Art And Culture

Cultural Weapon Can Help Dismantle Violence, Extremism

Cultural Weapon Can Help Dismantle Violence, Extremism Cultural Weapon Can Help Dismantle Violence, Extremism

The best weapon to defeat extremism is through a sustained cultural campaign.

The head of the Center for Islamic and Middle East Studies in Washington, Dr Ahmad Iravani, made the remarks following the first ‘World Against Extremism and Violence’ (WAVE) confab held recently in Tehran.

The meeting which was attended by participants from more than 40 countries was a platform for discussing ways out of the chaos caused by extremism in the Middle East.

Iravani, an Iranian philosopher, scholar and clergyman is an avid advocate of interfaith and intra-faith peace dialogue. He has dedicated his life to such intellectual subjects.

He further said in an interview with IRNA in Washington that the rise of the terrorist group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), who fight under the name of Islam but only disgrace Islamic values, along with the stoking of Islamophobia by the Western media, necessitates “unanimous action by the Muslim clergy to defend the reality of Islam as a religion of peace and passion, which is in conformity with other monotheist religions.”

He proposed that “all countries, especially Muslim nations, in cooperation with their governments, NGOs, religious leaders and experts, should take steps against extremism, while diverting military budgets to the cultural arena,” warning that “otherwise, the growing extremism in the Middle East will be uncontrollable.”

  Cultural Tours

For sure, “weapons cannot suffocate beliefs”; thus the best counter action is to speak through the language of altruism and affection. Muslims are responsible “to take pains to change the mentality of extremists. Muslim governments should facilitate cultural exchanges with other faiths, to portray the peaceful image of Islam the world over. “This can happen through cultural tours, in which people can have their own realistic takes on each other’s views and beliefs,” he added.

He also called for high level religious figures of Sunni and Shia Islam, to come together and discuss solutions.   

On December 18, 2013 the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to approve President Hassan Rouhani’s WAVE proposal, which calls on all nations across the globe to denounce violence and extremism. Rouhani had made the proposal in his address to the UN Disarmament Conference in New York on September 25 last year.