Building Bridges


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Read about our Building Bridges project which is focused on building bridges from the Muslim community to the wider community, to promote respect, understanding and inclusion of Muslims in all aspects of New Zealand life.

It is run in partnership with the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand and others in the Muslim community.

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Building Bridges

  1. 1. A partnership project between the Office of Ethnic Affairsand the Federation of Islamic Associations New Zealand
  2. 2. Overview This booklet provides a broad overview of the Building Bridges project. It outlines its principles, objectives and initial outcomes. It also provides insights into the future directions of this ongoing project. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the topic of Islam and its compatibility with Western society’s values and mores has arisen as a key public policy debate in many countries with Muslim minorities. In recent years, Samuel Huntington’s theory (Huntington, Samuel P. 1993) of a ‘clash of civilisations’ between the West and the Muslim world has received wide publicity. A range of issues lies at the heart of this debate. These issues include concerns about security, whether Muslims can adapt and contribute effectively to the societies they live in, and the compatibility of Islam with human rights. Recent world events such as the London bombings (2005), the Paris riots (2005), the Prophet Mohammed cartoon controversy (2006) and the events at Cronulla Beach (2005) in Australia have intensified such concerns. Debate following these incidents has led to grave concerns about Muslim people being stigmatised, stereotyped, and marginalised throughout the world. Although these incidents have created tensions within communities, they have also created opportunities for constructive discussion about the place of Islam in contemporary Western societies. It is becoming recognised that Muslim communities must be actively engaged in identifying both the problems and the solutions. The issues are complex and encompass such topics as identity, discrimination, the place of religion in secular societies and the conditions that lead to marginalisation of young people. The Government’s commitment to finding constructive solutions is reflected in its hosting of the Asia Pacific Regional Interfaith Forum and the first regional symposium in response to the high-level United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (AoC) Report, both in 2007. The AoC Symposium held in Auckland, in particular, aimed to test the relevance of the AoC Report recommendations to the Asia Pacific region, recommendations designed to improve connections between the Muslim world and the West (see Appendix I: Alliance of Civilizations). The symposium rejected the notion of a ‘clash of civilisations’ and developed a strategy2 for dealing with the challenges described above. Those attending the symposium identified those recommendations in the report that are relevant to the region covering the four AoC focus areas – education, youth, media and migration. (United Nations, Alliance of Civilizations (AoC), November 2006). These four areas were endorsed again in the AoC Forum held in Madrid in 2008.
  3. 3. “BUT WHICH IS THE STONE THAT SUPPORTS THE BRIDGE?” ~ Kublai KhanThe first step towards considering these focus areas in New Zealand was to establisha constructive framework for collaboration between the Government and the New ZealandMuslim community. The Office of Ethnic Affairs, Ministry of Social Development Familyand Community Services, Ministry of Youth Development, New Zealand Police, AucklandRegional Migrant Services (ARMS), RMS Refugee Resettlement, Auckland District HealthBoard, among other agencies, had been working in partnership with the Muslim communityfor some years identifying ways to tackle these complex issues. In 2005 the Office of EthnicAffairs, in partnership with New Zealand’s umbrella Muslim civil society organisation, theFederation of Islamic Associations New Zealand (FIANZ), created a project called ‘BuildingBridges’ to respond to these concerns.The project represents a strategic approach to working with the New Zealand Muslim 3community on issues related to public awareness, constructive inter and intra-communitydialogue, and building strong relationships with other faith and ethnic communities, theGovernment and mainstream agencies. This project is now also well positioned to respondto the focus areas identified in the AoC initiative.
