Cultural Diplomacy in Combatting Xenophobia

By H.E. Amb. Craig Murray (Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan)


The events of 9/11 have had a disastrous effect on reporting in the media, and in particular, they’ve led to a growing influence of a kind of ‘aggressive patriotism,’ and the idea that anything that questions the actions of American, British, or Western armed forces - anything that questions aggression- is unpatriotic at a time when we are under threat and war. And of course, it’s led to this massive demonization of Muslim culture in general by the media, and this stoking up of Islam-phobic fears- this vast exaggeration of a threat of Islamic terrorism which actually exists. However, when you compare other larger threats which have faced Western civilization since WWII, Islamic fundamentalism is an unpleasant but small threat. But 9/11 provided the context for massive over-exaggeration of threat, whipping up of patriotic xenophobia, and the context in which the media could marginalize human rights and freedoms.

- The Berlin Freedom of Expression Forum; Berlin, Germany, February 28th- March 2nd, 2012