of the Toronto Star's Community Editorial Board wrote and interesting piece on Monday in which he argues that natural Canadians and Americans and immigrating Muslims need to "learn a thing or two about each other to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings. Accurate perception can help to develop more positive feelings toward each other. We all share many great things in Canada, and we all are trying hard to contribute to the well-being of our communities at a local as well as national level."
This seems to be a reasonable proposition but I wonder if this is possible given some of the structural realities of Western monotheistic religions? The foundation of Christianity, Islam and Judaism are the self evident truths as set out in their written laws. The fact that these are each held to be self evident is in itself basis for conflict. Combined with the politicization that comes with structure, some form of conflict seems likely. Combine politicization with ignorance and fear, and as Alimoglu suggests, conflict becomes almost inevitable.
Alimoglu writes about his own struggles adjusting to a culture and environment he knew nothing about. But with the help of many strangers including a Canadian of Japanese origin who was detained in internment camps in B.C. during World War II he began to feel less like a stranger in a strange land and more like a Canadian. He also believes that his own children will be able to bridge the chasm of ignorance further as they become more integrated into Canadian society.
In these statements Alimoglu alludes to the keys to overcoming religious prejudice and conflict: continuing to build a society (particularly our design of large urban centres) in which people of different cultures and religions live and work together; and engaging traditional faiths with each others beliefs and values, and with secular systems of reason. The resurgence of fundamentalist religions in both the west (in particular Christian fundamentalism) and Middle East, makes ours and important experiment.
Alimoglu ends by arguing that "we can be of great service to each other and to humanity. We need the courage to deal with the lack of knowledge and more important, the lack of comprehension." To which I would only add reason and imagination.