I made reference a couple of days ago to the dialogue of civilisations. The concept of a dialogue among civilisations was originally introduced by the former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami in response to an increasing emphasis on and belief that there exists a "Clash of Civilisations." Khatami's ideas were also the basis for the United Nations naming 2001 as the Year of Dialogue among Civilisations.
This civilisational dialogue is usually thought of in the context of Muslim-Christian and Muslim-Western secular relations. However, another often forgotten but crucial dimension is Jewish-Muslim relations. In a new development, Jewish and Muslim organisations met together last week in Brussels and discussed questions such as those listed at the beginning at this post. They also compiled information on partnerships, initiatives and best practice in the field of Jewish-Muslim dialogue in Europe.
Initiatives such as these are crucial in helping to remove mutual prejudices and misunderstandings. Here in the UK, there was a recent conference of rabbis and imams in Manchester, but to date the Government's favoured body for interacting with the Muslim community, the Muslim Council of Britain, has not even recognised Holocaust Memorial Day.
The fact remains that Jews, Christians and Muslims both here in Britain and worldwide have a common history dating back thousands of years. Now, more than ever, it is time for us all to draw upon and learn from our shared heritage and positive cultural experiences.