Ethar El-Katatney

Denmark Talk Show Heats Up

Posted in Dimensions (AUC) by Ethar El-Katatney on March 10, 2006

Dr. Fadel Soliman, Director of Bridges Cross-Cultural Dialogue Foundation, and Dr. Hanna Ziadeh, Senior Researcher at the Danish-Egyptian Dialogue Institute, participated in a heated debate last Wednesday at Ewart Hall.

The debate was organized as a Question and Answer session, where a question was posed to both parties and both got a chance to respond.

When asked how the controversy arose, Soliman discussed how Denmark and Norway were good friends to the Muslim world, which made many people unhappy; and that was what resulted in the cartoons. Ziadeh vehemently disagreed, saying that the cartoons were not an argument with Muslims, but with the conservative left-wing Danish. He also said that drawings of the Prophet had been circulating for 20 years with no backlash, and accused Islamists who are “capitalizing on this issue to fulfill there own agenda.”

Soliman responded by stating that “The big problem is not with cartoons in and of themselves, but in making fun of our religion…that is what we will not tolerate.” Freedom of expression, he said, is limitless in Islam, and long as it is directed towards a tyrant or an oppressor. He also discussed the hypocrisy of having double standards, pointing out how any mention of the Holocaust is not allowed, and how “those who are crying for freedom of speech would be shouting anti-Semitism if the cartoons were of a rabbi with a bomb for a turban.”

The session continued in this manner for a while, before ending with a couple of brief questions from the audience. Mr. Soliman has previously visited AUC in early March, and gave a very well attended lecture about freedom of speech in relation to the Denmark cartoons. He also gave the first level of the Bridges foundation Presenters for Peace program (PPP) titled “Presenting Islam to Non-Muslims” in Cairo, and a large number of AUCians and professors attended, declaring it to be very beneficial. Abd-Allah Talib, professor of Anthropology, believes that it would be a good idea if new faculty were exposed to such lectures—instead of ones simply about the Egyptian culture—if they show interest in attending. The first stage of the training will be offered again in early April—if interested, visit the Bridges foundation website at http://www.bridges-foundation.org

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