Bridging the Divide: Can Islamists and Western Positions be Reconciled?

Summary
The Middle East Program and the Istituto Affari Internazionali hosted a conference on Islamist movements, focusing on the divide between Western theories and Islamist thought. The discussion touched on a range of issues, including the role of religion in politics, the significance of sharia for the political/legal system, individual rights and freedoms, pluralism, the rights of minorities.
 

Friday, 20 April
Welcoming Remarks
Roberto Aliboni (IAI) and Marina Ottaway (Carnegie)

Session I

The Gray Zones Revisited

The issues singled out in the Carnegie paper on the Gray Zones and in the more recent Policy Outlook on the Muslim Brotherhood go to the heart of the differences between Islamist movements and Western analysts. In this session, we will take an overall view of the major issues discussed in the papers, namely the role of religion in politics, the significance of sharia for the political/legal system, individual rights and freedoms, pluralism, the rights of minorities. A Carnegie researcher will present the major findings briefly, two representatives of Islamist movements will respond in details.

Moderator: 
Roberto Aliboni (IAI)

Initial Speakers: 
Nathan Brown, Carnegie and George Washington University
Abdul Moneim Aboul Fottouh (Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt)
Muhammed Al-Buzur (Islamic Action Front, Jordan)


Session II

Accepting Pluralism and Competing Political Agendas: Where are the Limits for the West and for Islamists, in theory and in practice

Both the West and Islamists draw lines at the participation of some groups and the expression of some ideas. The session will discuss overall views on both sides about what makes some groups and ideas legitimate and what makes them illegitimate.

Moderator:
Paul Salem (Carnegie Middle East Center)

Initial Speakers:
Mohamed al Katatni (Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt)
Abdul Razik Makri (Society for Peace, Algeria)
Daniela Pioppi (IAI)


Session III

Accepting Competing Social Agendas: Where are the Limits for the West and for Islamists, in theory and in practice

The session will discuss Islamist and Western models for society, particularly the different approaches to the rights of individuals vs. the rights of the community, and the importance of individual freedom as opposed to that of a just society.

Moderator:          
Laura Guazzone (IAI)

Initial Speakers:
Mustapha Khalfi (Party for Justice and Development, Morocco)
Mohammed al-Dallal (Islamic Constitutional Movement, Kuwait)
Amr Hamzawy (Carnegie)


Session IV

Accepting Competing Cultural Agendas: Where are the Limits for the West and for Islamists, in theory and in practice

This session will discuss how Islamists and Westerners deal with the existence of “others” embracing different values, and in particular with the related issues of religious freedom, the rights of minorities, and, more broadly, managing diversity in the population. The discussion will also shed light on patterns of interaction between Islamist movements and secular political actors in different Arab countries.

Moderator:          
Nathan Brown (Carnegie)

Initial Speakers:
Said al-Majid (al Wefaq Society, Bahrain)
Mustapha Rameed (Party for Justice and Development, Morocco)
Laura Guazzone (IAI)



­­Saturday, 21 April

Session V

Western and Islamist goals for the region

What are the goals of Islamists movements and of the West for the region? Can Islamist and Western interests be reconciled?

Moderator:         
Roberto Aliboni (IAI)

Initial Speakers: 
Ruhayl Ghorayba (Islamic Action Front, Jordan)
Ahmed Issaa (Society for Peace, Algeria)
Marina Ottaway (Carnegie)
Roberto Aliboni (IAI)


Session VI

How do we continue the dialogue and when do we bring in the government officials

This will be a broad discussion of how we can organize future meetings so they will be as fruitful as possible.

Moderator:          
Amr Hamzawy (Carnegie)

Initial Speakers: 
Nasr al-Saneh (Islamic Constitutional Movement, Kuwait)
Mohammed Yousouf al-Majal (al-Wefaq Society, Bahrain)

Closing Remarks
Roberto Aliboni (IAI) and Marina Ottaway (Carnegie)

Source http://carnegieendowment.org/2007/04/20/bridging-divide-can-islamists-and-western-positions-be-reconciled/1qcl

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