World leaders gathered in Normandy on Oct. 17, 2002 for a conference and presentation of The International Book of Peace. The conference between the United States and Alliances of Empire was held at Le Memorial de Caen, a museum for peace near the World War II Allied Cemetery.
The International Book of Peace is a collection of peace messages assembled by Parisian Chantal Bernard in a span of 17 years. Messages of Nobel Peace Prize winners, queens, kings, scientists, university teachers, musicians and writers are included in the 163-page color book of peace.
Abdelwahab Hechiche, USF professor for government and international affairs, was invited to contribute to book.
Hechiche, a Muslim from Tunisia, has been devoted to peace for 45 years. His work on peace in the Middle East includes his recent publication “What Jews Should Know about Islam and Muslims: Remembering A Common Heritage.”
The International Book of Peace is currently on a world tour. Starting in Normandy, the book will reach the United Nations Headquarters in New York by 2006. The ongoing process of translation into 12 different languages will make the book more accessible in the future.
Contributors to the book include Kofi Annan, Maurice Allais, Micheal Bilirakis, Arthur Miller, Bruno Ben and Jean Gaillard. The book includes a variety of works such as letters, paintings, sketches and music. Children’s art work is also included in the book.
Hechiche’s message of peace, which is written in Arabic and French, includes the philosophies and quotes of Jew Moses Maimonides and Christian Amin Maalouf.
Hechiche looked to Maimonides and Maalouf’s words for guidance.
“For me as a teacher, it was to listen to different voices of wisdom,” Hechiche said.
According to Hechiche, Maimonides, in questioning why people harm others, concluded that the conflict originates out of ignorance. Amin Maalouf, author of The Name of Identity, strongly believes that one must honor both his personal identity and the nation in which he resides.
In order to be genuine in his message of peace, Hechiche examined his personal identity in the elements of ethnicity, nationality and religion. He said he asked himself rhetorically “Who am I …and what do I believe?”
“I am the product of my past genealogy and diversity,” Hechiche said.
“I hope that all the good thoughts and all the good statements from important leaders about peace would not get dusty on the shelves of libraries when wars continue to separate people and religions,” Hechiche said.