Vienna, 8 November 2005 Press release

Invitation by Foreign Minister Plassnik to a conference on Islam in Vienna with prominent guests


Hamid Karzai, Jalal Talabani and Mohammad Khatami among the participants

Vienna, 8 November - Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik will welcome high-ranking guests to the conference on Islam in a Pluralistic World taking place from 14 to 16 November 2005 in Vienna.

"Relations between the Muslim and non-Muslim world dominate public and private discussion. In a globalised world, there are increasing points of contact between cultures and civilisations. At the same time, mistrust and violence are also growing on both the regional and global level, not least in Europe, where an increasing number of Muslim citizens are seeking their rightful place in society. This conference should foster mutual understanding, dialogue and cooperation between cultures and religions," says Plassnik.

The official opening will take place at 5.30 pm on 14 November in the Redoutensaal of the Hofburg Palace. After the inauguration by Foreign Minister Plassnik and a welcome address by Federal President Heinz Fischer, the UN Secretary-General’s personal representative Lakhdar Brahimi and the ex-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohammad Khatami, among others, will address the conference.

In a special session on this first evening, Jack Goody, the renowned anthropologist, Gilles Kepel, the political scientist, sociologist and Islam expert, and Shirin Ebadi, winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, will also speak.

On 15 November four podium discussions will take place in the Redoutensaal.

Participants in the first round of speeches on the general subject of Islam in a Pluralistic World, which starts at 9 am under the chairmanship of Heinz Nussbaumer, will include Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and Dan Fried, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. The talks will be introduced by Foreign Minister Plassnik.

Gudrun Harrer (Der Standard) will chair the first panel from 11.30 am on "Pluralism in the Muslim World: Unity and Diversity", which will include Hussain Al-Shahristani, Deputy Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Abdul Hamid Othman, adviser to the Prime Minister of Malaysia on Islamic affairs, Adnan Pachachi, former member of the Iraqi Governing Council and chairman of the Assembly of Independent Democrats, and Mahmoud Zakzouk, Egyptian Minister for Religious Affairs.

The second panel from 3 pm will be chaired by Rüdiger Lohlker, Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Vienna Institute for Oriental Studies. The topic "Islam and the Role of the Individual in Society" will be discussed by Ekrem Dumanli, editor-in-chief of the Turkish newspaper Zaman, the anthropologist Andre Gingrich and Ibrahim Hamidi from the Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat (Damascus).

From 5 pm, a panel chaired by Siegfried Haas, Secretary General of the Österreichische Orient Gesellschaft Hammer-Purgstall, Tarek Mitri, the new Lebanese Minister of Culture and former coordinator for inter-religious relations in the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Richard Potz, head of the Department for Legal Philosophy, Law of Religion and Culture at the University of Vienna, and Louis Sako, Archbishop of Kirkuk, Iraq, will discuss the topic "How to Organise Co-existence: Muslims in the Western World - Christians in the Muslim World".

A closing discussion chaired by Bert Fragner, Director of the Institute for Iranian Studies at the University of Vienna, will take place from 9.30 am on 16 November on the subject of "Cultures in Conflict and Dialogue". Participants will include Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, Ahmed Taoufiq, Morocco’s Minister for Religion, and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (Istanbul).

Registration for the press via the Press Department of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Closing date for registration is 10 am on Thursday, 10 November 2005.

We ask you to understand that ONLY registered members of the press will be admitted.
A valid press card must be presented on admission.

Please note that because of the great interest in this conference, representatives of the media are urged to arrive one and a half hours before the start of the events.

Contact for further enquiries:
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Press Department
Tel.: (+43/5) 01150-3262, 4550
Fax: (+43/5) 01159-213