06 Jan 2010
Meedan has partnered with the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme to develop an online platform for inter-faith discussion.
We aim to produce a world-class, high-impact, web-based platform to aid discussion and promote understanding between leading figures in the Abrahamic Faiths.
We envision a universally accessible resource for government, the press, educational institutions and the general public. We aim to build a 'first port of call' for inter-faith comment, analysis and discussion.
The platform has two elements, each of which addresses a significant challenge to media designed for the web:
(1) It will enable annotation: it will offer easily produced and viewed commentary and responses to primary texts (e.g. scripture, public statements by world leaders, important articles in the world press).
(2) It will be dedicated to rapid translation between the two principal languages, Arabic and English, so that discussions will be available in near real-time to participants who speak only one of these languages. The Current Problem
Mass media in the West and Middle East do not deliver the reporting we need on religious issues. There is a tendency to polarise debates and parties, to over-dramatise conflict and to under-research the complexities of lived religious traditions in the modern world. This can be seen in four high-profile cases in recent years: the Danish cartoons, Pope Benedict's Regensberg address, The Archbishop of Canterbury's Sharia lecture, and the issue of whether Muslim women in Europe should be permitted to wear headscarves.
In each of these cases, with polarisations between blasphemy and freedom of speech, secular enlightenment and religious prejudice, it was almost impossible for Westerners to discover the full range of Islamic (especially Arabic-speaking) views, with the result that there is a repeated widespread perception that Muslims are stuck in the Dark Ages. Likewise it was almost impossible for Arabic speakers to discover the full range of Western views, with the result that there is a repeated widespread perception that Europeans are irremediably decadent and morally corrupt.
The CIP-Meedan Solution
We plan to develop a research and discussion tool, translating across two languages, for public communicators, religious leaders and scholars to explore, debate and inform in relation to the leading inter-faith issues of the past, the present and the future.