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Conference: Religious Minorities' Self-Representations

Project MUSLIM-NLNO

This conference is hosted by the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Utrecht University. The conference is organized as part of the research project “Muslims Condemning Violent Extremism” (MUSLIM-NLNO), which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action, with grant agreement number 703071.

In this project, Margaretha A. van Es studies how Muslims have responded to requests to publicly condemn terrorism since the 9/11 attacks in 2001. She compares recent historical developments in the Netherlands with those in Norway. Many Muslims (as well as non-Muslims) perceive such requests as stigmatizing. Still, during the last fifteen years, Muslims have spoken up against violent extremism much more often than is commonly assumed.

However, there are also interesting differences between the two countries. In Norway, young Muslims have recently organised a number of large public initiatives through which they made clear statements against IS. These initiatives generated broad media coverage, in stark contrast with previous initiatives in Norway and abroad. The initiatives taken by Dutch Muslims were somewhat smaller, and they were scattered across different cities. This is probably one of the reasons why these initiatives received less attention in the media. Furthermore, Dutch Muslims increasingly indicate that they do not want to be held accountable for crimes that they have nothing to do with.

How can these seemingly divergent developments be explained? What has been the impact of Anders Behring Breivik’s terrorist attacks on 22 July 2011? And how has public debate about Muslim violent extremism influenced how Muslims perceive their faith and present it to the world outside?