as a way of universality, brotherhood and redemption, whereas Huntington saw the same literature, and copying immensely from Toynbee, saw the reverse.

Since Toynbee was a historian and Huntington is a political scientist, as a historian, I opt for the historian's prediction of what will happen.

Mr. Picco: Professor Richard Bulliet is Professor of Middle Eastern history at Columbia University, and he is also Director of the Middle East Institute of the School of International and Public Affairs. He has written extensively on the Middle East, and interestingly enough, he has also written four novels set in the contemporary Middle East.

Remarks by Professor Gregorian

Mr. Picco: Thank you, Dean Andersen. Let me just briefly tell you how we are going to run this meeting. We are going to hear from three distinguished scholars on this very matter of the dialogue of civilization. We will then have a conversation with you and at the end of that we have the good fortune of having here today with us fresh from the airport the Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran, Javad Zarif, who will be joining us at the end of this meeting to give us a presentation of what he personally has been doing over the last few days on this very subject, which is the object of our discussions. If that is agreeable, and I suppose I am in a terrible position to win this, I will proceed according to this suggestion.

Mr. Ambassador, distinguished ladies and gentlemen — and if I may say also dear friends, for some friends I do still have here in this house — I am honoured to chair this meeting today. I have not been chairing meetings in this house for some time. When I left the UN seven years ago, outside these walls the tragedy of Bosnia was unfolding. There, where various cultures, religions and civilizations met, the murder of any dialogue was being perpetrated. At the same time, in some academic circles and in others the so-called theory of the clash of civilizations was gaining mileage. There was even a danger that it would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It did not. Inside these halls the talk was about a new phrase, about ethnic conflict. It took many by surprise. I did not believe then, I do not believe now in the purity of blood, neither as a physical fact nor as a discriminatory element. And therefore I never used the expression, but rather I used to call "the so-called ethnic conflicts".

I thought during those days that the moment a multi- cultural, multi-religious and multi-civilizational Member State of the UN was defeated that part of the UN itself would die with it. After all, is not diversity the very foundation of this house? Since then I came to know and appreciate a man I am proud to be a friend of, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate of 1998, John Hume. I spent my professional life, for some twenty years, under the aegis of this house, working in very unorthodox ways across civilizational boundaries. I walked and worked through three conflicts and four disputes. John Hume taught me that a mind-set of war is to believe that diversity is a threat, that diversity is a threat. If that is a mind-set of war, it is only fitting that the hope and the impulse for a dialogue among civilizations started in this very house, where it properly belongs as in no other institution I can think of.

With this I would like to introduce to you our speakers and we will start in a manner which is very familiar to you. I will start in alphabetical order. Professor Vartan Gregorian is President of the Carnegie Corporation, but before that he was President of Brown University for a long time. He was educated in Iran, Lebanon and the United States, and I think he is in a perfect position to talk about civilization and dialogue of it because dialogue of civilization is part of his own being, of his own nature.

Remarks by Professor Gregorian

Mr. Gregorian: First of all, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to tell you how happy I am to be here today, because this is one time I can tell you what great affection I have for my country of my birth, Iran, my city of birth, Tabriz, and the great province of Azerbaijan. When I left home at age 15, I never thought that one day I would be addressing such a distinguished group of my compatriots and fellow beardsmen. Thank you very much.

Islam is one of the world's greatest faiths. It is practised on every continent. Islam is the second largest world religion. Today Muslims make up one fifth of the world population. Islamic civilization is very rich, with many regions, ethnic groups, races, colours, nations, peoples, languages and dialects contributing to its diversity as well as to its unity. It provides a creative interplay between the universals and the particulars. Islam has always been a bridge, a crossroads of culture, a place of transit, a passage, and above all else, a refuge.

In a 1996 speech at Oxford University Prime Minister Mahathir of Malaysia, while criticizing Muslim religious scholars for "misinterpreting Islam and warning Muslims not to trust the pronouncements of the ulema as infallible" , remarked that Islam is perhaps the most misunderstood religion in the world today. There are suspicions in the Muslim world that the West wants to seek the removal of Islam as a faith, the way Communism was debunked, and that Islam has replaced Communism and the Soviet Union as the target of the new cold war, resulting in the denunciation of the West as the Great Satan by voices across the Muslim world.

Then, of course, there is Samuel Huntington's The Clash of Civilizaton. It uses, or I should say appropriates or expropriates, Arnold Toynbee's scholarship to reach a completely different conclusion. Civilizations, instead of becoming bridges of understanding, became walls of separation, destined for clashes. In addition, of course, there is often the total lack of historical knowledge, theological knowledge, cultural knowledge and knowledge of anthropology related to the histories of Muslims peoples' stories which stretch from the Atlantic to the Far East. In the absence of such knowledge we have seen often a crude stereotyping and caricature of Islam and the Muslim world, easily drifting into ignorance and promoting prejudice, or at best condescension and paternalism.

In 1965, the Second Vatican Council issued an unprecedented and welcome announcement known as Nostra Aetate, which, according to Muslim scholar Ismail Ibrahim Nawab, constituted a turning point in Muslim-Christian dialogue. In it the Vatican's church doctrines recognized for the first time the Muslims as believers included in God's salvation plan because Muslims "acknowledge the Creator and profess to hold the faith of Abraham and together with us they adore one merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day". Although over the course of centuries, the Council said, many quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Muslims, the most sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to strive sincerely for mutual understanding. On behalf of all mankind, let us, the Council said, make a common course of safeguarding and fostering social justice, moral values, peace and freedom.

Let me quote from that Council declaration, which did not become a major document, nor was it promulgated across the newspapers which usually print anything about Islam.

"The Church looks with esteem at the Muslims who adore the only God living and existing, merciful and omnipotent, Creator of the heavens and the earth, who has spoken to men. They seek to submit themselves with all their heart to God's decrees, even heathens, as did even Abraham submit himself, to whom the Islamic faith gladly refers. Although they do not recognize Jesus as God, they nevertheless venerate him as a prophet. They honor his religious mother, Mary, and sometimes they even invoke her with devotion. What is more, they wait for the day of judgment when God will reward all men resurrected. Thus they too hold in esteem moral life and pay homage to God above all with prayer, charity and fasting."

These sentiments received a favourable response when in 1997 the rector of Al-Azhar University, Ahmad Omar Hashim, appealed to the Muslim and Western peoples to seek the common good in all ways possible, coming together as the aim of the earlier generations was to stay away from each other in order not to fight with each other. After all the suffering and indescribable affliction that humanity has gone through, Mr. Hashim said:
"We hope that humanity will be pervaded with a feeling of peace to which all religions and principly Islam will contribute."

President Khatami of Iran went a step further; I would say a bold step. The issue was not knowledge of religion alone, but knowledge of civilizations and peoples, their diversity, their history, their uniqueness as well as their universality. He therefore advocated a meaningful dialogue between the civilizations and peoples comprised in those civilizations. When President Khatami, on January 6, 1998, and then subsequently last year in September, advocated dialogue between civilizations, he declared:
"We intend to benefit from the achievements and experience of all civilizations, Western and non-Western, and to hold a dialogue with all of them. The closer the pillars and essences of the civilizations are, the easier the dialogue will become."

Islam, he said, is a religion which calls all humanity, irrespective of religion or belief, to rationality and logic. Relations among nations must be based on logic and mutual respect. Islam recognizes the right of all human beings to determine their own destiny. In the multi-racial, multi- ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious world of today we need civilizational dialogue, and not conflict. That need makes the relations between the Muslim world and the Western world, as well as the Eastern world, a necessity.

In Greek, dialogos means conversation, sharing, rational discussion. The term logos in ancient Greek philosophy stood as the controlling principle in the universe. The term later became a representative of the divine wisdom manifest in the creation, government and redemption of the world.

I agree with President Khatami that a dialogue, in order to be meaningful, must be an open one. A dialogue must be an honest exchange of views. A dialogue must be based on knowledge, not opinion only. A dialogue must be based on historical knowledge of religions, cultures, civilizations. A dialogue must not be a diatribe. A dialogue must be one that searches to know, to discover, to appreciate; a dialogue about universal norms and particular practices; a dialogue about convergences as well as divergences; a dialogue about common good; an honest dialogue among peers, rather than patronizing partners — a dialogue is not an apologia about individual and community rights — a dialogue about the rights of women and men; a dialogue about the rule of law; a dialogue about the right of asylum; a dialogue about human rights; but above all else, a dialogue about human dignity, which was what President Khatami stressed.

In sum, instead of building walls, we need to build bridges. The challenge before us is how to maintain and develop our own set of values and at the same time co-exist and interact with other value systems and cultures which continue on their own paths. The anthropologist Clifford Geertz contends that you cannot assert yourself in the world as if nobody else were there because this is not a clash of ideas. There are people attached to these ideas. If you want to live without violence, you have to realize that other people are as real as you are. As somebody mentioned — Bishop Pike, years ago in San Francisco, the Episcopal Bishop, said — categorization is sin. When you categorize, you tend to dehumanize and when you dehumanize, everything is possible because you see categories rather than human beings behind those categories.

In his address in December 1997 here, repeated here but given at the University of Teheran, United Nations Secretary- General Kofi Annan stressed several important points concerning the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and shall act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. Human rights are what reason requires and conscience commands. The denial of tolerance and the denial of human rights is the denial of one's dignity. He reminds us that faith in all religions elicits respect, brings belief and elevates human beings and God, and that fanaticism in all religions provokes hatred.

In his address in December 1997 here, repeated here but given at the University of Teheran, United Nations Secretary- General Kofi Annan stressed several important points concerning the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and shall act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. Human rights are what reason requires and conscience commands. The denial of tolerance and the denial of human rights is the denial of one's dignity. He reminds us that faith in all religions elicits respect, brings belief and elevates human beings and God, and that fanaticism in all religions provokes hatred.
"...If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single People, but (his plan is) to test you in what He hath given you; so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute."

Now let me come back to my last point. All of this is an abstraction about Islam. However, Islam is a reality in the United States now. Islam is and will soon be in the United States the second largest religion after Christianity as a whole. There are already more Muslims in the United States than there are members of several Christian communities, especially Episcopalians. In the United States there is a slow but growing gradual awareness that Islam is not a foreign religion any more. But, along with Judaism, it is one of our country's three monotheistic and prophetic faiths. While we cannot deny our differences, we should also seek our common religious heritage, an heritage which has Abraham as a common creator and common ancestor.

