Recent developments in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, and elsewhere in the Middle East and South Asia suggest growing sectarian antagonism as a major cause of violence in the region. Are we witnessing a civil war within the Islamic umma? If so, what are the causes of this conflict? How does the conflict interact with other (national, ethnic, tribal) sources of conflict? What forces have sought to mitigate and work against sectarian divisions?
Today’s sectarian conflict among Muslims calls to mind the religiously motivated conflict that characterized early modern Europe, when Protestantism emerged as a major challenge to the hegemony of the Catholic Church within the Christian ecumene. On the basis of a comparative analysis, this conference aims to examine commonalities and differences between the religiously motivated conflict that divided early modern Europe and the contemporary Islamic world. We aim to look at the various conflicts and negotiations that led to temporary as well as more permanent peace, and we aim to understand how religious repression that was intensified by economic, socio-political, and geographic differences in western Europe have also been part of the Sunni/Shi’a split in places like Iraq and Syria as well as other Islamic countries.
This two-day conference will take place at the CUNY Graduate Center on Thursday, October 23, and at Columbia University’s Buell Hall on Friday, October 24. Registration is not required, but is appreciated. Register for either or both days here.
This event is co-sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life, RESET Dialogues on Civilization, and the Graduate Center CUNY.