President of World Conference of Religions for Peace
Mr. Ghaleb Bencheikh anchors the weekly religious program on Islam on France's national television, France 2. He chairs the World Conference of Religions for Peace and lectures widely in France and abroad on his vision of a modern, open Islam. He is a board member of the French Coordination Committee for the Decade of the Culture of Non-violence and Peace.
Mr. Ghaleb Bencheikh
The theory of the clash of civilizations became widely known following the 1993 publication of an article by this title, which later became a book, and in response, another thesis has been proposed that contends that civilizations and cultures can and must engage in dialogue. It seems to me that this reaction corroborates what one wanted to reject. If one starts from the idea that civilizations can talk and that there can be an alliance of civilizations, nothing can assert that they cannot come into conflict. On the contrary, what we should use as our starting point is the idea that civilizations are undividable entities, reflecting in a uniform manner.
There cannot be a clash of civilizations just as there cannot be a dialogue of civilizations at once. However, within areas of civilizations, there are those who are for dialogue, kindness, mercy, and how to love others, while within that same civilization there are areas where those unfortunately affected by the deafness of fanaticism work tirelessly to ensure that the former do not prevail within their own civilization. And whether it is a human group, a community, a nation or a group of people, it is necessary to individually educate citizens, each other, members of the human group, communities, and nations, that it is useless to leave room for extremism. Extremism is but a resignation of the mind; it is "the easy way". It does nothing but whip up hatred, which most often degenerates into violence and terrible conflict.
From this point of view, one should take into account the history and the components of the identity of each other to enter into a calm, fair, objective and respectful dialogue. It serves no purpose to minimize, to mutilate, the history of each other; to say for example that a particular human group or a particular civilization had no place in history; or to deny or minimize the horrors of the Holocaust, which are a black spot, a wart on the face of all humanity. It is useless to say that the Arab people or that Arabs and Muslims are inherently violent, barbaric, and obscurantist. There is both good and bad in every human group and they are the ones who work for friendship and for peace, which must be encouraged in each camp.