UN:8 February 2008 – Continuing an official visit to Chicago in the United States today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for action to correct the prevailing misperception that the West is in engaged in a confrontation with the Muslim world.
“People should really try to understand more the cultures and traditions of others,” Mr. Ban told an informal meeting with members of the Chicago Tribune editorial board in Chicago. “There is a perception that the West is on one side and the Muslim world is on the other. We must try to cut off this misperceived linkage.”
He also stressed the importance of the Alliance of Civilizations Forum held last month in Madrid. The two-day meeting in the Spanish capital brought together political leaders, the media, corporate and film industry executives, and grassroots and civil society leaders to promote the global campaign launched by the UN in 2005 to help overcome prejudices among nations, cultures and religions.
Among the initiatives announced at the Forum was a $100 million investment by Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser-el-Missned in a global youth employment initiative that brings together Governments and major multinational corporations.
The Forum also saw the launch of a multi-million dollar Alliance of Civilizations Media Fund, which will support the production and distribution of films that not only entertain but also combat stereotypes and promote understanding.
In addition, an Alliance of Civilizations clearinghouse related to media literacy education was created and a Youth Solidarity Fund established to provide grants to support youth-led programmes in the areas of intercultural and interfaith dialogue.
“This is an important initiative as an effort to bring all communities together so we can really prevent the spread of extremism in society,” said Mr. Ban today.
“We should really nurture this initiative,” he stressed.
News Tracker: past stories on this issue
Major new initiatives to promote tolerance launched at UN-backed forum