Middle East Conference 2013: Biblical & Islamic Perspectives on Human Rights and Social Responsibility

This week, we take a break from the norm once again to remind you of the Institute of Middle East Studies’ annual Middle East Conference (MEC 2013) entitled “Your Rights & My Responsibilities: Biblical & Islamic Perspectives on Human Rights” taking place at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, Beirut, from June 17 – 21, 2013.

In line with the IMES Mandate (to bring about positive transformation in thinking and practice between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East and beyond) MEC 2013 seeks to enable Christians to gain insights into the Biblical, theological and philosophical foundations of human rights as well as Islamic understandings and practices concerned with human rights, touching upon topics related to religious rights and freedoms, freedom of expression and ‘the defense of God’, the Arab Uprisings, human trafficking, children’s rights, the Lebanese sex trade, and domestic workers in the MENA context.

MEC 2013 will help participants develop a discourse based not simply on an individualistic understanding of ‘human rights’, as is common in a typically Western narrative, but takes into account an approach that seriously considers corporate and social responsibility for the welfare of all human beings. It will further help participants gain insights into non-western, Christian and Islamic approaches to what is commonly referred to as ‘human rights’ in order to understand why clashes often occur, and what can be done to reduce such clashes.

MEC 2013 examines the following 4 themes:

1) The Foundations of the Human Rights Paradigm: General, Biblical, Theological & IslamicFor participants to focus upon the origins, history and development of the human rights paradigm to better understand differing views in regard to individual human rights and develop a culturally nuanced understanding of both human rights and social responsibility.

2) Religious Rights & Freedoms: To examine the crucial issues related to apostasy, ‘no compulsion in religion’, religious education, and to help participants grow in an awareness and understanding of the issues that have in recent times provoked such passionate and often violent reactions in response to material deemed offensive or blasphemous within the Muslim community, and help participants become aware of the historic, sociological, and religious dimensions which shape their own reactions to such material.

3) Human Rights within the Emerging MENA Region: To help participants, in light of recent events, explore which human rights issues may be significant within the rapidly changing Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) socio-political and religious landscape, the manner in which different Muslim voices understand and approach the issue of human rights, and the means by which the local & regional church could potentially respond.

4) Human Trafficking: For participants to gain insights into the ways in which human trafficking takes place in and beyond Lebanon, exploring the manner by which concerned individuals and communities might respond from a faith-based perspective.

We at IMES are very excited and believe very strongly in the importance of MEC 2013. We hope to see you here!

Early registration deadline is May 31, 2013.

7 thoughts on “Middle East Conference 2013: Biblical & Islamic Perspectives on Human Rights and Social Responsibility

  1. The Middle East Conference initiative is the best example that I have ever experienced of faith-based advocacy, and it is certainly the most prominent in the region. It is incredible to find a seminary program such as IMES, which is dedicated to intellectual biblical enlightenment not as an end in itself, but so clearly for the purpose of social transformation. The fact that IMES is on the cutting edge of the real issues that are plaguing society today is especially evident in this year’s conference topic of Human Rights. Human Rights is certainly a current hot topic globally, but many times people fail to recognize the cultural and religious assumptions attached to it in different regions of the world, and thus, fail to pin-point the origins of certain conflicts and misunderstandings. Additionally, the specific issue of human trafficking that the conference will focus on is a crucial topic both in the Middle East and beyond. A faith-based approach to Human Rights can not only provide insight into such societal problems, but also demands that we be actively involved. Looking forward to an enlightening and challenging week!

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