ISLAMABAD: The global economy and Western capitalist imperialism are synonymous. In past, the Western powers colonized Asian, African, American and Australian lands, burgled their resources and killed hundreds of thousands of people for the cause, and the practice sadly is still continued in the Muslim World today, overtly or covertly, one way or the other. The Muslim world must realize this and struggle to liberate itself from this modern imperialism, says a Press release.
This was the crux of the Dr Mumtaz Ahmad Memorial Symposium titled ‘Interplay of Pluralism and Exclusionism: Dynamics of Relations Between Islam and the West’, which was held at Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad and was attended by a large number of scholars, young researchers and concerned citizens.
The session was chaired by Prof Dr Anis Ahmad, vice chancellor, Riphah International University (RIU), whereas the panel of speakers included Prof Dr Sami Al-Arian, director of the Center of Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and a professor at the Istanbul Zaim University, Prof Dr Robert Jensen from School of Journalism, University of Texas, Prof Dr Ulrich Duchrow from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, Pepe Escobar, correspondent for Hong Kong/Thailand-based Asia Times and analyst for Toronto/Washington-based The Real News, and DG-IPS Khalid Rahman.
While presenting the overview of disorder and devastation caused by imperial and colonial powers in the past three centuries, Dr Sami said that the imperial powers have looted the natural resources of Asia, Africa and Middle East, destroyed their historical and cultural roots, killed hundreds of people, enslaved them, and occupied their lands. The practice, according to Dr Sami, was still continued, sometimes in the name of democracy, and other times by the notion of freeing people from oppressing regimes.
Referring to the Arab Spring in Middle East, Sami said that when the people bring leadership of their choice – such as Morsi or Hamas – into power, this too doesn’t go well with the imperial powers and they start intervening either by carrying out an attack using different pretexts or by igniting sectarian, religious or regional divides among the masses to trigger anarchy.
The renowned Palestinian professor was of the view that Muslims were once the world leaders in the disciplines of science, culture and philosophy, and they can still regain their lost identity if not hindered by the unsolicited interventions from the West.
Dr Ulrich spoke about the prevalent capitalist system, which according to him, was shaped by the linking of money with military as the wars were being used as a tool to raise money. He said that the present day hegemonic designs of United States and its allies were furthered by the use of money and military might under the pretext of strengthening the democratic values, stabilizing the global economy and human rights, while the results on ground were evidently opposite.
Dr Jensen commented about the unjust distribution of wealth and power across the world, stating that while the burgeoning population and food security were among the biggest challenges faced by the mankind today, there was also a need to understand that the lives, properties and dignity of all human beings should be valued equally and upheld at all costs.
Escobar, while sharing experiences of his visits of many Islamic countries, said that the Western media portrays Muslims very negatively which is extremely far from the truth. Quite contrary, the sufferings of people due to the wars waged by the US and her allies in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the brutal encroachment of Palestinian land by Israel were being portrayed positively which was completely different to what he witnessed.
DG-IPS Khalid Rahman said that there were evolving dynamics that were shaping the interplay of forces of pluralism and exclusionism. The rapid transformation of the ideas and practices challenging pluralism by the rise of right wing parties across the globe, especially in the societies in the west that claimed to be the most tolerant and pluralistic, has highlighted the importance of addressing this issue in a more effective manner globally through a sustained and meaningful dialogue.
Dr Anis Ahmed concluded the session stating that colonialism and globalization are twins as they were born at the same time and they have grown together ever since. The capitalist economy and imperialism complement each other’s goals of keeping hold of the economic and political powers.
The speaker further said that the perception of freedom of expressions varies from culture to culture. We must avoid sweeping generalizations in forming our perception of each other. We should open our minds, control our emotions and try to take a rational path that leads to the welfare of the whole humanity, characterized by quest for knowledge, mutual respect and effective communication.