Krzysztof Michalski, who died at the age of 64, was the promoter of one of the most dynamic cultural centers in Europe. A native of Warsaw, Poland, his real center of gravity was in Vienna, at the Institute of Human Sciences, which he founded and was also the dean of. He divided his life between these two cities and Boston, where he was a professor of philosophy. Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations has lost a great friend, an authoritative member and a precious advisor in our scientific committee.
Dialogue of Cultures
Sheikha Mozah, second wife of the emir of Qatar, appears to have embarked on an ambitious project with an uncertain outcome, involving teaching her citizens to play a leading role in the country’s life and not just that of privileged spectators. There are only 300,000 Qataris out of about 1.8 million inhabitants and they form a wealthy minority, the wealthiest in the world, but one that does not contribute to Qatar’s economic life. The intelligent sheika’s ultimate objective is to ensure that the emirate’s economy does not continue to rely only on its enormous reserves of gas but also on know-how.
The ‘mirror game’ with a finger pointed at differences, those reciprocally intensifying conflict between the East and the West, mainly concerns freedom. There are reasonable people in the United States who, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, not only rightly reacted with indignation, demanding restrictions be imposed on the sale of automatic weapons as well as on the power of the lobbies supporting this traffic, but who also went a step further, moving the issue – as explained here by Jim Sleeper – from the American Constitution’s Second Amendment (the one guaranteeing the right of the people to keep and bear arms) to the First Amendment, which addresses fundamental freedoms such as religion, politics, the press and assembly, as well as freedom of speech in general.
New revelations about reckless gunfire in Newtown, CT over the past two years have blown a .357 magnum-size hole in the town's reputation as a peaceful, close-knit community. The astonishing "new normal" of heavy gunfire that took hold in Newtown long before last week's massacre only reinforces the parallel I drew here last week between today's gun enthusiasts and yesterday's racial segregationists.
On Friday, December 14th, President Obama addressed the nation in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn. as a parent. Here is the speech I believe he needs to give to Americans now as president:
Tehran - A little more than a month has gone by since the street protests, clashes and arrests at Tehran’s Grand Bazaar. The reasons that led Iranian merchants to take to the street are still at work in the country. They have now taken second place and been outclassed by news of the elections in the United States and protests against the detention of bloggers in Iranian jails. But many issues are still unresolved.
Certainly freedom of opinion and expression are the basis of human rights recognized by everyone. If it were not for the adage “everyone’s freedom stops where it begins for others” does not apply to freedom of opinion, which includes the freedom to criticize other opinions. I recognize and defend the right and freedom to criticize, including religions, but at the same time I defend the ethics of criticism. Criticize does not mean insulting or denigrating and the freedom to criticize does not exonerate one from the right to respect in a way one consults or refers to others. As far as faith and religious beliefs are concerned, the sensitivities of believers can be very easily be provoked and unleash disproportionate reactions.
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Each cultural and denominational tradition, including Islam and other religions, is susceptible to lead to an internal elaboration of its own democratic and pluralist approach to modernity. Four leading scholars explain how and why this happens.Turkey, Secularism and the EU. A View from DamascusSadik J. Al-AzmReligion, Unity and Diversity Ibrahim KalinWhither Democracy? Religion, Politics and Islam Fred DallmayrDemocracy and Islam Irfan Ahmad
Can Islam accomodate democracy? Reset-Dialogues addressed this question years ago, during the 2008 and 2009 editions of Istanbul Seminars. But today the Arab spring and the success of Islamic parties in several countries show that the relationship between Islam and democracy still is a matter of great interest. Therefore we chose three important essays from our seminars to discuss this subject in depth.The Qur'an, Islam and MuhammadNasr Hamid Abu Zayd*Islam: the Test of GlobalizationAbdelmajid Charfi*The Multiple Histories of Secularism: Muslim Societies in ComparisonNader Hashemi*
The terms unity, integration and diversity have multiple layers of meaning in the religious context. While religions emphasize unity and integrity, they also address the issues of diversity. When understood properly, unity does not mean uniformity and thus does not invite oppression and closeness. By the same token, diversity does not mean chaos and lack of order. Both unity and diversity have a function within the larger context of things. But this context is not confined to the socio-political dimension alone. A broader understanding of these terms will help us understand the religious discourses of unity, diversity and integration. It will also lead to a more critical assessment of the Enlightenment and Western modernity.