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The test for multi-culturalism

  • Published at 09:53 pm July 17th, 2019

Can’t different cultures peacefully coexist? 

Vladimir Putin is the latest world leader to suggest that multi-culturalist policies don’t work. 

The Russian leader’s statement echoes that of the far right European leaders and their followers who are blaming economic woes on multi-culturalism that is a natural flow from the integration of migrants -- maybe not to Russia, but certainly to other European countries. 

At the heart of the debate is Islam, and its focus on life beyond life and the obfuscation of worldly pursuits. Migrants bring with them their fixed views that make societal integration difficult for many. These are the targets of those opposed to multi-culturalism.

Those that seek to make foreign countries their homes are often guilty of not respecting the ways and cultures of these societies, and this actually goes against the teachings of Islam. 

But rather than open up, the communities close themselves off from the new societies. They enjoy the benefits, but do not integrate even with a liberal approach to the obvious differences. 

It takes two to tango, requiring the new communities to be as sensitive towards the migrant communities that are entering their shores. That it will be difficult should be a given. 

The divide of language, history, culture, and tradition are as starkly different as chalk and cheese, and it doesn’t help when neither side is willing to take the necessary step forward. 

The far right argue it is a threat to their way of life; the migrants are similar. But somewhere down the line, the aspect of religion comes in the way. 

That there is much in common with the discoveries of science and knowledge irrespective of religion is a fact that is often ignored. Dubai Mall is a repository of medical instruments utilized by Islamic physicians centuries ago, no different to that used by physicians of the Western world. 

But instead of seeking the common denominators, the penchant is to look for the differences and use these negatively. Studies in astrology and space are common to most religions and communities, and the absence of integration of thought can be blamed on misinterpreted preaching rather than religions. 

Cultures develop and expand in keeping with societal advances, and the test of multi-culturalism is to accept such changes in line with scriptures and traditions. Moderation has no substitute and that applies to all facets as communities seek to integrate.

Segregating migrant communities isn’t the answer; rather, open-armed approaches are likelier to work better. On both sides of the debate there are compromises to be made, without which a divide that threatens modern society will become a chasm that won’t ever be bridged.

Nor is it helped by comments such as those of Mr Putin and the continuous tirades of Mr Donald Trump. 

Mahmudur Rahman is a writer, columnist, broadcaster, and communications specialist.