(Cairo, Egypt, December 4-6, 2010)
A BRIDGE FOR COMMUNICATION
The first Conference of Arab Expatriates, held from December 4 – 6, 2010, was a dynamic gathering of people of Arab descent from all corners of the world. It was held under the auspices of Secretary General, HE Amre Moussa, at the Headquarters of the League of Arab States in Cairo. Canada’s distinguished Senator, The Honourable Pierre de Bane, whose parents were born in Egypt, was among the illustrious guests in attendance. His fellow attendees were comprised of Arabs from 32 non-Arab countries around the world, including Canada, as well as representatives from 22 Arab homelands.
In his summary speech to the Canadian Senate in February, 2011, the Honourable Senator praised the Secretary General, a former Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, for his tremendous efforts, so characteristic of his distinctive thoughtful analysis and great political courage and described him as an individual who “ ...believes that every culture should be open to all other cultures. It should influence them and conversely be enriched by them…”
Senator de Bane stressed that the 200 million expatriates in existence present a remarkable opportunity to “form a natural bridge between nations”, which would diffuse the divisive consequences of colliding ethnicity; and that such a bridge would serve to “enrich the world consciousness and to enhance the dialogue of cultures.”
He emphasized the wealth of diversity within the global Arab communities – 600,000 in Canada alone, and dispelled the notion that Arabs constitute a single monolithic entity. They are from a profusion of ethnic and religious origins – a rich fusion from the tapestry of human civilization. A noble people, they have virtually been assimilated into all walks of life in this country. Many have made their mark in modern times, but their history is as old as humanity itself and their ancestors bestowed upon us legendary discoveries and achievements that have shaped the world we inhabit today.
As commitment to adoptive homelands is implicit by the taking of citizenship, he felt Arab “emigrant” to be more accurate term than “expatriate”, emphasising that the conference “encouraged immigrants from the Arab countries to integrate fully…to observe faithfully all their laws and regulations; to get involved in all the civic duties and responsibilities, and to work to build a solid bond with their homelands for the benefit of both ends of the bridge….to put aside temporary internal frictions in their countries of origin and take the high road to providing enrichment to both sides, and thus to humanity as a whole” consistent with the Canadian Constitution which “shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians”.
In closing he stated his conviction “…that we Canadians, must encourage such endeavours that promote understanding, mutual respect, harmony and strengthen the allegiance of new immigrants to our great democracy while making the dialogue of cultures a duty of every citizen of our country in these troubled times.”Please click here to read the Declaration