The Europe - Muslim World Democracy Forum

As a number of Muslim majority states make the democratic transition, there is a need for increased political, economic and civic engagement with other nations around the world, including in Europe. Facing significant regional and global challenges, it is necessary for nations to work together, strengthening shared values, and building lasting relationships as a catalyst for future action. Now more than ever, it is necessary for democracies to come together and discuss their shared values and mutual interests in order to strengthen the democratic order and to promote democracy and stability in the face of the resurgence of authoritarianism and to overcome the tension and polarization between the Muslim World and Western nations.

Key to this is the international community working together to establish and maintain effective market-based economies based on the rule of law, which maintain the support of the voting population whilst appealing to the younger generation. It is therefore, necessary for politicians, academics, and communities to work together to show how freedom and prosperity can be delivered through a cooperative global network of democracies.


08.00: Accreditation open for external participants

08.30: Registration open for all participants

09.00 - 09:15: Opening remarks

  • Welcome remarks by Syed Kamall MEP

09.15 - 10.30: Democracies in the Muslim World: a) Interpretations of Islam and b) Institution-building and Reform

Moderator: Syed Kamall MEP

Millions of the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims live in democracies, ample proof that there is no inherent discord between the two ideas. However, Islam can be interpreted in different ways, and some interpretations conflict with democratic ideals. Nevertheless, the Koran contains a number of ideas that support democratic ideals such as the principle of consensus and the consultative decision making. Do these principles have political applications? This roundtable will look at how different interpretations of Islam can have an influence on the democratic process in different countries. In a society, the degree of political separation between religion and the civil state is determined by the legal structures and prevalent legal views. Each country organizes the relationship between the civil state and religion differently. This roundtable will also look at how the relation between the civil state and Islam is organized and changes over time taking into account the transition to a parliamentary democracy. The discussion will handle questions such as what the benefits of the separation between the State and Islam are in democratic terms.

10.30 - 11.45: Liberal democracy and minority rights: the role of education, religion and cultural rapprochement

Under the impact of political Islam, suspicion of non-Muslims has re-emerged. We witness that people are attacked, and even murdered, for their belief and religion. At the other end of the spectrum, Muslim intellectuals are seeking for ways to legitimize full legal and political equality of Muslims and non-Muslims in Islamic terms. Nevertheless, in different countries with a majority of Muslims, we see the population of (religious) minorities declining. This discussion will reflect upon the evolution that is made concerning minority rights and religious freedom, the role of education, religion and cultural rapprochement; and the effect hereof on the development of a liberal democracy.

11.45 - 12.00: Key note speech

12.00 – 13.30 Lunch Break

13.30-14.45: Emerging markets in the Muslim world: investment, trade and international development

According to the World Economic Forum, almost a quarter of the world is Muslim. The 1.6 billion people contribute 16% of the global GDP, with a 6% annual growth rate. By 2020, the Islamic finance industry is projected to reach $3 trillion in total assets, with one billion users. Globalization, technology and economic necessity have created favourable conditions for emerging markets in the Muslim world. This roundtable will discuss the ambitions of the emerging markets in the Muslim world to expand and cooperate with their European counterparts. On the other hand, the discussion will handle the influence of the emerging markets, new technologies, digital connectivity and innovation on the democratic process.

14:45 - 15:00 Key note speech

15.00 - 16.00: Stability, security cooperation, peace building and conflict resolution

While the Arab Spring in Tunisia led to improvements, not all of the nations that witnessed such social and political upheaval changed for the better. Most notably, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Syria are still suffering from the consequences of the uprising. In several countries, extremist groups took advantage and filled the political vacuum. Therefore, there is a strong need for the international community to work together towards conflict resolution and peace building, towards security and stability. This roundtable will look at the role of different approaches, most notably the approach of democracy building as a sustainable manner to resolve insecurity situations.

16.00-17:00: Improving social integration by investing in human capital and education, and in the enormous potential of youth and women entrepreneurship

Muslims are younger than the global average, with a median age of 23 rather than 28 - a result of the Muslim World’s own ‘baby boom’. Young Muslims are now the most educated in their countries’ histories, holding new attitudes and using new technologies. Traditionally the minority in education, women are coming out ahead of men today. This roundtable will discuss related challenges such as creating supportive policies and an inclusive entrepreneurship-friendly environment.

17.00 - 17:45 The future relationship between Europe and Muslim democracies

Moderator: Syed Kamall (MEP)

The discussion at this panel will reflect upon the lessons from the conference and consider ways to strengthen and deepen cooperation. Key to this conference has been to consider ways in which the international community can work together to strengthen the democratic and economic order to promote stability in the face of a resurgence of authoritarianism. This panel will therefore discuss how politicians, academics, and communities can work together to pursue an on-going and constructive dialogue for the future of the Muslim world and its relationship with Europe. It will demonstrate that real freedom and prosperity is delivered through a cooperative global network of democracies.

17:45-18:00 Closing remarks by Syed Kamall MEP.

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