The conference will consider whether the much greater interaction of different backgrounds in a globalising world will create more common shared values in an increasingly global civilisation, or whether the alternative thesis is correct that a dynamic towards conflict and war is inevitable, created by the ‘clash of civilisations’. It will consider how these issues relate to London as a diverse and multicultural city.
Hosted by the Mayor of London, the conference is being organised so that Londoners from different communities, faiths and political persuasions can come together to debate these views. Speakers will include writers, academics, religious figures and campaigners.
The Mayor said: ‘London is the world’s most international city and has among the most harmonious relations between its communities in the world. It has benefited greatly from globalisation and based its community relations on classic liberal principles – that you should be able to choose to do whatever you like, provided it does not interfere with other people. This is the policy of multiculturalism.
‘An entirely opposite view has been put forward that the world is heading towards a clash of civilisations. If true, this would have huge practical consequences for London, which would have to reverse its liberal policies and prepare for such a clash. There would be serious implications for community relations and London’s openness to globalisation.’
Daniel Pipes, who will debate with the Mayor, is Director of the Middle East Forum, an American think tank that advises US policymakers on the Middle East. Pipes has argued that ‘there is not so much a clash of civilisations as a clash of civilisation versus barbarism’.
Other sessions will discuss issues, such as whether multicultural London works; freedom of thought, conscience and religion; whether Britain is becoming more segregated; whether there can be progressive colonialism; religious dress; and whether there is a justification for torture.
A wide range of speakers will include:
· Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London
· Daniel Pipes, Director of the Middle East Forum
· Jonathan Freedland, newspaper columnist (Guardian, Evening Standard) and author
· Douglas Murray, writer
· Doudou Diene, UN Special Rapporteur on Racism and Xenophobia
· David Aaronovitch, journalist (The Times) and broadcaster
· Professor Danny Dorling, Academic Specialist in Human Geography
· Cristina Odone, columnist with the Observer and Daily Telegraph
· Alistair Crooke, Director, Conflicts Forum
· Maleiha Malik, Kings College London
· Oliver Kamm, columnist (The Times) and author
· Tariq Ali, writer
· Antony Lerman, Executive Director Institute for Jewish Policy Research
· Bruce Kent, Peace Campaigner
· Dr Abdul Bari, Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain
· Soumaya Ghannoushi, Research Director, IslamExpo
· Martin Bright, Political Editor, New Statesman