Meeting of the Governing Board of EMISCO in Brussels

Meeting of the Governing Board of EMISCO in Brussels

8 January 2013

EMISCO was established on 18th December 2010 in The Hague-Holland and after that founding meeting, the Board had four official meetings. This present meeting in Brussels coincided with EMISCO’s special event, which took place the day after the Board meeting on 9th January 2013.

In a way, it was a good omen for EMISCO to start the New Year with an important event in the heart of the European Union capital.

Since the Board meeting took place after a while, there were many important topics on the following agenda.


Presentation and approval of Agenda – Bashy Quraishy

Welcome by Mr. Doudou Diene, President, EMISCO

Introduction of participants – old and new

Report of EMISCO activities since December 2010 – Bashy Quraishy

Reporting from Board Members

Last Side Event. HDIM-Warsaw, Oct 2012 – BQ/VF

Conference in Brussels, 9th Jan 2013 – Veysel Filiz

Next Forum – when and where?  – Veysel Filiz

Membership of ENAR – BQ

Introduction and approval of new board members of EMISCO

(Aristotle Kallis, Kamal Meziti and Bulent Senay) – VF

New Website/ Facebook/ Comments from members/info flow – VF

Election of office holders for 2 years term– President, General Secretary and Spokesperson – Ambassador Orhun

Economy – VF

Other points

Presentation and approval of Agenda – Bashy Quraishy

The Agenda of the meeting was discussed and approved with few changes. Point 10 was moved to point 4 and an extra point 8B was inserted as; New visions for EMISCO.

Welcome by Mr. Doudou Diene, President, EMISCO


Doudou Diene heartely welcomed the old and new members and in his customary manner gave a very visionary overview of the profound changes, which were taking place in the Arab/Muslim world and linked it to EMISCO’s work for the future as a pro-active organization. He called it “Moving from complaining to a proactive force for change”.

He outlined a new strategy for EMISCO’s work as;

On legal front to defend the Muslim communities

Intellectual front to reflect

How to unite Muslim communities

How to link them with each other to have a united and forceful voice for change in Europe

Introduction of participants – old and new

After Doudou Diene’s inspirational welcome, old members and new candidates for the Board membership introduced themselves – what they do and what hopes and wishes they had in mind.

Bashy Quraishy asked all members to send him a short paragraph outlining their contact details and their areas of expertise and the issues they would like to work with and what they could bring to the table in practical terms.

New Members to the Board

The names of the following persons were put forward for approval:

Professor Aristotle Kallis from UK/Greece

Professor Kamal Meziti from France/Algeria

Professor Bülent Şenay from Turkey

The Board unanimously approved the membership of these 3 eminent personalities who in their own field of research and teaching have contributed tremendously in awareness raising and knowledge about Muslim communities among the European academic circles and the public.

Below is the current list of EMISCO Governing Board with complete contact details.

Dr. Doudou DIENE – Chair (France)

Mrs. Tuba BOZ – Vice Chair (Bosnia-Herzegovina)

Mr. Bashy QURAISHY – Secretary General (Denmark)

Mr. Veysel FILIZ – Spokesperson and Treasurer (France)

Mr. Ömür ORHUN – Member of the Governing Board (Turkey)

Mr. Tarafa BAGHAJATI – Member of the Governing Board (Austria)


Prof. Bülent SENAY- Member of the Governing Board (Turkey)

Dr. Aristotle KALLIS – Member of the Governing Board (UK)

Mrs. Pervin CHAIROULA – Member of the Governing Board (Greece)

Mr. Halim GRABUS – Member of the Governing Board (Switzerland)

Mrs. Banu KURTULAN – Member of the Governing Board (Austria)

Mr. Zaheer AHMAD – Member of the Governing Board (UK)

Dr. Kamel MEZITI – Member of the Governing Board (France)

Mrs. Rukhsana YAQOOB – Member of the Governing Board (UK)


Tankut Soykan (Poland)

Murat Erdogan (Turkey)

Hayri Emin (Bulgaria)

Michael Privot ‘Belgium)

A short report of EMISCO activities since Dec 2010

Bashy Quraishy explained that EMISCO started in Dec 2010 with grand ambitions and with a big bang in Holland.

“We were fortunate that Mr. Bulent Senay and his team very generously helped in the birth of the organization in Holland and arranged a very successful Seminar in Rotterdam on Hate Crimes.

