It’s not all about Islam: misreading secular politics in the Middle East

Western policymakers once understood the dynamics of secular politics in the Middle East, but this knowledge has been subsumed under a fixation on Islam’s supposed threat to western security interests, writes today´s guest contributor Dr Stacey Gutkowski. Much western, particularly French, media coverage of the January attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices and the kosher …

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‘All religions are equal, but some religions are more equal than others’ Part Two

In the first part of this blog, Ton Groeneweg sketched out three existing problems with the notion of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB), and how it is being used and promoted in the context of international platforms arising in its defence. He particularly pointed out the difficulties that emerge with the universality and neutrality …

‘All religions are equal, but some religions are more equal than others’ Part One

This phrase catches a key problem with the concept of ‘Freedom of Religion or Belief’, and how it is practiced and promoted in the world today. Just as in Animal Farm, George Orwell’s famous animal utopia, it suggests that power may cloak itself in the language of equality, and create, in fact, entirely the opposite. …

Living together well: secularism, liberal democracy and uncertainty in the wake of Charlie Hebdo

The Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris have raised many questions about free speech, liberal democracy, freedom of religion and how to live together in multicultural, multi faith, multi political societies. In today's post, Erin Wilson explores some of these questions and encourages us, rather than seeking for definitive answers, to see the conversation and debate these questions inspire as an …

Secularism, Security and the Limits of the State: The Displacement Crisis and the Role of Religion Part One

Rethinking “security”, the role of the state, the secularist biases that exist in policy and practice around displacement and religion’s potential to address these problems are crucial issues to consider in terms of religion’s intersection with the global crisis of displacement. These are the main insights that emerged from the second of two workshops on …

The Religious/Secular Divide and the Global Displacement Crisis

Today is World Refugee Day and if the numbers released by the UNHCR today tell us anything, more action and new approaches are urgently needed to address the needs of the rapidly growing globally displaced population. While religion is often consider marginal in discussions about the displacement crisis, in today’s post Erin Wilson argues that …

A secular saint? The Life and Legacy of Nelson Mandela

The inevitable moment of Nelson “Madiba” Mandela’s departure from this world came last Thursday evening, 5 December. Given that he had been so frail for some time, his death was not unexpected, yet that does not lessen the impact of his loss. As South Africa and the world honour his life through various services and …