Tuesday 6 September 2016

  • Yadh BEN ACHOUR : During his academic career he specialized in Islamic political theory and public law in which he published several books. In 1988, he was appointed member of the Constitutional Council of Tunisia. In 1992, he resigned as a protest against former President Ben Ali’s attempt to suppress the Tunisian Human Rights League through a reform of the law on associations. After the Revolution, he was appointed President of the Commission of political reform, and on 19 February 2011, the interim President of the Republic designates him as President of the High Authority for the achievement of the objectives of the revolution, the political reform and the democratic transition which main task was to prepare the election of the national Constituent Assembly, in accordance with democratic standards, the first free elections in Tunisia. In 2012, he received the International Prize for Democracy, Foundation Demoktratie Internationaler Preis, Bonn, Germany. Mr. Ben Achour is co-founder of the International Academy of Constitutional Law, former member of the Institute of International Law and chairman of the executive of the African Development Bank Tribunal. He was elected member of the UN Human Rights Committee in June 2014. Among his recent books: La seconde Fatiha, L’Islam et la pensée des droits de l’homme. PUF, May 2011. CERES ed, Tunisia, July 2011. Tunisie : une révolution en pays d'islam, sous presse, CERES éd., Tunisia, 2016.
Lecture: “Islam, the Democratic standard and religious radicalism”

The fundamental question that constitutes our basic premise is the following: how to demonstrate, other than by fundamental principles, the philosophical and moral superiority of the democratic standard, which considers, postulates, man as the ultimate end of the political city, regardless of other more ultimate goals? How to prove the superiority of the democratic right to its main enemies, especially the representatives of religious radicalism in politics.

While the democratic ethos is based on personal autonomy, freedom and individual responsibility, the fragmentation of religious spheres, on one side, and political and legal ones, on the other hand, the relativity of most moral viewpoints and the tolerance, the debate of ideas and dialogue, that of religious radicalism in politics is founded on the certainty of a transcendental belief, personal heteronomy, voluntary or forced servitude, the inseparability of religious spheres, political and legal, conformism and intellectual orthodoxy, finally, as a fatal consequence of this platform, the use of violence against the adversary whatsoever. It is through all of these traits that we distinguish today Islamic religious radicalism, especially as manifested by the ideology of the Islamic State, advocating the duty of violence.

If we want to counter the ideology of religious radicalism in politics, including that of the various jihadists, it is essential to establish the democratic norm on solid and undisputable bases. In this respect, we have no choice but to establish it on universal philosophical and moral principles, which must be common to all humanity. The principle of non-suffering is the only way that can help us achieve this goal. Naturally, man escapes suffering. The principle of non-suffering covers life itself, the body, the “thinking man”, the “speaking man” and finally man as “citizen politician”. Man loves life, so he has a sacred right to life and to physical integrity. Man is a thinking and judging being. He is entitled to full freedom of thought and judgment. He is a speaking subject; he is therefore entitled to full freedom of expression. He is a political being; therefor he has the right to resist against oppression, the right to elect and to be represented, to participate equally with others to public affairs. The violation of these rights founds a suffering. Thus, the democratic norm is the only one that protects man in his universality, against suffering.

The question therefore is whether Islam, as a religion, may fit with the principles of the democratic norm. The answer obviously depends on the interpretation we have of Islam, especially in its relationship with the political sphere. If for the democrat and modern Muslims that reconciliation is not a problem, the supporters of radical Islam categorically refuse the democratic norm and claim that the observance of this democratic standard means a denial of religion in itself and its impact on the cultural heritage and the constitution of identity. The only way to disapprove of this way of thinking is, as we want to precisely demonstrate, to show the superiority of the democratic norm on religious radicalism, both theoretically and in practice. This will be the main subject of the conference.
Wednesday 7 September 2016

