Jews and Muslims discuss Islamophobia and antisemitism

By Beth Alexander, August 12, 2010

Sixty-five delegates from more than 25 countries gathered at the University of Vienna this week for the MuslimJewish conference, the first of its kind to be held in Europe.

The brainchild of Ilja Sichrovsky, 27, a Jewish International Development student from Vienna, the week-long conference aimed to engage Muslim, Jewish and Christian students in meaningful dialogue.

It focused on three topics: education, Islamophobia, antisemitism and the role of the media. After intensive research and debate, participants compiled theses on their ideas for change. The organisers will present these to the UN Alliance of Civilisations in New York.

Ms Sichrovsky was inspired to undertake the initiative after participating in a Model UN conference at Harvard University in 2007. He wanted to provide an opportunity for Jews and Muslims to communicate in a secure environment.

After publicising the conference on social networking sites such as Facebook, the feedback was "overwhelming", Ms Sichrovsky said.

"People felt a need for such an event. There's an extreme lack of dialogue between young Muslims and Jews who are used to talking about each other and not to each other." He hopes that it will become an annual event.

Last updated: 12:47pm, August 12 2010