A UN project aimed at combating terrorism through cross-cultural understanding holds its first forum today in Madrid. The Alliance of Civilisations was first conceived by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in the aftermath of the 2004 Madrid bombings. Turkey decided to co-sponsor the project, which was adopted by the United Nations in 2005.
The idea is to build bridges between cultures, in particular between the West and the Islamic world. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes it could unearth common goals among enemies.
“There is no good terrorism or bad terrorism, “ he said. “Terrorism cannot be excused or justified.”
Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi spoke ahead of the event to deplore inter-cultural ignorance.
“In the West, Islam is associated with radicalism and fundamentalism. There is no doubt that there is a lack of knowledge about it. The forum is vital in portraying the reality of Islam and bringing East and West closer.”
World leaders and political figures will be joined at the two-day conference by personalities from the Arts and the entertainment industry.