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15. April 2008

Maajid Nawaz Portrait © Clemens Fabry

Maajid Nawaz, director of the Quilliam Foundation

Ed Husain © Clemens Fabry

Ad Husain, author of "The Islamist" and co-director of the Quilliam Foundation

„Muslims Combat Fundamentalism to Build a New, Inclusive Europe”

A panel discussion in Co-operation with Webster University Vienna

Members of Women without Borders and students of Webster University were prepared for a thought-provoking evening on April 2. When Ed Husain and Maajid Nawaz announced a brief visit to Vienna late in March, the international university of business and politics ardently agreed to host a panel discussion with the two former Islamists. Husain and Nawaz joined terrorism expert Samuel Schubert and political scientist Mason Chamie to discuss one of the most pressing topics in Europe today: Muslim integration in the West. Under the title “Muslims Combat Fundamentalism to Build a New, Inclusive Europe,” the four specialists met before an enraptured audience and debated Muslim fundamentalism, European xenophobia and proposals to reconcile a cultural divide that threatens future stability.
After each speaker introduced himself, it seemed the two halves of the panel were bound to remain at odds. But American scholars Chamie and Schubert found they had more in common with the ex-fundamentalists than expected. Ed Husain proved to have an intellectual grasp of the issues to match his “real-world” experience, and Maajid Nawaz demonstrated a talent for public speaking that captivated the studious audience. The panellists discussed the causes of Muslim alienation, the grounds for European racism, the “ghettoization” of Europe’s cities and how these factors together produce the precarious situation in which the continent finds itself now. There seemed to be more agreement than opposition among the panel members, but the relative serenity lasted only until the discussion was opened to the audience. For the last two hours of the event, Husain and Nawaz refuted claims that Islam embodied violence, shielded their religion from the fanaticism that they once had passionately adhered to and calmly listened while an Iranian woman explained her own suffering under Islamic fundamentalists.
The panellists eagerly struggled to provide an answer to each question and a solution to each grievance. And though immediate solutions to these sensitive issues may be hard to come by, Ed Husain and Maajid Nawaz proved once again that open dialogue and earnest discourse are often the best remedies for the world’s societal ills.

Please click here to read an interview from Edit Schlaffer with Maajid Nawaz which was published in the Austrian quality newspaper Die Presse on April 12th 2008.


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