In 2009, President Barack Obama delivered a speech, “A New Beginning,” in Cairo, Egypt in fulfillment of his promise to deliver an address to Muslims from a Muslim capital. Egypt is considered a critical player for working toward peace in the Middle East.

 

Toward the end of Obama’s speech, he introduced the issue of religious freedom and stressed the importance to overcome challenges that have been introduced to religious freedom. Some Muslims, Obama pointed out, attempt to validate their own faithfulness by rejecting the faithfulness of others. This, however, contradicts Islam’s history.

 

Obama's appearance in Egypt was co-hosted by Cairo University and Al-Azhar University. (flickr.com)

Obama’s appearance in Egypt was co-hosted by Cairo University and Al-Azhar University. (flickr.com)

Obama wisely pointed out that throughout history, Islam has been a prominent upholder of religious tolerance. Muslims, Jews, and Christians coexisted side-by-side in Andalusia, Spain — under Muslim rule — and created a welcoming multicultural environment. This period of coexistence in Spain is fittingly referred to as “La Covivencia” and lasted from 711 — when the Moors, or the Muslims, assumed power — until 1492, when the Catholic Monarchs arrived.

 

Though some dispute the extent to which these cultures lived harmoniously, it is undeniable that they did live together and practice different religions, and that this period was quite culturally productive. Additionally, Islamic civilization endured longer in Andalusia that it did anywhere else on the Iberian Peninsula.

 

It’s not surprising that Islamic influence remains scattered throughout Andalusia in art, architecture, and even language. Even the region’s name comes from the old name for Muslim areas around the peninsula, Al-Andalus.

 

Undoubtedly, coexistence should be an ideal that all societies strive toward. In PR, as well, one should be understanding and accept cultures and ideas different from what one may usually be accustomed.

 

What benefits – whether in a society, or in PR – do you think that coexistence can bring about? Let me know below or on Twitter @ryanlawlessness