“You Wrote To Me That You Wanted Me To Die, Why?”

A nurse, politician and bridge builder. In this podcast, we meet Özlem Cekic, who has for the last seven years reached out to people sending her hate emails. She calls it dialogue coffee.

In the beginning it was important for me to change them, she says. Now I know the most important things is to try to understand them. Why do they have these opinions?

When active as a Danish Politician in the Social People’s Party, Cekic received emails containing hate speech on a daily basis. Instead of deleting them, she gathered them in a specific folder – for self-preserving reasons.

“So the police would have something to work with – if something were to happen,” she says.

Özlem Cekic at her presentation at our main office in Lund in January.

A friend of hers later encouraged her to try and talk to her “haters”. That eventually led to her opening the folder, which has around 500 emails.

“Ninety-nine percent always answers when I call,” she says, “so I decided to visit all the people who sends me hate-mails.”

Cekic always brings food to her meetings and describes how her goal with the dialogue coffees changed as time went by. Now she spends her meetings on trying to understand the other part of the dialogue, by talking about their background, family and work. Later on, she shares her own history.

“Because when we meet each other as humans it’s easier, but when we talk about each other as in groups, we de-humanize each other,” she says.

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