  4. 4. Islamophobia and New Zealand The growing concerns outlined in the overview, about the integration of Muslims in Western countries and perceptions about the incompatibility of Islam and the West, have shown up in New Zealand as elsewhere. Islamophobia is an irrational fear of Islam & Muslims (Forum against Islamophobia & Racism (FAIR)). It has begun to emerge here over the past few years. A number of incidents have been reported where Muslims, who were identifiable as such by their appearance, were the targets of abuse or violence. These incidents involved harassment and exclusion of New Zealand Muslims in a range of situations, especially in the year after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States of America. The most publicised incident was in 2005, when there were simultaneous attacks of vandalism on Auckland mosques following the London bombings. The hostile actions of a few cannot be taken as representing the feelings of all New Zealanders. Nevertheless, it is important to recognise the symptoms of potential fear and prejudice that may be occurring within New Zealand following incidents overseas. Misperceptions and misunderstandings can be reduced through raised public awareness, education and dialogue between communities. Although challenging, the incidents mentioned above have also stimulated healthy debate about mainstream perceptions of Islam and highlighted the need for dialogue between communities. They have also motivated Muslim communities to build solidarity and to empower themselves to respond proactively to rising concerns.4
  5. 5. Muslim communities in New ZealandIn seeking to understand the impact of the issues outlined above, it is essential to beaware of the history and socio-demographic composition of Muslims in New Zealand.The first Muslims recorded in a New Zealand Government Census were Chinese golddiggers, in 1874. The first Muslim organisation was established in 1950, when there wereestimated to be only 150 Muslims in New Zealand. Muslim migrants included agriculturalworkers from the Gujarat region of India in the 1920s and 1930s, European refugees in the1950s, Asian students in the 1960s and Indo-Fijians in the 1970s.In the 2006 Census, nearly 36,000 people indicated a religious affiliation to Islam, an increasefrom just over 23,000 in the 2001 Census. This represents a significant increase (52.6%) inthe size of the Muslim population in New Zealand.Although Muslims are not an ethnic group as such, most Muslims in New Zealand alsoidentify with an ethnic group that marks them out from the majority. For Muslim people,their ethnic and cultural identity is often interwoven with their religious identity. Muslimsin New Zealand belong to over 41 ethnic groups. This figure is based on 2001 Census dataon the ethnicities of the Muslim population, that are considered by government definitionto be part of the ‘ethnic’ sector, for which the Office of Ethnic Affairs is responsible.While New Zealand Muslims are ethnically diverse, they share a common faith identity.The Statistics New Zealand definition of ethnicity/ethnic group, is as follows:‘Ethnicity is the ethnic group or groups that people identify with or feel they belong to.Ethnicity is a measure of cultural affiliation, as opposed to race, ancestry, nationality orcitizenship. Ethnicity is self-perceived, and people can belong to more than one ethnicgroup. An ethnic group is made up of people who have some or all of the followingcharacteristics: a common proper name, one or more elements of common culture thatneed not be specified, but may include religion, customs, or language, unique communityof interests, feelings and actions, a shared sense of common origins or ancestry, and acommon geographic origin.’ (Statistics New Zealand, 2006)The government uses the term ‘ethnic’ to refer to those people whose ethnic heritagedistinguishes them from the majority of other people in New Zealand, including Mäori andPacific people. The sector includes people of Asian, continental European, Middle Eastern,Latin American and African descent. Census 2001 statistics show that Muslim individuals 5in New Zealand identified with over 60 ethnic groups, 41 of which are seen to constitutethe ethnic sector.
  6. 6. A significant number of New Zealand Muslims are Indians from Fiji. In the last ten years the Muslim community in New Zealand has grown rapidly, boosted by migrants and refugees from many source countries. Our Muslim community now comprises many different ethnic groups, including Arabs, Somali, Iraqis, Iranians, Malaysians, Indonesians and people from the Balkans. Some authors have referred to the religious unity between these groups as a ‘pan-ethnic Islamic identity’. (Lewelling, Maj T. 2005) This pan-ethnic Islamic identity is helpful in understanding the connections between Muslim communities and also the diversity within them. It also helps debunk the misperception that there is a threat arising from a single, homogenous Muslim community. Indeed, focusing on the religious dimension of these communities only obscures the great diversity that exists between the different ethnic groups within the Muslim population of New Zealand. This diversity naturally leads to many interpretations of how Muslims should adapt to new circumstances or evolving conditions. Khaled Abou El Fadl ( 2005) for example, notes that Islamic theology and jurisprudence shows a great deal of flexibility about how Muslims should live in a country as a minority. Opportunities for constructive dialogue on the issues facing Muslims in New Zealand are needed both within the community and also between Muslims and the wider society.6
