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Saudi Money with Strings Attached

Saudi Money with Strings Attached

While a duo of lute and violin played a solemn tune accompanying an Arabic song, Austria’s foreign minister Michael Spindelegger leaned over to say something to the Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Alfaisal. That was all it took. Suddenly, the music was lost in a cacophony of flashing cameras and clicking shutters. Indeed, this was […]

Gaddafi’s Vienna

Opinions diverge: Either Vienna’s Saudi-funded centre for religious dialogue will serve Wahhabi propaganda, or it will stimulate dialogue and strengthen reformist elements in the Saudi regime. Chances are it will do neither. Rather, there will be polite talk in moderate tones; and any conclusions will stay safely in Vienna. Autocrats rely on liberal institutions – […]

Letters to the Editor: Sept. 2011

An Open letter to Viviane Reding and Thomas Hammarberg  EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, and Commissioner for Human Rights for the Council of Europe Dear Commissioners,  On Jul. 12, Hungary’s Parliament passed a “church law” depriving over 100 religious denominations of their official status, in blatant violation of the freedom and equality of religions enshrined […]

God, the Devil and Us

The applause of the large audience echoed in the Camineum of the National Library, Mar. 24, as Golden-Globe-winning Austrian actor and director Klaus Maria Brandauer and Vienna’s Archbishop Cardinal Christoph Schönborn made their way to the brightly lit podium at the front of the hall. While waiting for the murmur to die, the two men […]

The God of Suffering

Do we live in a world that was created by a god who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all good? Christians think we do. Yet a powerful reason for doubting this confronts us every day: the world contains a vast amount of pain and suffering. If God is all-knowing, he knows how much suffering there is. […]

Cold Shoulder in the US

Cold Shoulder in the US

I had been to the United States once before 9/11. This spring, however, the experience was strange from the beginning. It started in Vienna, when, after I had gone through passport and security controls, an Austrian employee told me that I didn’t have a valid ticket – the same one I had just checked in […]

Retreat from Radical Islam

Retreat from Radical Islam

Maajid Nawaz, 31, is a good-looking, eloquent young Englishman – not how you would imagine an Islamist who once set up radical cells all across Europe. Rather than a beard he wears Hugo Boss, he is cosmopolitan and convinced that the Muslims in the West need to establish a western type of Islam. A few […]

Facing the Realities of Islam in the West

An impressive line-up of speakers had gathered in the prestigious setting of the elegant, marble-floored “Camineum” at the National Library to discuss contemporary Islam. The conference – “Diverse Modern Views from European, Asian and North American Muslims,” hosted by the United States Embassy together with the United States Mission to the European Union and Women […]

Interview with A Militant

Interview with A Militant

Why do young European Muslims become extremists? That’s a question Ed Husain thinks he is very qualified to answer. For several years, he claims, he was a committed member of one of Britain’s most extreme Islamist movements – a group called Hizb ut-Tahrir. Every week the young Husain discussed inflammatory political materials in secret meetings. […]

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