18 December 2017, GENEVA – On the occasion of the 2017 World Arabic Language Day, the Chairman of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue H. E. Dr. Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim stated that the increased use of Arabic language worldwide is key to build bridges between peoples and to enhancing intercultural understanding between Arabs and non-Arabs.

Dr. Al Qassim noted that the Arabic language is spoken in more than 20 countries and is the mother tongue of approximately 400 million people. It is also recognised as one of the six official languages of the United Nations thus belonging to the common heritage of mankind.

Arabic has emerged as a global language represented by its many dialects in the Arab region. Since time immemorial, it has been spoked by many different peoples and ethnic groups. The spread of the Arabic language during the era of Prophet Muhammed PBUH has enriched and contributed to diverse and multicultural societies in the Middle East and in North Africa,” said Dr. Al Qassim.

The Geneva Centre’s Chairman highlighted likewise that Arabic literary scripts during the Islamic medieval age contributed greatly to the social, cultural and civic evolution of today’s modern societies. Arabic mathematicians – he noted – flourished in the medieval age in which disciplines such as algebra and the very notion of algorithms emerged and laid the foundation for inter alia geometry, computer sciences and other related disciplines. Hence, it would be scientifically more correct to describe European civilizations as Semito-Christian and not just Judeo-Christian to include its Arabic component.

Arabic was the lingua franca for trade and science during the medieval age. The world witnessed immense social evolution under the Golden Age of the Islamic World which is hardly recognized in our modern societies,” remarked Dr. Al Qassim.

Although the Geneva Centre’s Chairman emphasized the important role of Arabic as a transmitter of knowledge and science, he noted that the rise of anti-Arab sentiments in societies worldwide contribute to Arabophobia and the stigmatization of people of Arab origin.

He noted that the increased use of Arabic language has the potential to transmit Arabic culture, literature and art to a wider audience and contribute to alleviate the rise of xenophobia, bigotry and racism.

Against this background, the Geneva Centre’s Chairman remarked that the increased exposure of Arabic culture and language to non-Arabs will contribute to enhance intercultural understanding and tolerance. He said that scholarships earmarked for Arabic culture and language at universities in the Arab region can play a vital role in fostering inter-cultural dialogue.

Youth are the backbone of our societies. They must not fall victim to heinous and poisonous ideologies that spread hate, bigotry and racism. Decision-makers must encourage youths to expand their horizons and cultivate peaceful relations with peoples from other regions of the world.

“Scholarships for students to study Arabic language and culture are suitable options to improve inter-ethnic relations, celebrate cultural diversity and create mutual bonds between Arab and non-Arab communities. It is only through dialogue and the celebration of diversity that we can overcome and respond to the rise of xenophobia and Arabophobia that prevails in many societies.

Renowned educational institutions such as the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies have succeeded in becoming a meeting point for scholars from the Arab region and the West. This approach has laid the foundation for enhancing interaction and for deepening intercultural understanding between the Arabs and non-Arabs. The Oxford Centre has made impressive efforts to depict Arabic art, architecture and calligraphy at its premises and to promote the learning of Arabic language to its students.

“The promotion of Arabic language and culture is key to enhancing cultural diversity and uniting spirits and minds in calling forth a more peaceful world,” asserted Dr. Al Qassim.

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