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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Queen Rania roundatable discussion with youth- Turkey

Queen Rania and Turkish youth deliberate dangers of current stereotypes and need for greater global understanding

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department - Istanbul) Common global humanity, dangerous stereotypes and the need for greater understanding through human-to-human interaction were the focal areas of discussion between Queen Rania and a group of young Turkish men and women during a televised roundtable in Istanbul last week, entitled "Youth as a Bridge – Setting the Agenda for Dialogue".

In the wake of the Cartoon crisis, Queen Rania continued her efforts to reach out to youth and highlight their role in bridging the East-West divide by combating extremism through dialogue and interaction, stemming from her conviction that there is no ‘clash of civilizations’ between East and West. Rather, she argued, it is a clash of “extremists against all civilizations.”

Said Queen Rania: “…there is so much more that brings us together, than there is that separates us.”

Addressing the issue of the cartoon controversy that has dominated the headlines over the past few weeks, Queen Rania noted that “as Muslims, we view all Prophets from all religions with great reverence, and anything that vilifies them is greatly hurtful to us. It is very painful to see our great religion, with its long history of tolerance and peace, being reduce to crude caricatures drawn by a group of people who equate our religion with the actions of a few extremist minority,” adding firmly that “this is not what Islam is about”.

The youth discussed with Queen Rania the dangers of stereotyping and the difficulties associated with overcoming prejudices after they have been formed. A young university student in the panel emphasized the need to prevent prejudice before it is formulated by addressing potential biases in areas such as education and media.

The Queen noted that stereotypes “are a very convenient way of labeling people we don’t know”, and stressed the need to acquire in depth knowledge prior to making judgments, through human-to-human interaction.

“…nothing can compensate for actual human-to-human interaction…” she stated, adding that “in this day when we have access to information so easily", where, "at the click of a button, you can get information about a country, a culture", it is "very easy for us to mistake information with knowledge".

The Queen went on to warn that "information is completely different than knowledge". Knowledge, according to Queen Rania, "is information that has been contextualized, analyzed through interaction, and through placing it in the right kind of environment. …”

On the issue of leadership, furthermore, Her Majesty stressed the importance of networks and voluntary organizations which include young active leaders.

"When these leaders come together, not only are they sharing their successes and failures and their experiences but they're also forming bonds and human relations that bridge many gaps across religions, countries and cultures," she said. <