Competing Visions in the Muslim World Conference

Competing Visions in the Muslim World:
Rebuilding States and Reinvigorating Civil Societies

International Conference
14 - 16 August 2013, University of Sydney

Invited speakers: Mohsen Kadivar, Hamid Naficy, Amin Saikal, Abdullahi An Naim, Ahmet Kuru

The Muslim World is confronted by myriad challenges associated with building states and invigorating societies based on the principles of equal citizenship rights, social justice and the rule of law. The political sandstorms unleashed by ‘Arab Uprisings’ have challenged almost every state in the Muslim World. But beyond the popular push for democratic governance and social justice, there is no clear consensus on the status of Islam and sharia within the state, constitution and political system. The new regimes in Tunisia and Egypt are still grappling with these very questions. The battle for political power and statehood continues amidst tension and violence in various parts of the Muslim World.

The symposium will address the following questions and themes: Should the state remain neutral with regard to religious matters? How can citizenship and constitutional rights be safeguarded? Should Muslims have the right to religious freedom - including the right to disbelief? Is the secular democratic state consistent with Islamic principles such as adil (justice) and maslaha (common good)? Why have mainstream Islamist parties received substantial electoral support? Is the ‘political moderation’ of mainstream Islamist parties primarily tactical or ideological? Have Islamist-led coalition governments in Tunisia and Egypt exhibited signs of democratic progress or regression? How significant are the Turkish and Indonesian models of secular democratic governance to the transitional states of the Middle East? Why have state-led Islamisation initiatives been less than successful in promoting national cohesion? How are human security and the rights of the vulnerable to be addressed? What are the new configurations of transnational civil society activism?

The panels will focus on the following sub-themes:

  • Islam and electoral politics: Competing visions;
  • Building democratic states, Institutions and constitutions;
  • The secular democratic state: Wasatiyyah visions;
  • Artistic production, social media and social movements;
  • Gender, sexuality and civil society;
  • Human security, state security and R2P (responsibility to protect).

Paper proposals should include a title, a 400-word (maximum) abstract, presenter affiliation and contact details. Selected papers will be invited for inclusion in a refereed publication.