On May 16, Judea Pearl, director of the Cognitive Systems Laboratory at UC Los Angeles and father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, and Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies and professor of international studies at American University, delivered a presentation entitled ‘The Daniel Pearl Dialogue for Muslim-Jewish Understanding’ in UC Irvine’s Crystal Cove Auditorium.
Daniel Pearl was beheaded in Pakistan in 2002 after being abducted by kidnappers while attempting to do an investigative story on militant extremists.
Dean of Students Sally Peterson introduced the event, which was intended to be a dialogue to improve awareness about Muslim-Jewish relations.
Rusty Kennedy, executive director and CEO of the Orange County Human Relations Commission, acted as moderator for the event.
‘Diplomacy is the art of working a conversation with people you have differences with and yet you can find a way to talk and communicate,’ Kennedy said.
Ahmed said that this dialogue began when he first heard that Daniel Pearl was ‘killed in such a brutal manner’ in Ahmed’s home country of Pakistan.
‘Societies feel under siege and when societies feel under siege, they tend to be intolerant and defensive,’ Ahmed said. ‘Muslims feel like this.’
According to Ahmed, dialogues like this one help to promote respect and empathy within the community and result in increased understanding.
‘Relations in the Muslim world are complicated and will continue to be complicated if there is not more dialogue and more understanding,’ Ahmed said.
According to Ahmed, the importance of dialogue is to increase understanding and tolerance between the two groups.
‘Seventy percent of Americans, when polled, admitted that they don’t know anything about Islam,’ Ahmed said. ‘And in the Muslim world, perhaps [the number of people who don’t know anything about America] is even higher. The Muslim world [is also] engaged in ignorance about America and about the West and hostility