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Western Muslims launch online publication to "promote honest dialog between cultures".

Asking themselves, "What went wrong?" a group of Muslim writers living in America, Europe, and Australia this month launched a web-based publication they hope will be part of a solution to conflict between Islam and the West.

Editors of the new weekly publication, A True Word, said they aim to "promote honest dialog and understanding between cultures and religions. "As Muslims born and raised in the heart of the West, we are in a unique position to understand the fault lines between those two world civilizations," said Amir Butler, a member of A True Word's editorial board based in Melbourne, Australia and a convert to Islam. "As part and parcel of both worlds, this is our responsibility."

Co-editor Ismail Royer, a convert to Islam based in Washington, D.C. and Bosnia, said both Muslims and non-Muslims need to change their behavior, their thinking, and their approach to their relationship with each other, which he says has been compromised. "We've got to try to understand each other in a context free of the influence of extremists on both sides, who believe their agendas will be served by promoting endless conflict," Royer said.

The publishers take a strong stand against the notion that non-hostile dialog requires an endorsement of the other's views. "Dialog doesn't mean that participants must distort or misrepresent their beliefs," Royer said. "A conversation not grounded in honesty is not real communication."

The publication's mission statement says: "A True Word was established to provide an authentic Islamic viewpoint on contemporary issues, and to actively engage the non-Muslim world in a constructive and honest dialog of ideas. We write for both Muslims and non-Muslims ... We recognized the need to bring a fresh and coherent voice to respond to the challenges we face with reasoned and accessible arguments.

"At the same time, we believe the Muslim community needs to engage in constructive self-criticism and introspection, and be open and frank as we assess our successes and shortcomings.

"In supporting that aim, we will endeavor to bring our readership high quality, original and challenging articles that do not shy away from asking tough questions and proposing innovative solutions."

Articles in a recent issue include: "Secularism is no answer for the Muslim world"; an interview with Howard Zinn, Boston University professor emeritus of history and an outspoken opponent of war and American imperialism; "Shortcomings in attacks on belief in God"; "Patriotism: Defending the Indefensible"; and "Does Allah order Muslims to kill Jews?"

Article categories include politics, religion, culture, media, letters, and humor--but a click on "humor" came up empty.

Asked about their subscriber base expectations, Ismail Royer told NL/NL, "We have had about 600 unique visitors in two days of operation, and we plan to promote the site heavily, so we expect similar traffic to continue and increase, but we have no subscribers per se. The log-in feature is for participation in the discussion forums, but of course is free."

Royer also said that "we accept advertising from ethically appropriate companies (i.e., not companies that promote unethical products or services)."

Ismail Royer (Washington, DC); Amir Butler (Australia); P.O. Box 180, Pascoe Vale, Victoria, Australia, telephone and fox +61-(0)3-93000-1335.
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Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Oct 31, 2002
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