Middle East Conference 2013: “Your Rights & My Responsibilities” – Day 2

IMES’ Middle East Conference (MEC) 2013, “Your Rights & My Responsibilities: Biblical and Islamic Perspectives on Human Rights” has thus far proven to be a very illuminating, yet at times a challenging conference.

Please return for session updates and audience reflections related to Day 2.
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6) Religion, Identity and Conversion: Perspectives from Social Sciences and Human Rights [10:00 – 11:30am]

Session Purpose: To develop an awareness of and sensitivity to the implications, importance, and possible repercussions of religion, identity, and conversion within the MENA context, as viewed through the dual perspective of social science and human rights.

Presentation: Zeya Meral

Questions Being Addressed:

  • What are the personal and social implications for religious conversion within a Middle Eastern and/or Islamic context?
  • How helpful (or unhelpful) is a human rights perspective in regard to religious conversion and/or discipleship within the MENA context?

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7) Apostasy Laws vs. No Compulsion in Religion: Exploring Islamic Objections to Religious Freedom [12:00 – 1:30pm]

Session Purpose: To gain deeper understanding as to the apparent tension between the Islamic doctrine of “No Compulsion in Religion” and traditional “Apostasy Laws”, acquiring insight into Qur’anic and Islamic teachings related to apostasy and its potential consequences, and the role of non-Islamic religions in Islamic thought and practice.

Presentation: Sheikh Dr. Muhammad Nuqqari

Questions Being Addressed:

  • How is the idea of ‘No Compulsion in Religion’ practiced within the Muslim community?
  • Likewise, how are “Apostasy Laws” practiced within contemporary Muslim contexts?
  • What are Muslim perspectives on religious human rights declarations, commonly associated with ‘Western’ values?
  • For example, how compatible and/or incompatible is the UN Declaration of Human Rights with the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam?

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8) The Defense of God vs. Freedom of Expression: Understanding Islamic Responses to Blasphemous Publications [5:00 – 6:30pm]

Session Purpose: To explore issues related to the apparent tension between the Islamic doctrine of the ‘defense of God’ and the principle of ‘freedom of expression’ (a doctrine unto itself in ‘liberal Western’ discourse) and for participants to grow in an awareness and understanding of the issues that have recently provoked such passionate and at times violent reactions in response to material deemed offensive and blasphemous within the Muslim community.

Discussants:

  • Sheikh Shafiq Jaradeh
  • Ziya Meral

Questions Being Addressed:

  • How does the Muslim community feel when faced with material found offensive to their core beliefs and values? Why do certain Muslims react so vehemently against material deemed offensive towards Islam?
  • What are the scriptural and doctrinal foundations for the doctrine of the ‘defense of God’ and does it necessarily in conflict with “freedom of expression”?
  • What message would members of the Muslim community like to give to ‘Westerners’ and/or ‘Christians’ in regard to this often misunderstood and potentially very divisive issue?
  • Why don’t many Christians in the West understand some of the more aggressive Muslim reactions to blasphemous material? Why doesn’t the US censor or even put men like Terry Jones in Prison?

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9) Balancing ‘Freedom of Expression’ with a Christian Concern for Social Responsibility: A Christian Response to Material Considered Blasphemous to Muslims [8:00 – 9:30pm]

Session Purpose: To explore potential inner-Christian tensions between a commitment to ‘freedom of expression’ and a concern for ‘social responsibility’, seeking to understand why many Christians have apparently reacted to material considered deeply offensive or blasphemous differently to the way Muslims have at times reacted.

Discussants:

  • Paul Fiddes
  • Ziya Meral

Questions Addressed:

  • How do Christians in the West and/or East approach the apparent tension between ‘freedom’ and ‘responsibility’?
  • What has led to the development of a ‘Western’ and/or ‘Christian’ view of ‘freedom of expression’, almost regardless of the social implications?
  • Why do many within the Muslim community view ‘Western/Christian’ culture as blasphemous and therefore against Islam?

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