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Jytte Klausen    

Expert on Islam, Author

Jytte Klausen is the Lawrence A. Wien Professor of International Cooperation at Brandeis University and an Affiliate at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University. She is the author of The Cartoons That Shook the World about the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad and the worldwide protests that followed their publication. This book has itself become a source of controversy as its publisher reneged at the last minute on its commitment to publish the illustrations as included in the book, raising serious questions concerning free speech, Dr. Klausen, who has made the study of Islam her life’s work, denies that there is anything in her book which would be offensive to mainstream Muslims. She questions whether acute political correctness is the cause of the prestigious academic press’s change of mind on its publication in its entirety or whether the problem is more due to fear of offending radical Islamic fundamentalists and incurring their wrath and possible terrorist acts.

Her previous books include The Islamic Challenge: Politics and Religion in Western Europe, published German and Turkish translations, and numerous books and articles on immigrant integration, the European welfare state, and social inclusion. Her new work is on the emergence of Western Jihadism.

In 2007, Klausen received the Carnegie Scholars’ Award for research on the integration of Muslim faith communities in Europe.

Klausen was a British Academy Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford University, and a Bosch Public Policy Fellow at The American Academy in Berlin. She has a PhD from the New School for Social Research and a BA and MA from the University of Aarhus, Denmark.

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Cartoons That Shook the World

On September 30, 2005, the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, published twelve cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Five months later, thousands of Muslims inundated the newspaper with outpourings of anger and grief by phone, email, and fax. From Asia to Europe, Muslims took to the streets in protest.

Having interviewed politicians in the Middle East, Muslim leaders in Europe, Danish editors and cartoonists, and the Danish imam who started the controversy, Klausen documents protests around the world. She deconstructs the arguments and motives that drove the escalation of the increasingly globalized conflict and concludes that the Muslim reaction to the cartoons was not—as commonly assumed—a spontaneous emotional reaction arising out of the clash of Western and Islamic civilizations. Rather it was orchestrated, first by those with vested interests in Danish and Egyptian election results, and later by Islamic extremists seeking to destabilize governments in Pakistan, Lebanon, Libya, and Nigeria. In this keynote speech, Klausen shows how the cartoon crisis was ultimately a political conflict rather than a cultural misunderstanding.

Western Jihadism

The 2005 bombings of the London transportation system and many subsequent arrests revealed the presence of a revolutionary Islamist movement among British Muslims. The arrest of a young American Muslim planning terrorist attacks on American soil show that a similar movement exists in the US. In this keynote presentation, Klausen discusses the findings of her study of two thousand Western Jihadi terrorists and paints a picture of individuals joined by a shared ideology and objectives seeking a global Islamist revolution.

Censorship & Fear

Fear or perceptions of probable violence resulting from offending Muslims' religious feelings have motivated cancellations of art exhibits, operas, and book contracts. Managers and editors have concluded that offending Muslims is too risky.

In July 2009, Yale University Press decided to delete the cartoons and all other images of the Muslim Prophet from Jytte Klausen's book, The Cartoons That Shook the World. The editors explained the censorship by citing government officials who warned of possible riots in Afghanistan and Nigeria, and that the cartoons would offend Muslims.

Other incidents of fear-motivated cancellation include a performance at a Berlin opera house, the publication of the novel The Jewel of Media, and an investigation of a German mystery involving an honor killing. Each of these was censored not due to any threats from Muslims, but by managers and publishing houses afraid of the possibility of violence. Klausen argues that Muslims have moved on from the 1989 Rushdie Affair when translators of The Satanic Verses were murdered, and that self-censorship from fear of offending Muslims is neither called for nor needed.

Integrating Muslims & Islam in the West

Over the course of three years, Klausen visited the Muslim enclaves of Western Europe and interviewed three hundred Muslim parliamentarians, city councilors, doctors, engineers, professors, lawyers, social workers, owners of small businesses, translators, and community activists about the problems faced by Muslims wanting to integrate in Europe. Those she met have all become engaged in political and civic organizations. For that reason, they constantly have to defend themselves, mostly in order to define who they are not.

They are not fundamentalists or terrorists, and most do not support the introduction of Islamic religious law in Europe, especially not its application to Christians.

The question of Islam in Europe is not a matter of global war and peace, but raises difficult questions about the positions of Christianity and Islam in public life and European identities. Europe's Muslim political leaders are not aiming to overthrow liberal democracy or to replace secular law with Islamic religious law.

In this well researched keynote presentation, Klausen will explore the many views on how Muslims should and are integrating into European society. Using pictures from her three years of research and three hundred interviews, Klausen puts a face on European Muslim culture and explores its avenues for integration in the west.

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