Italy: Islamic leaders welcome debate forum proposal

Islamic leaders have welcomed a proposal to stage an international forum at the Venice Biennale arts festival to promote debate in the Muslim world.

Ahmad Vincenzo, president of the Association of Muslim Intellectuals and lecturer in Islamic rights at Naples' Federico II University said the proposal was positive.

Carlo Ripa Di Meana, former president of the Venice Biennale, moved to dedicate the 1977 Venice Biennale to the theme of "dissent" in relation to the Communist countries of the eastern bloc, a move opposed by Moscow.

He has called for the creation of a similar "Biennale for Islamic Dissent" to enhance debate in the Muslim world.

But Vincenzo said the proposal advanced by Carlo Ripa Di Meana, should not be compared to the event that generated widespread debate among Communists in 1977.

"The Venice Biennale is a prestigious institution," Vincenzo told Adnkronos International (AKI).

"The possibility of having a great initiative dedicated to the Islamic world would certainly have vast interest, even though I don't think you could in any way compare it to the meeting of dissidents of the Communist bloc in 1977."

"I imagine that it would speak about dissent with regard to the regimes of many countries that have an Islamic majority. Not dissent towards Islam as a religion," he said.

According to the Muslim lecturer, few know that the distinction between religion and politics is part of Islamic history.

He stressed there was a profound difference between the situation in Muslim countries and those of the former Communist bloc.

"In these, there was in many cases a democratic opposition, capable in a certain sense to create a turning point in the entire country.

In the Islamic world, on the contrary, the opposition is often more totalitarian and anti democratic than the regimes they want to change. I am referring particularly to the fundamentalist movement of the Muslim Brotherhood."

Karima Moual, president of the Association of Young Moroccans in Italy, said he welcomed the proposal providing it was not designed to promote "anti-Islamic" positions.

"I believe that this initiative would benefit if it made people from the Arab Islamic world participate, rather than those who are hostile towards Islam," she told AKI.

"It would be interesting to invite Muslim intellectuals but also non-Muslims from Arab countries to debate the 'cancer' that is destroying the Arab-Islamic world.

"I believe that the real problem in our countries is the absence of debate."

Source: AKI (English)


FreeSpeech said...

"I believe that the real problem in our countries is the absence of debate."

The dialectic method is a western invention, some 900 years old (google Sic et Non or Abaelard). It is the intellectual basis of the rise of the West.

There are some tree prerequisites: Honesty, logic and reason. Reason being above belief.

That would be the end of Islam.

Esther said...

Hi FreeSpeech,

Isn't reason above belief the end of every religion?

I looked up Abaelard, I don't think he put reason above belief.

FreeSpeech said...

"Isn't reason above belief the end of every religion?"

Not really. That was the achievement of the debate at the time of Abaelard. They realized that belief (in God) and reason (applied on matters we see and think) are two worlds. (Reason understood as "Vernunft")

The useful idea was that reason is given by god. Quite a good idea, as it permits research and science. And probably helps humour, too (LeGoff wrote about houmour in christianity, a short essay worth reading).

In Islam it has no value compared to belief / the words of Allah. The Mutazili tried hard, but the fundamentalists stopped them. As happened so many times since.

FreeSpeech said...

I probably should have said that "belief ist not above reason" :-) . That probably would express more correctly what they concluded.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a great idea. I think that a lot of Muslims will ultimately be driven away from their faith if they are to examine it, but I also think that moderate Muslims do not have enough of a voice and are largely marginalized within the Muslim community, as are Muslims who try to find a middle ground between Islam and secularism. They are typically persecuted, and the issue of violence, for example, is one on which many Muslims disagree, as is women's rights, and discussing that would likely prove beneficial. I also think it would be nice to see Muslims come out and open up a discussion on supporting the war in Iraq, or renouncing terrorist acts, or about maybe not invoking the same humainstic principles they so often violate whenever they are not appeased. But ultimately I do think that honest, open debate will likely never happen, a there seems to be a tacit understanding among Muslims that that would likely lead many away from the cult. Guilt prevents them from examining different Islam-related issues, be it openly or just mentally. They know that it's not just arbitrarily haram, but very dangerous in that respect.