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#Terrorism: 250 Islamic scholars condem ISIS and present solutions to countering violent extremism in Brussels




1GroepsfotoOver 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 a Brussels based NGO 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. 

By bringing together key influencers from over 50 different countries, the symposium created a unique and challenging environment to discuss and debate these issues over eight workshops and four panel discussions. On the second day of the symposium, a Resolution was read out and shared with attendees which said: "We absolutely and unequivocally condemn all acts of random and indiscriminate violence and terror (such as those committed by Al Qaeda, ISIS and Boko Haram); suicide bombing, violent extremism and terrorism are abhorred by the letter and spirit of Islam; as Muslims we must challenge the violent extremist ideology with a positive counter narrative. Terrorism and suicide attacks are criminal acts against Muslims and non-Muslims."

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?

Ramazan Güveli, Executive Director of the Dialogue Platform, said: "Only when we try to understand the mindset behind violent extremism, can we start developing strategies for countering it. Many of the Islamic scholars are concerned about the instrumentalization of religious texts, beliefs, practices and particularly the notion of jihad to justify conflicts and violent extremist behaviour. The symposium provided opportunities to deepen the understanding of the patterns of religious violence and its justification. It is the first time such an event like this has been organised at such a grand scale and with such a diverse mix of internationally renowned speakers and participants."

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.  



The symposium was broadcast live on a number of worldwide TV stations and will be available for streaming on the internet in the coming days.

For more information about the symposium and the participating influencers, click here

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