Meeting great minds who have made it their life’s work to understand the complexities of this world and then share their insight with the rest of the world is an amazing gift. The diverse group of like-minded listeners was warm and energized. The energy had entered the room when Tariq Ali entered and with the years of practice of being a public speaker put everybody at ease and answered their queries. His speech was delivered as a one and a half hour story, followed by at least half an hour of answering questions. We were treated to a big sweep through history showing that the current prejudice that Islam is fundamentalist and violent is not borne out by the past. Centuries ago in Spain, southern Italy and Sicily the three religions coexisted and Arab, Moorish or Islam thought was the most influential before the Reyos Catolicos. Being culturally mainstream didn’t lead to trying to convert others but the Catholics and Jews took over part of the culture since it was the height of civilization. So how come that Westerners now see Islam as the ultimate danger and see women who wear the habib as potential terrorists? Mainly because we forgot our history and the fact that violent anarchists have always thrown bombs in our society. Bombs that started World War II, bombs by Orangists that boosted the numbers of the IRA, acts that lead to the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. Much of our trouble today started with Martin Luther when Christianity split in Catholicism and Protestantism and when the inquisition was invented… The other are we, are us: we are all humans with the same grooves in our soul. The problem is not religion and its differences but culture and the demand to become part of society culturally homogenized. Vive la difference and a good meal shared in friendship.