There are today, for the first time, many mosques in the United States. The United States Armed Forces have military chaplains to administer the needs of some 10,000 Muslim soldiers in the United States Army. A Muslim prayer has been included in the opening ceremonies of the United States Congress. In 1996, for the first time the White House held a reception to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr.

In setting our new guidelines, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, whose President I am, has placed major emphasis on inter-group relations: ethnic, racial and religious. In the latter realm we have placed important emphasis on the relationship of the three monotheistic, prophetic religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — which have a common God, as I mentioned, and Abraham at the core of their beliefs. Understanding these faiths, religions and the cultures and the civilizations of their adherents is essential if we are to continue to adhere to our tradition of religious tolerance, tolerance that one hopes will be based not only on law, but on understanding as well. Understanding religious beliefs and cultures of people is imperative if we are to continue having a nation based on religious freedom as separation of church and state in America.

Carnegie is not alone. The Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the United States Institute of Peace, the Eurasia Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the John D. and Catherine MacArthur Foundation, the Alton Jones Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trust — all major American foundations have made Islam, the study of Islam, Islamic civilization a priority. This is also welcomed for the dialogue.

Let me just conclude by saying in the Muslim world there are today many traditional universities: Al-Azhar, of course, the University of Medina in Saudi Arabia, the International Islamic University in Islamabad, the Institute of Al-Jamaa Islam Negeri in Indonesia, the Imam Buhara Higher Religious Institute in Tashkent, numerous ones in Iran, especially in Qom, and the Faculty of Divinity of Marmara University in Istanbul. In order to have a meaningful dialogue, with great respect I would like to suggest that there should be dialogue first of all between the traditional universities of the Muslim world and the secular ones. There should be dialogue between traditional and secular universities, not only in Iran, but elsewhere in the Muslim world. There should also be dialogue between theological institutions of Iran and all the other Muslim countries and theological institutes in the Western world as well as the Eastern world.

There should be dialogue between universities in the Muslim world and the Western world and between artists, writers, teachers and scholars, representing the creative genius of the Muslim world and the West. Universities of the West should make knowledge of Islam and of the Muslim world and civilization an integral part of their curricula and should welcome student and faculty exchanges with traditional as well as secular universities in the Muslim world as well as the Eastern world. As for exchange and reciprocity, Muslim universities should not be isolated and ossified silos. They should also welcome the kind of creative exchange of ideas that President Khatami was suggesting.

Dialogue is a road. It will lead us to understanding at best and if not to friendship or at least to understanding with respect. Hopefully, as I am an educator, it will lead to understanding with respect as well common understanding for common goals, if we are going to have peace and security and the dignity and rights of all acknowledged in the twenty-first century and not repeat the follies of the twentieth century - World War I, World War II, a holocaust, a genocide, all kinds of regional wars - all in the name of and in the seat of what was supposed to be the cradle of human civilization, namely Western Europe, China, the Middle East and elsewhere.

With that I would like to thank you for inviting me. I was going to give you a speech on Huntington but I could not find my speech that I had given to MESA two years ago. I promise once I find it, I will send you a copy of it. It is entitled "Toynbee, Huntington and Islam", namely, stressing the fact that Toynbee saw Islam and all the religions as a way of universality, brotherhood and redemption, whereas Huntington saw the same literature, and copying immensely from Toynbee, saw the reverse. Since Toynbee was a historian and Huntington is a political scientist, as a historian, I opt for the historian's prediction of what will happen. Mr. Picco: Professor Richard Bulliet is Professor of Middle Eastern history at Columbia University, and he is also Director of the Middle East Institute of the School of International and Public Affairs. He has written extensively on the Middle East, and interestingly enough, he has also written four novels set in the contemporary Middle East.

Professor Bulliet: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. My special thanks to Ambassador Nejad Hosseinian for inviting me to address this meeting. We have met together today because a visionary leader, President Khatami of the Islamic Republic of Iran, has invited the peoples of the world to participate in a dialogue of civilizations — whatever that may mean, whatever that may mean.

Personally I am speaking today as someone who does not know what dialogue of civilizations means, but who feels inspired by the concept and hopes to contribute to defining its content. I am a historian and a teacher and have been for more than 30 years. I have never worked for a government or an international agency. I get lost in Washington, D.C. and this is my maiden voyage here at the United Nations. My ambition over the next few minutes is no way titanic in any sense of the term. I simply want to say a few things about history and teaching.

First, teaching. At Columbia University, where I have taught for 23 years, we are proud of having pioneered a "great books" curriculum in 1919 and of having persisted in it for 80 years. Tomorrow I will give 18 students in my section of the course an examination. Without revealing to you what will be on the test, since I don't trust you not to tell, I will expect them to know a good deal about the thought of Jean Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, Thomas Jefferson, John Stuart Mill, Carl Marx, Friedriche Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud — all thinkers whose ideas have contributed to the shaping of Western civilization.

Ironically, however, I never myself studied the texts we require of our students until I first taught the course some 10 years ago. I did not, you see, have the advantage of a Columbia undergraduate education. My own educational trajectory for the past four decades has been devoted overwhelmingly to the civilization of Islam with a strong interest in Iran. Harvard at least gave me that much as a student. I read Al-Ghazali long before Rousseau. I read Ibn Khaldun long before Nietzsche. Nevertheless, I feel inextricably enmeshed personally in the Western civilization that I only belatedly came to study and teach about. For civilization is more than an assemblage of great ideas. A civilization is an assemblage of values, institutions, beliefs, traditions, aesthetic visions and, above all, the lived daily experience of millions of people.

How can civilizations, therefore, enter into a dialogue? Before attempting to answer that question — and this is sneaky, I am actually going to avoid answering the question — but before attempting to answer that questions, let me speak a bit about history. At the end of World War II, visionary leaders asked of themselves and of their peoples how the horrors of world crises and war might be averted in the future. They met at Bretton Woods, Dumbarton Oaks and San Francisco to craft institutions and documents that would embody the conclusions they arrived at. The Charter of the United Nations and the International Bill of Human Rights are two landmarks of that prodigious effort; two documents that set forth common principles of governance and ethics, binding upon all signatory nations; effectively, the whole of humanity.

The philosophical history behind this effort is what my class at Columbia has been studying — the evolution of Western thinking, from the parochialism of medieval Christendom to a vision of universally applicable principles and standards arrived at by the pure exercise of Reason, Reason with a capital R. Believing that Christian faith and morality could not stand the test of rationale examination and could not provide the basis for universal standards of justice and morality, the thinkers of the Enlightenment applied their own powers of mind to achieving what they regarded as a higher level of thought. The United Nations Charter and the International Bill of Human Rights are monuments to the philosophical greatness of the civilizational tradition that brought them forth

Yet, despite the enthusiastic ascent of those few national leaders of the 1940s who were not brought up or educated within the intellectual framework of Western civilization, it is difficult to maintain that the noble conclusions embodied in these documents reflect a philosophical convergence of the world's civilizations. Over the past half century the United Nations has welcomed scores of new Member States, most of them representing citizenries that have never heard of Jean Jacques Rousseau or John Stuart Mill. The same period of time has seen the cresting and merciful subsidence of the near fatal fever known as the cold war.

As the world has emerged from that febrile crisis during the past decade, it has looked around and has discovered greatly changed circumstances. Some have concluded that the world has become unipolar. Though in politics no less than physics, this is a philosophically dubious concept. Others have been struck by the manifest aspects of globalization in the realms of commerce and communications. Still others, reacting to the confined but deadly seizures that have gripped certain nations in the form of ethnic and religious conflict, have spoken of a clash of civilizations. The truth is that we are no more able today to discern the historical course of the upcoming century than our forefathers in 1900 were able to foresee the convulsive events and tragedies of the century now finishing. Lack of foreknowledge, however, has never justified an action. Even as we concern ourselves with myriad national and international problems we must find time to think of what is best for the future and work towards its accomplishment.

A dialogue of civilizations is right for the historical juncture we are living through with due acknowledgement of the great international compacts of the mid-twentieth century achievements deriving primarily from the western philosophical tradition. We now appropriately turn our attention to an intercivilizational conversation aimed at similarly lofty goals. My personal hope is that the projected dialogue of civilizations will eventuate at some future point in a formal statement on human values, not a charter or compact containing strictures that would be formally binding on its signatories, but a statement of fundamental human values that elaborates their bases in belief and thought as understood in different civilizational traditions.

Let me hypothetically refer to such a document or group of documents as a world convention on human values. A world convention on human values would seek to express in a succinct and codified form those values upon which, by way of precept and analysis particular to each civilization, the world civilizations substantially agree, would propose these as expressions of the loftiest conceptions of human society and would explicitly recognize that these derive not from an abstract presumption of universal morality but from the historic and enduring cultural traditions of the various world civilizations. Specific segments of the convention would be supplemented by authoritative statements of support from different cultural perspectives, taking the form in some cases of quotations from religious texts, in others from citations of legal principles and in others of statements by authoritative individuals or collective bodies. Every civilization would express its endorsement of the values in a manner appropriate to its beliefs and traditions.

In all likelihood, many parts of the convention would overlap the ideals embodied in the Charter of the United Nations and the International Bill of Human Rights. But unlike those documents, whose original authority derived from international assent to a philosophy of universal morality emanating from the European cultural tradition, a world convention on human values would represent the moral convergence of human society in all of its civilizational diversity. It would be conceived not as a binding charter, but as an international moral and philosophical standard, a map of the moral common ground upon which people of all civilizations can stand. A world convention on human values would be an appropriate beginning to a new international era in which past, present and future diversity of humankind would be celebrated and the era of domination by a single civilizational outlook would be laid to rest.

The United Nations, both as a collective body and as a forum for international discussion and understanding, would benefit from the convention's affirmation of the diverse roads to a common set of human values. The convention would represent the world of the United Nations as it proudly is. It would not invalidate or weaken the charters idealistically crafted by the founding generation. Rather, it would allow each civilization to express its commitment to the common human values largely embodied in those charters with reference to its own philosophical and moral tradition.

For a dialogue of civilizations to serve as a first step towards a convention of this sort, there must be broad agreement on the topics to be addressed. While the ideals and achievements of past civilizations may have a place in the dialogue, particularly as they constitute the basis for contemporary values and aspirations, the emphasis of the dialogue should be on values germane to today's world. Moreover, the dialogue should explicitly express the changes in international relations resulting from the powerful globalizing trends that have arisen since the founding of the United Nations.

topics that might be comprehended within such a conversation are many. Among them I might enumerate:

(1) Constitution and citizenship. How have different civilizations conceived of political society and of the status of citizens in that society? How have they provided for distinctions of race, religion, ethnicity, gender and economic status? What values do different civilizations hold highest in their conceptualizations of the state and the citizen?

(2) Law and legal process. How is the notion of law conceived? How does the law of the State relate to other laws such as those prescribed by religion? How are specific laws derived? What are the limits of the law? How does the implementation of law serve and protect those who are subject to it?

(3) Religion and personal status. How is religion defined? How does each religion interact with other religions? Do all religious communities owe respect to all other religious communities? How can multi-religious national societies function in peace, harmony and fairness?

(4) Sovereignty and boundaries. Are the absolute limits of national sovereignty and fixed national boundaries as understood since the Peace of Westphalia in the seventeenth century still fully functional in today's world? What should be the status of transnational communities? What should be the status of infranational communities? Do nations have moral obligations that reach beyond state boundaries?

(5) Education and dissemination of information. What is education and how should it be institutionalized? Should access to information be limited and if so, by what agency? How can education foster harmony among world civilizations?

(6) The economic order. What should be the relationship among global, transnational, national and private economic orders? What should be the role of equity in a world economic order?

7) Social welfare. How are human wants and needs best provided for?

(8) Childhood and old age. As the common future of humankind, children warrant special understanding. What standards are best for the education and welfare of children? At the other end of the life cycle, as people reach old age, how should they be regarded and treated in their declining years?

(9) Status of women. Where can world civilizations find common ground on this difficult subject? How can diversity be honoured without destroying equity?

(10) The environmental heritage. How do different civilizations understand the earth as the common heritage of humanity? How should conflicts between economic and environmental interests be resolved? What is the relationship of the human species to the other animal species with whom we share this planet?

Inasmuch as this list encompasses many of the thorniest problems currently being debated around the world, it would be naive to think that a philosophical consensus can easily be reached on all or perhaps any of them. However, the achievement of the goal of civilizational dialogue may lie as much in the striving toward its accomplishment as in the final vision.

In this sense, a dialogue of civilizations may be an international analogue to the conversation on racism that President Bill Clinton has called for in the United States. Endemic racism cannot be rectified by laws alone. It is a long-term arduous process but one whose ultimate goal is worthy of the effort. By the same token, a worldwide clash of civilizations is a horrifying spectre that is worth everyone's collective effort to forestall. Eight hundred years ago the great Iranian poet Fariduddin Attar wrote a parable entitled The Conference of the Birds. In Attar's story 30 birds set out, some boldly and some with trepidation in their hearts, on a quest to discover the ultimate, the Simorgh. They take different paths. Some fall by the wayside. Their striving is selfless and true. To the reader, however, but not to the birds, the secret of the ultimate is known from the outset. Simorgh in Persian means 30 birds. The quest for the ultimate is the quest for themselves, both individually and collectively. In the spirit of Attar, I urge that we take up President Khatami's invitation to engage in a dialogue of civilizations. The understanding of one another that we may hope to achieve whether or not it eventually comes to fruition in an international statement on human values is not only worth the striving, but perhaps is our best chance of forging a harmonious future for the world. Thank you very much.

Remarks by Professor Mazrouie

Mr. Picco: Thank you, Professor Bulliet. Professor Ali Mazrouie is the Albert Schweitzer Professor of Humanities and Director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies at New York State University at Binghamton. He is also Albelutuli Professor at Large at the University of Jos in Nigeria. He is also Ibn Khaldun Professor at Large in Leesburg, Virginia. He is Professor at the University of Guyana at Georgetown. He is a visiting scholar in Australia and last but not least, he is a member of the board of trustees of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies in England. I mentioned this to cover the five continents, including Australia. I think Professor Mazrouie has a great honour, as only last year in 1998 he was witness to the publication of the first comprehensive annotated bibliography of all his works, which I don't think is something that many of us here can say we have. Professor Mazrouie is a great scholar in civilization. He is a born citizen of Kenya. Professor Mazrouie, the floor is yours.

Professor Mazrouie: Thank you very much. It is a great privilege to be given this role on this distinguished panel, and I am grateful to the sponsors of this event, both the Iranian Mission and the relevant colleagues at Columbia University, which is my American alma mater. So it is indeed an occasion. For the 1990s it has been remarkable that two individuals so totally different should have become responsible for putting civilization on the agenda of international discourse; that one is a head of State and one is a professor of government; that one is a citizen of a superpower and one is a citizen of a developing country; one is learned in Islamic ilmand the other one is a Western social scientist; and one is President Mohammad Khatami and the other one is Professor Samuel Huntington; that these two individuals so very different and that approaching the issue of civilization from such fundamentally divergent points of view should have nevertheless have had such an impact on putting civilization on the international agenda in the 1990s. So it has been remarkable, and I hope this particular discourse continues. My own name is a dialogue in civilization. It is a name in Kiswahili. It is a name in the Arab world. And it is a name in Iran. The spelling you see before you is the Iranian spelling. I have had Iranians turning up at my office on the assumption that I was Iranian, having seen my name in the directory of the university, and being somewhat perplexed when they saw me. My Swahili spelling omits the "o" and the "e", for those who are not familiar with it. I am grateful that even my name is involved in the dialogue of civilizations.

I should also perhaps warn you that I take my assignment seriously, that I regard dialogue means frank dialogue and that there may be elements within my discourse which probably are not very familiar in United Nations traditions, but the United Nations people who invited me already braced themselves for that sort of thing in the past. Relations between civilizations may be of the following degrees. There could be just bare coexistence, sometimes even without two civilizations being aware of each other at all. Secondly, they could be in contact, perhaps through travellers like Ibn Batuta or Marco Polo. Thirdly, relations could be in the region of commerce and more extensive communication, a greater pattern of confluence and trade. By this time there is a serious risk also of conflict between civilizations, not necessarily armed conflict. Beyond this there are two directions that change might take; either towards convergence, leading to compromise and conversation between civilizations or to cultural conquests, leading to cultural coalescence and perhaps eventual assimilation.

We have heard a lot about Sam Huntington. His discussion of conflict of cultures and civilizations in terms of the future committed a kind of temporal fallacy; that is a fallacy of time, because it is possible to argue that for the last 400 years there have been conflicts of civilizations in which the West was the aggressor time and time again. At a conference where Sam Huntington turned up especially to listen to those of us who are critical of his position at Princeton University, I categorized these particular phases of conflicts of civilization in which the West was aggressor; first, the genocidal conquest of the Americas, where civilizations of this hemisphere were very often obliterated quite purposefully; second, the phase of enslavement of Africans in their millions to produce for the West an industrial and a capitalist revolution; thirdly, the Western European phase of colonial and imperial expansion which subjugated two thirds of the world; and finally, the phase we are in, which is a phase of informal hegemony, which is a system of stratified power but without the old style colonial accountability. So to talk of clash of civilization as if it is a future event which never happened in the past overlooks all these waves of the exercise of power by the West over non-Western people over the last four hundred years. So that is a factor which has to be taken into account when we look at that other trend, when cultural contact leads on to cultural conquests and, if you are lucky, to cultural coalescence and assimilation.

But we are also asked on this particular panel to see if we can discuss new ways of looking at this issue of dialogue among civilizations. I want to suggest that talking about civilization as the main dialogue overlooks individuals. This is an issue about people, not huge categories on the map being in touch with each other. Therefore, it may be that we should look at how people interact within more limited space than looking at how widespread the Muslim world is or how big the African continent is. I suggest there are great risks through civilizational dialogue within countries, and this includes situations when either skills or incomes are unevenly distributed across culturally identifiable groups, especially if those culturally distinct groups don't mix very much socially.

Another risky situation for civilizational dialogue is within dual societies, when a country has primarily only two groups accounting for over 80 per cent of the population and those two groups are ethnically or culturally distinct and have built up a massive record of mutual hostility.

Again, forgive me for departing from United Nations tendencies to mention countries. The ethnic Chinese in Indonesia have repeatedly paid a high price partly because they are distinct from the wider society, partly because of their economic success and partly because they have not mixed well with the wider society. In 1965, some people say up to a million Chinese might have been killed in Indonesia for two totally contradictory reasons; that on one side the ethnic Chinese Communist Party was about to stage a Communist revolution and that on the other side, the ethnic Chinese were the vanguard of successful capitalism. So dialogue between two major cultures, Chinese and Malay, was sabotaged by the disruptive forces of uneven incomes, uneven skills and ideological insecurities.

This contradictory role also affected colonial Malaysia. The British authorities fought a Communist movement which was overwhelmingly Chinese in composition. Since independence, Malaysia experienced its worst anti-ethnic Chinese riots in 1970. Since then affirmative action policies by the Malay- dominated Government in favour of Malays has defused the ethnic tension against the Chinese. The Chinese are still far and away the most prosperous. Prospects for cultural interchange have slightly improved. Judging from my few weeks in Malaysia, on and off when I go there, contact is still less than it might be. For those who are interested in dialogue between civilizations, the situation is not yet good enough, but it is far better than it was before 1970.

In Nigeria the Ibo became too economically successful for their own good in northern Nigeria, which is mainly Hausa territory, culturally distinct and on the whole religiously distinct. The explosive situation was aggravated by a military coup in Nigeria in 1966, which was perceived as having killed Hausa leaders and spared Ibo ones. Anti-Ibo riots broke out in northern Nigeria, in which thousands upon thousands were killed in 1966. In Uganda, the Indians and Pakistanis became too successful while I lived there. I lived in Uganda for 10 years. They became too successful for their own good. There was not enough dialogue between the two civilizations at the local level. This is dialogue among civilizations at the local level; not looking at the map, but at how people relate. In 1972, dictator Idi Amin exercised ethnic cleansing against Indians, meaning people from the South Asian section, throwing out thousands of Asians of Uganda to Great Britain and to a lesser extent to Canada. The new Government of Yoweri Museveni has invited some Asians back to Uganda in the 1990s and has given them back some of their lost property.

Then, of course, we have had the case of Jews who suffered a lot in Europe as a result of their success and their being perceived as being too distinct in the Judaic tradition, which is supposed to be almost the same civilization. It still didn't save 6 million Jews. When is racism provoked by the material or intellectual success of a minority and when is that material intellectual success of minority made worse if the minority is endogamous and socially separate? Jealously, envy, relative deprivation — trigger mechanisms which sabotage conversations between cultures, dialogue between civilizations. Prestigious eastern universities in the United States began to impose quotas on the admission of Jews after World War I, the discrimination hidden under the term "character" or by setting up a committee of alumni to screen out unattractive applications. I do not want to offend my American alma mater, Columbia University, here but Columbia University had a 40 per cent Jewish student body when it imposed this quota in 1920. After imposing its quota against Jewish admission, within a couple of years enrolment dropped from 40 per cent to 22 per cent. In the nearby City College of New York and Hunter College, Jewish enrolment continued at about 80 per cent. There has been discussion that in the 1970s 80 per cent of college-age Jews in the United States were in college, whereas only 40 per cent of all college-age Americans were in college. In the 1950s 60 per cent of college-age Jews were in college, whereas only 26 per cent of all college-age Americans were in college.

The gap is narrowing not because fewer Jews are in college, but because more gentiles are in college. But the downside of this impressive performance, about which even now people ask: are the Jews doing better in school, do they get more A's? That is definitely invalidated; at least some scholars deny that Jewish students get more A's. But there is less disagreement about the fact that a much higher proportion of Jewish students, 40 per cent, are attending high-ranking institutions as contrasted with 13 per cent of the gentile population. The cost of this very impressive performance by our Jewish brothers and sisters is that dialogue between civilizations and cultures is inhibited by success. Success itself has its problems by uneven distribution of incomes and uneven distribution of skills.

When we are talking about dialogue between civilizations we have to engage in social analysis, sociological examination. What on earth is going on? How do we get people to relate to each other? Not by looking at the map. Not by wondering what is happening. But at the level of individuals. Last year there was disagreement between the Catholic Church and Jewish leaders, about what? About Edith Stein, who lived from 1891 to 1942. She was converted to Catholicism well before the Nazis took over power in Germany. She became increasingly interested in Catholicism and she passed through a stage of atheism. She was a very distinguished philosopher. Then in 1934 she entered the Carmelite convent in Cologne, and in 1938 with the Nazi threat and Nazi determination the Catholic Church sent her to the Netherlands. But when the Dutch bishops of Holland under Nazi occupation condemned Nazi anti-Semitism on July 26, 1942, Hitler ordered the capture of all prelates who were not Aryan. Edith Stein and her sister Rosa, also a convert, were shipped to Auschwitz. She died in the gas chamber with her sister. The Roman Catholic Church has now beatified her on her way to canonization. Why should this worry the Jews? Well, they point out that she was killed because she was Jewish. So why is she being beatified as a Roman Catholic?

So you have again within some cultures of one civilization a disagreement. Why did this woman die? She had become a Catholic — nothing to do with the Nazis when she became a Catholic. She was just fascinated by the new religion. She served her fellow prisoners well when she was inside. Survivor after survivor testified to her sacrifices. She died for her Jewish heritage, not for her Roman Catholic heritage. On the other hand, the Church said, yes, but she might never have died if the Dutch bishops had not condemned Nazi anti-Semitism on July 26, 1942. She was part of the price the Church paid for taking a stand against anti-Semitism. Therefore, it is right that the Church should pay recognition. All these are factors we have to bear in mind in assessing the micro-level of dialogue — not the big map of civilization, but the micro- level of dialogue.

Just a couple of more points with regard to this business of what we are confronting. At the micro-level some societies do well domestically and not so well externally, and others do so the other way around.

Take at least two of my favourite countries, the United States and Iran, domestically and internationally. How does the United States do domestically? In foreign policy, Iran is more pluralistic than the United States. In domestic politics, Iran is less pluralistic than the United States. So that is the thesis. In foreign policy, Iran is more pluralistic than the United States. In domestic politics Iran is less pluralistic than the United States. Domestically, the United States, as we know, trains imams for the United States Army. I trained imams for the United States Army at the School of Islamic and Social Sciences in Leesburg, Virginia. I personally am involved in that exercise. Muslims have celebrated Eid Al-Fitr, Dr. Gregorian was telling us, at the White House. The President of the United States sends good wishes for Ramadan. The police in New Jersey were forced by the courts in New Jersey to allow Muslims to grow beards. The police said: no beards. The Muslims took their police employers to court. The court said you cannot stop them wearing beards if they are wearing beards for religious reasons.

The flowering of Muslim organizations is taking place all over the United States. There is a case that may come up. We do not know whether the Muslim taxi driver will win. We were discussing it over lunch. A blind person, a woman with a dog, wanted to enter a taxi. The taxi driver was a Muslim. The Muslim said, in my religion a dog is najs (impure). I am sorry. Catch another cab. The woman said, What? Have you never heard of the Americans with Disabilities Act? So, there are two things. One is the first amendment of the United States Constitution, with regard to freedom of religion, and the other one is the Americans with Disabilities Act, an act of Congress. We do not know which one will win out if it goes to court, but at least they will get a fair hearing. American Muslim soldiers are more free than Turkish Muslim soldiers are in their country. American Muslim women in government offices are freer in the choice of wearing scarves than Turkish women are in Turkey. As you know, just now a Turkish parliamentary woman was not allowed to enter Parliament because she wanted to wear a scarf. So in Muslim society a woman is having difficulties wearing the scarf. She is forbidden to wear a scarf. Such a thing would cause an uproar in the United States. So domestically there is no doubt that the United States is more pluralistic.

In its international policy, the United States is trigger- happy against Muslim countries. Since the end of Vietnam, the United States has militarily bombed Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Iranian aircraft, Afghanistan, Sudan. The United States has also imposed economic sanctions on Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Pakistan. Over Kosovo the United States is at last on the side of Muslim Albanians against Christian Serbs. But we do not know how long this will last. Let's see. The rest of the report of the last quarter century is a trigger-happy orientation which is to some extent Islamophobic. In the case of Iran, domestically it is not so pluralistic. There is factionalism even between conservatives and liberals, among Muslims themselves, let alone relating to other religions within Iran. There is no such thing as discourse with the Jews of Iran, let alone with the Bahai. It is a more open parliamentary system than often assumed, but it is not pluralistic enough.

But internationally, Iran has had no apparent boycotts of countries for prolonged periods except old apartheid South Africa and Israel. Iran is eager to be friends with countries of all cultures and civilizations, is trying to build bridges between Shiah Islam and Sunni Islam and is trying to cultivate the Christian world, including the Vatican. In foreign policy, it is more pluralistic than a country which has a black list. We shall not deal with those countries and those who deal with those countries, we will impose economic sanctions on them — that is United States policy.

A final word on gender. Here I would like to just say a word about Asia, on one side, and on the other side Africa. In Asia there is a kind of emerging female succession to male martyrdom. A male is killed and then a woman arises, time and time again. It is an interesting phenomenon that has arisen in the Asian phenomenon. It began in Sri Lanka with Mrs. Bandaranaike. When her husband was assassinated she was propelled into power. Then you have Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan because, she regarded her father as having been martyred. Then you have Khaleda Zia of Bangladesh and Sheikh Hasina Wajed of Bangladesh. Those are two Muslim countries, one of which has had two women as heads of Government in succession. There are also President Aquino of the Philippines, whose husband was assassinated, and Aung Sung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, whose father was assassinated. Now we have Sonia Gandhi on the horizon, a future second woman prime minister of India. Probably a dialogue of civilization between ancient Rome and the Ganges valley.

In Africa we have the cross-racial or cross-religious first family. Mixed marriage is at the top and is no big deal in Africa, unlike anywhere else in the world. So Leopold Senghor of Senegal had this French wife. Seretse Khama of Botswana also had a white wife. Kwame Nkrumah's first wife was Egyptian. Mohamed Muslim Abdou Diouf of Senegal currently has a wife across religion; he is Muslim and the wife is Roman Catholic. There was Jomo Kenyatta and his pre-presidential English wife, Idi Amin and his multi-ethnic and multi- religious polygamous family, as president of Uganda; and Jerry Rawlings, twice elected president of Ghana, and his Scottish father. So, of course, with regard to racial divide, there is nothing to compare with what is happening in Africa. Nobody bears a stigma because they have a wife from a different race or because one of their parents is from a different race. So dialogue across races and dialogue across civilizations become intertwined.

In the case of Senegal, the Senegalese had a president who was a Roman Catholic in a country which has a percentage of Muslims higher than the percentage of Muslims in Egypt, because the percentage of Muslims in Senegal is about 94 percent, which is higher than the percentage of Muslims in Egypt. For 20 years in a relatively open society in Senegal they had a Roman Catholic president without riots in the streets proclaiming: Jihad fi sabil Allah (Struggle for the sake of God). They went along with it. Bear that in mind and contrast it to the United States, which has only once strayed from the Protestant fraternity. Only once has it had someone who was not a Protestant. The Jews have excelled in almost everything but they do not even try to get into the White House. Now there are as many Muslims as Jews in the United States, and the notion of a Muslim president of the United States is mind-boggling. Yet, here is Senegal which had a Catholic president in a Muslim society for 20 years. Right now it has a Muslim president with a Roman Catholic first lady. Can you imagine any of these candidates pruning themselves for the election in the year 2000, going on Larry King Live and saying: I have a Shiah wife. They would put paid on their candidacy.

I will just conclude with the remark that when we talk about dialogue among civilizations, it is fine talking about the grand scale. I do that on many occasions. I talk about my beloved Africa in continental terms. I talk about the black race in global terms. I talk about the Muslim world in cosmic terms. But if we want to get operational, we really must do more than that. Civilizations are about people and people are in small groups, not on grand scales on the map. Therefore, we must look at societies within societies, even within neighbourhoods. That is what I have attempted to do.

Remarks by the Deputy Foreign Minister of the I.R. Iran

Mr. Picco: I had mentioned earlier that we are going to have a conversation after the presentations of our analysts. But I am going to change my mind yet again. I think this is the second time this has happened at this meeting, but I am reassured that this is possible in international affairs. After all, I think it was Winston Churchill who, when accused of eating his own words, replied: Yes, but there are wholesomely edible. If that is the case you will allow me to ask Deputy Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to address this meeting and then we will take questions.

Deputy Foreign Minister Zarif: It is indeed an honour to participate in this meeting. Let me take this opportunity to express once again our appreciation to Columbia University as well as the United Nations, not to mention our own Permanent Mission here in New York, for having organized this meeting. I do not have a prepared text and I am suffering from jet lag, but you need to bear with me. I am just coming from three days of seminars organized by the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Teheran, which I had the honour to chair on dialogue among civilizations — the first Islamic symposium on dialogue among civilizations. It is interesting how many of the ideas that Professor Bulliet raised here are reflected in the paper that was adopted by consensus. And it was an interesting group of people.

President Khatami, in the beginning of March, wrote a letter to all heads of state and governments of the Islamic world, inviting them to send representatives of high calibre to participate in a dialogue to initiate a dialogue. The response was overwhelming. We had a number of ministers, vice- presidents, advisors to the president. But we also had a number of academicians and a number of theologians. All these minds from the Islamic world came together and produced the document that is in front of you.

In order to address this document, let me start from the beginning. The fact that we are all gathered here, the fact that the United Nations General Assembly, with such overwhelming support, declared the year 2001 as the Year of Dialogue among Civilizations and the fact that in the space of a month and a half more than 35 ministers gathered in Teheran to participate in a symposium on dialogue among civilizations reflect a need, a global need for a new paradigm.

I think nothing could have been a better description of a dialogue among civilizations than what you chose for this meeting: a new paradigm for international relations. That is a requirement and that is a need felt across the globe, a common need to break away from old situations, from the old mode of relations at the domestic, regional and global level based on power politics and exclusion to one which will be based on inclusion and accommodation and dialogue and understanding. In order to break away from that old and indeed outdated method of relationship and enter this new stage, the paradigm should be based on dialogue. That is why there is so much enthusiasm, in our view.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference has followed this probably with more enthusiasm that many others because the OIC, the Islamic countries, have been the subject of a great deal of the literature that is written on clash, and probably more so because of the fact that Islam in its essence is a religion of dialogue. If you look at this document — and I told you that theologians participated in the drafting of this document — you see at a fast glance at least 14 verses from the Holy Quran that reflect values that are common to a spirit of dialogue. Those values are enumerated in a number of paragraphs here. The fact that the Islamic world is so interested in this is more because of these fundamental principles of dialogue that are embedded in Islamic civilization and in Islamic religion.

For this President Khatami — and I have to differ from my distinguished colleagues — raised the suggestion of a dialogue among civilizations at the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit in Teheran. His suggestion was incorporated in the declaration that was adopted by the OIC summit in Teheran. Following that, he followed it up here at the United Nations, which was the appropriate place for it to be followed up, and then the General Assembly decided to proclaim it as the year of dialogue. So the OIC has been on record calling for a dialogue, and we take pride in the fact that the Islamic world has been the initiator of such a dialogue. This seminar was in fact a dialogue to initiate, to launch a dialogue. But before that we did something unprecedented in the 50 years' history of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. With the cooperation of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs. Robinson, we had a seminar in Geneva, jointly organized by the OIC and the Centre for Human Rights, on enriching the universality of the Universal Declaration, allowing Islamic countries to present their commentaries on the issue of human rights and opening a debate on this important issue, widening the participatory base of such an important universal achievement, that is the universalization of human rights and of the Universal Declaration.

We are following that with this declaration, which contains a number of important issues. If you go through it, and I ask you to look at it when you leave this meeting, you will see it starts with a number of principles that are required for a dialogue. If you want to start a dialogue, you need to have a common starting point. I believe the principles of a dialogue among civilizations are the common starting points: the principle of respect, the principle of tolerance, the principle of recognition of the fact that there can be many civilizations — there need not be a single prevalent, predominant civilization in the world — the principle of equality. Those of us who have worked at the United Nations are familiar with these basic principles of international law. These are important principles that we need to accept in order to launch this dialogue.

There are also areas of dialogue. We should not limit dialogue among civilizations to politics. The distinguished members of this panel referred to a very important number of areas of problematics, both at the social and the global levels where dialogue could be of use. They range from the dignity of woman, human rights, the elderly, youth and children to issues of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction and global threats of terrorism and environmental degradation.

All issues can be a subject of dialogue. But more should be the subject of dialogue. Dialogue should encompass areas of culture, literature, historical studies. In dialogue those areas are the areas that can sustain this phenomenon beyond the year 2001 and can continue to keep dialogue as a serious paradigm for international relations, not something that today or tomorrow is a catchy word which attracts international attention and which we all gather to discuss.

With regard to the issue of participants in a dialogue, it is important that we appreciate the fact that although Governments and the United Nations can be a good engine, a good framework, a good facilitator for dialogue, they are not going to conduct dialogue. Dialogue is the work of thinkers, of philosophers, of intellectuals, of artists, of people of culture and science. Those are the people who can be the engine of dialogue, who can sustain dialogue, and I believe this is another area where we need to agree. At least within the Islamic world we already have ideas about these important issues and such a variety of participants, that is scholars, thinker and theologians, as well as politicians and diplomats. The role of civil society and the role of non-governmental organizations is reflected here. We cannot initiate a governmental dialogue. Dialogue cannot be the monopoly of Governments. It will not be sustainable.

The other area that is dealt with here is the issue of promotion of dialogue among civilizations, which I do not deal with at length here, but it is important that we promote the culture of dialogue among civilizations. I believe places like Columbia University, places where different cultures are taught, in fact do provide a great deal of assistance to this global phenomenon.

Another area which should be important, and certainly is important for the Islamic world, is the application of the principle of dialogue to various areas of international relations. Areas of crisis at the global level can in fact use dialogue and can in fact benefit from such a dialogue.

But then dialogue is not an end in itself. I agree with the suggestion of Professor Bulliet, which is also reflected in this document, that we need to use this opportunity provided to us by the proclamation of the year 2001 as the United Nations Year of Dialogue to start something to build this new global order because we are at a new millennium, and that is why we use the year 2001 as the year of dialogue.

But we are at another important stage, and that is we are in a situation where we are transferring from an old political global system to a new political system which has not yet been determined. At this stage, it is important for all the actors at the international level to participate actively so that this new state of affairs at the international level will be one which will be governed by common values, common aspirations and common ethics.

That is why in our wording, which I think I can very easily find common ground with that of Professor Bulliet, we suggested a universal declaration on dialogue among civilizations coupled with a 10-year programme of action, to include and incorporate common ethical and moral values of contemporary civilizations and to use those common values as a code of conduct for our interaction in the twenty-first century. It is a major initiative and it may be too ambitious, but it is something that is worth trying because at this stage I believe an ambitious project, ambitious undertakings can pay. If we are not ambitious enough to build a new century, to build a new global order on the basis of a new paradigm, then we would be failing in addressing the need of the millennium, the need of the global community, which has attracted so many people in such a short space of time.

Questions and Answers

Mr. Picco: We will now continue our meeting by opening the discussion to the floor. When you take the floor, identify yourself and then we can start. The first speaker I have on my list is the Deputy Permanent Representative of Kyrgyzstan, who has asked for the floor.

Mr. Oussoupov: It is an honour to be present today at this meeting among such prominent panellists. I have a mission to accomplish. It is the task of my Ambassador, who could not make it to present her short statement, entitled "Silk Road Diplomacy as a Means of Promotion of Dialogue between Civilizations".

As one of the proud co-sponsors of the resolution on the International Year of Dialogue among Civilizations, Kyrgyzstan is thankful to President Khatami of Iran for his very valuable and timely initiative. The new millennium provides us with the unique opportunity to promote dialogue as an important means of achieving sustainable development and of strengthening peace and security in the world. We should seize this opportunity and not let it pass. History teaches us that lack of dialogue leads to mutual mistrust and growing suspicions, to tension and to the use of brutal force. Therefore, the promotion of dialogue should be viewed as one of the most important prerequisites for building a safer world and a better future.

The initiative of President Khatami is very harmonious with the initiative of President Akayev of Kyrgyzstan on the revival of the Silk Road and his foreign policy doctrine, known as "The Silk Road Diplomacy". In ancient times the Silk Road used to serve not only as a channel of trade, but also as a connecting bridge between countries and civilizations as a way to exchange knowledge, spiritual values, philosophical concepts and political views. Various religions found their adherents along the Silk Road. It played an important role in connecting the East with the West and, to some extent, the North with the South, by providing dynamic interactions between various nations and civilizations on the basis of tolerance, understanding, pluralism and respect for diversity. The Silk Road serves as an outstanding example of a dialogue between civilizations which flourished and became enriched through their daily interaction.

The revival of the Silk Road, in President Akayev's view, could contribute to turning this region into an area of peace and stability, security and friendship and cooperation and partnership, where Kyrgyzstan, lying at the heart of the Eurasian continent and at the crossroads of several civilizations, is prepared to play a constructive role.

Mr. Francese: I am Pier Benedetto Francese, Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations. I would like first of all to express profound appreciation for the initiative of the Islamic Republic of Iran and of its leader, Ambassador Hosseinian, in gathering this panel here today and for Ambassador Hosseinian's action here at the United Nations at large. Of course, we should also express equal appreciation to Columbia University for the role it has taken in arranging this event and in fuelling this very interesting discussion. I wish also to salute the presence of the Moderator, Dr. Giandomenico Picco, who we would like to see more and more here on United Nations grounds.

The words of wisdom that the panelists have given us today are very important, interesting and sometimes a provocative source of inspiration. I think we are all grateful to them for this food for thought of which we are very glad to partake. I would now like to take the liberty to add a brief Italian overview of the topical issue that today has been brought so authoritatively to the attention of the United Nations membership.

Dialogue among civilizations has been a paramount force in the making of history and a catalyst behind some of the major achievements of world civilization. The first example that obviously comes to mind is from my own national culture, namely the Italian Renaissance. That historic moment came about not only through native ingenuity but also as a result of fertile exchange with our neighbours to the east and to the south. From Islamic culture, in particular, the Italian Renaissance borrowed elements of architectural and decorative arts that became characteristic of that eclectic mix we think of as Renaissance. A visit to St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice is all it takes to confirm this profound influence.

Islam also made immeasurable contributions to the development of mathematics, astronomy and medicine to our world, just to name three important disciplines. What is all too often forgotten is that ancient Greek learning and philosophy were kept alive also thanks to Islamic culture and its learned men. In this instance, I would like to recall only one name: Averroes. The simple europeanization of his name gives the precise idea of the intimate and progressive influence that his body of work had on the development of humanism and later on the Renaissance.

Today the globalization of the world economy and culture is forcing every situation through and beyond its geographic boundaries and is banishing every last vestige of isolationism. The remarkable success of this phenomenon comes as no surprise to Italy. Italy has always been a crossroads for the world. Thus, it has long understood the need for an international debate that would replace dogmatism and polarization on the question of cultural diversity. Italy has always taken an assertive part in the reflection on common goals shared by all peoples and the universal interest in peaceful coexistence and mutual respect.