  7. 7. The Building Bridges projectIn 2005, the Office of Ethnic Affairs took a proactive step towards dealing with someof the core concerns about and within Muslim communities in relation to Islamophobia.New Zealand has unique advantages in dealing with the complex issues involved in thisendeavour. There is our history of reconciliation as reflected in the government’s Treatyof Waitangi settlement process to remedy Mäori grievances about confiscated land.Another example of reconciliation is the government apology to the Chinese communityfor the discriminatory effects of the poll tax imposed by the Chinese Immigration Act of1881. There is also our human rights record. New Zealand was the first country in the worldto give women the right to vote in 1893. In 1971, this was the first country in the world tointroduce legislation that protected the human rights of individuals and groups againstdiscrimination on the basis of race, colour, ethnicity or national origin. The relatively smallsize of our population provides a platform from which to build bridges of understandingbetween people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds.The Office of Ethnic Affairs has a strong and unique relationship of trust with Muslimcommunities which has positioned it well to develop a sustainable, partnershipbased project with the New Zealand Muslim community to address the issues theyare experiencing.The Office of Ethnic Affairs’ key focus was to establish a strategy for constructiveengagement with the Muslim community to explore methods for tackling the challengesfaced by Muslims in New Zealand today. The strategy was also aimed at preventing thetypes of issues and recent critical incidents relating to Muslim communities that have beenexperienced overseas from arising in New Zealand. It was essential to build on the robustactivities already initiated by Muslims in New Zealand and for the Office of Ethnic Affairs toprovide increased support for these endeavours, such as Islam Awareness Week and youthleadership training.After discussions with community leaders and consultation with the community, the Officeof Ethnic Affairs hosted an introductory Building Bridges Project workshop in Auckland inDecember 2005. In order to empower the community, the workshop was structured in a waythat enabled the participants to discuss and consider the many challenges they faced as agroup, and then identify possible ways of dealing with them. This was an important step inengaging the community in a constructive process. 7Further consultations with the Muslim community in 2006 led to a strong communityendorsement of the project and its aims. The project was called ‘Building Bridges’ to conveyits fundamental purpose and vision – the building of strong and sustainable relationships oftrust and respect between New Zealand Muslims and a diverse range of ethnic and faithcommunities in New Zealand.
  8. 8. We needed to establish three distinct aspects of the project as a framework of reference: 1. The principles that would underpin the project. 2. The objectives, priority themes for the initial stages. 3. Corresponding initiatives. These three aspects are outlined further within this booklet.8
  9. 9. The principles of Building BridgesThe building of any bridge usually requires an understanding of the gap to be bridged,as well as careful planning and attention to detail. Our project sought to identify the keyelements that were required to build bridges between communities.The Office of Ethnic Affairs and the Muslim community established the following operatingprinciples as part of a framework for future collaboration: Respect Given the great diversity within the Muslim community, it is important that all parties respect the range of viewpoints and ideas that are likely to emerge throughout this initiative. Inclusion It is essential that the Muslim community develops a genuine sense of belonging to New Zealand and of inclusion in the country’s growth and development. Empowerment Muslim people will empower themselves to generate discussion and debate within their own communities and with other communities about contemporary critical issues including the challenges outlined above. Participation The Muslim community aims to participate fully in civic society and to continue making valuable contributions to our country. 9
  10. 10. The objectives of Building Bridges As outlined above, the broad outcome sought from this project is to generate ways to build bridges across communities in order to promote respect, understanding and inclusion of Muslims in all spheres of New Zealand life. These bridges, once built, would then create ongoing opportunities for debunking stereotypes, developing friendships across communities and enabling Muslims to participate more actively as valued citizens of New Zealand. All parties accepted that this would call for sustained, phased efforts from a range of stakeholders over a period of time. Having established the key principles of the Building Bridges project, the next step was to crystallise them into the three objectives. The objectives developed are interconnected and mutually reinforcing. They are: Building awareness To combat potential Islamophobia in New Zealand and the marginalisation it can cause, New Zealand Muslims must be empowered to project accurate information about themselves. This can help generate new information that prevents misconceptions taking root. This step is also important because it can help the Muslim community begin to focus outwards and recognise opportunities for positive engagement with wider New  Zealand society. Strong relationships of trust and respect between communities in New Zealand will help them remain cohesive in the face of adversity or challenging events. Building capacity Like any other faith community, the Muslim community contains a great diversity of perspectives. This is healthy and desirable. Nevertheless, solidarity is equally important when dealing with common challenges. The Office of Ethnic Affairs recognises that any bridge building with the wider host community can only be successful if the Muslim community has a measure of cohesiveness, as well as a shared understanding of how to go about building these bridges. A strong Muslim community will be much better positioned to engage constructively with other cultural and faith communities, including the host community. Because the Muslim community is diverse and has a wide range of needs, capacity building is vital to building solidarity. Moreover, capacity building on common issues or10 challenges can help develop a sense of connection between people and so strengthen networks within a community.
