On Monday 6th September, Quilliam Co-Founder and Co-Director, Ed Husain, addressed the annual conference of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS). Speaking in front of a large audience of UJS members, he addressed the topic ‘Bridging the gap between Muslim and Jewish students’. His talk advised the attendees that not all Muslims are extremists, even if some Jewish students may find themselves confronted by extremists on some campuses. He also warned about allowing relationships on campuses in the UK to be defined solely by events taking place in the Middle East, advocating the opening of a public space in which people can criticise Israel’s policies without conflating this with advocating the destruction of the state itself.
Ed’s talk was received well by the audience and was followed by a lively questions and answers session. This addressed questions as diverse as Ed’s personal experience of Hizb ut-Tahrir, how Jewish students can reach out to Muslim students particularly when the leadership of an Islamic society oppose such steps and the Park 51 Community Centre in New York.
This session was followed by a smaller ‘roundtable’ discussion about the differences between Islam and Islamism. After briefly outlining the key differences between Islam and Islamism, Ed opened the floor to questions. These largely focused on matters such as differences of opinion amongst Islamists, what traditionally trained scholars have done to oppose Islamism and to what extent is Islamist anti-Semitism based on a literalist interpretation of Islamic texts.