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ISIS behadings, AL Qaeda bombings, killing of cartoonists, flogging of bloggers, or stoning of women... Such disturbing news have shaped the image of Islam in the West in the past two decades. But what do they really tell us? Is Islam, the religion of 1.6 billion people, on a destructive mission against the West, as some claim? Or is there a battle, and a crisis, within the Islamic civilization itself? And are liberal Western values inherently incompatible with this youngest Abrahamic religion? Mustafa Akyol, Turkish writer and contributing columnist for the New York Times, will tackle these questions honestly, by granting the troubles in his own religious tradition, but also showing the reasons for hope.
A Turkish journalist and author, Mustafa Akyol studied political science and history at Bogazici University, and teaches politics and religion at Fatih University, both in Istanbul. For about a decade, he has been writing regular opinion columns for Turkish publications like Hurriyet Daily News, and recently for the Middle-East focused Al-Monitor.com. Since fall 2013, he is also a regular contributing opinion writer for The International New York Times. He has published six books in Turkish, including “Rethinking the Kurdish Question: What Went Wrong, What Next?” (2005). His latest book, “Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty,” an argument for Islamic liberalism, was published in the United States in 2011 by W.W. Norton. The book was long-listed for the Lionel Gelber Prize, a literary prize awarded by the University of Toronto for the best nonfiction book in English that seeks to deepen public debate on significant international issues, and praised by The Financial Times as “a forthright and elegant Muslim defense of freedom.” The book has been published also in Turkish, Malay and Indonesian.