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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-10-31

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [01] Popular Bank opens office in New York
  • [02] Cultural differences at the core of Islam-West relations
  • [03] US resolution on enclaved Cypriots
  • [04] Academics air views on Islam - West relations

  • 1030:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Popular Bank opens office in New York

    Nicosia, Oct 31 (CNA) -- The Popular Bank of Cyprus has been recently authorised by the American Federal Reserve Board to operate a representative office in New York.

    Kikis Lazarides, Chairman of the Popular Bank Group, said the authorisation offers new opportunities for the Group, as New York is the world's largest financial centre.

    The move will also strengthen the existing links between Greece and Cyprus with their nationals living in the USA, he added.

    The authorisation was the result of a long process, including the assessment of the Popular Bank Group by the Federal Reserve Board, which is the United States' central bank.

    According to Lazarides, this proves that the american financial authorities trust the Popular Bank Group, and Cyprus as a whole.

    CNA GG/GP/1997

    [02] Cultural differences at the core of Islam-West relations

    Nicosia, Oct 31 (CNA) -- A most distinguished academic, Professor Samuel Huntington of Harvard University, believes relations between Islam and the West will probably continue to be "distant and acrimonious", if not "conflictual and violent" in the immediate future.

    Huntington argued that the West's attempts to impose its own values and culture on the Muslim world are a source of confrontation between Islam and the West, in addition to a growth of the Muslim population.

    Outlining his views on the Islam and the West during a two-day seminar, which ends here today, Huntington said Westerners and Muslims will need "intercivilisational dialogues such as this one to understand, contain and moderate the differences that exist between them."

    Speaking to a packed audience, the professor argued that as western power subsides the West's inclination to pressure other societies to adopt western values and institutions will also decline.

    Population expansion in the Muslim world and a slowly growing or stagnant people in the West generate pressures for economic and or political adjustments and also stimulate violence.

    "While western efforts to promote western values in the Muslim world are one source of the current troubles, a second central source of conflict has been the spectacular growth of Muslim populations," Huntington said.

    Muslim populations have grown at a rate ten times that of western European peoples and it is estimated that Muslims will make up 31 per cent of the world's population in 2025, outnumbering Christians.

    Huntington said relations between the West and Islam are "likely to approximate a situation of cold war", as a result of renewed confidence among Muslims, feelings of resentment among Muslims for the West's efforts to maintain its military and economic superiority and intervene in conflicts in the Muslim world and the collapse of communism.

    He said the basic ingredients that fuel conflict between Islam and the West are on one hand Islam's conviction of its cultural superiority and obsession with the inferiority of its power and on the other the West's belief that it should extend its culture, the West considers to be universal.

    Professor Huntington also referred to political systems in the West and Islam and pointed out that 39 countries worldwide have elected governments but "do not provide the protection for individual rights, civil liberties, freedom of the press and religion that are present in the Western liberal democracies, including Russia, India and Turkey."

    CNA MM/GP/1997

    [03] US resolution on enclaved Cypriots

    Nicosia, Oct 31 (CNA) -- The US House of Representatives has urged President Bill Clinton to ease the living conditions of Greek Cypriot enclaved in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus.

    In a concurrent resolution, the House "strongly urges the President to undertake efforts to end restrictions on the freedoms and human rights of the enclaved people of Cyprus."

    The President is also urged to "remain actively interested in the matter until the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the enclaved people of Cyprus are restored, respected and safeguarded."

    The resolution was introduced in the US House of Representatives by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).

    Among the original cosponsors are representatives Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), John Porter (R-IL), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Mike Pappas (R-NJ) and Bobby Rush (D- IL).

    The resolution notes UN concerns regarding the restrictions on the freedoms and human rights of some 500 Greek Cypriots, who have to deal on a daily basis with the "constant presence of the Turkish Cypriot police" and do not enjoy access to and religious use of holy place.

    Enclaved people also face restrictions about mail and newspapers, access to medical care, right to education and have no freedom to move in the Karpass peninsula, where most of them live.

    The Turkish Cypriot regime in the occupied part of the island has succeeded in forcing most the 20,000 Greek Cypriots, who remained in the northern areas after the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, out of this part in a calculated attempt to eradicate the Greek element from Cyprus.

    A total of 200.000 Greek Cypriots, making one third of the island's population were forcibly uprooted from their homes by the Turkish invasion troops in 1974.