  11. 11. As well as developing solidarity, the Muslim community also needs improved access to information and services so that it can develop its own voice and participate more actively in New Zealand’s civic affairs. The project therefore aims to create tightly focused capacity building initiatives that would help New  Zealand Muslims to participate as effectively as possible. Developing an identity One of the underlying issues that has arisen in the many debates about the compatibility of Islam with the West is the need to establish Muslim identity in Western contexts. This has been a particularly prominent theme in relation to young Muslims, who sometimes face uncertainty about their identity and sense of belonging in Western countries. The Building Bridges project aims to encourage the Muslim community to explore ways of establishing a unique New Zealand Muslim identity in our country, particularly for Muslim youth. There is likely to be an ongoing diversity of perspectives on this topic. However, a healthy dialogue across communities will be helpful in locating the broad areas of consensus about what Muslim identity means and how it can be expressed in a Western context. 11
  12. 12. Priority themes and initiatives for Building Bridges The objectives listed above are necessarily broad and could lead to a wide range of interventions aimed at achieving them. The Office of Ethnic Affairs and the Federation of Islamic Associations New Zealand (FIANZ) recognised the need to address these objectives incrementally, particularly given the relative newness of the project. So it was important to identify and give priority to the themes and interventions that would address the most pressing concerns first. Five interlinked themes were explored: strategic leadership, positive visibility, media, youth and women. Each theme contributes to strengthening the Muslim community and to achieving the project objectives identified. After reaching agreement on the priority themes that would need to be addressed to achieve the project’s objectives, the next stage involved taking steps to implement various initiatives or mini-projects in collaboration with the community. The five themes are detailed below, along with information on various initiatives put in place to address each theme. Strategic leadership Developing leadership within the Muslim community is vital to the wellbeing of the community. Like other communities, the Muslim community has many leaders within it. Although this is desirable, a unified voice and vision is also important, particularly in relation to the issues and challenges outlined earlier. This theme is about extending current leadership or developing new leadership to represent diverse Muslim groups in New Zealand on a range of issues. The forums that the Office of Ethnic Affairs has held with Muslim community leaders as part of the Building Bridges project have provided important opportunities to extend and strengthen relationships in a non-crisis environment. The same applies to relationships within Muslim communities. Building relationships requires patience and trust from all parties. Building trust and developing leadership Building Bridges meetings were designed to bring leaders from various Muslim sects and ethnic backgrounds together to explore the challenges they face as a group. During12 these forums, participants were encouraged to raise issues and this was facilitated by the creation of a safe environment in which to do so. Openness and the safety to be open are necessary to build intra-community trust and leadership. A number of sensitive and complex issues such as leadership and diversity within the Muslim community were raised. This created opportunities for different perspectives on various topics to be brought to the fore as planned.
