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Shah: Religious Perspectives On Democracy, Civil Society And Constitutional Issues Today

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On March 14, RFI Senior Advisor Timothy Shah presented the opening keynote presentation at the Religious Perspectives On Democracy, Civil Society And Constitutional Issues Today conference organized by the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM) and the Kairos Dialogue Network. 

In his paper, Shah argued that many of the secularist aims, rather than protecting the rights of all have been controlling of religious claims and a threat to limit freedom and democracy in drastic ways. He argues that there is a way to go "beyond secularism" but not "beyond religious freedom." 

In order to make progress towards the legitimate goals of authentic religious freedom and religious tolerance as well as an authentic and genuinely liberal form of democracy premised on equal citizenship for all, it is necessary to go “beyond secularism” — though not “beyond religious freedom” — by recovering a sound understanding of religious liberty rooted in (and not hostile to) the world’s religious, cultural, and philosophical traditions.
— Timothy Shah

Kent Hill Delivers Institute on Religion and Democracy Annual Diane Knipper's Lecture

RFI Executive Director Kent Hill delivered the Institute on Religion & Democracy Diane Knipper's Annual Lecture on Tuesday, October 4.

His lecture examined the past, present, and future of the Middle East, considering the question of whether Christianity will survive. The question is relevant not just for Christians, but for the region's other minorities. The question ultimately looks at the entire culture and whether plurality of religious beliefs, ethnicities, and political views will be allowed.

In short, it is a question of whether or not religious freedom will gain ground in this region.

“We need to understand that a multiethnic and multifaith Middle East is in the best interests of the United States and everyone else. To remove the religious minorities from the Middle East is to destroy the rich tapestry of its culture”
— Kent Hill

Photo Credit: Institute on Religion and Democracy

Executive Director Addresses Threats to Religious and Ethnic Minorities Under the Islamic State

Kent Hill addressed the role of international actors in assisting religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East as part of a panel of experts with experience in the region. Hill was joined in the discussion by Christine van den Toorn, Director of Institute of Regional and International Studies at the American University of Sulaimani, and Sherri Talabany, President of SEED Foundation. 

The address came as part of a day-long conference that brought numerous speakers from the region to provide a first-hand account of the situation to inform policymakers about the continuing travail of religious and ethnic minorities threatened by the Islamic State, and to galvanize long-term thinking about addressing this crisis

The event was jointly hosted by the U.S. State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom and the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs.