As western nations see their Muslim populations grow, government officials and policy experts recommend improving relations between Muslim and non–Muslim communities in these countries through locally driven community–building initiatives and training media professionals to be more conscientious on how they portray Muslim communities, according to a new report released by New York University’s Center for Dialogues: Islamic World–U.S.–The West.
The recommendations stem from a spring conference held in Salzburg, Austria that included the following participants: Salzburg Mayor Heinz Schaden; Ursula Plassnik, Austrian federal minister for European and international affairs; Iqbal Riza, special advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Alliance of Civilizations; Amb. Hans Gnodtke of the German Federal Foreign Office; and Farah Pandith, a senior U.S. State Department advisor on Muslim engagement.
The Muslim population is an estimated 15 to 20 million in Europe and 3 to 6 million in the United States. Islam is a principle identity referent for these populations, but a focus of concern for their host countries. The Salzburg conferenceÑwhich included more than 60 youth and women activists and community leaders, religious leaders, policy—makers, policy analysts, scholars, and government officials from Canada, the United States, and Europe—sought ways to address the tensions produced by Islam in the West and how they can be overcome.
“As citizens, Western Muslims could become an inspiration for the larger Muslim world as it struggles to strike a balance between faith, tradition, and modernity,” said Mustapha Tlili, founder and director of Center for Dialogues. “The harmonious integration of Muslim communities in the West could also lead to a more peaceful and productive relationship between the West and the Muslim world.”
The conference offered a series of recommendations, which are fully described in the report. They include:
EDITOR’S NOTE: New York University Center for Dialogues: Islamic World–U.S.–The West (Dialogues) emerged from the tragedy of September 11th, which highlighted the need for greater communication among and about the United States, Europe, and the Muslim world. Dialogues was founded as a forum for constructive debate between the various religious, intellectual, economic, and political sectors of American, European, and Islamic societies. The Center for Dialogues is committed to a number of academic, policy, and outreach activities, including international conferences on a variety of topics of critical importance today—the clash of perceptions, elections, the nature of authority in the Islamic world and in the West, among others—which result in the development of policy recommendations.Back to the top.