Rome (Fides Service)-“Yes there is a difference between Moslems in the United States and those in many European countries” Imam Yahya Hendi Moslem chaplain Georgetown University, Washington DC told Fides. The Imam is in Italy to take part in a meeting at the University of Milan. “First of all in the United States there are at least 3 million Moslems born in the country, their language is English and they are well inserted in American society and culture” he told Fides. “Whereas most Moslem immigrants are students who come primarily to study in our universities and only later decide to stay after finding a job to suit their qualifications. This means that many Moslems, US born and immigrants, belong to the middle-upper class and are doctors, engineers or lawyers etc medico. Many serve their country as mayors or in the armed forces some in high ranking positions. So US Moslems are well inserted the country’s social, political and economic structures”.
“On the contrary in Europe most Moslem immigrants come in search of work and many occupy jobs which Europeans no longer want to do and doing so risk remaining on the fringe of society. However Europe has the advantage of being closer than America to the Arab-Muslim world and Turkey. I say advantage because this vicinity should not be regarded as a problem but as an opportunity to dialogue and build a better world. I realise however the need to overcome reciprocal diffidence deriving from centuries old ‘relations’ between Europe and Islam” Hendi told Fides.
With regard to the role of religion in societies in Europe and in the United States Hendi said he has the impression that “European societies are almost afraid of religion as such and find it difficult to include in political debates the contribution of the Christian world in its multiple expressions, the Jewish world and the world of Islam etc. In the United States we think differently: the state guarantees religious freedom for all citizens but this does not mean that the view of the different faiths cannot offer its own contribution in the search for the common good. I think Europe can look at the experience of the United States to render the cultural and political debate more harmonious taking into account the contribution of religions particularly with regard to moral values, the family, greater social justice”.
Lastly Chaplain Hendi said “American Moslems can help find a solution to crises such as conflict in Sudan, between Israel and Palestine by promoting dialogue and presenting themselves as a community well inserted in society and ready to collaborate. Since we are a Moslem community in the largest western power I think we can further understanding of the different positions because we are part of both western and Islamic culture”. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 22/6/2005 righe 42 parole 519)