Thursday, August 14, 2008

Venice called on to stage a "Biennale for Islamic Dissent"

Naples, 11 August (AKI) - Islamic leaders have welcomed a proposal to stage an international forum at the Venice Biennale arts festival to promote debate in the Muslim world.

Ahmad Vincenzo, president of the Association of Muslim Intellectuals and lecturer in Islamic rights at Naples' Federico II University said the proposal was positive.

Carlo Ripa Di Meana, former president of the Venice Biennale, moved to dedicate the 1977 Venice Biennale to the theme of "dissent" in relation to the Communist countries of the eastern bloc, a move opposed by Moscow.

He has called for the creation of a similar "Biennale for Islamic Dissent" to enhance debate in the Muslim world.

But Vincenzo said the proposal advanced by Carlo Ripa Di Meana, should not be compared to the event that generated widespread debate among Communists in 1977.

"The Venice Biennale is a prestigious institution," Vincenzo told Adnkronos International (AKI).

"The possibility of having a great initiative dedicated to the Islamic world would certainly have vast interest, even though I don't think you could in any way compare it to the meeting of dissidents of the Communist bloc in 1977."

“I imagine that it would speak about dissent with regard to the regimes of many countries that have an Islamic majority. Not dissent towards Islam as a religion," he said.

According to the Muslim lecturer, few know that the distinction between religion and politics is part of Islamic history.

He stressed there was a profound difference between the situation in Muslim countries and those of the former Communist bloc.

"In these, there was in many cases a democratic opposition, capable in a certain sense to create a turning point in the entire country.

In the Islamic world, on the contrary, the opposition is often more totalitarian and anti democratic than the regimes they want to change. I am referring particularly to the fundamentalist movement of the Muslim Brotherhood."

Karima Moual, president of the Association of Young Moroccans in Italy, said he welcomed the proposal providing it was not designed to promote "anti-Islamic" positions.

"I believe that this initiative would benefit if it made people from the Arab Islamic world participate, rather than those who are hostile towards Islam," she told AKI.

"It would be interesting to invite Muslim intellectuals but also non-Muslims from Arab countries to debate the 'cancer' that is destroying the Arab-Islamic world.

"I believe that the real problem in our countries is the absence of debate."

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