Tentacles of the Leviathan? Nationalism, Islamophobia, and the Insufficiency-yet-Indispensability of Human Rights for Religious Freedom in Contemporary Europe


In multiple cases across Europe, a growing list of rulings by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) converges on an apparent consensus: the expanding presence of Islam throughout Europe presents a pronounced challenge to Western conceptions of secular law and human rights. Read the full article »

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Defining feminisms, upholding equality


Paola Bernardini rightly points out that one must be wary of the term “Western feminism.” Likewise, “Islamic feminism” is often taken by observers to mean any gender thinking and practice advocated by Muslim women — who are blithely labeled “Islamic feminists.” But such so-called “Islamic feminism” typically represents a patriarchal version of Islam, albeit mainly a “soft patriarchy” in which complementarity overrides equality. Read the full article »

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Debating the status of women in Tunisia


As noted in a previous post on the Contending Modernities blog by Michael Driessen, post-authoritarian Tunisia has become the site of fascinating debate between contending modernities — one being self-consciously Islamist and democratic and the other being assertively secular and liberal. One battlefield where the conflict is currently fiercest is the status of women.

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A case of imperial aggression, not contending modernities


There may be examples of a “clash between modernities,” but the recent wave of protests in several Muslim majority countries against the so-called “innocence of Muslims” film was not one of them. Indeed, protests by Muslims should be accepted as part of the process of “negotiating” the appropriate limits of two varieties of free speech. If the movie maker in this case is exercising his right to free speech, so are Muslims who are protesting the excessively vulgar ways in which he expressed his views. But it is equally clear that violence is never justified.

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An honest conversation about Benghazi and beyond


“[T]he events of the last two weeks…speak to the need for all of us to honestly address the tensions between the West and the Arab World…” Those words were spoken by President Obama in his speech to the UN General Assembly on September 25, 2012. Indeed, all the events swirling around a crude video insulting the Prophet Muhammad demand an honest conversation about the tensions between the West and the predominantly Muslim cultures of the Arab World — not to mention Muslim cultures beyond the Arab World. A logical forum for such a conversation is Contending Modernities. And the ideal host for such a conversation is Dr. Paola Bernardini, the new Associate Director for Research for Contending Modernities.

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