COJEP International from the start took the lead in finding finances, involving EMISCO in its various activities, holding conferences in Europe, Turkey and Azerbaijan, as well as arranging meetings with the highest politicians of the Republic of Turkey.

Side events during UN conferences in Geneva, OSCE meetings in Warsaw and various seminars on democracy in Europe were organized. Besides, Islamophobia’s consequences and what Muslim communities can do to meet this challenge were held in the EU Parliament in Strasbourg.

COJEP International also printed visit cards for various Board members and a colored booklet on EMISCO’s founding meeting, constitution as well as Mission Statement. Additionally, Board meetings were prepared.  An EMISCO Facebook and Website was also commissioned by COJEP International and both are up and running. Facebook is well visited as a forum.

The credit of many of these activities goes to Veysel Filiz, who tirelessly managed to keep EMISCO active and alive. Of course, he also needed the co-operation, support and active participation of Board members and they very kindly provided their efforts without any hesitation.

EMISCO was fortunate that in the beginning, we were able to assemble a team of 14 dedicated people, who are all eminent in their expertise and very experienced in their fields. They traveled to far away places in the pursuit of EMISCO’s goals and made the organization visible, wherever they went.

To cut the long story short, we did lots of activities in the first 18 months but then things slowed down. Without discussing the reasons, we should pick up the gauntlet and move forward.”

After this short introduction, a discussion took place as to what is in the pipeline and what is needed to take on board. It was felt that EMISCO should be target oriented and should take few but high visibility issues.

It was agreed that EMISCO should work on a booklet for practical purposes, containing a clear definition of Islamophobia, how Islamophobia manifests, concrete examples as well as good practices as to how to deal with it.

Ambassador Orhun kindly offered his services to make an initial draft.

Another proposal was to involve EMISCO in practical activities, such as in Hate Crime Seminars. Tankut Soykan suggested that ODIHR could undertake such an initiative in the Northern countries with the cooperation of EMISCO, for example in Copenhagen. Bashy Q promised to look into it.

Partnership with organizations such as the Amnesty International was also suggested.  EMISCO also has prepared a booklet on Islamophobia with manuscripts contributed by various eminent writers and all it needs is to have it proof read, layout and published.

Doudou Diene proposed that EMISCO should have short position papers on those issues, which Europe is confronted with on economic crisis, ethics and religion and on the place of minorities in today’s Europe.

Reporting from Board Members

Board Members gave short reports of their activities, both in their own organizations and on individual levels.

Last Side Event. HDIM-Warsaw, Oct 2012 – BQ/VF

Bashy Quraishy had prepared a detailed document of the event in Warsaw, which he showed it to the Board. The Warsaw document is attached with these draft minutes of the meeting and is sent it to the entire Board.

Conference in Brussels, 9th Jan 2013 – Veysel Filiz

Veysel Filiz then explained in detail the practical and theoretical aspects of the next day’s conference in the European Parliament. He informed that the event would be fully booked and most of the speakers and presenters were coming. The proceedings would be covered by the media-Turkish, Pakistanis and other TV stations, as well as journalists and photographers. A very appealing brochure was also printed with the program and the concept of the conference. The whole conference proceedings will be simultaneously interpreted in three languages-English, French and Turkish. A report would be prepared after the conference.

Next Forum – when and where?  – Veysel Filiz

Veysel Filiz had many suggestions as to where the next Forum meeting can be held. Bosnia, France, Bulgaria and Turkey were two names on the list. He also explained that funding must be obtained to have this meeting. He would be working on the problem.

How to move forward-vision and practical ways – Bashy Quraishy

“In my capacity as the Secretary General, I have been banging my head against the wall to come up with some new ideas. I hope that we can discuss my proposals and add to these others from the participants so that we can move forward.

I believe and so do most of you that we need an independent identity for EMISCO, where we are not overly dependent of one organization’s goodwill.

We need to have two concrete activities – independently or in alliance with ENAR, CEJI, OSCE, Open Society, a university and anyone else who would like to work on the issues. These activities have to be well planned, carefully thought out and must have a clear mission. These can be campaigns, seminars on a current issue or a brain storming exercise. The event must be well publicized in advance and results distributed widely.

4-6 press releases on current events concerning Muslim communities, inter-faith work, hate crimes and demonization campaigns, or as a supportive statement. Press releases can be formulated and sent on behalf of EMISCO or in alliance with other organizations.

