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Islam and secularism; Debriefing by an international colloquium at the University of Galatasaray, Istanbul, 22/24 September 1994





The Colloquium “Islam et Laïcité” was co-organised by the Interdisciplinary Research Team on Non-Arab Muslim Mediterranean Societies (ERISM) of the National Institute of Eastern Languages and Civilisations (Paris) and the French Institute of Anatolian Etudes (IFEA) in Istanbul. The meeting consisted of around 30 communications divided into five workshops: (1) reflections on secularism, state/religion relations in Western European countries; (2) Islam and secularism in the Balkans; (3) what remains of the Kemalist secularism in Turkey? Return of Islam/maintenance of secularism; (4) Islam against states, Islamic resistance. The revival of religion in Muslim countries from the former Soviet Union; (5) immigration and interculturality, the Muslims of France in the face of French secularism. In his presentation of the meeting, Michel Bozdemir (ERISM) explained that the first secular experiences of the Muslim world took place in the margins of the Arab centre. Two secular models dominated peripheral Islam: marxism and kemalism. At a time when the Soviet model has collapsed and the kemalist model is showing signs of falling breath, secularism deeply divides Muslim societies. Is it impossible to envisage a consensus between the supporters of Islam and those of secularism? Can Islam provide coherent responses to the problems of complex societies resulting from rapid social changes calling increasingly for the separation of spiritual and lay people? The aim of the colloquium was to contribute to a comparative and multidisciplinary approach to a sensitive topic.

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