Muslim Minorities and Religious Freedom: A Public Dialogue

December 15, 2014

In December 2015 the Religious Freedom Project, in partnership with Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion, assembled scholars, experts, and activists for a thorough examination of the challenges to religious freedom faced by Muslim minorities around the world; this report is a record of that event. Speakers addressed questions such as: How has the persecution of Muslims minorities affected their well-being in Europe and North America, the overall health of Muslim-majority nations, and the growth of violent Islamist extremism? This day-long conference, entitled “Muslim Minorities and Religious Freedom: A Public Dialogue,” comprised four enlightening panel discussions. 
After a welcoming statement from the Director of the Religious Freedom Project Tom Farr, the first panel, entitled “Muslim Minorities in Europe,” began. Panelists Jocelyne Cesari, senior fellow at the Berkley Center, Kübra Gümüsay, a journalist and media consultant at the University of Oxford, and Maajid Nawaz, a liberal democrat parliamentary candidate for the United Kingdom, all weighed in on the state of Muslims’ religious freedom in Europe.

The keynote conversation followed, featuring John Esposito, founding director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, co-founder of Zaytuna College, America’s first accredited Muslim institution of higher learning. Their conversation was titled “Muslim Communities Around the World.”

During the third panel of the day, entitled “Muslim Minorities in North America,” attendees heard from Zareena Grewal, associate professor of American Studies and Religious Studies at Yale University, Zuhdi Jasser, founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, and Farid Senzai, assistant professor of Political Science at Santa Clara University.  

The event closed with a conversation between Timur Kuran, professor of Economics and Political Science and Gorter Family Professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University, and Abdullah Saeed, director of the National Center of Excellence for Islamic Studies and Sultan of Oman Professor of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne. RFP Associate Scholar Daniel Philpott moderated the discussion.

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