C. Holland Taylor is co-founder, chairman and CEO of LibForAll Foundation. An expert on Islam and the process of Islamization in Southeast Asia, he has lived, studied and worked in the Muslim world, from Iran to Indonesia, over a period of more than four decades. Although his knowledge of Islam pales in comparison with that of the powerful Muslim leaders who form the backbone of LibForAll Foundation, Mr. Taylor’s unique combination of experience in the fields of international business, strategy and the forging of cross-cultural relationships has enabled LibForAll to become “a model of what a competent public diplomacy effort in the Muslim world should look like” (Wall Street Journal).
Mr. Taylor established LibForAll in December 2003, together with his close friend, the former Indonesian president Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid (1940–2009), whom the Wall Street Journal has called “the single most influential religious leader in the Muslim world” and “easily the most important ally the West has in the ideological struggle against Islamic radicalism.” Under their leadership, LibForAll has grown into the leading NGO developing and operationalizing successful counter-extremism strategies worldwide.
Their inspiration lay in the heroic example of President Wahid’s own 16th century Javanese ancestors, whose deft use of soft and hard power defeated Muslim extremists, and guaranteed freedom of religion for all Javanese, two centuries before the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom and the Bill of Rights led to the separation of state and religion in the U.S.
Based on lessons derived from this struggle, LibForAll is forging a Global Rahmatan lil ‘Alamin (“Blessing for All Creation”) Counter-Extremism Network of top Muslim opinion leaders in the fields of religion, education, pop culture, government, business and the media, who are joining with people of good will of every faith and nation to confront the threat of religious extremism before it’s too late.
Mr. Taylor is an acclaimed speaker whose writings have been published in major media outlets throughout the world, helping to educate government policy makers and the general public about how to counter the ideology of religious hatred that underlies and animates terrorism.
Mr. Taylor’s work with LibForAll follows a career as a successful entrepreneur and global telecom executive, during which he served as CEO of USA Global Link, and was credited by numerous leading publications as one of the essential catalysts in the deregulation of the global telecommunications industry.
Mr. Taylor was educated at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and Princeton University. He is fluent in English, Indonesian/Melayu and German.
“C. Holland Taylor used to solve business problems as a telecom CEO. Now he’s aiming higher—with a goal of ending religious extremism…. Although Taylor’s foundation may seem an odd follow-up to his telecom career, his background makes him a perfect fit. A military child, Taylor lived for three years in Iran as a kid, backpacked through Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan and has meditated since he was 18. ‘My own meditation and spirituality was key,’ he says. ‘Meditation is universal, and helps me connect with people and form a relationship of mutual understanding and trust.’ It helps that he possesses the diplomatic and persuasive acumen to broker relationships with high-level clerics, heads of Muslim organizations, university officials and political leaders like Wahid.”
~ Corporate Leader
“[I]f effective public diplomacy is really as vital in the war on terror as everyone appears to agree it is, we need better ambassadors, better administrators and a better sense of who we need to engage and how. At least Mr. Taylor has a clue. The [Bush] administration could stand to learn from him.”
~ Wall Street Journal
“C. Holland Taylor doesn’t look like a man radical Muslims should fear. He is trim, unassuming, and speaks with a faint southern accent. His stylish blond haircut and trim suit give him the appearance of a fortysomething European businessman. He possesses no arsenal of weapons, holds no government post, and operates no intelligence service. Yet he runs the world’s most potent and innovative anti-extremist network and may hold a key to defusing the ticking bomb of Islamic terrorism.”
~ The Weekly Standard
“A firewall against terror in the name of Islam.”
~ Afonbladet (Sweden)
“[T]he world’s biggest success story with respect to preventing Muslim radicalization and terrorism.”
~ India Currents
“The Libforall Foundation is one of the rare success stories of an initiative in which moderate and liberal Muslims—too often the silent and disorganized majority—have organized effectively to counter radical Islamist groups by promoting democracy and tolerance.”
~ Democracy Digest
“LibForAll is an NGO that cares deeply about Islam and Muslims… LibForAll aims to present the moderate and tolerant face of Islam, and explain the importance of [Muslims] returning to the essence of Islamic teachings which, until now, have been poorly understood by many groups [both in Islam and the West].”
~ al-Ahram (Egypt)