18 December 2018, GENEVA – On the occasion of the 2018 World Arabic Language Day, the Chairman of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue Dr. Hanif Al Qassim stated that the increased use of Arabic language worldwide will enhance intercultural understanding between Arabs and non-Arabs.

Dr. Al Qassim noted that the Arabic language is spoken in more than 25 countries and is the mother tongue of approximately 400 million people in different regions of the world. It is also recognised as one of the six official languages of the United Nations thus belonging to the common heritage of humankind.

In this connection, the Geneva Centre’s Chairman highlighted that Arabic literary scripts during the Islamic medieval age contributed greatly to the social, cultural and civic evolution of today’s modern societies. It established – he noted – “bridges of communications among nations and cultures along the Silk Road and greatly contributed to enrich human civilization.”

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 some societies contribute to the stigmatization of people of Arab origin. The spread of the Arabic language could thus serve as a basis to address the worrying trend of a toxic discourse against the Other that is gaining ground in some societies. Dr. Al Qassim said:

 “The promotion of the Arabic language and culture is key to enhancing cultural diversity and uniting spirits and minds in calling forth a more peaceful world. It could serve as a timely opportunity to reverse and roll-back the spread of hatred, bigotry, racism and the fear of the Other that often target people of Arabic origin.”

The Geneva Centre’s Chairman concluded his statement by appealing for increased cross-cultural dialogue between societies and peoples worldwide: 

“At time when the fear of the stranger has become the norm in some societies, rejoicing in the Other and celebrating diversity are needed more than ever to address the root-causes of intolerance worldwide. We therefore need to intensify dialogue between and within societies, civilizations and cultures. We need to learn more about one another so as to break down the walls of ignorance and prejudice that have insulated societies. The promotion of the Arabic language and culture is key to harnessing unity in diversity.”

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