Secularisation – the process of a dividing the realms of politics and religion – has been influencing national and worldly affairs for several hundred years. The idea of the desirability of such a division – secularism – is nowadays a given backdrop for public policy issues regarding education, family, gender, media, migration, personal integrity and freedom, reproduction and sexuality. But globalisation and multicultural trends, as well as claims from religious groups for increased political influence or autonomy and the uncertain and varying responses to these from society, have made us aware that the secularist ideal has been realized through the process of secularisation in radically different ways in different settings. As a result, an identity crisis is presently afflicting secular societies. It is no longer as clear what secularism is supposed to amount to, why secularisation is desirable and where its proper limits are. To investigate questions about this is the focus of a newly initiated multidisciplinary research theme at the University of Gothenburg.
- ABDULLAHI AN-NA’IM, Human Rights Law, Emory University
- KENT GREENAWALT, Law, Columbia University
- BRIAN PALMER, Anthropology & Religion, Uppsala University & University of Gothenburg
- PAUL WEITHMAN, Philosophy, University of Notre Dame
- LINDA WOODHEAD, Religious Studies, Lancaster University
The conference is open to the public and free of charge. Registration is required for attendance.
Contact & Information
On Saturday, the Mayor of Amsterdam issued a reminder to the cities population of the importance of tolerance in the Dutch society. Cohen’s lecture, titled ‘Freedom and Identity,’ urged unity in disunion as a strategy appealing to respect and self-interest. He suggested that intolerance will only alienate foreigners, especially Muslims. Dutch citizens have a responsibility and interest in making the Netherlands a supportive environment for Muslims while relying on other forces to combat radicalism: individualization, democratization, globalization, and secularization. He made a critiqued the increasing reliance on claims for freedom by bigots to justify their acts of intolerance and condemned the climate of common shouting, impertinence and flawed respect for others. Cohen posed a choice to the audience: do we want a society that excludes minorities, or that incorporates them with respect for their differences?
The institutionalization of Islam in the West continues to raise many questions for a range of different constituencies. Secularization represents much more than the legal separation of politics and religion in Europe; for important segments of European societies, it has become the cultural norm. Therefore, Muslims’ settlement and their claims for the public recognition of Islam have often been perceived as a threat.
This volume explores current interactions between Muslims and the more or less secularized public spaces of several European states, assessing the challenges such interactions imply for both Muslims and the societies in which they now live. Divided into three parts, it examines the impact of State-Church relations, ’Islamophobia’ and ’the war on terrorism’, evaluates the engagement of Muslim leaders with the State and civil society, and reflects on both individual and collective transformations of Muslim religiosity.