Over 250 Islamic scholars, academics and opinion leaders from all over the world convened in Brussels on 15 and 16 March to discuss the causes and counter-measures of radicalization, violent extremism and terrorism committed in the name of religion. Organised by Dialogue Platform and KU Leuven Fethullah Gülen Chair for Intercultural Studies, the symposium sent a strong and resounding message made all the more meaningful in the absence of a unified voice from the Muslim world.
For more information about the symposium and the participating influencers, please visit counteringviolentextremism.eu
The symposium explored the complex links and interactions relating to religious texts, social circumstances and cultural contexts which lead to extremism and violence and provide opportunities to deepen understanding of the patterns of religious violence, its so-called justification as well as the nature and scope of the moral responses to them. Furthermore, it aimed to stimulate and pool ideas on policy recommendations and community projects that would directly or indirectly undermine violent extremist ideology and recruitment especially within the context of Europe.
The specific questions posed by the symposium organisers to the speakers were:
* Is Islam inherently prone to violence?
* Do Muslims have a particular responsibility to counter violent extremism?
* What tangible steps should Islamic scholars take in countering violent extremism?
* How should we understand jihad today?
* How can we counter hate propaganda spread through social media?
* Does interfaith dialogue have a supporting role in countering violent extremist ideology?
* What should an Islamic studies curriculum look like?
* How can Muslim societies reignite their zeal for freedom of thought?
In first day, there were parallel sessions to discuss and debate these issues over eight workshops in the first day and three panel discussions in the second day. On the second day of the symposium, a final declaratory reflections was read out.
There were 57 speakers including opening speeches. 387 people were registered and attended to the symposium. Some of the key influencers that attended were Asma Afsaruddin, Indiana University, USA; Prof Said Chabbar, Sultan Moulay Slimane University, Morocco; President of the Council of Muslim Scholars, Indonesia; Bishop of Oslo-Norway, and experts on national security from a number of countries. Belgian Minister of Justice, Prof. Koen Geens sent his message to the symposium.
The symposium was broadcasted live on a number of worldwide TV stations.
Find below media coverage of the symposium: