Geneva Centre: Emir Abd el Qader is a source of inspiration for...

Geneva Centre: Emir Abd el Qader is a source of inspiration for inter-religious tolerance

Portray of Emir Abdelkader.
Portray of Emir Abd el Qader el Jazairy.

Oxford, U.K – The Executive Director of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue (“Geneva Centre”), Mr. Idriss Jazairy, praised the ideas and teachings of the Emir Abd el Qader el Jazairy that can be used as a source of inspiration to address contemporary issues related to international human rights law and humanitarian law.

At the end of the 1830ies the Emir introduced rules concerning the humane treatment of prisoners. This developed in 1842 into his Code for the Protection of Prisoners.

“The Emir’s Code prohibited mistreatment of prisoners and the killing of unarmed enemy soldiers or prisoners. In the Emir’s jails, there were no ‘enemy combatants’ prevented from enjoying basic human rights.

Henri Dunant, the great Swiss humanitarian activist is credited with having introduced the first code to protect war prisoners that led to the creation of the Red Cross. That was in 1863, some twenty years after the adoption of the Emir’s Code,” stated Mr. Jazairy.

The Executive Director of the Geneva Centre made this observation in relation to an event held February 15 on the historical importance of the 19th century Algerian leader, Emir Abd el Qader, and the universality of Islamic values, at the renowned Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies of Oxford University.

He was invited by the Director of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Dr. Farhan Nizami to offer his insights on these subjects.

Mr. Jazairy also spoke about the Emir’s contribution to identify commonalities between Islam and Christianity in order to promote peace, social justice and inter-religious harmony between Muslims and Christians.

“He asserted in a letter of July 1862 to a French bishop, Mgr. Pavy, that the teachings of both of these faiths were the same and could be encapsulated in two principles:  the worship of God and compassion towards His creatures.  Our religions, he averred, only differ in the prescriptions provided as to how best to comply with these cardinal principles.

This brings the Emir to the conclusion in his book ‘Reminder to the Thoughtful and Notice to the Oblivious’ that religions are complementary and all lead to tolerance,” Mr. Jazairy stated.

During his presentation, Mr. Jazairy also referred to the example of the Emir’s action to save the Christian minority in Damascus, during civil strife in 1860 that was widely commended by world leaders at that time.

The Emir’s decision to provide protection to religious minorities reflect the Emir’s dedication to upholding what he called “the rights of humanity” an expression that preceded, and anticipated on, the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 85 years later.

The Executive Director of the Geneva Centre also expressed his concerns that the world press by calling the authors of terrorist action “Jihadis” unwittingly provide religious legitimacy for their heinous crimes and accredit the idea that Islam inspires terrorism.

He considered that this was tantamount to “islamizing crime rather than denouncing the criminalization of Islam.”

“This provide terrorist groups with recruitment publicity while stimulating in credulous people’s minds, both in the Middle East and in the West, a conflation of Islam with terrorism,” the Executive Director of the Geneva Centre ascertained to the audience.

It is worth reminding that the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue (The Geneva Centre) is a think-thank dedicated to the promotion of human rights through cross-cultural, political, religious and civilizational dialogue, and through training of the upcoming generations of  stakeholders in the Arab region.