  • Georges CORM is graduated from the Institute of Political Studies of Paris (1961) and a Phd in public law from the Faculty of Law and Economics, Paris (1969). He has taught at various universities in Lebanon since 1969. He was Minister of Finance of Lebanon (1998-2000) and Professor since 2001 at the Institute of Political Science at St. Joseph University in Beirut. He is the author of numerous books on the history of the Middle East and its relations with Europe, as well as development issues. Among his works : Le Proche-Orient éclaté 1956-2012, Folio/histoire (successive editions since 1983) ; Histoire du Moyen-Orient. De l’Antiquité à nos jours, La Découverte, 2007 ; Pour une lecture profane des conflits, La Découverte, 2012 which follows his trilogy Orient Occident. La fracture imaginaire (2002) ; La question religieuse au XXIè siècle. Géopolitique et crise de la post-modernité (2006) ; L’Europe et le mythe de l’Occident. La Construction d’une histoire, (2009). His is also the author of Pensée et politique dans le monde arabe. Contextes historiques et problématiques. XIXè-XXIè siècle, La Découverte, 2015.
Lecture: Denouncing religious manipulations in geopolitical conflicts

The object of the speech will be to explain how religion is invoked for several decades to give legitimacy to the secular power projects and the many geopolitical conflicts in the world and especially the Middle East. In this context, it will be a return to Samuel Huntington's thesis and the alleged existence of conflict of civilisations and political and religious values. This highly fanciful thesis whose historical origins will be examined, served to allow all wars and recent violence in the Middle East. Therefore, it would be necessary to take more precautions in the answers that are given by analysing the factors and secular motivations of conflicts.

Civilisations do not make war, only states are warriors. Civilisations and cultures and even religions are spontaneously in interactions since the beginning of humanity and are the reciprocal influences they exert on one another that bring forth the evolution of humanity. Some power systems may want to limit these influences, but in today's open world, it is even more impossible than ever. To ensure the progress of humanity and contribute to the ideal of universal peace, it would rather denounce the secular interests of power, economic, political and military, which hide behind the theme of the conflict of civilisation of values of religions and cultures.
  • Jaume FLAQUER est jésuite, responsable de la section théologique "Cristianismo i Justicia", professeur de dialogue interreligieux à la Facultat de Teologia de Catalunya.
Lecture: “Europe and the near east conflict”

Le conflit du Proche-Orient est en train de mettre à l’épreuve l’Europe, au risque même de la briser. La peur de l’islam fait monter en puissance l’extrême droite et éloigne l’Europe de ses principes humanitaires. Les pays de l’Est sont encore plus réticents à recevoir des réfugiés. L’Europe est confronté à de nombreux défis : au moment même où l’Europe essaie de se créer une nouvelle identité post-religieuse, elle voit grandir le nombre des musulmans demandants une visibilité publique de la religion. Plusieurs modèles d’intégration des musulmans coexistent selons les pays et tous ont échoué sous un certain point de vue. L’Europe essaie de lutter contre la radicalisation tout en débatant s’il s’agit d’une radicalisation de l’islam ou bien d’une islamisation de la radicalisation. Les questions de sécurité guident l’agenda des pays : accords avec les pays du sud et de l’est de la méditerranée, controle de la vie privée des personnes, etc. Enfin, ces nombreux défis surgissent en Europe dans un moment de crise de son project d’unité. Elle pourrait se briser définitivement si nous ne sommes pas capables de leur donner une solution satisfaissante.
  • Haoues SENIGUER is a lecturer in political science at Sciences Po Lyon; Director of CODEMMO (Cooperation and Development in North Africa and the Middle East); researcher at Triangle (UMR 5206); member of ISERL (Higher Institute of Religious Study and Secularism); and associate researcher at the Observatory of Religious radicalism and Conflicts in Africa (ORCRA) at Saint Louis University in Senegal.
Lecture: “The neo-Salafi galaxy: an apolitical trompe l'oeil”

