Posts Tagged ‘Alexander Downer’


March 26, 2010


And the New Zealand Foreign Minister, John King adressed the large crowd gathered…

“I’m going to be talking about SHARED VALUES WITH MUSLIMS

I believe that there is a desire of the West for genuine cooperation with the overwhelming majority of the Muslim world.
It’s NOT a “clash of civilisations” (or cultures), as many have called it!

We, New Zealanders, Muslims and non-Muslims need to emphasize that there is no conflict between the West and Islam. We need to underline the shared values and aspirations that Muslims and non-Muslims hold dear. Because, there is more that unites the world’s great societies, cultures and religions than sets us apart.

Whilst the mentality of the terrorist is one of extremism: a dogmatic, intolerant, irrational and violent ideology. Whereas¬† “civilised” people of goodwill everwhere in the world have a different mentality: one that values reason, moderation, tolerance and pluralism. And on reading the Koran, it elaborates a range of rights, including the right to life, to respect and equity, to justice, to liberty and to acquire knowledge. Many inhabitants of Muslim countries know that the way to deal with modernity and globalisation is not to reject democracy. I believe education is a critical tool here, as is countering the spread of terrorist propaganda and extremist (and misguided) interpretations of Islam. That is the real problem. And each one of us can play a part here in eradicating misunderstandings between peoples and cultures.

In the fight against extremist ideologies, we have one very powerful tool on our side – the concept of democracy. This heritage of ours is the “Achilles heel” of the extremist.

A recent study on attitudes found that majorities in every Muslim country said that democracy was not just for the West, but could work in their own countries.

Our generation’s challenge is to rally behind the common ideals of tolerance, pluralism, moderation, democratic freedom and liberty under to defeat those who seek to destroy them. So let us show the “benefits of democracy” to the Muslim world. Gently and kindly leading Muslims down that path; then they can adapt it to suit their own cultures, societies and the mindset of the Arab world.”

Then John King took a deep breath and paused for a moment, before uttering his final words…

“With knowledge comes understanding.
With understanding comes tolerance…
and with tolerance comes love.”

There was a moments silence before the audience stood amid spontaneous applause.

Author’s Note: Many points and words have been extracted from a speech by Alexander Downer, Australian Foreign Minister at the Sydney institute and published in the Dominion Post newspaper (Wellington, New Zealand) on Wed Nov 29 2006.

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