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Conflict between Muslims and West 'can be avoided'

The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Georgetown University, launched on Tuesday the Islam and the West: Annual Report on the State of Dialogue.

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The venue of the WEF is seen through snow-covered barbed wire in the Swiss Alpine resort town of Davos on Tuesday.
Gulf News

Dubai: The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Georgetown University, launched on Tuesday the Islam and the West: Annual Report on the State of Dialogue.

This first report of its kind is a systematic and thorough overview of how Muslim and Western societies perceive and relate to each other at the political, social, economic and cultural levels.

The report, the result of in-depth research carried out by leading academics and experts in the field, finds that majorities in populations around the world believe that violent conflict between the West and the Muslim world can be avoided, but they also share a great deal of pessimism about the state of the relationship.

Among both Muslim majority and non-Muslim majority nations, the proportion who say they think the "other side" is committed to better relations rarely rises above a minority of 30 per cent. Notwithstanding the prevalent sense of scepticism, majorities of residents in nations around the world say that better interaction between the Muslim and Western worlds is important to them.

"The World Economic Forum believes that like all other global challenges, it will take the collaborative effort of all stakeholders from government, business, religion, media, academia and civil society to pre-empt any crisis, create alliances and find solutions," said Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

"Over the course of 2008, the Community of Islam and the West Dialogue will invite leaders from various walks of life to engage in a concerted dialogue and debate on the most important issues, in particular the area of citizenship and integration."

Powerful shaper

The report features a Gallup Muslim-West Dialogue Index, a ranking of countries based on citizens' degree of optimism about the state of relations between the West and the Muslim world.

The report also presents an analysis of the portrayal of Islam and the West in newspapers and television in 24 countries by Media Tenor; and a survey by Georgetown University of international, national and local efforts to improve Muslim-West relations.

An important finding of the report is the emergence of citizenship and integration as the second most powerful shaper of the state of dialogue after international politics.

Greater interaction with the Muslim world is actually considered a threat by 60 per cent of the citizens of many European countries but not in America or Israel.

"As an annual global reference on the state of West and Islam dialogue, the report will elevate the visibility of dialogue activities around the world and strengthen efforts to advance greater understanding and cooperation at a critical juncture in history," remarked the report's lead author, John J. DeGioia, President of Georgetown University.