September 21, 2012, Friday - Four Seasons Hotel, Beşiktaş, Istanbul
A year ago, Norway would be listed among the few top countries unlikely for violence in the world; until July 22, 2011, when Anders Breivik bombed the government buildings and killed 77 people and injured at least 150, all of them his fellow citizens. Breivik said he committed these attacks on the grounds of saving Europe from immigrant Muslims.
This act of violence that was “worst-of-the-worst” marked a threshold for a new era in which the entire world has painfully grasped the fact that no country and nation is immune from terrorism. Norway, however, was different in responding to it; immediately after these attacks Norwegian officials visited Muslim groups and mosques and emphasized their call for an even more inclusive democracy and human dignity.
This panel aims not to delve into the investigation of the massacre but to commemorate this spirit of inclusiveness as depicted by Norwegian officials. We aim to bring to attention in this example the universal values of human dignity, reconciliation, understanding, role of democracy and faith for global peace. Turkey is an interesting setting for this panel per a variety of opportunities and challenges in terms of ongoing terrorism in this country for several decades, Turkey's EU accession process as a growing democracy in the region, and also as a country where religion and secularism seem to have developed a unique form of coexistence.