The 2011 Muslim Jewish Conference is an exciting experience for me where Muslims and Jews are exchanging their views and sharing their common values.  MJC is a young leaders’ forum primarily formed by young Jews and Muslims having a common goal of understanding each other’s religion and culture.

The 2nd Annual Muslim Jewish Conference is being held in Kiev, a beautiful city in Ukraine where Russian and Ukrainian languages are spoken by all, and English is spoken by few. Luckily some MJC staff / participants are able to help translate so the conference can be a success.

The MJC consists of three main committees.  “Fissures and Footprints” dives deeper into stereotypes, identity, and personal narratives.  “Sustained Community Dialogue” examines the ways in which individuals can become effective in minimizing and preventing conflict between groups.  Finally, the “Countering the Politics of Hatred” tackles the issues of Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism.

The conference started with an informal session on Sunday evening with an activity called “Breaking Down Stereotypes” where Muslims and Jews identified some negative stereotypes others commonly have of them. For example, we discussed the negative stereotype that “all Muslims are terrorists” and that “Jews made up the Holocaust”.  By addressing these stereotypes at the beginning of the conference, we clearly identified where the problem exists and thus where the solution must start.

I am participating on the “Fissures and Footprints” committee, chaired by Ben Rosen and Maryam Mohiuddin.  Both Ben and Maryam were participants in the inaugural Muslim Jewish Conference which took place in Vienna, Austria last year.  In this committee, we are learning about religion, ethnicity, culture, nationality, and other key factors that make up an individual’s identity. Our committee has participants from Slovakia, Poland, Austria, Canada, Switzerland, Egypt, Ukraine, and the United States.

During our committee sessions it was clear there were misconceptions and misunderstandings from both sides.  In order to make this a more peaceful world, young Muslim and Jewish leaders should move forward by educating their communities back home. Since Muslims and Jews have many similarities owing to Abraham, the father of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, we should harness these similarities to improve Muslim Jewish relations around the world.  Even by learning basic terminology of Judaism and Islam, we will be better equipped to work together.

Following our intense discussion, we took a boat trip on the Dnieper River.  This was an exciting trip, allowing us to not only see a beautiful sunset, but pass by many religious and historical sites of significance located in Kiev’s city center.

The 2011 MJC Team is very well organized and clearly dedicated to the cause of improving Muslim Jewish relations around the world.  They are working day and night to put together a meaningful experience for us all.  They do everything from arranging meals and transportation to teaching us about the nuances of Muslim and Jewish traditions.  The fact that the MJC team is comprised of young leaders is especially rewarding.  The Muslim and Jewish communities of the world should be proud.

-Muhammad Imran


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