Members of the European Parliament for Euro-Middle Eastern Dialogue
The Arab-West Foundation is not linked to any religious denomination or political party and explicitly wants to keep that independence. We have decided to create a section on our website for members of the European Parliament who are, regardless of the political party they represent, actively involved in intercultural dialogue between Europe and the Middle East. Our aim is to link to MPs that are actively involved in such dialogue, which in turn will help address the most important issues the region is facing:
For centuries the Middle East has been plagued by conflict and confrontation which has resulted in death, displacement, and the waste of economic resources. A long-term sustainable solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be hard to obtain but is urgently needed. In the Middle East the world's largest fuel reserves are found, which has attracted outside interference. This interference has in turn added to instability and antagonism in the Arab world. The Middle East needs peace, justice for all, stability, and economic development.
In 2008 we wrote that continued injustice and violence greatly contributed to the growth of Islamic movements which are strongly antagonistic toward the West. This became even more apparent after the Arab Spring in 2011. Strong Islamic movements have been established in the past decades that have confronted and challenged the United States, in particular. Prior to the Arab Spring, several regimes in the Middle East in addition to intellectuals from these countries have struggled against Islamist forces that boast strong support from large sections of the population.
Since June 2012, Egypt has had an Islamist president and Islamists occupy major positions in government. The opposition from other major factions in society that has developed against the growth of Islamist influence has led to a strong polarization between Islamists and non-Islamists. This, in turn, has hampered efforts to address major economic issues Egypt is facing. We, therefore, advocate a dialogue between major ideological groups and movements in society.
Several countries in the region are threatened by terrorism as a domestic phenomenon. Egypt is facing violence in Northern Sinai and the lack of security in the streets in Egypt has led to increasing insecurity. Most insecurity is not related to terrorism. Many Islamophobes, however, argue that this violence is inherent in Islam which is an argument we strongly reject. Islamic scriptures are, just as scriptures in other religions, interpreted in multiple ways: in ways that suit militant groups, but also in ways that show openness to other cultures and beliefs. Falsely claiming that Islam is inherently violent only strengthens the feeling that Islam is under attack which turns Muslims toward extremists.
Many regimes lack transparency; decisions are made without providing their constituency with reasons. This has been changing since the Arab Spring. In some places the media is gaining ground and some signs of political openness are visible. But there are also indications that result in fear for greater restrictions. It should be possible that those in power are criticized in the press, but on the other hand, distortions and lies are often deliberately spread about opponents causing mistrust in media reporting. Countries are in transition. This development toward greater openness and greater responsibility in accurate reporting should be encouraged.
Economic and social development
Economic and social development in the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) region has become stagnant. Government services for their populations have declined. Religious groups have stepped in to provide these services largely along religious lines and often missionary oriented, aimed at making people belonging to their own religion more religious. This has strengthened religious groups in society but weakened national social cohesion.
Emigration of Christian minorities:
The percentage of Christians is declining in all Middle Eastern countries. Some countries that had large Christian populations only one hundred years ago today hardly have any Christians left at all. This trend is the consequence of violence and poor economic and social progress. The growth of Islamism has resulted in anti-Christian polemics of some preachers, discrimination and at time violence against Christians and fears among Christians for a future in a country dominated by Islamists.
Members of the European Parliament who actively support changes to address the above mentioned issues will be listed here and will obtain full access to our database without cost. We welcome European Members of Parliament and hope they will join us.