Secularphobia and Secularphoria in the Middle East
The Middle East has never been far from the headlines.
The last 100 or so years has seen the Middle East to be the center of continuous struggles starting with the end of the first world war, the subsequent collapse of the Ottoman Empire and over the next forty or so years the withdrawal of the western powers from the region.
Many of these struggles led to bloody conflicts, some between Arab countries and Israel, and others between allegedly secular or progressive republics and conservative monarchies.
Starting in the mid 1970’s the Middle East has been the scene of the resurgence of Islamic revivalist forces attempting to replace both republics and monarchies, and to overthrow all aspects of modernity. This in turn led to resistance by secular groups; some uneasily allied with the existing regimes, while others doing so enthusiastically while ignoring or justifying corruption and repression.
This sad state of affairs has obscured a lively fermentation of enlightened intellectual thought asserting the necessity of secularism for progress and modernity to take hold, and triggered strong reactions from forces seeking to reinforce religious privileges and blunt any progress.
Professor Hamed Abdel-Samad will describe for us these countervailing forces and the prospects for the future.
About Hamed Abdel-Samad
Hamed Abdel-Samad is a German-Egyptian writer and political scientist.
Hamed was born in Egypt and grew up in a devout Muslim family, his father being an Imam. He studied French and English at Ain Shams University in Cairo during which time he joined the Muslim Brotherhood. That close association triggered within him a skepticism of Islam, and led to him eventually abandoning it.
He moved to Germany at age 23 to study political science at Augsburg
University, subsequently taught Islamic studies at Erfurt, conducted research at Munich University and worked as an educational expert for UNESCO.
He has authored several books in German and Arabic with titles translating to “Muhammad– A final reckoning”, “The downfall of the Islamic world”, “My farewell to heaven”, “War or peace – The Arab revolution and the future of the West”, and most recently “What the commoners don’t know about Islam: A brief history from Mohammed to the present”. One book, “Islamic Fascism”, has been translated into English and released by Prometheus Press in 2016.
Hamed appears frequently on German television, and is very active on his YouTube channel Hamed.TV (also the name of his website). There he released series of talks called “Box of Humanity” and “Box of Islam” that deal with life, with history and with Islam. He is a sought after guest on many other YouTube channels.
Unfortunately Hamed’s has rarely appeared on English language media.
- An interview on Deutsche Welle in 2015 reveals his perspective on religion, citizenship and life.
- In 2016, he was interviewed by Steve Paikin about “Islam facing Modernity”
- A 2018 talk in Arabic to the Moroccan Organization for Human Rights about Enlightenment Phobia has English subtitles.
Citations, References And Other Reading
- Featured Photo Courtesy of: https://www.meetup.com/haltonpeelhumanists/events/289775343/?_xtd=gqFyqTIzOTYzOTY1MqFwo2FwaQ%253D%253D&from=ref
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