Elliot Rodger murdered six students at my university, UC Santa Barbara. Horror sometimes offers us a mirror. Looking at the pathological forces us to examine the normal. In our country, the normal means men’s guns and women’s bodies. The event again reminds us that the United States is great at mass murder, that we live in a freakish land where carrying semi-automatic weapons is a citizen’s right. At the memorial service, Richard Martinez, a victim’s father, asked us to rise and repeatedly shout out: “Not one more!!” The very day of the memorial a 21 year-old UCSB student was arrested for accidentally shooting his 9 mm. Glock pistol through the wall into the adjoining Isla Vista apartment. Police found seven firearms and a thousand rounds of ammunition.
Dialogue of Cultures
How should cultural or religious factors affect the way in which we work within and across societies? This is too big a question for anyone to be able to provide anything other than models, empirical evidence or pointers that are tailored to time and space. But a stream of recent media headlines raises the issue in ways that expose at least specific cross-cutting tensions between cultural claims and the rights of individuals or entire groups.
The gloomy path the so-called Arab Spring has taken in some countries affected by the revolts has furthered the idea that Morocco is an exception in an oasis of turmoil, insecurity, sectarianism and social disunity. While it is very true to say and also see special features of the country’s especially socio-cultural and political features that a far rich past has ingrained in its population, current Moroccan exceptionalism is, however, a double-edged argument in the sense that it can be a praise or a vilification. To understand this label of exceptionalism, a different question that is more direct can be posed: is Morocco democratizing? Or, how is Moroccan democracy?
The question “can European Islam be inspiring to the Arab world?” may smell of pejorative Orientalism: Europe thinks for the Arab world even when it comes to religion! Yet, the intent (anniya in Arabic) is not that. The question aims at questioning the established dichotomy of “Islam vs. the West.” Comparing two geographies or two versions of religion in two different political entities is the aim here, though the title seems to compare a religious interpretation in a political geography “European Islam” with a another political geography “the Arab world.” By the Arab world here is meant “Arab Islam” – to avoid repeating “Islam” twice. Both Western Europe and the Arab world are heterogeneous and have different histories with religion and politics, and it is not acceptable to put them all in one basket through entities as the title above suggests. However, it is the links between these two geographies, polities, and histories that have encouraged posing the question for further reflections.
This paper is an elaborated version of the contribution that David Zoletto, a Researcher at the Department of Human Sciences, University of Udine, presented on December 12, 2013 in Milan, for the last meeting of the series of conferences "Words and ideas for a plural world. An intercultural lexicon" sponsored by Reset-DoC and Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Foundation. The 2014 edition of our Milan-dialogues, this year dedicated to the theme of "inclusive citizenship", begins April 17 with a lecture by Constitutional Court Judge Giuliano Amato on "A new season for citizenship in Europe."
The subject I am about to address, specifically the relationship between food and religion, between nutrition and the attribution of values to eating rituals carried out by all religions, is a complex one presenting not just a few methodological problems of which it is worth analysing two in particular. The first is linked to the problem of comparison. What should one compare in the infinite landscape of these values? How should one compare the different food customs and ideologies that each tradition is obliged to develop? And, above all, with what objective, posing which questions would allow one to successfully select - within an immense mass of documentation that clearly cannot be checked by an individual specialist – all that will then allow one to observe these practices and feeding customs of specific religious traditions in a productive manner?
By publishing this paper we would like to remember Massimo Rosati, who died on January the 30th, 2013, at the too-young age of 44. A dear friend of Reset-Dialogues, over the years he supported our work and we were discussing a permanent form of cooperation with him involving a series of projects scheduled for the coming months that would have been directed by him. “The Archaic and Us. Ritual, Myth, the Sacred and Modernity" is the paper presented by Massimo Rosati on December 4th, 2013, for the international seminar "Europe, Democracy and Critical Theory. A German-Italian Workshop on Jürgen Habermas’ Theory", organized by Regina Kreide, Walter Privitera and Ilenya Camozzi at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften in Bad Homburg. Rosati’s Paper sparked a lively discussion with Prof. Habermas and an intense debate with all the participants in the seminar.
Massimo Rosati died suddenly after suffering a stroke. He was not yet 45 years old. “Reset” has lost a friend and a tireless co-worker, with his ideas, his blog and the projects we shared. His death was completely unexpected, and the suddenness of this break in friendly and productive contacts, in working relations, is unbelievable and painful. Until just a short moment ago there were the normal and trivial efforts made to find a suitable date for a conference on “Religion and the web”, or to plan a series of seminars and a book on religion as a “war and peace” factor.
History says a lot about the relationships between Europe and the “broad Middle East,” to preliminarily use the term to mean the Islamic majority countries of North Africa and the Middle East (MENA), and a good part of Asia – from Morocco to Indonesia. The dichotomy of comparing a geographical entity, Europe, with a religious entity, Islam, bears a lot of historical-political tension, and simultaneously conveys the mindset that accepts comparing two entities on two different grounds. Such a “wrong” and “politicized” way of comparisons needs to change, seeing the changes taking place in the Mediterranean basin and world politics.
“It is not secularization pushing us to think about coexistence. We already have enough material about it in our traditions”. On October 10th, this is how Professor Abdulaziz Sachedina introduced his efforts on the roots of pluralism and coexistence within Islam to his audience at Hartford Seminary, an institution whose motto is “Exploring Differences, Deepening Faith.” A clearly energetic, dynamic and charismatic man Abdulaziz Sachedina is a professor of Islamic Studies at Virginia’s George Mason University. Born in Tanzania, he may boast an international academic background having studied in India, Iraq, Iran and Canada. His main fields of interest are related to social and political ethics, interfaith relations and human rights in Islam.
The story of the sacrifice of Eid al-Adha, or Sacrifice Holy Day, goes beyond the symbolic ritual of slaughtering a qurbani to that of exerting the self to a better understanding of God in different times and spaces. The Eid is supposed to bring the questions of liberty and belief into the mind of the believer again and again, for belief is not supposed to be stable, but dynamic. The universe is in movement and so is supposed to be the idea of belief and understanding of God, otherwise the perception of revelation becomes historic and not active – which is not the wisest perception to hold if the believer thinks that the Creator is Great, Merciful, and Just, as some attributes portray Him in Islam.*
New Delhi 10-11-12 October 2013.Click here to download the program of this year's conference: