Secular Islam Summit: Rediscovering Secular Traditions

** No surprise really- Dr. Walid Phares notified the crowd a few minutes ago that sharp attacks against this Secular Islam Summit are now hitting the internet.
Here’s a small sample via Sunni Sisters:

“I’m just surprised that Ayaan Hirsi Magan isn’t the star speaker. She, Wafa, Nonie, and Irshad could do a “Supremes” like song number at the closing banquet. I’m imagining one where lots of pork and wine will be served while strippers offer lap dances to the attendees.”

Wafa Sultan is at the summit today.

Wafa Sultan – a Syrian-American psychiatrist, whose essays on Middle East issues are widely circulated in Arabic, is in attendance at the Summit. She is speaking and is receiving an award this evening for her courageous work.

** I just heard that there was another Muslim organization that is holding their own summit across town after hearing about this secular Islam Summit.
CAIR may be the organizers for this “opposition” summit.
There were also rumors that CAIR may be protesteing this secular Islam conference.

Day 1: Sunday March 4, 2007- Afternoon
REDISCOVERING SECULAR TRADITIONS
panelists:
Shahriar Kabir
Amir Taheri
Alshin Ellian
Rich Miniter led the discussion.

Shaker Al-Nabulsi – Dr. Shaker Al-Nabulsi is a Jordanian intellectual residing in the United States who has authored widely-cited articles on Islam and Arab governments. In an article for the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyasa, he asked why Islamic religious scholars haven’t issued a fatwa against bin Laden.

Shaker Al-Nabulsi gave a brief report on the history of Islam with emphasis on the secular periods of Islamic history.
Shaker writes for several Middle Eastern publications.

Next Speaker…
Shahriar Kabir – Shahriar Kabir is a journalist, filmmaker, human rights activist, and author of more than 70 books focusing on human rights, communalism, fundamentalism, history, and the Bangladesh war of independence. As a result of protesting against government-sponsored minority persecution, he was imprisoned twice and declared a Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International while several international journalist forums and human rights defenders campaigned for his release. The recipent of numerous awards for his contribution to Bengali literature, he has addressed at least sixty international conferences, seminars, and workshops on issues of peace, communal harmony, and human rights.

Bangladesh is the first accept the concept of secularism. In 1972, secularism does not mean faithlessness much less atheism.

Also, in Bangladesh, no one was allowed to form a party on religion.
We are children of Islam since early times. We are not Arabs, Iranians or Turks. We are Bengali.
The Sufis ignored the Islamic laws that forbid dancing, singing and music.
The fundamentalistss of Bangladesh are getting their funding from Saudi Arabia.

Next up, Afshin Ellian on his first trip to the US…

Alshin Ellian was born in 1966 in Tehran, Iran. At the age of seventeen in 1983, after he had been threatened with execution by the regime, he fled on camelback to Pakistan with help from smugglers. After a few months, he moved to Afghanistan, studied medicine in Kabul for two years and met his wife there. In 1989, when the Afghani authorities had agreed to turn over dissident intellectuals to Iran, Ellian and approximately seventy other intellectuals were chartered to European countries on an invitation that was mediated by a United Nations representative. Ellian arrived in the Netherlands and he was granted the option to study at the University of Tilburg as a refugee. He graduated in Criminal Law, Public Law (International Law) and Philosophy. He continued working at the Amsterdam Center for International Law (ACIL) and completed his PhD in 2003 at Tilburg University, after which he joined the faculty of Law in the University of Leiden, where he teaches to this day. Intellectually rigorous and frequently humorous, Ellian’s writings of criticism and advocacy of human rights and democracy are considered to be a part of both the European and Middle Eastern debates.

The relasionship of militant Islam and totalitarianism.
Christ brought about division between the Church and State.
The basis is found in Luke 21(?)
“Give to Caesars what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
This was the beginning of the division between Church and State.
Islam and politics have a deep rooted relationship.
Muhammad linked politics and religion again.
There was a distinct difference between the early and later Muhammad.
The first was a mystic.

Dr. Walid Phares is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington (2001-2006) and a Visiting Fellow with the European Foundation for Democracies in Brussels (2006).

Ragnar Danneskjold from The Jawa Report is also liveblogging the conference but I haven’t run into him yet.

Previously:
Live Blogging From the 2007 Secular Islam Summit
Secular Islam Summit: Reason, Not Revelation

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