Time and location

Tuesday, 21 April 2015, 19:00 - 21:00
Albert Schweitzer Haus, Schwarzspanierstraße 13
1090 Vienna


Ala Al-Hamarneh
Center for Research on the Arab World, University of Mainz

Charlotte Wiedemann
freelance journalist in Berlin

Helmut Krieger
Department of Development Studies, University of Vienna

Welcome: Magda Seewald, VIDC

Language: German

Jihadism and War

© istock/portishead1
© istock/portishead1


With the (re)emergence of jihadist organizations in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, and Yemen, war has stifled the once hopeful uprisings in the Arab world. Movements like the Islamic State (ISIS) and its affiliated groups are building a local and regional center of power from which they hope to assert their vision of a new regional order. Ranged against these movements is an alliance of Arab states, the USA, and the EU, which—it is argued—is seeking to stem the flow of jihadist organizations with the combined might of its members. The US alone has launched more than 2,300 air strikes against (supposed) ISIS bases in Syria and Iraq in the last months.
War never fails to leave social devastation and trauma in its wake. With half of the Syrian population fleeing the country or living as refugees within Syria, it is evident that post-war reconstruction in lands like Syria and Iraq will last for decades to come.
Can the USA’s now seldom-protested “War on Terror” actually lead to a cessation of hostilities? How can the complex alliances and geostrategic interest areas in the current war in the Arab world be understood? What is ISIS in actuality, what are its fundamental ideologies, and how can its emergence be explained?
At the same time a paradigm has been entrenched in western media coverage of jihadism that is paradoxically advantageous to these organizations: an oriental interpretation and demonization of all that which falls into the category “Islam”. In contrast, how can diverse perspectives be generated? What does a fundamental criticism of jihadism that also recognizes the existence of anti-Muslim racism include?


Ala Al-Hamarneh

was born and raised in Jordan and currently works as a senior researcher at the Center for Research on the Arab World (CERAW) and at the Institute for Geography at the University of Mainz. Recently he was also a guest professor for “Modern Arab Economics” at the Sharjah University in the United Arab Emirates. His research topics include neoliberal urbanization, geopolitics, globalization processes, international migration, and tourism. Al-Hamarneh is a member of several different international academic organizations and uses his expertise to advise multiple research institutes and Non-Governmental Organizations active in Arab countries.
His publications include: "Islam and Muslims in Germany" (co-edited with Jörn Thielman) 2008, and “Globalisierung von Hochschulbildung in der Arabischen Welt: Eine Chance für die International Expansion deutscher Hochschulen?“ in Maaß, Kurt-Jürgen, Bernd Tharun (Hg): Deutsche Hochschule im Dialog mit der Arabischen Welt.—Wissensraum Europa-Mittelmeer (2009).

Charlotte Wiedemann

has spent 35 years as a political journalist and has worked for quite some time with an emphasis on Islamic environments. She lived for a few years in Malaysia and afterwards undertook regular research trips from Germany to Muslim countries from Saudi-Arabia to Bosnia. She investigated the Arab uprisings of Yemen, Tunisia, and Egypt on-site, and often sojourned in Mali. Her newest book, "Mali oder das Ringen um Würde" (Munich 2014), came out of these experiences. Lately she spends her time in Iran.
Charlotte Wiedemann writes reports for GEO, analyses for Die ZEIT, essays for Le Monde Diplomatique and “qantara.de,” and columns for “Tageszeitung”. She also teaches journalism and has several university teaching positions. Her book, "Vom Versuch, nicht weiß zu schreiben. Oder: Wie Journalismus unser Weltbild prägt" (Cologne 2012), is a case against Eurocentric stereotypes in media. This endeavor is also pursued by “Sawasya” (Arabic: equality), a foundation for intercultural understanding established by Wiedemann.

Helmut Krieger

is a social scientist and researcher at the Department of Development Studies at the University of Vienna as well as a consultant of the VIDC. His main research areas are the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, movement of political Islam in the Arab world, critical state theory and post-colonial theory. One of his most recent publications is “Umkämpfte Staatlichkeit. Palästina zwischen Besatzung, Entwicklung und Islam” (Wiesbaden, to be released early 2015).

Magda Seewald

has worked as a project manager at the VIDC since 2005. Her regional focus is the Middle East, in particular Palestine, where she also coordinates local projects. In this function she oversees the VIDC series on the Arab uprisings. Her other emphases include gender, gender and armed conflicts as well as engaging men and boys for gender justice. She graduated with a degree in political science from the University of Vienna.