By Josh Strawins, Senior, East Allegheny High School
One of the greatest challenges facing world peace today concerns two of the biggest civilizations: American and Islamic cultures. During the One Young World Youth Summit in Pittsburgh, I had the opportunity to interview several Muslim delegates to discuss why the distrust exists between our two cultures and how to improve the relations.
Many of the delegates blamed the media in both countries because they portray the other in a very negative manner. Taki Eddine, a young man from Algeria stressed the negative effect that media has on both sides. He said, “Media is the problem In both countries. They need to understand each other.” His solution was to create more student exchange and the Muslim world. Danya Bashir from Libya said “Americans should not believe the media and go do independent research about the Muslim people.”
This led to another theme to many of my interviews. All of the people I interviewed wanted to convey the importance of each culture understanding the other. At the bridge party on Thursday night, I talked to an influential young man from Jordan named Khalil Yousef. Living in the country as a student, he has experienced both cultures. He said “the kindness I see in this country brings me to tears. The Muslim people need to see this.” Mr. Yousef went on to say, “the American people need to understand Islam”. He added that Americans seem to misunderstand Islam and cross certain boundaries that should not be crossed.
Others said the same thing. Sulieman Al-Qassabi from Oman said “Americans need to find out about the real Islam. Many people misunderstand us. Bin Laden does not represent Islam.”
Sayed Mahboob from Afghanistan pleaded for mutual respect among all religious worshipers That message was echoed among all the delegates interviewed. The delegates I interviewed stressed that Americans need to realize that Islam is a religion of peace and that we must have respect for one another’s faiths.