Having been used extensively in the media, and although it may still be the matter today, the term Islamism gradually seems to have given way to another term, equally negatively connoted to the French public in general, namely the "Salafism" to which we prefer the term "neo-Salafism". What is meant exactly by the term in question? What socio-political realities it cover? Has the opposition commonly adopted between “quietist Salafism and Jihadist Salafism" a sense or are there ideological porosities between these two forms of religiosity or religious activism? From specific examples taken from both history and very contemporary facts, based on French and Arabic cases, we will try to question resolutely such categories which present explanatory limits or blind spots.
Thursday 8 September 2016

  • Gabriel Said REYNOLDS is Professor of Islamic studies and theology at the University of Notre Dame (USA). After graduating from Columbia University, he continued his studies at Yale in 2003 where he obtained his doctorate in the Department of Religious Studies, Islamic studies. He is the author of "The problem of the chronology of the Qur'an", Arabica 58 (2011), 477-502. The Qur’an and Its Biblical Subtext (Routledge, 2010). A Muslim Theologian the Sectarian Milieu (Brill, 2004). Editor (with Mehdi Azaiez) de The Qur'an Seminar Commentary (De Gruyter, 2016), New Perspectives on the Qur'an: The Qur'an in Its Historical Context 2 (Routledge, 2010). The Qur'an in Its Historical Context (Routledge, 2008). Translator of The Critique of Christian Origins: Qadi Abd al-Jabbar’s (d. 415/1025) Islamic Essay on Christianity (2010). Currently he is preparing a new commentary on the Qur'an for Yale University Press: The Qur'an in Conversation with the Bible.
Lecture: God of mercy and vengeance

The theme of divine mercy is omnipresent in the Qur'an. Each Surah (except the ninth) begins with the invocation "In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful" (Hamidullah). Nevertheless, the Qur'an stresses at the same time God's justice, and even vengeance. This revenge, discussed in the controversial book psychological action in the Qur'an (and D. M.-T. Urvoy) is in effect in the Qur'anic stories of punishment to the unbelievers (Straflegenden). God is in this case described as Dhu l-intiqam ("vengeance carrier" 3: 4; 5:95; 2:47 p.m.; 39:37); he is also the one who ambushes the unbelievers (11: 121-23; 89:14) and he is still "the best of planners" against them (3:54; 7:99; 8:30; 11: 21).

Is the God of the Qur'an so capricious? Daud Rahbar (God of Justice) and Fazlur Rahman (Major Themes of the Qur'an) categorically reject the idea. In contrast, they contend that the God of the Qur'an is simply "fair" or a "judge demanding." But these authors do not address the question of God's vengeance, a quality that goes beyond justice.

In our presentation, I propose to understand this notion of vengeance as a fundamental element of the Qur'anic rhetoric. It is in this case an exhortation strategy already present in the New Testament where Paul speaks of the divine privilege of revenge against the sinners (Rom 12: 19; with a quote from Deuteronomy 32: 35).
  • Adnane MOKRANI: Muslim theologian, Tunisian, Associated Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, Rome. Aggregate Professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University (Rome), PhD in Islamic Theology from al-Zaytuna University (Tunis 1997), PhD in Muslim-Christian Relations from the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (Rome 2005).
Lecture: Towards an a-polemical and dialogical Islamic theology

The goal of this lecture is to formulate a dialogical, unitarian and pluralistic Islamic theology, based on mystical theology, which goes beyond the ontological dualism that has marked the classical Islamic theology, Kalam, overcoming its conflictual and polemical implications and connotations. The starting point in this reflection is the study of the Islamic approaches towards other religions. Among the main ones, there are two opposite approaches: the theological polemical approach, and the comprehensive Sufi one. In order to dig deeper into the real reasons of this radical opposition, I have studied their respective cosmic visions and basic ontological and epistemological frameworks.
  • Mohammad ZARAKET is Shiite, Lebanese Muslim theologian, professor at Saint Joseph University, Beirut.
Lecture: From Apology to Dialogue with the Other in Islamic Shiite Studies - The Case of Muhammad Jawad al-Balaghi

Engaging in dialogues with the other, who has different religious affiliations, seems to be a natural case amongst most human communities—and amongst mixed communities in particular. Muslims have experienced throughout their history and geography such an encounter (dialogue), ranging from the very early encounters between Islam and Christianity and reaching recent era. The Muslim-Christian encounters have not been absent from Islamic history. It is surprising that studying Christianity has not been considered as a pivotal educational concern in the Shiite Seminaries (hawzat al-‘ilmiyyah), despite few exceptions registered among individual Shia scholars not long ago.

