Brussels, 22 May 2016
Since the start of the Arab Spring in 2011, divisions between different parts of society in the Middle Eastern and North Africa have become evident. The widest rift appears between those who want society to return to a perceived order from centuries ago, under the emblem of religion, and those who want to promote the establishment of open societies based on the principles of secularity, pluralism and modernity. At the same time, religious extremism has spread within some countries in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. Its worst manifestation is the rise of Daesh and its acts of terrorism, intolerance and brutal violence, notably across Syria and Iraq, representing the culmination of a distorted and radical vision of Islam.
It is time to put an end to the ever-escalating violence committed in the name of religion and to promote a world in which all may live freely, irrespective of their religious beliefs. It is therefore essential to coordinate and reinforce the voices of the grassroots activists who strive to address the challenges of religious extremism and anchor the future of their countries on the principles of secularism and pluralism. To this end, the newly established organisation “ADHOC: Secular, Modernist and Pluralist” is organising its first conference under the title “The roots and causes of Islamic violence? Secularism is the solution”, which will take place inBrussels on Sunday 22 May 2016.
The conference will bring together prominent writers, intellectuals and scholars from the Middle East and North Africa and take the format of two interactive dialogue sessions. Panellists will include the Syrian poetAdunis, the Palestinian writer Waleed Al-Husseine, Kacem El Ghazzali, a secularist writer and minorities rights activist, Rabab Kamal, Radio broadcaster and liberal writer, Ayman Ghoujal, human rights activist, and the Egyptian writer Sayed Elkemani.
“ADHOC: Secular, Modernist and Pluralist” is an international non-governmental organisation, headquartered in London, with branches in various countries worldwide. Its purpose is to help spread a civil and modern culture of free thought, tolerance and pluralism in the Middle East and North Africa, and to promote the constitution of civil, modern and progressive societies that separate religion from politics and avoid violations and discrimination committed under the guise of civilized and cultural particularities. ADHOC carries out its work in cooperation with economic and social activists as well as national and international organisations fighting against all forms of extremism, intolerance and violence.