02 March 2006

Graduates and cartoons

Let’s create safe space for dialogue

Everything will fall under the freedom of speech and the right to write and say.

In a diversity convocation in a Vermont graduate school, Muslim students were invited this week to talk about the Danish cartoons question. Others were encouraged to listen and later to dialogue as peacefully as they could.

Te meeting managers reminded the crowd about the rules of listening and dialogue. You should listen to “them”.

A professor leading the meeting started out with a familiar question: let’s all try to make sense of why we are here. He invited people to say what brought tem there. Learning about the misconceptions they have about Islam and the Muslim world.

Muslim students were listened to for a while in their expressions about what they felt about the incidents and the cartoons of prophet. An apology was pronounced by two Danish SIT students. The discussion continued to raise some questions round the causes of the incidents and the fingers media has in the issue. Home grown tensions, freedom of speech, monopolization of information. Who talks about the cartoons now that streets are filed with protestors and violence is all over the place. Violence. Etc.

People had different reactions to the session.( i mean graduate people had reactions.)

“it helped me understand things i had not thought about before” said a graduate.

“ I wish it was deeper than that” said a student about the session.

“ well I think the session was framed in a “compassionate listening / conflict transformation kind of frame . we want real discussions about the political implications of all that. We are in grad school, man. Enough of touchy feely staff. I don’ t learn that way”

“ people reacted to a company that published the cartoons.. it was not the Danish government or the people of Denmark who did it”

“in this country (USA) freedom of speech was to express views against the government not to denigrate each other” said one professor at the school.

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