Your Australian University in Dubai

News Article

International peace activist Salwa Kader speaks at UOWD

Sunday, 12 December, 2010

Salwa Kader, president of the US Federation for Middle East Peace (USFMEP), and well- known peace activist addressed students of UOWD and urged them to develop an attitude of understanding and dialogue.

She said students should take a more active role in promoting dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims and help clear misunderstandings of the faith.

"Organise, speak out, explain," Salwa Kader advised the audience. "You have to speak out. We can't all sit still."

Ms Kader has organised dialogues between Muslim and Hindu leaders in Mumbai as well as Muslim-Christian dialogues in the US.

She came to Dubai on an exploratory trip to expand the organisation, which also has offices in Egypt, Pakistan and Sweden, and said the time was right to expand in the UAE.

In her address, she said ignorance and a lack of understanding, as well as misconceptions and fear, had fuelled the current problems between faiths and cultures, particularly citing the fear of Islam in the US.

Ms Kader, a Lebanese-American, is the director of the UN Women's Guild for Manhattan and a member of the International Alliance of Women in New York.

"It's a melting pot here," she said of the UAE. "There are all these nationalities living and working together harmoniously and I think this is the best ground we can find to approach everybody without being for or against anyone, just delivering the message of peace."

The organisation, which was founded a month after 9/11 in 2001, brings together women to tackle issues such as human trafficking and domestic violence, but mainly focuses on the suffering of women affected by war and conflict.

The non-governmental organisation is seeking funding to set up workshops in Dubai and begin work with young people and women around the Emirates.

Prof. Rob Whelan, President of UOWD, in his welcome speech, said that bringing speakers such as Ms Kader was an important way to inspire the students.

"World peace is an aspiration shared by most of the common people in the world. It is understandably a common theme among UOWD students, where over 100 nationalities study together in harmony."

Christina Richards, UAE Office Director, USFMEP, said the organisation was contemplating various activities in the region, including an international peace day when US visitors would be invited to the UAE to acquaint them with the real picture of this part of the world.

Robert Watts, a 20-year-old Canadian student at UOWD proposed a vote of thanks.