Can religious media bring peace? London workshop and debate - 16 Dec - register

Religion, Conflict, and Digital Communication in the Greater Muslim World:

Dialogue Among Policy Makers and Researchers

To register for the daytime workshop please email Billur Aslan on

The evening debate in Parliament is SOLD OUT. 

Monday 16th December 2013, London 

While an excess amount of media attention and government resources are regularly expended on acts of violence and terrorism emanating from Muslim populations, less focus is given to the critical role Muslims institutions play in facilitating conflict resolution, peace-building, and social reconciliation. In Bosnia, Rwanda, Egypt, and Pakistan, it is often the case that Muslim religious authorities take lead roles in mitigating violence. Because they regularly confront perpetuators of violence on theological and moral grounds, they often put themselves, their families, and associates at high-risk. What are the experiences of policy makers working with Muslim religious authorities in these vulnerable and dangerous contexts?   

These historically important yet paradoxical roles of religious networks have been amplified by the near universal spread of digital communications technology in the twenty-first century. As so much of the day-to-day work of governance and social change move online, so do religious organizations, using the World Wide Web to build coalitions or “manufacture constituencies” to pursue social change. Growing concerns over online radicalization by radical Muslim groups, as well growing use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for development and security in unstable and transitioning communities demonstrate the potential significance these trends will have for the future of international conflict.

Our key questions are:

-        Can Muslim religious authorities, institutions and local networks provide solutions to the shared global challenges of social conflict and political violence?

-        What, if any, role do digital communications technologies play in this process?

Workshop programme

Senate House, University of London

Seminar Room 264

10:30-11:00            Arrivals, tea/coffee

11:00-11:15            Introductions, Akil Awan and Shawn Powers

11.15-13:00            Panel 1: The British context

                        Chair: Lord Nazir Ahmed

Speaker: Daud Abdullah, Muslim Council of Britain

                        Speaker: Robert Lambert, University of St. Andrews

                        Speaker: Jonathan Githens-Mazer, University of Exeter

                        Respondent: tbc

13:00-13:45            Lunch

13:45-15:30            Panel 2: The international context

                        Chair: Ben O’Loughlin

                        Speaker: Abbas Barzegar, Georgia State University

Speaker: Sara Silvestri, City University London

                        Speaker: David Herbert, University of Agder, Norway

                        Respondent: Faisal Devji, University of Oxford

15:30-15.40            Break

15:40-16:30            Open roundtable, Chair: Akil Awan


Evening Debate

Can religious media bring peace?

Houses of Parliament, Committee Room 4


Keynote: Khaled Hroub

Followed by open discussion.

Dr. Khaled Al-Hroub is professor in residence of the faculty of liberal arts at Northwestern University in Qatar. He is Director of the Cambridge Arab Media Project (CAMP), University of Cambridge. He authored Hamas: A Beginners Guide (2006/2010), Hamas: Political Thought and Practice (2000), and edited Political Islam: Context versus Ideology (2011) and Religious Broadcasting in the Middle East (2012). In Arabic he published Fragility of Ideology and Might of Politics (2010), In Praise of Revolution (2012), Tattoo of Cities (literary collection, 2008) and Enchantress of Poetry (poems, 2008). He is currently writing a book on a Critique of the Arab Renaissance Project.

Project details

This is the first of two workshop-based dialogues between policymakers and academics on the nuanced role of Muslim institutions in international affairs in the age of ubiquitous digital media. The workshops are funded by the British Council USA. The conveners are Shawn Powers and Abbas Barzegar (Georgia State University), Ben O’Loughlin and Akil N. Awan (Royal Holloway, University of London).