New book: “Overcoming Hate Through Dialogue – Confronting Prejudice, Racism, and Bigotry through Conversation – and Coffee”
When Özlem Cekic became the first Muslim MP in the Danish Parliament, her inbox was inundated with hate mail and threats, and her gut reaction was to delete and ignore the abusive messages. But when a neo-Nazi threatened her family, she chose a different approach: she started replying to each message and inviting the senders to meet and engage in dialogue over coffee. She met people like Kim, a right-wing extremist, who – if he only had a gun – would take delight in killing the Muslims outside the local mosque. She met armed Muslim adolescents on Norrebro’s Red Square, whose contempt for Danish society ren deep. She visited the Hizb ut-Tahrir mosque, where the imam preached against democracy, and a church in the East Jutland where the priest preached against homosexuality. And, along the way, she confronted her own history of hatred for Jews, Turks, and Danes.
“In this truly democratic and engaging book, the writer is on a mission to inspire others to open dialogue with those whom they disagree with – or maybe even despise” – Weekendavisen
With time, understanding, and patience, Özlem began to make a difference, both in the lives of those who hated her before even meeting her and in her own.
Discover the journey behind Dialogue Coffee Ted Talk with almost two million views. Overcoming Hate Through Dialogue will teach you how to change the world (and change your life) by addressing important questions, such as: Where do negative emotions like anger, frustration and hatred come from? Can conversation break down prejudices and create change and understanding? What happens when we start looking for what we have in common instead of focusing only on our differences?
This book will teach you one woman’s way of being the change you want to see in the world.
Buy the book here
Özlem was born in Turkey in 1976. She lived in Finland for two years while her parents worked as caretakers/cleaners at the Turkish Embassy in Helsinki. The family moved to Denmark at the start of the 1980s. Özlem was the first in her family to go to high school after which she completed a nursing education. She worked in the psychiatric department from 2000 to 2007 with mentally ill children and youths, traumatized refugees and drug addicts. In 2003, she was elected to the board of the Danish Nurses Organisation as the first woman with an ethnic minority background. Özlem was elected to the Danish parliament and served from 2007 to 2015 as one of the first female politicians with an ethnic minority background. Since 2015, Özlem has been giving talks and providing advice in Denmark, and internationally, on how to build bridges between ethnic minorities, companies, organisations and local government. She devised the dialogue coffee concept, which involves her regularly holding dialogue coffee meetings, where she contacts people who have sent her hate mail and arranges to meet them for a coffee – usually at their home.
In 2018, she became only the second Dane in history to give a TED-Talk, which was about her experiences with dialogue coffee. At present, the talk has been viewed by over a million people. Özlem is also the founder and chairwoman of the Bridge Builders’ Association (Foreningen Brobyggerne), which aims to prevent hate and violence. The Association teaches children about building bridges between different population groups, builds bridges between Jewish, Muslim and Christian schools, and seeks out religious extremists to invite them to open dialogue arrangements, which are hosted by the Association.