CEDAR – The European Muslim Professionals Network
The recent period has seen increasingly polarised communities with dangerous social tensions surrounding issues of minorities, integration, and religion. Negative perceptions of Islam have fuelled mutual fear and hostility creating discrimination and radicalism, both right-wing and Islamist. CEDAR
(Connecting European Dynamic Achievers & Role-Models) is a significant civil society movement uniting a growing generation of young and successful Muslim professionals in Europe in order to counter these threatening developments and seek to generate a more cohesive society.
With the vision of inspiring a culture of success and leadership across Muslim communities in Europe, CEDAR engages a constituency that has largely been absent from the public debate in the past. It hopes to challenge misguided public opinion by recognising the diverse and valuable roles that Muslims are playing in European society. CEDAR increases the prominence of an important constituency of Muslim professionals in the West by facilitating their commitment as role models and mentors with young people in marginalised communities, improving their career opportunities and helping them to realise their potential. Ultimately, CEDAR aims to expand its members’ participation in mainstream public discourse and increase their interaction with, and membership in, broader professional, political and social networks, beyond those with a solely Muslim focus.
The CEDAR network is highly relevant to this year’s M100 Colloquium, with its theme of ‘Muslim Media and Muslims in the Media’. The event is an ideal platform for CEDAR to constructively engage with high-level mainstream media representatives and officially launch its activities. In light of CEDAR’s commitment to advocate for greater inclusion and more diversity of European Muslim Media and facilitate cross-border exchanges between media professionals CEDAR’s media workshop, held as part of this event, will discuss institutional approaches to diversity in the mainstream media.
Two CEDAR initiatives will be launched at this year’s M100 Colloquium:
The CEDAR Professionals Finder is an online database providing Media and Public forums with quick access to a range of Muslim expertise, both related and unrelated to Muslim affairs. The first pan-European database of its kind, it offers a plethora of European Muslim voices, and hopes to enable more accurate, varied and comprehensive media coverage of a range of topics and diversify the portrayal of Muslims in mainstream media.
The European Muslim Women of Influence List 2009 will be introduced to commend the achievement of European Muslim women in a variety of social arenas. In celebrating their success, the list will raise awareness of their social and economic contribution to European life, diversify the mainstream representation of Muslim women, and inspire accomplishment across Europe’s varied communities.
The Network is steered by an Advisory Committee made up of ‘team leaders’ and a number of prominent Patrons in specific fields comprised of leading Muslim and non-Muslim figures from across Europe. Advisory Board Members to date include Cherie Blair QC, Matrix Chambers, UK; Peter Kellner; President, YouGov, UK; Gwyneth Williams, Director of English Networks & News for BBC World Service, UK.
CEDAR members are professionals from a range of disciplines with participants such as Muddassar Ahmed, Chief Executive and founder of Unitas Communications, UK; Nazia Hussain, director of the ‘Muslims in EU Cities’ project at the Open Society Institute and former human rights officer for the Organization for Security and Cooperation, UK; Karim Saad, project manager for product development at ORF online, Editor-in-Chief of KISMET online and co-founder and speaker of the Documentation Archive against Islamophobia, Austria; and Hilal Sezgin, freelance author for DIE ZEIT and Die Tageszeitung, Germany.
CEDAR is an initiative facilitated by the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) and the Salzburg Global Seminar who are serving as the interim secretariat for the initial 18-24 months. The aim is to establish the Network as its own self-managed and sustainable organisation within a two-year time period.