Scholars discuss religion in Kelowna after being denied access to United States

Scholars have come to Kelowna for a three-day conference, in partnership with UBC Okanagan and the International Council for Middle East Studies, an academic think tank made up of primarily Middle Eastern scholars.

Part of the scholars’ goal in attending the conference is to educate people about their culture and politics.

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“Having the Middle East as part of the background goes beyond that, because it goes how can we really get along, and for those who believe and those who don’t, religion is becoming — again — a weapon and there has to be a way,” said Francisco Peña, UBC Okanagan professor.

“And the first step is why don’t we talk to each other?”

During the conference, scholars presented their expertise on Islam, Judaism, Christianity and religious identity, as well as the many facets of their religions.

The conference was originally supposed to be held in the United States, but was moved to Kelowna because some of the speakers were not allowed entrance to the country.

“This was the third venue of our meeting,” said  Emilio González Ferrín, University of Seville professor.

“We started in Spain, then jumped into Morocco. We were of course allowed to speak in Spain and Morocco, but when we tried to come to Washington, the third venue, I was not allowed to enter into the United States because I am a professional Islamicist and I used to travel to Pakistan, Iran and so on,”

Video of the conference will be released on the UBC Okanagan website once the conference concludes Wednesday, Sept. 11.


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