Dialogue and multiculturalism must be embraced

Dear Editor,

The brutal killing of three persons and the injuries caused to many others in Westminster, London by a British- born terrorist has generated widespread condemnation by world leaders including US President Donald Trump.

According to a BBC report, IS has claimed responsibility for the attack, even though it is still unclear whether the attacker who was killed by the security forces, acted on his own or was linked to any terrorist organization.

What seems evident is that there is a clear pattern of attacks on several Western capitals allegedly by Muslim extremist elements, which regrettably are now being exploited by right-wing politicians to profile Muslims and immigrants in order to score political points.

One consequence of such an approach is that it could result in a deepening of Islamphobia and a further polarization of these societies along ethno-cultural lines.

The solution to the problem, in my view, has to be holistic and comprehensive. Dialogue and multi-culturalism must be embraced as opposed to ethnocentrism and misguided ideas of cultural hegemony.

At the bottom of it all is a clash of beliefs and cultures between the West and the rest of the world, in particular the Muslim world, which is playing out in some instances in extremist and violent ways.

The fact is that there cannot be a military solution to an ideological problem. Ideas have to be confronted by ideas and an acceptance of the fact that there is no single or absolute truth when it comes to issues of religion and culture. Failure to come to grips with this basic reality would only result in a vicious cycle of attacks and counterattacks. Tolerance and co-existence must triumph over bigotry and exclusivity.

What is needed is the teaching of social and sensitive issues in the early formative years of our children rather than early indoctrination along ethnocentric and unscientific lines.

Yours faithfully,

Hydar Ally

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