To establish a Data Base of Contacts. At present, Veysel and I are using our own contacts to sent press releases or statements. We need a common database of journalists, eminent personalities and NGOs. We can ask for help wherever it is possible, for example; Brussels based Federation of International Journalists, OIC, Muslim countries’ embassies, federation of universities etc. Sky is the limit!

Facebook/Website. A new web is under construction. Veysel has asked for feedback from Board members and if there were more suggestions, it would be good to supply now.   Web needs to be updated. EMISCO Face book is a very good tool and it is well visited. Unfortunately, most of the visitors are Turks and they only write in Turkish or French. We need to have other Board members to contribute on issues and start a thread.

Visibility of EMISCO can be achieved quickly, if all Board members use their title in their work and if they write an article, letter to an editor or just an article, mentioning that you are Board member of EMISCO will be a good publicity. We also need a small brochure of the organization to distribute in meetings and to give to interested parties.

The booklet on Islamophobia, which has been actually ready since few months should be proof read, with a better layout with photos of the authors and an addition of short CVs. It should be urgently published. Many of the Board members can write articles in various publications on the issues EMISCO is working with.

A close working relationship with Muslim minority NGOs and civil society organizations in various European countries must be developed. This should not be only about the religious issues but with more focusing on political, socio-economic and awareness raising problems. An organization, which is seen to be caring and sensitive to the needs of its constituents, gets respect and support it requires.

In short, we have many challenges, but we also have very capable and experienced members of the Board. The goal is long and winding but our resolve is more than its match.”

While the Board agreed with Bashy Quraishy’s detailed description of future work, a lively debate ensued after the presentation.

Here are the highlights of the debate with a clear expression of the need to:

Have less rhetoric and more realism in our work

Detailed knowledge of issues to fulfill the mission of EMISCO’s work

Common language to approach the intellectuals of Europe and the Muslim communities

EMISCO’s own terminology for media debates and lecture trips

Definition of who is European today

To deal with the question of otherization of the Muslim communities

To appeal to Muslim communities, we should consider to use  Islamic/Arabic terms

To have a routine and working relationship with media so that they can take religion on board in their coverage

Self-criticism was necessary to find out what went wrong with Muslim communities’ as against to blaming Islam as many western writers such as Bernard Lewis do in their research by saying: What Went Wrong with Islam.

Audio visual materials was important

Membership of ENAR – BQ

ENAR is restructuring its entire network and is now open to have direct membership of NGOs instead of through national co-ordinations. Bashy and Veysel have spoken with Michael Privot, Director of ENAR. He is very enthusiastic that ENAR becomes member. This will help to have a close partnership with an important player in the EU Headquarters and it will open the possibility to make projects with its members. Board members also suggested that EMISCO should register with UN (ECOSOC) and Council of Europe Participatory Status, and other international bodies for membership. Veysel/Bashy will look into the matter along with Ambassador Orhun and President Doudou.

New Website/ Facebook/ Comments from members/info flow – VF

The old website of EMISCO is now abandoned and Lokman Balkan has constructed a new web and is updating it regularly. The new web was sent to all Board members for their comments and suggestions, which have been incorporated. After the Board meeting, Veysel and Bashy would sit down with Lokman and go through it once again.

EMISCO’s Facebook has been very well visited for a long time.

On 2th Jan 2013, there were 47 persons talking about it, 989 visited the page in one week and on 7th Jan, 101 were talking about it with 1434 weekly reach. It was suggested that all Board members should go on the page and comment, post a note or a picture. It can be something interesting they read or wanted to share views about an issue of our interest. The flow of information is vital for attracting new members.

Election of office holders for 2 years term for President, General

Secretary and Spokesperson – Ambassador Orhun

EMISCO’s President Doudou Diene had informed the Board in Istanbul in May 2012 that due to his expanding work load, he wished to step down at the end of his 2 years tenure in Dec 2012. He has been very gracious to head the new organization from the start and gave it a good name, promising start and an intellectual ballast. At the Brussels Board meeting, he again asked to be relieved of his duties. Fortunately, due to the insistent requests from all Board members and the fact that we have not found a suitable replacement, he kindly agreed to stay on for one more year.

The Board also extended the 2 years term of the Secretary General, Spokesperson and Vice President to continue until Jan 2015.

Economy – VF

At present, EMISCO does not have its own funding, but it was pointed out that to maintain its freedom and continuous work, it is important that EMISCO seeks its own funding from various circles. All Board members were requested to keep an open eye on the possibilities.

Other points

No new issue was raised under this point.

The meeting ended with optimism and hope for our renewed efforts.

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