Islam, Islamism and the West

A debate between Daniel Pipes (Middle East Forum, USA) and Jörg Lau (Die ZEIT, Germany)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010, 6:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Robert-Koch-Saal, Dorotheenstr. 96, 10117 Berlin

A cooperation between Scholars for Peace in the Middle East - SPME Germany and the Mideast Freedom Forum Berlin.

Nine years after 9/11, the crisis between the West and Islamic countries and its Islamic populations seems to be ever more precarious. Western foreign policy is in retreat. Afghanistan and Iraq are at last abandoned to an uncertain future. Pledges for freedom and plans to democratize the Middle East are being replaced by diplomatic talk of respect for the Islamic world. The freedom movement in Iran cannot count on support from the West, and the efforts to stop the Iranian nuclear program is at best half-hearted. A nuclear-armed Islamic Republic of Iran would not only threaten the existence of Israel and the chance for a Palestinian-Israeli peace settlement, it would also cause a nuclear arms race along with the rise of Islamist power in the Middle East and beyond.

At the same time, the debates about integration of Muslims living in the West are causing increasing tension. The U.S. is divided about the planned construction of a mosque near Ground Zero; Europeans are beginning to acknowledge their past integration failures. Regarding Muslims living in the West, problems such as violence against women, repressive family and community structures, and rejection of the secular law in addition to radical anti-Western and antisemitic attitudes have become undeniable. The same applies to the undemocratic and xenophobic features of  some populists criticizing Islam.

What is the relationship between Islam as a religion and Islamism as a modern, radical and political movement? How can the Islamist threat to Israel, the West and to non-Islamist Muslims best be confronted and dealt with? Which Western Middle East policy would be suitable to achieve this goal? And can Muslims in the West be successfully integrated without compromising individual freedom and democratic principles? These and other questions will be discussed in a controversial debate on Wednesday October 27th, 2010, 6.30 p.m..

Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum ( and one of the leading American experts on Islam and Islamism.

Jörg Lau is a journalist and foreign affairs correspondent in the Berlin bureau of Die ZEIT. He writes and blogs about Islam at ( and has done so for years.

Chair: Saba Farzan is a sociologist born in Tehran and writes for the Wall Street Journal, Der Tagesspiegel, Die Zeit, taz, and Jüdische Allgemeine, etc..