Rohingya crisis discussed at HBKU panel

Rahma El-Deeb, Staff reporter

(From left to right) Mohammed Pirbhai, Hasan Mahmud, Mohamed Shinqiti, and Harry Verhoeven. Photo by Rahma El-Deeb.


Genocides are an evident misuse of religion, said political ethics Professor Mohamed El-Moctar Shinqiti on a panel on Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis at HBKU’s College of Islamic Studies on Wednesday, Sept. 20.

In Myanmar’s pre-colonial stage, people from different ethnicities and religious backgrounds co-existed in harmony, said Mohammed Pirbhai, an associate professor of history at Georgetown University in Qatar. In contrast, after the colonization, there was “an unrelenting forceful response from the Myanmar government… against the Muslim minority,” he said, referring to the country’s Rohingya population.

The Myanmar government and the majority population dehumanized the Rohingya, said Hasan Mahmud,  an associate professor of sociology at Northwestern University in Qatar. This “does not start with the extreme, but with very subtle, mundane ideas that enter our belief system, develop[ing] gradually,” he said.

Shinqiti said, in Arabic, “ethical and behavioral morals among politicians and government body today” does not exist. He stressed the necessity of reinstating correct ethical morals, such as Islamic morality, in order to counteract this misuse of religion.

However, Harry Verhoeven, an assistant professor of government studies at GU-Q, disagreed with the idea that morality can counteract injustice, saying that this suggestion generalizes a complex issue of genocidal crime. Instead, he said the solution is to “undertake real political action.”

Indeed, Education City students are taking action.

According to Sulaiman Timbo Bah, a graduate student and president of the CIS Student Council, “this is the first of many planned events related to the Rohingya effort.”

These efforts will be under a student-led initiative titled EC4Rohingya, wherein students from CIS and Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar will organize several events such as panel discussions and fundraising to stimulate further community engagement.

“The general consensus is to try to get as much of EC involved and for a longer stretch, instead of the usual emotional activism that is short-lived and disappears once it’s no longer showing on TV,” Timbo Bah said.

The panel was well-received by audience members.

“I really did not know a lot about the Rohingya crisis, but it was interesting to see different point of views, and to see it placed from a more international perspective and also a historical perspective,” said Sarah Fayad, a summit and community engagement officer at World Innovation Summit for Education, a Qatar Foundation founded platform that builds programs to promote innovation and education enhancement.

Samiha Sadeka, a junior at CMU-Q and a Bangladeshi, feels personally affiliated with the crisis. As Rohingya refugees cross the border into Bangladesh, the Bangladeshi government has been uncooperative in assisting the refugees, even hindering the efforts of other organizations wanting to assist and aid the refugees.

“It’s actually sad that just because of [the Rohingya’s] religion, they have to escape,” Sadeka said. “It’s like their strength is their punishment… so as Muslims and non-Muslims, it’s our job to help them.”

This is not the first time that EC students have collaborated on charity efforts across universities. Previously collaborative initiatives include EC4Pakistan and EC4Nepal, when earthquakes hit the two countries in 2013 and 2015 respectively.




Facebook Comments Box