  13. 13. The ongoing engagement between the different groups within the Muslim community is notaimed at identifying specific people as leaders. Rather, the purpose is to identify commonissues or priorities, and particular ways of pursuing them that Muslim leaders can agree on.To date, broad consensus has been developed among community leaders on the key issues.Many of these issues are included in this booklet. Sustained efforts will be required tomaintain the ground that has been gained in this area.Dialogue on critical issuesCommunity leadership requires the ability to tackle complex challenges. A range of criticalissues have been discussed through the Building Bridges approach to stimulate leadersto take constructive action to deal with them.These critical issues include the role of the media; the need for public education on Islamand Muslims; participation in policy development processes on issues affecting Muslims;collaboration with a broad range of government agencies; Muslim youth identity; and therole of women in Islam.The issue of border control also featured strongly in discussions. The Muslim community iskeen to work collaboratively with New  Zealand border control agencies to protect the safetyof New Zealand’s borders while making sure that Muslims are treated fairly throughoutvarious control processes.The Muslim community, with the Office of Ethnic Affairs’ help, sought and found ways todevelop a conversation with border control agencies such as the New Zealand ImmigrationService, the New Zealand Customs Service and the New Zealand Police about bordercontrol in relation to Muslims in New Zealand. Border control and airport processes, andthe impact of immigration processes on the Muslim community, continue to be explored.A platform for constructive engagement has now been established between these agenciesand the Muslim community. There is evidence of growing leadership within the community.Such leadership will be able to strategically identify areas for future focus which can thenbe systematically addressed by the Muslim community in collaboration with other peopleor agencies.Imams ConferenceImams play an important role in the spiritual and social development of their communities.Internationally, there have been a number of initiatives focused on working closely withImams or Muslim religious leaders. The Office of Ethnic Affairs sponsored the inauguralconference of New Zealand Muslim Imams and organised by the Federation of IslamicAssociations of New Zealand (FIANZ) in Auckland. The Conference was opened by thePrime Minister of New Zealand. The Minister for Ethnic Affairs joined the 35 Imams andIslamic scholars who attended. The main aims of the conference were to facilitatedialogue between Imams and key government agencies, promote a better awarenessof relevant government policies, services and to identify opportunities for working more 13closely together. Positive visibilityMany ethnic minority communities are barely visible to the wider community. Theirculture, values and contributions may not be picked up by the media or other establishedchannels of information. This creates room for misunderstanding and apprehension.Lack of interaction across communities can contribute to these problems.
  14. 14. Creating opportunities for the wider New Zealand community to interact with the Muslim community is an important part of challenging assumptions about and stereotypes of Muslims and improving their community’s public profile. The Building Bridges project has identified avenues for promoting a positive profile of New Zealand Muslims. They include the initiatives outlined below. Federation of Islamic Associations New Zealand (FIANZ) school awareness project The Office of Ethnic Affairs and the Federation of Islamic Associations New Zealand (FIANZ) have piloted a project with schools to raise young people’s positive awareness of Muslims. The Federation of Islamic Associations New Zealand (FIANZ) school awareness project included open discussions with students about what Islam means to Muslims, followed by question and answer sessions. Islam Awareness Week Islam Awareness Week has grown significantly since its inception several years ago. The Office of Ethnic Affairs has worked with the organisers to support this initiative, developing positive visibility raising initiatives and increasing participation of host communities and other faith and ethnic groups. Islam Awareness Week now includes media publicity and open mosque days, indicating a more outward focus from the Muslim community. Interfaith dinner As part of Islam Awareness Week 2006, the Office of Ethnic Affairs and the Federation of Islamic Associations New Zealand (FIANZ) hosted an interfaith dinner. The purpose of the evening was to give people from many different faiths an opportunity to socialise, network and discuss ways to promote interfaith understanding and relationships. The dinner was attended by about 90 people, who heard three guest speakers from different faiths. Participants reported that they valued the opportunity to meet and connect with others in this way. Visibility initiatives The Office of Ethnic Affairs is developing an educational resource aimed at stimulating discussion about the benefits and challenges of ethnic diversity in New Zealand. The resource, ‘Keeping it real’ vignettes, will help raise public awareness about a range of communities in New Zealand, including the New Zealand Muslim community. It includes material on the stereotyping of Muslims. Media We all know that the media can play a significant role in moulding public opinion. Muslim communities around the world have expressed their concern about negative or biased media publicity that they believe they are subject to. A common theme is the gap between the way Muslims are portrayed by the media and the reality experienced by people within that community. (The 5th Framework Research Program, 2003)14 While respecting the right to freedom of expression, the Muslim community wants to see fairer representations of Muslims progressively established in mainstream media. Rather than feeling disenfranchised, they can help this happen by engaging more robustly with mainstream media.
  16. 16. “IN TRUTH, IN OUR HEARTS AND SOULS – IN WHAT WE FEAR, IN WHAT WE SEEK, IN WHAT WE NEED AND WHAT WE LOVE – THERE IS A FUNDAMENTAL, COMMON HUMANITY THAT TOWERS ABOVE OUR DIFFERENCES.” ~ H.M. Queen Noor Alliance of Civilisations Annual Forum 15 January 2008, Madrid Spain. This theme seeks to identify how the Muslim community can use established media channels to provide new information or their side of a story to the media in a constructive way. The key focus in this area has been targeted training to build the community’s capacity16 to respond to media. As part of this project the Office of Ethnic Affairs provided targeted training at intermediate level to Muslim community leaders and representatives about the role and functions of the media. Prominent journalists and media people talked about how to approach the media, what makes news, and how to prepare an informative but succinct media release. The participants reported that they learned from and felt empowered by the training.
  17. 17. Recent media coverage on matters involving the Muslim community has included informedperspectives from the Federation of Islamic Associations New Zealand (FIANZ), reflectingincreasing community effectiveness in this regard. This area will continue to be a corefocus of the Building Bridges project. YouthMany Muslim youth in Western countries lack a sense of belonging and feel some identityconfusion. (Ajrouch, K. 2000) Young people are the future leaders and are vital to thedevelopment of the Muslim community. At an early stage of the project we recognisedthat it is vital to listen to and involve Muslim youth. Increased support for the developmentof young New Zealand Muslims is a priority. To this end, the Building Bridges projectidentified two key opportunities for Muslim youth development, as detailed below.Youth and critical dialogueThe Office of Ethnic Affairs developed the Positive Dialogue for Young People initiativeto help senior secondary school students learn about the experiences of Muslims inNew Zealand. The objectives were to explore young people’s perceptions of Muslims,and to create a positive atmosphere for dialogue on issues raised by young people.The project was successfully piloted in schools in the Auckland region. The resourcesdeveloped will be used in future critical dialogue forums with young people.Muslim youth leadershipThe Office of Ethnic Affairs in conjunction with the Federation of Islamic AssociationsNew  Zealand (FIANZ) held leadership training to develop leadership potential within Muslimyouth. The training programme included four sessions covering identity and self-esteem,intergenerational conflict, civic participation, and connecting with the New Zealandenvironment. Students planted trees in the Waitakere ranges as a symbol of theircommitment as New Zealanders to the country’s ‘clean and green’ development. WomenIn recent years, there has been growing debate about the role of women within Islam.A key focus of discussions has been on gender equality, human rights and the compatibilityof Islam and the West. These issues are both complex and sensitive.Understanding how New Zealand Muslim women are affected is an important facet ofthe Office of Ethnic Affairs Building Bridges project. The project aims to promote a betterunderstanding of the status of Muslim women and to support their positive developmentthrough various initiatives.The Office of Ethnic Affairs has been working with women and key Muslim women’sorganisations to identify the main issues and opportunities, provide relevant information,scope potential projects and build capacity of these groups. The Office of Ethnic Affairshas also played a central role in facilitating dialogue on some of the critical issues relatingto women in Islam in a New Zealand context. 17
  18. 18. What next? This booklet outlines only the key activities put in place under the Building Bridges project. It does not purport to be a comprehensive analysis of all the activities that the Muslim community is actively engaged in, such as local and regional interfaith dialogue and discussions about security in New Zealand, or the international connections that the community is pursuing to achieve its objectives. However, the New Zealand Muslim community’s present focus on dealing with its challenges and its corresponding initiatives to address them are evidence of increasing empowerment and civic participation. These are core objectives of the Building Bridges project. An evaluation of outcomes will assess the effectiveness of this project in due course. To date, the results are promising. A feedback forum held in November 2007 was an opportunity for the Office of Ethnic Affairs and the Federation of Islamic Associations New Zealand (FIANZ) to report back to the community on the work done. The initiatives described were well received, and the forum established a good platform for future Building Bridges work. The Building Bridges project will continue to provide a core focus for collaboration between the Office of Ethnic Affairs and the Federation of Islamic Associations New Zealand (FIANZ) into the future. The project has been a deeply enriching process for all parties involved. Like any good community-based project, the empowerment created within communities leads to new ideas being germinated and brought to fruition by communities themselves. The Office of Ethnic Affairs is currently considering how the approach used in the Building Bridges project can be adapted for other communities. The work that the Muslim community has put into this project may now provide a template, and so the fruits of their labour will benefit other communities in New Zealand. Perhaps this represents the true spirit which lies within any effort to build bridges between different people or communities.18