Muhammad Jawad al-Balaghi (1865-1933) is considered to be one of these few cases in the Shiite Seminary of Najaf, with his two crucial volumes entitled: ar-Rihlah al-Madrassiyyah [School Journey] and al-Huda 'ila Din al-Mustafa [A Guide towards the Religion of al-Mustafa]. I aim at shedding light on al-Balaghi’s case per se, tracing out the motives behind his experience. I also aim at outlining the reasons behind disregarding such a scientific field in Shiite Seminaries, reaching upon the actualities of Christian studies in major Shiite Seminaries and educational centers in Qum and Najaf, both. To put it briefly, it seems that the major reasons that stand behind disregarding such a scientific discipline, despite its multi-facets importance in Islamic studies, include the following:
  1. The weak and limited scientific capabilities;
  2. The absence of the need, for the major competition lies between Tasannun and Tashhayu’;
  3. The fact the Christians are minorities in educational centers and the limitedness of religious plurality in the Center in comparison to peripheries.
The Problematic Aspects of Previous Dialogues:
  1. Paying more attention to apologies more that the dialogue per se;
  2. Getting introduced to the other by means of intermediaries and not through direct contacts;
  3. Paying concerns to the points of divergence not to the points of convergence (unity vis-à-vis trinity; anthromorphism vis-à-vis transcendence; prophecy and the critics thereof); and
  4. The question of Orientalism and Western Christianity.
The Present and Future Horizons:
  1. An overview of the Christian-Islamic studies in Qum and Najaf;
  2. Altering the frameworks from debates to dialogues;
  3. Paying more attention to similarities, clarifying the previously ambiguous issues (encountering atheism, for instance).
Salvation, to be implemented as a major theme in dialogue, reveals that deliverance is the common purpose of both religions, despite the thereof different expressions in Islam and Christianity.
  • Michel YOUNES is Professor of Theology, Director of the Research Centre for Cultural and Religious Studies and PLURIEL coordinator; Lyon Catholic University.
Lecture: For a systematic theology of Christian-Muslim dialogue”

Plus qu’à tout autre moment de l’histoire, le rapport entre christianisme et islam semble occuper une attention particulière. L’histoire contemporaine, les mutations profondes des sociétés ou encore les phénomènes de globalisation placent ce rapport au cœur du dialogue interreligieux. D’un point de vue chrétien, plus qu’une question d’ordre géopolitique, cette particularité est fondamentalement due à l’émergence de l’islam et à son développement historique après l’avènement du Christ qui est, pour la foi chrétienne, l’accomplissement définitif de la révélation divine. Le dialogue islamo-chrétien apparaît ainsi comme étant irréductible à toute autre forme de dialogue. Or, dans un contexte de crispations où se superposent les registres, politique, culturel, religieux et sociétal, l’attitude apologétique tend à reprendre le dessus sur le dialogue, compris comme étant la rencontre enrichissante de croyants.

Du côté chrétien, surtout catholique, le 20e siècle constitue un tournant majeur dans la perception du dialogue interreligieux en général, et islamo-chrétien en particulier. Fondée sur une ecclésiologie en dialogue avec le monde et sur une théologie du germe du Verbe présent dans les cultures et dans les religions, l’approche conciliaire permet un développement sans précédent qui sera visible à travers les rencontres mondiales comme celle d’Assise (1986, 2002, 2011), des rencontres nationales ou locales. Mais depuis une quinzaine d’année, on observe une contestation de la théologie du dialogue islamo-chrétien. Un peu partout dans le monde, nous assistons à une forme croissante de clivage qui devient de plus en plus profond entre ceux qui sont persuadés de l’importance du dialogue basé sur la richesse de l’autre, et ceux qui mettent en doute l’utilité et l’efficacité de l’idée même du dialogue.

