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

Event Date: 16 December 2013

Room 264
Senate House
University of London
Malet St
London WC1E 7HU

The New Political Communication Unit at Royal Holloway University of London presents:

Religion, Conflict, and Digital Communication in the Greater Muslim World: Dialogue Among Policy Makers and Researchers

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?

Speakers:  Dr Akil Awan (RHUL), Dr Shawn Powers (Georgia State University), Lord Nazir Ahmed, Dr Robert Lambert (St. Andrews), Professor Jonathan Githens-Mazer (Exeter), Professor Ben O’Loughlin (RHUL), Dr Abbas Barzegar (Georgia State University), Dr David Herbert (University of Agder, Norway), Dr Sara Silvestri (City)  and Dr Faisal Devji (Oxford).


Welcome by Dr Akil Awan (RHUL) and introduction of workshop participants:


Introduction to the project by Dr Shawn Powers (Georgia State University):



Panel One (Chair: Lord Nazir Ahmed; speakers Dr Robert Lambert (St. Andrews) and Professor Jonathan Githens-Mazer (Exeter), with a response from  Professor Ben O’Loughlin (RHUL)):


Panel One questions:



Panel Two (Chair: Professor Ben O’Loughlin (RHUL); speakers Dr Abbas Barzegar (Georgia State University), Dr Sara Silvestri (City) and Dr David Herbert (University of Agder, Norway),  with a response from Dr Faisal Devji (Oxford):


Panel Two questions:

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