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‘Youngsters have role in dialogues’
2008-05-17
Thursday, 15 May, 2008, 02:18 AM Doha Time


Hamdija Blekic
By Ramesh Mathew
A MUSLIM scholar from Europe has urged religious figures to encourage the younger generation to get involved in inter-faith dialogues.
Hamdija Blekic, director of Slovenia’s Centre for Inter-Civilisation Understanding, said free discussions among younger people would be in the larger interest of the upcoming generations.
Blekic, who shuttles between Slovenia and Qatar, said his centre was engaged in upholding Islamic values and thoughts and provided a platform for understanding the positive aspects of other faiths.
He was speaking to the Gulf Times on the sidelines of the 6th Doha Conference of Inter-faith Dialogue, which concluded Doha yesterday.
The scholar, who described him as a member of the microscopic Muslim minority in the Catholic-dominated Eastern European nation, said there was great necessity to encourage those in the 20-30 age group to get actively involved in inter-faith dialogues now-a-days.
“I prefer to call the age group as a digital generation, which certainly enjoys more exposure on a number of issues and I also feel they are more open-minded than most others,” said Blekic.
“Though such youngsters may not be very religious in their attitudes, I strongly feel that they have an active role to play in conferences like this where a lot of key issues concerning three important faiths are discussed,” he said.
Blekic, who has witnessed the battles that eventually led to split of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s and later to its complete dissolution, strongly believes in a school of thought where “justice is equality but equality is not justice.”
It is meaningless to speak on equality, by forgetting the key elements of justice, he stressed.
There is no denying the fact that the clashes that rocked Yugoslavia were essentially battles for ethnic supremacy of various religious groups. However, even after the emergence of separate nations by each of the warring groups, the new republics have their own problems, said Blekic.
“However, it is a good sign that a lot of discussions are taking place in each of the six new republics that came after the dissolution of Yugoslavia.
“Issues concerning the whole of the mankind and issues of people of some regions like Palestine are getting regular attention among religious and social leaders of the region,” he pointed out.
On the present role of Communists, who were ruling the undivided Yugoslavia, Blekic said many of those who actively associated with the Socialist and Communist movements were now finding enough time for inter-faith discussions.
“It is a good sign that they have become more vocal and realistic on religious issues and are actively associating with important dialogues concerning mankind,” said Blekic.
The Slovenian scholar said his involvement with Fanar (formerly Qatar Centre for Presentation of Islam) has helped him understand the issues concerning followers of Islam from Asia, Arab region and Europe.
“Maybe, I could understand it better than most others,” stressed the scholar, who strongly feels there is no need for inter-cultural exchanges between people of different faiths these days.

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