  20. 20. Appendix I: Alliance of Civilizations In 2006, the High-Level Group of the Alliance of Civilizations (AoC), released a report claiming that the key reasons for the growing divide between, for example, Muslim and Western societies, are not religious but political, power or economic imbalances. AoC is an initiative launched by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and co-sponsored by the prime ministers of Spain and Turkey. The Alliance of Civilizations aims to forge a collective political will to establish a paradigm of mutual respect between civilisations and cultures. The Alliance aims to instigate a movement of the vast majority of peoples who do not identify themselves with extremism in various societies, in order to: • strengthen mutual understanding and respect in practical ways • counter the influence of those who feed on exclusion and claim sole ownership of the truth • counter, through such measures, the threat to world peace and stability that emanates from the trend toward extremism in societies • promote awareness that security is indivisible and a vital need for all, and that global cooperation is an indispensable prerequisite for both security and stability, as well as development • promote common values among different peoples, cultures and civilisations. Source:‘ConceptPaperforAllianceofCivilizations’, REFERENCES Articles Ajrouch, K. (2000). Place, age, and culture: community living and ethnic identity among Lebanese American adolescents. Small Group Research, 31, 447–469. Huntington, Samual P. (1993). The clash of civilizations?, Foreign Affairs, 72(3):22–49. Retrieved December 18, 2007 from, samuel-p-huntington/the-clash-of-civilizations.html Lewelling, Maj T. (2005). Exploring Muslim diaspora communities in Europe through a social20 movement lens: some initial thoughts. Strategic Insights, 4. Retrieved 17 January, 2008, from
  21. 21. ReportsForum Against Islamophobia & Racism (FAIR). (n.d.). Racism and Islamophobia. RetrievedDecember 18, 2007, from 5th Framework Research Program of the “Improving the Human Research Potentialand the Socio-Economic Knowledge Base” Program of the European Commission,Directorate-General Research (2003, August 31). Islam, citizenship and the dynamicsof European integration. [ Reported by Jocelyne Cesari]. Retrieved December 18, 2007,from the site: (2005). Khaled Abou El Fadl: God does not have an equal partner. [Reported byMonika Jung-Mounib]. Retrieved December 18, 2007 from, New Zealand. (2006). 2006 Census of Population and Dwellings: definitionsand questionnaires, Page 3. Retrieved January 17, 2008 from 3d2a13ec892b/0/2006censusdefinitionsquestionnaires.pdfUnited Nations, Alliance of Civilizations (AoC). (2006, November 16). Alliance of Civiliations:Report of the High-level Group. Retrieved December 18, 2007, from ReadingHuntington, Samual P. (1996). The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order.New York: Simon & Schuster.Berry, J. (1997). Immigration, acculturation and adaptation. Applied Psychology:An international Review, 46, 5–68.Elkholy, A. (1966). The Arab Moslems in the United States: Religion and assimilation.M. Hattar-Pollara, et al. (1995b). Western Journal of Nursing Research, 17(5), 521–539.Erickson, C. D., et al. (2001). Providing mental health services to Arab Americans:recommendations and considerations. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology,7(4), 308–327.Hattar-Pollara, M., et al. (1995a). Parenting their adolescents: the experiences of Jordanianimmigrant women in California. Health Care for Women International, 16, 195–211.Nagel, C. (2002). Constructing difference and sameness: the politics of assimilation inLondon’s Arab communities. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 25 (2), 258–287.Phinney J., S., et al. (2001). The role of language, parents, and peers in ethnic identity amongadolescents in immigrant families. Journal of Youth and Adolescents, 30 (2), 135.Phinney, J. (1989). Stages of ethnic identity development in minority group adolescents.Journal of Early Adolescence, 9, 34–49.Phinney, J. (1990). Ethnic identity in adolescents and adults: a review of research.Psychological Bulletin, 108, 499–514. 21Joudi, R. (2005). Know me before you judge me: the experiences and concerns of youngArab Muslim women in New Zealand. A community project worker scheme funded by LocalGovernment and Community – Department of Internal Affairs and supported by the Officeof Ethnic Affairs. (Unpublished)
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