Face-to-face conversation - over coffee & good food - can disarm hate, says Danish ex-MP Özlem Cekic

Back in 2007, Özlem Cekic was the first woman with a muslim immigrant background to be elected into Danish Parliament where she served till 2015. Unfortunately, being a public figure, and a controversial one, comes at a prize. Özlem became a victim of trolling and personal abuse.

At the recent ‘We The Future’ NYC event (presented by TED in collaboration with Skoll Foundation and UN Foundation) Özlem, now a author, debater and consultant, shared the story of why, and how, she started to reach out to the numerous people who send her hate mails and invite herself (carrying homemade food) to their homes for a cup of coffee. Watch her talk above (or on the TED talk website).

Özlem calls her meetings #dialoguecoffee and shares her experience on social media, aiming to motivate others to engage with the people they disagree with. Her courage is truly inspiring and encouraging. As she says “Start a conversation. Trenches have been dug between people, yes, but we all have the ability to build the bridges that cross the trenches” . The initiative is now a NGO called the ‘Association of Bridge Builders’ - go to their website to learn more and support.

At our local “collaboratories” we aim to facilitate challenging conversation on the things we may disagree on to build bridges between the divides. And we always serve good food and coffee. Join the friendly revolution.