New Research Chair Islamic Studies and Intercultural Dialogue will address global lack of understanding of Islam
The Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation’s new Research Chair in Islamic Studies and Intercultural Dialogue, Professor Ihsan Yilmaz, will work to address the Muslim World’s crisis of knowledge production, believing a global lack of understanding of Islam lies at the heart of violent extremism and Islamophobia.
Professor Yilmaz laid out his agenda for the endowed Research Chair, in Melbourne (November 22). The Chair is the result of a partnership between Deakin University, the Selimiye Foundation and the Australian Intercultural Society (AIS).
Launch of the new Chair for Islamic Studies and Intercultural Dialogue
Professor Yilmaz is an internationally renowned expert in Muslim politics, nation-building, citizenship and legal pluralism.
“The Muslim world is in crisis and faces two major challenges,” he told the audience.
“On the one hand, their religion has been hijacked by violently extremist Jihadi Salafism, on the other hand, they face tremendous pressure and attacks from the Islamophobes who are mostly right-wing extremists.
“But these two ostensibly opposite ideological camps consistently, mutually and symbiotically reinforce each other at the expense of Islam, Muslims and peaceful co-existence in the World.”
Introducing the Chair, the Vice-Chancellor of Deakin University, Professor Jane den Hollander said intercultural dialogue was one of the most important tools to promote understanding, sustainable peace, stability and economic development.
“It fosters equality, human dignity, and a sense of a common purpose,” she said.
“The Chair will lay the groundwork for discourse and cooperation among different faiths that is so important if we are to maintain the open communication essential for achieving peace in our increasingly unpredictable world.”
Professor den Hollander used the launch to reaffirm the University’s commitment to the principles of Academic Freedom.
“This is our time to stand up and say ‘here is what we believe and we respect other opinions but this is our view of the world,’” she said.
“We will respect the right of anyone to say what they have to say and defend that right, but then they must hear what we have to say.”
Executive Director of the Australian Intercultural Society, Mr Ahmet Keskin, said the Chair was an important milestone for AIS, the Selimye Foundation and Deakin University.
“It is an opportunity to enhance dialogue between ourselves, our environment and our one common humanity,” he said.
Mr Keskin said in the face of testing times ‘the way to overcome hate and remove obstacles is through trust and unity.’
“The best way to do that is through knowing one another and working towards a socially cohesive society,” he said.
President of the Rumi Forum, Mr Emre Celik, read a statement from Fethullah Gülen congratulating the University on its decision to establish the Research Chair saying it was significant in multiple ways.
Director of the Alfred Deakin Institute, Professor Fethi Mansouri said the new Research Chair would provide a vital link between existing expertise in diversity and intercultural dialogue.
“The new Chair will build a strong focus based around Islamic Studies at Deakin,” he said.
“We want it to engage in important research looking at the Muslim diaspora, Islam and politics particularly in relation to the tensions and problems emerging in Muslim majority societies.
“Professor Yilmaz will join our other experts working on related strands in this area Professor Shahram Akbarzadeh and Professor Greg Barton.’’