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UN Alliance of Civilisations

A rapt audience of hundreds of people packed the ECOSOC Room for the UN premiere screening of the documentary film “Out of Cordoba: Averroes and Maimonides in Their Time and Ours” on the evening of February 3, 2011. The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations in partnership with the UN Department of Public Information organized the screening event in honor of World Interfaith Harmony Week. Directed by Jacob Bender and produced by MLK PRODUCCIONES of Malaga, Spain, “Out of Cordoba” has received awards at several international film festivals.

The documentary explores some of the most challenging questions of our time: Is there a “clash of civilizations” between the so-called “Western” and “Islamic” worlds? Have the three Abrahamic faiths always been intolerant of each other? Does religious belief invariably end in intolerance and inter-religious violence?

“Out of Cordoba” explores these issues through Bender’s depiction of the lives and writings of the two most important thinkers to emerge from medieval Muslim Spain: Muslim Averroes/Ibn Rushd, and his Jewish counterpart, Rabbi Moses Maimonides. The 82-minute film explores the legacy of these two philosophers, as well as their contemporary importance for interfaith relations and its relevance for Muslims, Jews, and Christians struggling against religious extremism.

UNAOC Director Marc Scheuer welcomed the audience and explained that the documentary screening was the first of several events around the world that the Alliance, along with partners, would consider organizing to showcase artists or media professionals sharing their perspective on approaches to cultural diversity.

Mr. Maher Nasser, Director of the Outreach Division of the Department of Public Information, also greeted the audience. The documentary was introduced by director Jacob Bender and the co-producer of the film, Mr. Jose Hergueta.

After the movie ended, the Permanent Representative of Spain to the United Nations, Juan Pablo de Laiglesia addressed the importance of inter-religious peace and thanked the director of the movie for his “significant and interesting” narration of the story. Subsequently, Kahraman Haliscelik, UN/NY Bureau Chief for Turkish Radio and Television moderated a Q&A between Jacob Bender and the audience.