Queen Rania delivers sa speech at the Sorbonne in Paris

April 07, 2008

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department – Paris) Speaking to over 2,000 students at the Sorbonne in Paris, on Sunday, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah challenged existing perspectives and urged an increase in multicultural awareness.

During her speech at La Cité de la Réussite, Queen Rania warned that “for those of you who are students, know it is your future that is at stake. You are the ones who will inherit the world that is taking shape today. You must decide if you want it to be a world of greater division or greater unity.”

Many of Queen Rania's programs have focused on fostering cross cultural dialogue because, she believes, “over time, failing to get to know one another makes tensions grow worse, not better. It allows preconceptions and biases to stand in for personal experience.”

Her Majesty reminded the audience of Europe’s largest student gathering that “the only people who benefit from our disunity are the extremists – the very forces who threaten the hopes we share for a brighter tomorrow.”

“You were born at a time of increasing multicultural awareness. You have already been exposed to many more and different cultures than your grandparents could have imagined. You live in the country with the largest Muslim population in Europe. And you know that Islam is not monolithic, but a vibrant mosaic of cultures,” she said.

Her Majesty cited a recently released Gallup poll, which illustrated that while both East and West do care about fixing the relationship, “they don’t see their caring reflected. They don’t perceive an equal sense of commitment from the other side.”

The way to change this perception, said the Queen, is “to start by dismantling mutual stereotypes”.

Queen Rania, who less than one week ago launched a YouTube channel to focus on breaking down stereotypes and bridging the rift between East and West, emphasized the effect of technology in bringing the global community together. “Your openness and your willingness to connect will both be powerful assets in replacing barriers of fear and mistrust with bridges of friendship and peace” she said.

Her Majesty addressed the issue of ending conflicts within societies. “We know that as Muslims, we cannot complain that we are negatively stereotyped by the West, unless we ourselves address some of the factors behind those perceptions,” she said.

After the speech, Queen Rania engaged the students in a dynamic question and answer session where she encouraged their questions about the Middle East.