20 December, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 06/20/2011
ISLAM
Christian humanism to help the unexpected “Arab spring”
by Bernardo Cervellera
The scientific committee of the journal Oasis opened its annual meeting to discuss the present and future of the ‘Jasmine Revolutions’. Great new things are now possible, ranging from the battle against poverty and the struggle for human dignity to the rejection of Islamic radicalism. There are also worrisome signs with regard to fundamentalist groups and fears in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Europe. For Patriarch Scola, a new “economic reason” is necessary. Christian humanism must help the changes underway.

Venice (AsiaNews) – In less than a year, the Middle East (and North Africa) has radically changed following its new and “unexpected Arab spring”. What is its fate? What contributions can Christians make to stabilise such change? What are the consequences for a powerless Europe that is looking at events with grave concerns as waves of new refugees reach its shores? These are some of the questions raised by the Scientific Committee of the journal Oasis, which at present is holding its annual meeting in Venice, chaired by its founder, Card Angelo Scola.

The meeting, which ends on 22 June, is being held at the Study Centre of San Servolo Island. It brings together Church authorities from Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, as well as academics and scholars from various parts of the world, to address to issues raised by the meeting’s topic, namely “Where is the Middle East heading? New secularism and North Africa’s unexpected turn”.

This morning, following the customary greetings for the occasion by Oasis director Martino Diez, the Patriarch of Venice outlined the problem. Notwithstanding reactions that range from “optimism to pessimism” towards the changes underway, Card Scola stressed that the Arab spring is bringing forth a “new secularism” that is not rooted in (Islamic) religion, but in the search of human dignity, as people react to the humiliation of poverty and the lack of rights. At the same time, he acknowledged the revolution’s fragility and its need for time to solidify and consolidate, especially in economic terms.

At the same time, he looked at the problem from a European perspective (a continent that is “tired, passive, dissipated and divided”), which has focused only on the flow of refugees that reach the its shores (a few thousands), oblivious to the fact that poverty-stricken Tunisia has welcomed ten times that number. Europe, he noted, must rethink its economy and the global economic system in order to meet the demands of the “Arab spring”.

The answer is a “new economic reason”, as outlined by Benedict XVI in his Encyclical Caritas in veritate, whose focal point is the development of Africa and the need to go beyond the globalisation of goods and people (even refugees) to include the globalisation of riches and values.

For this reason, the Arab and Western worlds need “Christian humanism” to bear witness, with, as its basis, the dignity of the human person (of man created in God’s “image”, Genesis, 1:27; or man as God’s “successive authority” on earth, Qur‘an, 2:30).

The other presentations were more analytical, centred on specific situations. Malika Zeghal, of Harvard University, looked at Tunisia and the temptations of al-Nahdha, a radical fundamentalist organisation that has resurfaced after Ben Ali’s fall.

Prof Nikolaus Lobkowitcz (Eichstaett University) compared the 1989 revolutions in Eastern Europe to the current Arab revolution.

Mgr Maroun Lahham, archbishop of Tunis, talked about the Church’s marginal role in the Arab spring in Tunisia, describing it however as an example of the “seeds of the Kingdom” outside the borders of the Church.

Among the various papers, the one by Olivier Roy, professor at the European University Institute in Florence, stood out. For Roy, the “Arab spring” is a point of no return that fills him with optimism.

In his view, the uprising is rooted in individuals (not masses), demanding their rights. What is more, it has undermined political Islam (for it has nothing in common with Khomeini’s revolution, Palestinian demands, or the Muslim Brotherhood’s claim that the Qur‘an is the solution to societal problems) and it supports “personal dignity more than group “honour”.

In this context, religion is taking a backseat because at the root of the unrest are the multiple choices of young people (the real agents of revolution), some following Sufis, others opting for spiritual masters, and still more choosing yoga or Zen . . . .

Yet, the presence of radical groups is worrisome for the future. For now, all that can be said is that the immediate outlook is one of debates, even acrimonious ones, which will touch some aspects of the relationship between religion and politics, like apostasy, blasphemy, etc.

Roy also noted how much world public opinion has been stunned by the course of events, how it has generated fear in Iran and Saudi Arabia, raised concerns in Europe over its economy and refugee flow and alarmed Israel over the destabilisation of the Middle East.

According to the French scholar, the nature of the Arab revolution is not however measured by “secularism”, but by the place, religion can play in the new socio-political framework that could emerge.

In any case, changes underway are a path towards “universal values”, which are close but not reducible to the notions of “man’s dignity” and “good government” that are part of the Western tradition.

e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
06/23/2011 ISLAM
An "ambiguous" Arab Spring and a "squalid" West
by Bernardo Cervellera
06/19/2012 TUNISIA - ISLAM
Marzouki at Oasis: Christians, Muslims, Jews and atheists, all brothers in Tunisia
by Bernardo Cervellera
06/22/2009 VATICAN – ISLAM
Progress between Christians and Muslims but problems in Saudi Arabia, says Cardinal Tauran
by Bernardo Cervellera
06/26/2009 ISLAM
Christians can save Islam from cultural death
by Samir Khalil Samir
10/14/2011 EGYPT
Truth and justice not lies and superficiality on massacre of Copts
by Bernardo Cervellera

Editor's choices
IRAQ - VATICAN
As 'Adopt a Christian from Mosul' continues, Mosul bishop notes that Jesus is born amid refugee containers
by Amel NonaPersecuted by the Islamic state, refugees have lost everything: belongings, home, jobs, school, and their future. Yet, their faith and mission remain strong. For them, almost 900,000 euros have been raised and sent. Pope Francis sends a message of closeness. The campaign continues according to the Patriarch of Baghdad's proposal of fasting and moderation at Christmas and New Year, with the money saved offered to the Christians of Mosul.
IRAQ
Chaldean Patriarch calls for fasting on Christmas Eve for refugees' return to Mosul
by Joseph MahmoudMar Louis Sako calls on the faithful not to celebrate Christmas and New Year in a "worldly" fashion, with pomp and abundance, out of solidarity with the people who fled the Nineveh plains, persecuted by the Islamic Army. AsiaNews is joining the fast proposed by the Patriarch and calls on all readers to give what they would have otherwise spent in support of the campaign 'Adopt a Christian from Mosul'.
IRAQ - ITALY
Letter from Archbishop of Mosul: Thank you for your aid, supporting the plight of refugees
by Amel NonaThe donations made through the "Adopt a Christian from Mosul" campaign are used to buy food, warm clothes, blankets for refugees and rent houses or caravans given the early onset of winter and. Two women have defended their Christian faith before the Islamist militants who wanted to convert them, despite the threat of death. A refugee among refugees, Msgr. Nona discovers a new way of being a pastor.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.