    CNA MM/GP/1997

    [04] Academics air views on Islam - West relations

    Nicosia, Oct 31 (CNA) -- American world dominance, cultural differences between Islam and the West, and Islam's coverage in the Western media were some of the topics discussed here today, on the second and last day of an international seminar on "Political Islam and the West."

    UNESCO's efforts for Islam-West understanding were also outlined at the meeting, organised by the Centre for World Dialogue in cooperation with the Middle Eastern Studies Programme at the Rutgers University, USA.

    About 500 academics, government officials and experts, half of whom from abroad, are attending the two-day seminar.

    In his speech to the seminar, Oxford University professor Reza Sheikholeslami disagreed with what is often said that differences between the West and Islam are rooted in a different set of values or religious differences.

    Speaking on "Islam and the West: Convergence of Values, Emergence of Conflict" he said values, such as the need for safety, secure borders, food and medicine, are becoming universal.

    The professor expressed the view that as the Moslem world is struggling to safeguard these values, the conflict between Islam and the West will be greater.

    "The problem is that political Islam came in the wrong decade, this is the American decade," Sheikholeslami said, adding that the US is the "overdominant power".

    He pointed out that the US gets along with countries with which it has no affinity and whose values the West does not accept, citing Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel as examples.

    The professor described Turkey as a state whose values are "more hidden", noting that while Turkey is recognised as a Western state, it is based on Attaturkism, which is racist.

    The US role in world affairs was also brought up by professor Khalid Bin Sayeed, of Queen's University, who said the conflict between Islam and America "is not a conflict of power but an intellectual and culture conflict".

    In a paper to the seminar on "American Dominance and Political Islam: Challenges and Response", the professor describes the US as a "giant" and says that if the US combines its political and material power with moral power "at least some of their decisions involving conflicting countries might be more acceptable."

    On the other hand he notes that "if Islam emerges as a moral force and creates within its system a balance between moral and material forces, it may influence the giant to mend its ways for the betterment of the human race."

    Dr. Faouzi Skali, of the Fez University in Morocco, told participants that relations between Islam and the West are different today than in the past as today passions are nourished where divisions prevail.

    Speaking on "Cultural Roots of Conflict and Perspective of dialogue" he also said that "religious extremism harms Muslims themselves".

    The professor said "it is about time to remind that Europe and the West was built on Jewish, Christian and Muslim heritage" and that all religions must live together and interact.

    At the same time, he stressed that now is the time for Muslim society to start constructive self-criticism.

    Speaking on "The coverage of Islam in the Western Press: A Critical Review", Sayeed Yousif Al-Khoei said "certain sections have, for a variety of reasons, portrayed Islam in a negative light, as atavistic, stuck in the past, violent, anti women etc."

    He stressed this has a negative effect on Western public opinion and Muslim minorities in the West, and added that when examining Western media attitudes towards Islam it is important to recognise the cultural background of journalists who reflect the societies in which they are born.

    Al-Khoei referred to racist terminology used by the Western media and said the problem is that in countries like Britain Muslims are unable to resort to legal remedies to address this problem as religions are not covered by anti-racist legislation.

    He also pointed out that Muslim response has been either apologetic or radical and confrontational and stressed that what is needed is a gradual process of dialogue and education.

    In a keynote speech to the seminar Dr. Ehsan Naraghi outlined two UNESCO projects for creating a greater understanding between the West and Islam.

    The Special Advisor to UNESCO Director-General said the first project aims at showing "the brilliant side of Islamic civilisation" by projecting its sciences and its "common roots" with the West.

    The second is the establishment of a permanent forum of dialogue between European and Islamic civilizations aimed at creating a bridge for sustained dialogue and a cultural dialogue.

    Eric Rouleau, former French ambassador to Turkey and Tunisia, outlined the rise and fall of the Turkish Islamist Welfare (Refah) from power.

    Today, he said, the West is "uneasy about the situation in Turkey but happy that Refah was ousted."

    Rouleau admonished the role of the military in Turkey, citing attempts, backed by the army, to have Refah's leaders tried for treason on mere suspicions that they have a hidden agenda to take over the country.

    Olivier Roy, Director of the French National Centre for Scientific Research, said the Islamist movements are part of a process of modernisation, but also of globalisation, because their action results in the political integration of some post-colonial countries into modern nation-states.

    "The re-islamisation of Muslim societies in the past two decades did not contribute to a growing gap between Muslim and western countries," he concluded.

    CNA MA/MM/1997
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