IFIS&IZ hosted a scientific conference on “Salafism in Germany”

The Institute for Islamic Studies and Intercultural Cooperation (IFIS&IZ) hosted in cooperation with the municipal of Mannheim and the support of the Culture House of European Muslims (KUDEM) a scientific conference on „Salafism in Germany: Background, Impact and Prevention. More than 150 visitors from all over Germany attended the conference, in which renowned experts and scholars shared their latest studies and works. Professor Dr Hüseyin İlker Çınar (Founding Director of IFIS&IZ and Chairholder for Tafsir at the University of Osnabrück) hold the opening speech, followed by the mayor of the city Mannheim Dr Peter Kurz and the Chair of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD) Aiman Mazyek. Contributions were presented by Dr Martin Kellner (University of Osnabrück), Thomas Köber (police president of Mannheim), Dr Benno Köpfer (federal office for the protection of the constitution Baden Württemberg), and Professor Dr Jörg Imran Schröter (College of Education Karlsruhe). The conference was closed after a panel discussion including a Q&A from the audience.

During his opening speech, Professor Dr Hüseyin İlker Çınar emphasized on the engagement of IFIS&IZ and KUDEM in science, culture, arts and music for more than a decade: “From our view, these universal values possess the common language to strengthen the understanding of people and cultures, and progressively support a peaceful co-existence in our society. Moreover, they are also a vaccine against radical and violent groups”. To cut the ground from sectarian and extreme groups, a contextualisation and rooting of Islamic theology in Europe is essential. As an alternative to the violent and destructive tendencies, Professor Dr Çınar presented Sufism – a mystical understanding of Islam; spirituality, harmony, love, tolerance, and the unison of human, with himself, with his creator and his environment are principles to combat any hatred or radicalism.

Mayor of the city of Mannheim, Dr Peter Kurz expressed his appreciation to the initiative of the IFIS&IZ to host the conference. He highlighted the importance and the need for dialogue and exchange to ban the increasing “Black and White Thinking” and to gain a differentiated view on the emerging topics. Chair of the ZMD, Aiman Mazyek emphasized on the importance of the conference and the contribution of the IFIS&IZ, as an Islamic and civil institute from the heart of the society. The theologian Dr Kellner addressed in his key-note speech, how Salafi groups view and interpret the Islamic texts and brought these views into context, deriving implications to contribute to prevention or de-radicalisation of young people. Police President Köber noted, that most extremists are young men with a criminal record and a failed social life. That’s why the prevention has to start at an early stage at home, in schools and in mosque communities. The pedagogue Professor Dr Schröter, came to a similar conclusion, but stressing the phenomenon, that there is no correlation between radicalisation and piety. For Professor Dr Schröter the reason for radicalisation of young men can be find in the religious deracination. Islam scientist and representative of the constitution protection Dr Benno Köpfer, shared his experience about how young people are attracted by a professional PR / media work of terrorist groups. However, to oppose these trends he sees the demand for a better connection and cooperation of different actors in society, authorities and religious groups.