La revendication ou le refus du dialogue par les uns devient ipso facto une démarche douteuse aux yeux des autres. Ceux qui refusent le dialogue sont considérés comme étant radicaux, rigoristes et rigides. Ceux qui le souhaitent sont perçus comme des naïfs qui ne voient pas le danger de l’islam. Le dialogue est ainsi mis en opposition avec la mission évangélisatrice de l’Église et comme un frein à l’appel à la conversion au Christ. Malgré la volonté d’articuler les deux et de montrer leur non-opposition, une certaine conception du dialogue fait aujourd’hui difficulté et ne semble plus aller de soi. Ce qui provoque à nouveaux frais l’interrogation sur la nature du dialogue islamo-chrétien. Quelle théologie adéquate aujourd’hui ? En quoi un dialogue systémique est-il plus à même de provoquer à nouveau une dynamique du dialogue à distance de positions tranchées et qui se situe sur le plan convictionnel ?
Friday 9 September 2016

  • Michel TERESTCHENKO est professeur agrégé de philosophie et docteur ès-lettres. Il enseigne en tant que Maître de conférences à l’Université de Reims et à l’Institut d’Etudes Politiques d’Aix-en-Provence. Il est notamment l’auteur d’Un si fragile vernis d’humanité : banalité du mal, banalité du bien (La Découverte, 2005) et Du bon usage de la torture, ou comment les démocraties justifient l'injustifiable (La Découverte, 2008), salué comme l’un des essais les plus importants de l’année 2005 et traduit en plusieurs langues. Dans son dernier ouvrage, L'ère des ténèbres (Le Bord de l'eau, coll. « La bibliothèque du MAUSS », 2015), il évoque la « guerre sainte » et sans frontières que mènent les djihadistes contre « le monde des ténèbres », guerre qui se déploie selon la logique manichéenne d'une lutte à mort où chaque camp prétend incarner le Bien et voit dans l'autre la figure du Mal. Il est également l'auteur d'un blog : michel-terestchenko.blogspot.fr
Lecture: « Pluralité et fondation des normes : quelle proposition pour l'islam ? »
  • Stefano ALLIEVI has been extensively researched Islamic communities in Europe throughout the last quarter of century. Among his main books, Producing Islamic Knowledge. Transmission and dissemination in Western Europe (with M. Van Bruinessen, 2013), Mosques of Europe. Why a solution has become a problem (2010), Le trappole dell'immaginario: islam e occidente (2007), Niente di personale, signora Fallaci (2006), Muslims in the Enlarged Europe (with B.Maréchal, F.Dassetto, J.Nielsen, 2003), Islam italiano (2003), Muslim Networks and Transnational Communities in and across Europe (with J.Nielsen, 2003), Les convertis à l'islam. Les nouveaux musulmans d'Europe, L'Harmattan, Paris, 1998, pp.383. More informations in his website, www.stefanoallievi.it
Lecture: Are Islams of Europe becoming European? Characteristics, perceptions, tendencies and transformations

The presence of Islam in Europe cannot be considered anymore an imported phenomenon. It has been part of European history, it is now part of its contemporary reality, and it will be a substantial part of its future. Nevertheless, it is interrelated with states, groups, movements, and, more in general, political, cultural, economic and social dynamics, that are centred also outside of Europe. If we want to understand European Islam in its specificities and consequences we have to acknowledge this peculiarity: an internal social actor, with external links, in any case perceived as external by a significant part of European public opinion; but also producing external consequences and feedback effects, that makes it even more relevant, not only to Europe.

The evolutions of (and transformations among) Muslim individuals and communities in (and of) Europe deals with the capacity of European societies to understand these processes in the weave of these different dynamics: internal and external, national and transnational, European and global.

I will try to underline the main characteristics of European Islam(s), some issues concerning their perception by non-Muslim public opinions, the reciprocal interactions of these phenomena, the conflicts through which they go through, and some possible outcomes and trends.