Jorgen S. Nielsen, director of the Danish Institute of Damascus and Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK, considers the shared values between Western political systems and an "Islamic order". If there is such a significant overlap, he asks, then why is the response to the concept of Western secularism so negative in the Muslim world?
(Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 1 May 2007)
Javed Anand, general secretary of Muslims for Secular Democracy in Mumbai, India, addresses the question "aren't Muslims, religious leaders particularly, allergic to the very sound of the word secularism?" He describes how escalating religious intolerance, hatred and violence in India have given new meaning to the words "secular" and "religious".
(Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 8 May 2007)
As part of a series on secularism and Muslim-Western dialogue, Jocelyne Cesari, visiting associate professor of Islamic Studies at Harvard University and director of its Islam in the West program, considers the popular view that "for Islam there is no separation between politics and religion". Cesari describes what an Islamic democracy might look like and what it would mean for the recognition and freedoms of religious minorities.
(Source: Common Ground News Service, 22 May 2007)
Asma Afsaruddin, associate professor of Arabic & Islamic Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and chair of the board of directors at Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy, asks whether secularism is a pre-requisite for the successful democratisation of societies. Looking at how secularism is defined in several existing democracies, as well as the opinions of several great thinkers in both the East and the West, she substitutes pervasive myths with facts and telling data.
(Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 29 May 2007)
Dalia Mogahed, author and director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, looks at the two models of government stemming from the Mediterranean region that constitute the Western paradigm: – the Jerusalem model of absolute rule by an emperor who is also head of the Church, and the democracy of Athens where religion is "privatised" and science is dominant. She then considers whether there is a third option that marries religion and democracy.
(Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 5 June 2007)
Nora Onar, research associate at the European Studies Centre at St. Antony's College, Oxford University, considers the challenges Turkey is facing in trying to reconcile secularism, democracy and Islam. Looking at the positions of parties inside the country, she points out the areas where mutual benefits lie.
(Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 12 June 2007)
The women of Tunisia have a decisive role to play in shaping Tunisia's future. Fatma Ben Saïdane reminds women of the power of their vote and the importance of civic engagement.
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- Ziad Asali, president of the American Task Force on Palestine
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