Tariq Ramadan – Waiting for an Arab Spring of Ideas

DURING a recent visit to the United States, I was asked by intellectuals and journalists: Were we misled, during the Arab awakening, into thinking that Muslims could actually embrace democratic ideals?

The short answer is no. Participants in the recent violent demonstrations over an Islamophobic video were a tiny minority. Their violence was unacceptable. They do not represent the millions of Muslims who have taken to the streets since 2010 in a disciplined, nonviolent manner to bring down dictatorships.

Many Americans were nonetheless shocked by the chaos and bloodshed across Muslim countries, believing that they had come generously to the aid of the Arab peoples during the uprisings. But Arabs, and Muslims in general, have a longer memory and a broader view. Their mistrust is fueled by America’s decades-long support for dictators who accommodated its economic and security interests; by the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan; by the humiliating treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay; and by America’s seemingly permanent and unconditional support for Israel.

The United States and its European allies would be well advised to examine why Muslims are seething. Withdrawing from Afghanistan, respecting United Nations resolutions and treaty obligations with regard to Palestine, calling back the killer drones and winding up the “war on terror” would be excellent places to start. Continue reading “Tariq Ramadan – Waiting for an Arab Spring of Ideas”

Evangelical and Christian Presence in the Middle East

The Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches has organised on 13-15 February in Beirut, Lebanon a conference on the Evangelical Christian presence in the region.

Please read below the final communique of the conference.

* * *

In light of the radical changes that the Middle East region is currently passing through; changes that directly impact the present and future destiny of its Christian inhabitants — instilling in them a genuine fear of what lies ahead — the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (Lutheran – Anglican – Reformed) held its first international conference on “Evangelical and Christian Presence in the Middle East” from Monday 13 to Wednesday 15 February, 2012 in Beirut, Lebanon. The Conference was attended by most of the ordained and lay leaders and heads of the member Churches of the Fellowship, as well as delegates from sister Evangelical churches and church institutions in Lebanon, the ME region, Europe, the USA, Canada and New Zeeland. Continue reading “Evangelical and Christian Presence in the Middle East”

The Islamists vs. The Markets

Religious Dispatches has just published an excellent article on the Arab Spring and its political and religious implications, written by Haroon Moghul, a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a senior editor at the Islamic Monthly and a doctoral candidate at Columbia University. Here are some significant quotes (emphases mine).

* * *

In Morocco, recent elections have put forward an Islamist party with the same name as Turkey’s governing party—they are not connected, however—and the King has nominated an Islamist as Prime Minister as well. The Moroccan King saw the Arab spring arrived around him, and pushed reforms to preempt any uprising in his country.

In Tunisia, the Islamists won a plurality of the vote; now, the latest news from Egypt suggests that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, as well as the primary Salafi party, al-Nour, are doing quite well. (Jadaliyya has a great and exhaustive round-up, with all the detail you ever wanted). There will be three rounds of voting for the lower house of the Egyptian Parliament, and these results so far only reflect the first round. There will be separate procedures for the upper house and for president. Continue reading “The Islamists vs. The Markets”

Tony Blair: Religion-friendly democracy and democracy-friendly religion

Tony Blair: Religion-friendly democracy and democracy-friendly religion | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

This is a splendid article and, I suggest, an absolutely read. Here is just a few quotes:

There will be no peace in our world without an understanding of the place of religion within it. The past decade has seen many convenient myths, which disguised the importance of religion, stripped away. Many thought as society progressed, religion would decline. It hasn’t happened.

Then there are those that insisted that as the Arab revolution knocked over long-established regimes and created movements for democracy, so those societies’ religiosity would take second place to the new politics. It hasn’t happened. Religion is fundamental to those societies and if anything, in the foreseeable future, will become more so. And do we seriously think the issue of Jerusalem can be resolved without at least some discussion of its religious significance to all three Abrahamic faiths? Continue reading “Tony Blair: Religion-friendly democracy and democracy-friendly religion”