In early December of last year, as some of you may recall, a two-day seminar was held in the city of Turin, organized jointly by Italy and Iran, on the topic of "Religion, Society and State in Iran and Italy". Although the event was limited to two countries representing two different realities, the seminar and today's panel share the same goal: to find points of contact between peoples that foster collaboration, regardless of cultural and ethnic differences, in a spirit of mutual understanding. On that occasion, Italy's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lamberto Dini, spoke the following words in the opening statement:
"Freedom and identity, which were proclaimed as high human values by ancient cultures, must not be translated into rejection of the other. Dialogue among cultures presupposes a fundamental choice, the willingness to hear the motivations of the other, which are never truly extraneous from one's own ethnic and ethic tradition. History teaches us that strong vibrant cultures are those that are receptive and open to dialogue rather than isolationist ones."

There could be no better summary of Italy's belief in dialogue among civilizations and today's event provides us with a golden opportunity to reflect on this issue. It also embodies the hope that President Khatami himself, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, expressed right here in this chamber last fall. Ambassador Hosseinian, if you allow me, I would like to quote your president:
"The establishment and enhancement of civility, be it at the national or international level, is contingent upon dialogue among societies and civilizations representing various views, inclinations and approaches. If humanity, on the threshold of a new century and millennium, devotes all its efforts to institutionalizing dialogue and replacing hostility and confrontation with this course in understanding, it will leave an invaluable legacy for the benefit of future generations."

These words were a beacon of light at the outset of the fifty-third session of the United Nations General Assembly, contributing forcefully to elevating the general debate to a higher moral and principled level. May these words resound in years to come as a call of inspiration to leaders of Governments and societies in their endeavours. May these words help to eliminate any remaining barriers and to gather the whole of mankind around the high goals of unbiased dialogue, of full respect of human rights and unrelenting cooperation for peace and common good in the world.

Mr. Ka (spoke in French): Perhaps I will be introducing a note of disharmony because I am going to speak in French.

I wish, at the outset, to thank the organizers of this seminar, especially Columbia University and the Ambassador of Iran, and our friend the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran for his statement and his remarks on the outcome of the recent symposium held at Teheran. The topic "Dialogue among civilizations" is a very important one, and the Minister just recalled that since the Teheran summit this idea of a dialogue among nations has been gaining ground. In response to President Khatami, I believe that we, the international community, must take on this valuable initiative. We are approaching the third millennium with a very timely issue, an issue that will certainly mobilize the entire international community because, once again, civilization is an assembly of values and conduct, each individual's way of being, a way of life of each of us.

Therefore, in order to achieve a dialogue among civilizations, we believe it will be important to try to tap the best of each civilization. It will also be necessary for the various civilizations to join together soon. We should do it because we are living in a world of globalization. The world has has gotten smaller. The phenomenal development of communications is such that we could work on that basis to try to bring all peoples and civilizations together.

Having read the declaration and the text on the Teheran symposium, I would like to make a small observation. Certainly, the United Nations has been asked to make use of the media. However, I believe that we should not only request that the media be used, but we should also assign a specific role to the media in this coming together, in this dialogue among civilizations, because the media can unite and it can also destroy. I think this is a fundamental point that is worth elaborating in more depth to present it better than it was in the Teheran declaration we have before us.

For this dialogue among civilizations it is important that we all accept a peaceful confrontation of ideas along with the willingness to succeed in holding a fruitful dialogue with a view to crossing cultures. If we cannot arrive at this peaceful confrontation of ideas and willingness to succeed in crossing cultures of civilizations, it will be very difficult to speak of dialogue among nations.

One cannot speak of dialogue of civilizations if one does not want to recognize others, if one does not want to respect others. It is an extremely important element on which I think we should focus our efforts and ideas and increase awareness among members of the international community in this regard. The Minister has just stated that tolerance clearly lies at the centre of this issue.

I wish to conclude by thanking Professor Ali Mazrouie for his references to Senegal. Indeed, the Teheran summit addressed dialogue among civilizations. But if we look back at the historical record, Leopold Sedar Senghor was the first to have talked about universal civilization, that civilization which is the crucible of all world civilizations, that civilization which should be a happy civilization that takes the fruitful elements from other elements of civilization. You are correct, Professor, about the 20-year period of rule by a Christian, President Senghor, President of the Republic of Senegal.

I also wish to add to your information that Senegal has 20 political parties, 22 newpapers, very sarcastic, but never in an electoral political campaign has Senghor been referred to as the head of a Muslim country. That is the conciliating factor we find. It is through that type of approach that this universal civilization will ultimately be established. It should be a crucible of all civilizations. Even the draft resolution on the dialogue among civilizations should contain that term "universal civilization" because in the long run we should succeed in achieving that civilization.

Mr. Sharma (Ambassador of India): I wish to congratulate Iran for this initiative which it has taken. It is full of interest and full of depth and also full of necessity that we talk about these matters here. The importance of this subject lies in the fact that whereas everything we discuss in the United Nations expresses some form of aspiration among us, whether political, social, political or other, this topic addresses what we ourselves are. Unless the study of man clarifies what man is, we cannot make progress which has value or depth in the other fields.

I would just like to make some stray comments on what has been said. I feel that the need for this dialogue more so, as very frequently I hear the expression concerning the monotheistic religions and I have just heard that used this evening as well. I feel myself a little uncomfortable when this term is used, since the inclusion here appears to be of the Semitic religions. Since I am not born to any one of them, I feel that I must belong to the polytheistic religions, and since I am so typed, I feel uncomfortable because I deny that. Now we have to look for categories where I would belong. This is a grave misunderstanding, and I believe that if these terms at any point of history had usefulness, they have long since lost it. They come in the way of understanding true religious faith rather than advancing their faith.

If you ask an average Hindu on the streets how many gods there are, he will look blankly at you and ask how can there be more than one. The question itself makes no sense. But if you want to describe the experience of the religious unfoldment in India you might say that, having conceded or accepted as a given fact something very obvious, there cannot be more than one God. What is there more that you can say?

That is where the complexity and the interest arises, because you can use many metaphors. One metaphor is since you cannot look at the sun directly, you look wherever the sun can be seen. It really is an interesting metaphysical question. If you look at the sun in a million pools of water, are you looking at the million suns or at the same sun? Are deities and divinities different entities or are they simply manifestations or are they endless expressions of what the one divine can be?

Here I would like to anchor my point in something which Professor Mazrouie said very strikingly. First of all, I would like to say that I was very much taken by the description earlier made by Professor Gregorian, which is so apt and so moving and so powerful, that if one of your limbs is in pain, how can your other limbs be in comfort? I think if you needed a motto for the dialogue among civilizations, this would be an apt one. Professor Mazrouie said civilizations are about people and people are in small groups. You can carry that argumentation a step further and say small groups consist of individuals and in the end you are looking into the soul and the heart of an individual and that is where your object is.

What is a civilization unless a collection of individuals who have a certain value and a certain depth of experience and a way of looking at the world within himself or within herself. One of our great spiritual leaders expressed it this way. How reasonable is it to claim that you belong to a superior type of humanity because you have six fingers? Is that a reasonable assertion? To the extent that we depart from the commonality of the spiritual experience of mankind as a whole, we run the danger of entering that kind of argument. Let us seek where the five fingers are and that will give us unity. The rest becomes detail.

I would like to say that what is important most of all is the spiritual personality of a man or a woman, of a person. The spiritual personality can be accessed in several ways and can find expression in several ways. But it is the spiritual personality which matters, the unfolding of that personality which matters. Therefore, look at the result and not at the means. I myself find myself sustained by all religions and I salute them, all of them, and I pay homage to them. My bedside reading has consisted of the stories of the mystics of Islam, of the sermons of Meister Eckhart. Anyone who nourishes my soul is a person who I honour as a guru or as my teacher.

Let me finish with a parable to express what I am trying to say. Very often the kind of thirst, the kind of lacking which in the human soul is expressed in terms of an opposition; it is between the profane and the divine. We find ourselves, I think, at the present point of our civilization in a most deplorable situation where all of us dig for water and all we find is gold. Now, if we carry this parallel further, and all of us see ourselves as travellers over a parched land, which is also a part of the metaphor, looking for water, then what slakes our thirst is water in the end and not the ways in which that water is discoloured or the ways in which its taste is altered or whether it has fizz or not; and for us to fight upon the relative merits of whether water would fizz or whether water would be a different colour or taste is superior to another kind of water is, I think, a waste of human energy. Because what is slaking your thirst is water and that is your essence and that is where we must go.

Mr. Segesvary: My name is Victor Segesvary. I am a former United Nations staff member. I worked not in this House, but in Africa and Asia. I was project manager or programme manager for development programmes.

I would also like to say why I am here and why I am interested in this programme. In 1977 I published a study in French about the Reformation and Islam. The first time in history that the Quran was published in Latin was in 1542, in Basel, and there was a whole controversy around this, so I wrote a book about it. But last year I brought out a book published in the United States about intercivilizational relations and the destiny of the West, Dialogue of Confrontation. That was published last year. In fact, I think the title shows that it is a sort of anti-Huntington book.

I analyze civilizations from the cultural, religious, political, social and economic points of view. I find that the survival of the West is possible only if it understands other civilizations, if there is tolerance and if there is acceptance that the other civilizations may also be right. In fact, I followed up this book with another one which is about globalization and the contradictions of late modernity.

Now I come to some points I would like to mention with respect to the debate. First, I think every civilization has at its core a transcendental perspective. The gentleman before me mentioned and talked about it. I would like to answer him because I analyzed the Chinese, Indian, Islamic, African and European civilizations in my book. I also believe that there is really only one religion, and I always quote the Renaissance Cardinal Nicolas of Cusa, who said there is only one religion but it is expressed in various rituals. That is the first point.

The second point is we have talked a lot about rationalism and reason since the eighteenth century. In my opinion every civilization has its own reasoning patterns and these reasoning patters may be different, but they may also overlap in some cases. We have to take this into account.

The third problem, as was already mentioned, is the nation-state problem. I lived in Africa and Asia and I realized that the nation-state formula does not correspond to anything in these regions, on these continents. Therefore, I am now working with some other people on the various continents on a new political theory on the modern state which could replace the nation-state.

As far as economic aspects are concerned, I would like to conclude with an experiment I made in my work, which was always in the field of economic and social development, and that was that we can never succeed on other continents in having real economic development if we try to impose our imported ideas, concepts, formulas and methods. I always talk to my fellow countrymen with whom I work about how you have to try to determine how to apply concepts and methods to your own context, social and cultural and civilizational context.

