November 12, 2019
University of New England Vice President for Global Affairs Anouar Majid, Ph.D., has had a busy fall, sharing his unique insight into how the Arab World and West can repair their relationship and move forward together on more stable footing.
On November 6, 2019, Majid visited Arizona State University’s Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict to present a keynote lecture at the 2019 Peace Studies Conference, and then, the very next day, Majid was quoted extensively in one of Morocco’s leading newspapers, sharing his perspective on King Mohammed VI’s latest royal address.
Standing before an overflow crowd, Majid presented “Islam, the West, and the Quest for Understanding,” in which he challenged attendees to re-examine early relations between Islam and Christian Europe. Such examination, he argued would prompt a rigorous rethinking of Muslim and Western identities and prompt us to question our current cultural assumptions. Ultimately, his talk sought to upend the traditional assumption that the West and Islam rest on radically different cultural foundations that leave them to be forever at odds.
“Like many in this room,” Majid told his audience, “I started out fighting the hegemonic West, trying to make a case for a polycentric world that allows different cultures and traditions to live side by side. There was a sort of assumption that if we let cultures alone, oppression would be reduced and people’s dignity would be restored. The only problem with this approach is it tends to overlook indigenous forms of injustice, which could be quite debilitating. It also obscures more creative ways of thinking about relationships, say between the secular or Judeo-Christian West and Islam. It absolves us from having to describe what, exactly, is an ideal world for humanity, and from having to decide whether the traditions we hold dear, whose authenticity we strive to preserve and defend, may, in fact, be dangerously obsolete.”
In an article that appeared the very next day in the Moroccan news outlet, Maghreb Arabe Press, Majid was quoted extensively as he offered his thoughts concerning Morocco King Mohammed VI’s recent address to mark the 44th anniversary of the “Green March.”
The address occurred on the anniversary of the mass mobilization that saw more than 300,000 Moroccans move to occupy the then-Spanish-occupied portion of the Western Sahara to demonstrate their support for its annexation. Since then, there has existed deep distrust and animosity between Algeria and Morocco.
“Morocco’s approach to resolving the conflict around the Sahara,” Majid explained, “has been encouraged by the United Nations and the Security Council, as well as by 163 countries. It has now become abundantly clear that this is the only reasonable solution, one that I hope will be embraced by our neighbors, so that we could move forward with the urgent and vital task of development and meet the pressing needs of our populations, especially the youth.”