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A global conversation

[photo]
The scholars tackled themes such as the concept of “civl state” in the current Arab political and religious discourse as well as the redefinition of religion in the public sphere.

Click on photo for larger version.

December 4, 2012—

LAU in partnership with Adyan foundation launched on November 29 an international conference on Religion and Democracy in Europe and the Arab World.

The two-day event took place at the Byblos campus under the high patronage of the President of the Republic of Lebanon General Michel Sleiman. It drew dignitaries, researchers, LAU faculty and students alike and saw 40 registered academicians hailing from all corners of the globe.

The conference opened with an address by LAU President Dr. Joseph G. Jabbra who reminded the audience that, “Today, more than at any other time in the history of the Arab and Muslim worlds there is a desperate need for a full understanding of what might be the proper link between religion and democracy, between politics and faith, between the state and God.”

The Minister of Education and Higher Education Dr. Hassan Diab, who attended as the President’s representative stressed that, “dialogue and understanding is one of the most important practices we should encourage and foster.”

Dr. Fadi Daou, chairman and CEO of Adyan Foundation concurred: “Raising awareness on cultural and religious diversity and coexistence is of utmost importance in these changing times.”

Though many consider the banishment of religion from politics to be the sine qua non of democracy, this assumption was readily challenged during the conference. “The questions raised in this event are important—we cannot take secularism for granted,” said Manal Tayar, third-year political science student at LAU Beirut.

Over the period of two days, the scholars tackled various themes such as the concept of “civil state” in the current Arab political and religious discourse as well as the redefinition of religion in the public sphere in both the Middle East and Europe.

“This is my first visit to Lebanon, and I have been impressed by both the welcoming and intellectually stimulating environment provided by LAU,” says Dr. Fatima Tofighi, an Iranian scholar from University of Glasgow in Scotland.

“Seldom does the occasion arise when academic musings are so timely and necessary as people take to the streets and engage in the same important conversations as we are doing in academia,” she said. “This is why this conference is so exceptional and exciting.”

“Of course, such questions are not just of theoretical interest—the stakes are high with serious consequences for the future,” said Dr. Makram Ouaiss, chair of the Department of Social Sciences. “This is why it is so timely and important that LAU hosted such an event,” he added.

The conclusion of the conference will see the publication of real-life recommendations and proposals that will be widely disseminated in Arabic and in English.

 

The conference was organized by Adyan foundation in partnership with LAU, Konrad Adenauer Foundation (Amman Office) and with the support of the Institute of Missiology Missio and the Bank of Beirut and Arab Countries.


 


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