In closing, I would also like to mention as a feature of the dialogue among civilizations that two months ago, in March, I, who am also a Protestant minister, was lecturing in Milano at the Catholic University of Milano to postgraduate students about the United Nations and civilizational differences.

Mr. Sucharipa: Just a few comments from the Austrian side. We welcome the initiative itself and the preparations for the Year of Dialogue among Civilizations and acknowledge the presence and the important contributions of Deputy Minister Zarif today. I think that testifies further to the seriousness of the United Nations initiative at the last General Assembly.

I would like to make two general comments and just two or three concrete initiatives that have been taken already on our side. First, I think — and it was just proved again this afternoon — there seems to be, at least at this gathering and under this roof, a fairly broad agreement against ideas of clash of civilization, and I think that is exactly where an initiative of that kind, a dialogue among civilizations, comes in and has its merits.

Still, in going further we need to define a couple of important elements. What do we mean by civilizations? What do we really mean by dialogue among civilizations? Shouldn't we also in parallel include the idea of dialogue within civilizations? I think that is an important idea that needs to be further discussed, and I think Professor Mazrouie also referred to that.

Second, the idea that we are not starting from scratch is important. This is one of those initiatives where the United Nations really has added value to offer, but inasmuch as I think it is good to have that discussed here in that framework, we also need to be aware of initiatives that have already taken place.

I I will just mention two or three where Austria was in the driving seat as an example, just to make the point that in gathering on a more universal basis, I think we are not starting at point zero. In early 1995, the United Nations declared the Year of Tolerance, and the Austrian delegation at that time invited Mr. Simon Wiesenthal to represent his country, Austria, in the debate. Out of that came the idea of a conference that took place last December in Vienna on the root causes of hatred. It is obviously something very related, and the findings of that conference I think are relevant.

Another related area is obviously dialogue among major religions. I think that very clearly based on contacts we had with a number of Iranian personalities — and I personally remember probably the most valid of those contacts we had with President Khatami in his then capacity as Minister for Religious Guidance, who had a long talk with our foreign minister on all these types of initiatives — we have already had two major conferences between Christians and Muslims in Austria, one in 1993 and one in 1997. Again, the idea of promotion of inter-religious dialogues, respect for the identities of groups, peoples' cultures, respect for human rights and fundamental freedom — all that was highlighted there and put in the appropriate framework.

One last element, I think indicative of another important element in that discussion, is that we should find out to what extent these types of initiatives are relevant, even for very concrete conflict situations. The Appeal of Conscience Foundation held an interesting conference of religious leaders of Islam, Christianity and Judaism on Kosovo, organized by Rabbi Schneier in Vienna probably at a time when it was a little too late already, just six to eight weeks ago. Out of it came a very interesting declaration which we have circulated as a United Nations document. As I said, obviously and unfortunately a little bit too late, but I do not think it is lost. We all hope diplomacy and negotiations will start again. These kinds of ideas are valid and will be taken into account. I just wanted to add these to make the point that it is a very welcome initiative and we need to assemble all our forces to go ahead.

Mr. Picco: The next speaker is Mr. Richard Jordan of the non-governmental organization on Sustainable Development.

Mr. Jordan: First of all I would like to thank all of the panelists for their presentations and the Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran for his very welcome words.

I would like to put on my other hat as a member of the Board of Governors of the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park. In support of the initiatives so admirably put forth by President Khatami, I am pleased to say that the National Arts Club, a 100-year-old arts educational institution here in Manhattan, is committed to host a series in 2001 dedicated to the dialogue among civilizations. This series will invite artists, especially young artists, not just to enter into a dialogue, but to illustrate through their art how we might go beyond limited visions of civilization. In this regard, I would wholeheartedly support the very eloquent reflection of the Permanent Representative of India, Ambassador Sharma, whom I know is a great fan of Octavio Paz also.

Mr. Picco: I call on Professor Rahni of Pace University.

Mr. Rahni: Thank you for having given me the opportunity to participate in this colloquium and also have another chance to see one of our compatriot's role models, Dr. Vartan Gregorian. Trying to begin a dialogue among civilizations is a very noble and grand idea.

Having confessed that, in order for it to be perpetuating among masses and among nations, one should envisage the idea of defining a set of key indicators and outcome assessment tools, and one that comes to mind is the concept of sustainable development and global intergenerational equity as it has been alluded to several times here in the forum. That is the concept based on the 1987 London Bruntland Commission, which is the ability of the present generation to meet its own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

In order to be able to achieve that, we have to remain cognizant that the terrestrial natural resource here is very finite and the earth's carrying capacity is very limited. Therefore, as I was sitting here I tried to come up with a series of key buzz words. The key buzz words that come to my mind were key indicators, such as economic, education, environment, ethics, equity, aesthetics and empowerment.

Mr. Ansari: My name is Maboud Ansari. I am a sociologist at William Patterson University. I enjoyed all the talk, and as an Iranian I must add that I felt a great sense of pride for at least two reasons so far. The first is that, yes, the idea was initiated by the President of Iran, President Khatami, and the second is that again and again the wisdom of Saadi, the great humanitarian, was being accepted and referred to as an important paradigm.

My question really can be answered by any of the panelists. If we are going to refer to dialogue as a paradigm, perhaps we should ask: what are the components of this paradigm? You all are in your own work a worthy paradigm. What would you specifically consider components of this paradigm?

I must add that I was quite impressed by one of the talks that emphasized micro-analysis. In fact, I think that this is already happening at home in Iran, that new dialogue is being established and it seems to me, as I read, to be quite promising. But what is needed to be done here? And here I am talking as an educator. Year after year, I see my students coming with highly ethnocentric feelings, and when they take the courses on Muslims in America they tell me that it took them one semester to unlearn what they had learned about the distortions regarding Iranians and Muslims. To give you an idea, Professor Mazrouie, since you are so good at the dates, facts and figures, you referred to the remarkable education achievements of some ethnic groups such as Jews. I must add that a new type of American has arrived here and those are the Iranian-Americans, who have a 98 per cent rate of educational achievements here in the United States.

Mr. Smith: My name is Wayne Smith. In the United States, Smith is the most common surname that we have, I believe, unless it is Jones or Brown. Some 23 years ago I founded an organization, an non-governmental organization, which is called The Friendship Force. In this organization we have people from all over the world. Concerning religions we have Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims. We conceived when we began that this dialogue between civilizations is an absolute necessity.

I cannot agree more with the gentleman from India on the comments he made concerning civilizations. When we are talking about civilizations, what do we mean? We mean people. When you get right down to it, we mean individuals.

Some of you have heard that a cynic was once asked the question: What is the difference between ignorance and apathy? His answer was: I don't know and I don't care. Well, that is the way so many individuals are around the world today. They don't know. There is such a dearth of knowledge, especially among my fellow Americans about other cultures and civilizations. We are still a very insular society. We don't know about Buddhism and Hinduism. We didn't know about Communism. We didn't know about world structures.

So we came at it in this way and we put together some 10 million people in personal contact over these 23 years in some 65 countries. We take groups of people, sometimes very large, over 400 at a time, in a chartered aircraft from one community to another. Not always the United States is involved. They live in the homes of their counterparts; a university professor with his counterpart. The same aircraft which takes people brings them back. They live in homes either in Brazil or the United States, Germany, India, and they spend a week in each other's homes. They put their feet under their tables to eat their meals, the food that they eat 365 days a year. They sleep under their roofs. And do you know what happens? Before long the "I don't care" starts caring. We have found that overwhelmingly when people are in touch with people, just as the gentleman from India was saying, we begin to pull back these onion layer skins of culture, of race, of religion, of the different food that we like and we get back to that essence, which truly is a spiritual essence, and we find out we like each other. I will give you an example in this very room.

When the gentleman from Senegal spoke - I don't understand French; I failed French in high school. I do speak Portuguese fluently; I lived in Brazil some seven years. Because I did not understand his words and I could not get this [interpretation device] to work, I really did not care. If I had known him, if this were a gentlemen in whose home I had stayed, or he had stayed in mine, if I knew his wife, his children, and maybe he is old enough to have grandchildren, I would have cared and I would have found a way to make this work or would have gone somewhere else.

I am suggesting that we have got to care and then that caring moves up into our heads. We started this back in '77 to experiment between the United States and England. But by 1982 we were taking rather large groups to the Soviet Union and Soviets were coming to this country. We had the great honour in '93 to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

I am suggesting that as we have dialogue, we do it. We have people of great influence and political powers in our organization as well; former President Carter, with whom Iran had quite a dispute with the Ayatollah, and his wife were involved. But I spoke to President Carter, whom I have known since before he was Jimmy Carter - I have known him since 1971. I told him about a group that we were taking to Iran, which we did last year. It was not a large group - 10 or 12. We have 55 more going this month, I might say, who will be going into the homes not to sleep but to have a meal with Iranian families. It was fantastic last year and it will be more so this year.

When I told former President Carter of this he went personally to the White House and spoke with President Clinton. President Clinton wrote me a letter. I have a copy of it here but I have submitted that to the Iranian Mission here for your information. In the letter he is very supportive of such an initiative. I have also written to President Khatami because when I heard that Christmas speech in '97 I said: That man is preaching the gospel. I want to get involved in that.

So, we are hoping that we can have this kind of dialogue and while it is necessary to have the head involved, it is necessary to have the heart involved. Then I will say one phrase I remember from my French, which is: Vive la difference!

Mrs. Mandel: My name is Harriet Mandel. I am here representing the Jewish Community Relations Council. I am a graduate, an alumna of Columbia University, a proud student of the past of Professor Bulliet, who taught me an awful lot. I have a question to which I will stand corrected. However, much of what has been said today, posited today regarding dialogue of civilizations considers, I believe, that the white Christian world must be more tolerant of, if not accept as equals, the Islamic world, its culture, its religious values and its people.

I wish to ask if the Islamic world is ready to accept the non-Islamic civilizations, namely the Christian, the Jewish, the Hindu, the Buddhists, the Shinto and the others, including their cultural, political, religious and theological institutions and ideas? I am particularly directing my question to the very sad and unfortunate, harsh, delegitimizing, often vitriolic statements made by Iran against the Jewish State, against Israel. This is a case in point.

