The Third Australasian Conference on Islam with the theme ‘Refuting the Theological Foundations of Violent Extremism and Radicalisation’ was held from Thursday 13 to Friday 14 October at the Melbourne City Centre.
The conference which was officially opened by Victorian Multicultural Commission Chair Helen Kapalos was organised by the Islamic Sciences and Research Academy of Australia (ISRA), the Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation (CISAC), Charles Sturt University (CSU), the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADI), the Australian Intercultural Society (AIS) and the Australian Catholic University (ACU).
Associate Professor Mehmet Ozalp, Director of CISAC, said, “Radicals always promote a narrative made up of an ideological interpretation of Muslim suffering, proposition of force and violence as the only solution, using selective quoting of Islamic texts to legitimise the ideology and violent solutions. At this conference we examined the underlying theological and religious justification of radicalisation.”
“Refuting radicalisation cannot be done in an atomised manner, rather, it needs to be an integrated approach to holistically address the radical narrative at three levels – a more comprehensive but realistic interpretation of Muslim suffering, an alternative solution that produces real results, and a clear exposition of fundamental Islamic teachings.”
Professor Fethi Mansouri, Director of the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, said that the theology of Islam was misunderstood in a modern world faced with the emergence of violent extremism.
“While the topic of Islam is a prominent feature in daily public discussions, recent research from ADI has shown that there is a lack of knowledge about Islam and Muslims among the community,” Professor Mansouri said. Whatever position one holds regarding the causes of radicalisation, it is apparent that radicalised groups like ISIS and Boko Haram incorrectly use concepts of Islam to justify their actions and recruit Muslims,” he said.
Conference Convenor, Dr Zuleyha Keskin, from Charles Sturt University said that the two-day program provided fascinating but intense discussion.
“What enriched the conference was the fact that we had presenters who had different opinions on the topic at hand. The differences were presented and discussed in a respectful manner, something we need to do be able to do more often. These discussions will no doubt have a positive ripple effect in our society as they trigger activity and collaboration, She said.”
Conference highlights included:
- Islamic arguments used to justify radical ideology (Associate Professor Mehmet Ozalp, Charles Sturt University);
- How IS exploits the idealism of Muslim youth (Professor Greg Barton, ADI);
- Islam and Islamic religiosity in the West (Professor Fethi Mansouri, ADI);
- Refuting the ideological foundations of violent extremism and radicalisation from an Islamic perspective (Dr Hassan Qadri, Chairman Supreme Council of Minhaj-ul-Quran International, Pakistan);
- The causes of radicalism amongst Muslim youth: the real experience – Ahmed Kilani (Muslim Chaplain, NSW), Ramzi Elsayed (Muslim Chaplain, VIC) and Nail Aykan (General Manager, ICV).
In total, there were 34 enriching and diverse presentations to better inform the audience on a topic which will be around for a while to come.