Professor Mazrouie and others spoke here about Jews in many contexts and had the courage to speak so in this body about the history of anti-Semitism, the prejudice, the persecution of Jews in its many forms, including at my own alma mater. Today there is widespread anti-Semitism in the Arab press. There is government- sanctioned sale of work, such as the protocols of the elders of Zion, which goes about freely throughout the Arab world, the marginalization of Israel at the United Nations and the biased voting pattern against Israel in this international organization against the Jewish State. This is all occurring as we speak about the new paradigm. I would like to hear comments on this, please.

Dr. Khatamee: My name is Dr. Khatamee and I have a very short question. I am a physician so I am really not an idealist; I am a realist. I have a question for the panelists. It had been mentioned that the venue by which this major task would be tackled would be the United Nations. I wonder if the United Nations really at this point has enough credibility and clout to tackle such a magnanimous task.

Mr. Picco: Thank you for the questions. I really apologize to all of you that I was unable to recognize questions' purposes, and I will ask Professor Gregorian to make a brief comment on some of the questions which were raised or anything else he wishes to say.

Mr. Gregorian: First of all let me address Ambassador Sharma. I apologize because in my remarks I had India, China, Japan and so forth, but I was so obsessed with Huntington that I got carried away and only stressed those three civilizations. Anybody who has read the works of Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore or the Bhagavad Gita knows the humanism of the Indian civilization and its great interaction with Iranian civilization, Muslim civilization and Far Eastern civilization. That is my fault that I did not stress that, so I apologize.

As far as anti-Semitism is concerned, I think I remarked that all categorization is sin because out of categorization comes anaesthetization, out of anaesthetization comes dehumanization, out of dehumanization come the holocausts and genocides and so forth. I thought I made that clear, because anti-Semitism is wrong. So is Islamophobia. Anti-Christian feeling is wrong. Anti-Hindu feeling and all the others are also wrong. Those who use religion to promote hatred are wrong, no matter what religious sect they belong to, because all the holy books stress the fact that brotherhood, sisterhood and so forth, caring, as I called it after Saadi, for all the limbs of human beings, are correct.

Last but not least, I think there was another question raised about the universality of civilization, especially la negritude that Senghor wrote about of African civilization. There has been discussion in the past until World War II that first there is a culture. Cultures form a civilization and civilizations all form world civilization. Unfortunately, the term world civilization has disappeared from all jargon. As a result, we are talking only about cultures and civilizations. Those who do not fit in any of the cultures we marginalize and therefore we dehumanize them.

So I hope the day will come, and that is the remark I mentioned of Toynbee's, that out of the fusion of civilizations and religions will acome one major world civilization in which differences will not have disappeared but tolerance will have been established.

To answer you, Mrs. Mandel, I believe and I cannot state in more categorical terms that anti-Semitism is a sin, Islamophobia is a sin, anti-Christian feeling is a sin. You can be against injustice, but you cannot in the process of injustice commit other injustices.

Mr. Bulliet: I want to make a couple of brief comments. Deputy Foreign Minister Zarif spoke about this being a conversation about beginning a conversation. I think that is a very important point to keep in mind. We are talking here about a rubric that we are referring to as a paradigm.

There are two common usages of the term paradigm. One is for all of those lists of verbs that you learn when you study a language. You memorize them and then you hope to know the language. But another paradigm is the usage of philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn, where he says that paradigm is universal discourse, a field in which there are certain questions that can be asked and certain questions that cannot be asked. There is a sense that we are coming to an end of a paradigm that has held world attention for a very long time. In Kuhn's formulation, when you come to the end of a paradigm, you find there are questions that cannot be answered that have become pressing questions. I believe that is the state that we are in. There are questions being asked that cannot under the past understandings of international relations be readily answered.

But what the new paradigm is is a matter of something that evolves slowly through many trials and errors, and that is not simply something that we can describe today in terms of its specifics or its general parameters. One thing, however, that I think is extremely important is how the effort is disseminated. I think the micro-level that Professor Mazrouie talked about is a very important one, not simply in terms of experiential life of people, but in terms of what they know about what is happening at the level we are attempting to address.

So here we have the United Nations. The United Nations can simply talk to itself. We all know that this is what the United Nations has done a lot in its history. But this is a case where we want the United Nations to take the leadership in talking to the world, which the United Nations has also done on many notable occasions in the past.

Is the United Nations the proper place for this? There is no better place. But it does not mean that it is something that will happen exclusively in the United Nations. I think everyone who has thought about this envisages a large number of organizations, such as the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which has already taken action becoming involved with the United Nations, to some degree participating in the steering of the effort and in the aggregation of these efforts into a common world enterprise. Certainly, we at Columbia University hope and expect to play a continuing role in shaping how this effort goes along both within the United Nations and in working with other foundations and national organizations.

But dissemination ultimately becomes very important. How do we communicate with the peoples in the world at large what the findings are? What the bases of agreement with respect to a new paradigm are? At some point the issue of information, dissemination of information and involvement of ordinary citizenry will have to be addressed, in my view sooner rather than later.

Professor Mazrouie: First with regard to the Permanent Representative of India on polytheism and monotheism, I am in great sympathy with what he was saying because this kind of debate is also very relevant in Africa. Many African societies have had religious systems which were interpreted as polytheistic by outsiders and which the locals do not concede that that is the case. So this kind of misunderstanding is also felt in many parts of Africa.

To the colleague from Senegal, yes, regarding Leopold Senghor's discussion for many years on universal civilization, which he has been championing throughout two decades of his presidency, in a way long before we were debating the dialogue between civilizations, he was championing the quest for a global civilization and for incorporation into that global civilization what he called negritude, the contributions of black people. So it is a conversation in which Sanghor also participated in initiating.

Iranians as educational achievers: that is excellent news if the percentage is as high as 98 per cent because that is even higher than the figures that I have about Jews. The point I was raising is that we should not let high achievement slide into forms of inequality which then result in prejudice. If we, as Iranians - I am putting on my Iranian spelling - are doing very well right now, we should make sure that it does not slide into the sort of unfortunate thing that Koreans suffered, for example, in Los Angeles in the riots because they had built up a lot of prejudice in relation to their own success. So success has disruptive consequences unless care is taken.

Which brings me to the word "caring", which was raised by one of the participants. Caring is an important element. I have wondered about that since the response to caring for ethnic Albanians, which has pleased me because obviously in this case with NATO there is no oil to defend, there are no major strategic issues. The country Albania is literally not just one of the poorest in Europe, but literally the poorest in Europe. The ethnic Albanians next door are very underprivileged. So you cannot make the case that NATO is moving in in pursuit of oil, as might be the case in the Middle East, or in pursuit of strategic advantage. What is the caring here? I hope it is substantial, but it does seem to be increasingly hesitant now and I am beginning to be worried. Also, why did it take much longer with the case of Bosnia? Was it nomenclature that Bosnians had a name which made religion frontal? They were called Muslims. These are called Albanians. You have to ask what is their religion. The people who are being discriminated against in Bosnia were ethnically called Muslims. So their religion was frontal. Was that a major factor why the West took so long to care about what happened to them?

Finally, with regard to this very important question raised about prejudice and anti-Semitism and so forth. Just two major points. Non-Muslims within the Muslim world have sometimes risen higher than Muslims within the West. For example, there is no Muslim equivalent in the West who has risen as high as Tariq Aziz in Iraq. There is no Muslim equivalent. There is a Deputy Prime Minister. So the proportion of Christians in Iraq is approximately not much higher than the proportion of Muslims in many Western countries. Yet, here is a Christian who is Deputy Prime Minister. There is no Muslim equivalent of Boutros Boutros- Ghali, who is a Christian married to a Jew, who rose very high in the foreign service in Egypt, high enough to become eligible to become Secretary-General of the United Nations. There is no Western equivalent of a Muslim who was allowed to arise that high. So when we are talking about the micro-level, look at what has happened within societies, not just between societies. With regard to anti-Semitism, just two dualities. Last year the Catholic Church was debating with the Jewish leadership about the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism. The Jewish leadership said: You did not care about the holocaust. You did not protest enough to save a million out of the 6 million; 500,000 out of the 6 million. You did not try enough as a Church. You did not care enough. There was basic anti-Semitic behaviour on the part of the Church. The Church said: The Church has never been anti- Semitic. It was at one time anti-Judaic, until the second Vatican Council. They were making a distinction between a religious prejudice they had until the second Vatican Council in the 1960s and anti-Semitism, which the Catholic Church describes as a racial doctrine that is very modern.

Now with regard to Israel, here the distinction is anti- Semitism and anti-Zionism. Many people who are worried about Israel are anti-Zionist. Many Jews do not accept the distinction. They do not accept that you can be opposed to Israel and its policies and not be anti-Jewish. Yet, it is a valid distinction. I do not know whether you agree with the Catholic Church about the distinction between anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism, but as an intellectual distinction I think in my opinion it is perfectly valid.

Whether the Church itself was guilty or not is a different matter. Just as an intellectual point, it is perfectly valid being opposed to the religion and to the Second Vatican Council and regarding Jews as a biological group in racial terms like Hitler did and how he executed Edith Stein, which is a different modern version of anti-Semitism. Similarly, anti-Semitism is different from anti-Zionism. But we should not let anti-Zionism genuinely slide into anti-Semitism, because sometimes we do allow it to slide into anti-Semitism, which is probably what the young lady was probably concerned about; that sometimes we sound as if we are anti-Jewish when in fact we are against the policies of the State of Israel. We should watch that sliding scale.

Mr. Picco: As we are coming to the end of this discussion, let me just remind you that this seminar will be followed by another one. The time, date and participants will be announced at the right time.

In concluding, let me just say two words. The eventual success of a dialogue of civilization will be measured in my view according to the ability that such a dialogue will have to engender and to produce processes of reconciliation in various parts of society and indeed in various parts of the world. One of the features that accompanied my political and human journey from country to country for some 20 years was a constant presence on my side of something which I would call the unbearable presence of the enemy. The enemy seems to be us no matter where we go, no matter where we come from.

Indeed, I wondered often why in human history we have only had leaders who could not lead without enemies. If, indeed, of an enemy we are in need, I would suggest here that on the occasion of a dialogue of civilizations we join forces against the only real enemy we have in front of us for the 21st century. That enemy is not a state. It is not a religion. It is not a culture. But it is, indeed, intolerance. History does not kill. Religions do not destroy buildings and institutions do not rape. Only individuals do those things.

As we speak there are those who still claim that the origin of their hatred is in history or religion or civilization or culture. Unfortunately, it is not so. Only individuals can hate and only individuals can dialogue. Diversity is not a threat. It is only the beginning of life.
Dr.Javad Zarif

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