by Silvia Sansonetti, Researcher at the University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’; Scientiﬁc Director of the ‘Observatory on Secularization’ project sponsored by the Critica Liberale Foundation and CGIL
Secularization is a multidimensional and complex social process. The Critica Liberale Foundation and the CGIL (the largest Italian trade union) Sezione Nuovi Diritti have jointly sponsored research on the secularization process in Italy since 2005. The results, which are presented in this paper, have been published yearly in a special volume called Quaderno Laico of the Critica Liberale, the Foundation’s review, together with the complete data-base.
by Ariela Keysar, Associate Research Professor in Public Policy and Law and the Associate Director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture at Trinity College.
The goal of this chapter, drawing on recent statistics collected by the United Nations, is to explore the extent to which state secularism and private secularity across a range of Mediterranean states aﬀect the socioeconomic status of women through the mediating factor of demographic processes, mainly reproductive patterns.
by Kada Akacem, Professor of Economics at the University of Algiers; President of the Scientiﬁc Council of the Faculty of Economic Sciences.
What are the prospects for an Islamic state in Algeria nowadays? Before we can answer that question, we must ﬁrst understand the political, economic, and social developments that have recently taken place in Algeria. These events will shed some light on the decline of the Islamist movements.
by Asher Arian, Distinguished Professor of Comparative Politics, City University of New York Graduate School; Scientiﬁc Director of the Guttman Center of Applied Social Research, Israel Democracy Institute, Jerusalem.
Upon his election as Israel’s president in June 2007, Shimon Peres, twice prime minister of Israel, Nobel laureate for peace, former head of the Socialist International, and former head of Israel’s Labor Party, did two things. First, he went to the Western Wall of the Temple in the Old City of Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest site, and second, he paid a call to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual head of Shas, one of Israel’s non-Zionist, ultra-Orthodox parties. The contrasts in this story illuminate the anomalies of religion in Israeli public life. Where are the boundaries? What is Jewish? What is religious behavior? Can one survive politically without paying homage to religious leaders and espousing religious sentiments? What could the word secular mean in that type of context: Non-religious? Anti-religious? Impervious to religion? Without religion?
by Hassan Krayem, Policy Specialist and Governance Programme Manager, UNDP, Lebanon; Lecturer in the Political Studies and Public Administration Department, American University of Beirut
This paper addresses the questions of why and how the process of state building in Lebanon failed, and to what extent this failure can be attributed to its confessional, consociational model of democracy, the role of the ruling elite, or external factors. It also addresses the prospects for an alternative constitutional model and for the creation of a secular democratic state.
by Binnaz Toprak, Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey
In April 2007 and the months that followed, there were several demonstrations, organized by NGOs, against what the demonstrators perceived as a serious threat to the secular foundations of the Turkish Republic. Directed against the policies of the ruling AKP government, and in particular its stand on the election of a new President, these demonstrations were a few weeks apart, the ﬁrst held in the capital city of Ankara, the second held in Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, followed by others in various Anatolian towns. Although estimates diﬀer over the number of demonstrators—between 300,000 and one million people attended the Istanbul meeting—everyone agreed that these demonstrations, with their endless rows of crowds, were the largest in the history of the Republic. In the aftermath of events, the foreign press reported that the demonstrations revealed the division of the country into “two Turkeys.”
by Lina Molokotos-Liederman, Research Aﬃliate, Project ‘Education and Religion in Europe,’ Groupe de Sociologie des Religions et de la Laïcité (GSRL/CNRS), Paris, France; Laboratoire de Recherche Sociale et Politique Appliquée (RESOP), University of Geneva, Switzerland
This chapter addresses the question of how the secularization thesis applies to the case of Greece. This question is particularly relevant given the weight of Greek Orthodoxy on the country’s religious and cultural landscape and on the historical circumstances that have shaped the nation’s political and social life. First we shall look brieﬂy at some of the deﬁnitions of and debates on secularization and then highlight speciﬁc aspects of Eastern Orthodoxy in relation to the process of secularization. Then we shall continue with an introduction to the larger context in which the Greek case should be viewed, including a brief description of the religious landscape. Finally the conﬂict over national Identity Cards is used as a case study in order to highlight the ambiguity of the secularization thesis with regard to Greece.
by Barry A. Kosmin, Research Professor in Public Policy and Law and founding Director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture at Trinity College
Secularism and its variants are terms much discussed today, paradoxically as a consequence of religion seeming to have become more pervasive and inﬂuential in public life and society worldwide. This situation poses a number of questions. First, a deﬁnitional one: What are the spheres of secularity and secularism? According to our understanding secularity refers to individuals and their social and psychological characteristics and behavior while secularism refers to the realm of social institutions.
by Giulio Ercolessi, Prominent journalist and commentator and co-founder of the website italialaica.it; former Secretary-General of the Italian Radical Party
Religion matters in Italian public life today. Yet some of the problems arising from Italy’s new religious diversity—a result of a) recent immigration waves and b) secularization—are signiﬁcant. To understand their scope, a short excursion into the historical roots of the present situation is probably necessary. e issue of state-church relations played a crucial role in the formation of the Italian state in the 19th century. It was important, for instance, in the formation of Italy’s national liberal heritage. After the destruction of the French-established Napoleonic regional republics,the divide between the Catholic Church and liberal-minded milieus widened. The heritage of the Enlightenment combined with the Romantic movement’s mainstream assessment of Italy’s religious history. As a result, that history was recast in a negative light: the increasingly liberal public saw the Counter-Reformation as one of the main causes of the civic and political backwardness of Italian society after the end of the Renaissance in the 16th century.
by Barry A. Kosmin, Research Professor in Public Policy and Law and founding Director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture at Trinity College & Ariela Keysar, Associate Research Professor in Public Policy and Law and the Associate Director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture at Trinity College
This volume grew out of a salon or conversazione on the theme of “The Prospects for the Secular State in the Mediterranean World in the 21st Century” hosted by ISSSC—the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture. The event took place during June 2007 at Trinity College’s campus located on the historic and beautiful Aventine Hill in Rome, Italy. The purpose of this gathering was to assemble a diverse group of people from diﬀerent Mediterranean nations, academic disciplines and professions for a relaxed, multi-cultural exchange of information and opinion on one of the key political and intellectual questions of the moment, one which is on the agenda today in one way or another in every country in the Mediterranean region. How should the state and government respond to diversity of beliefs and worldviews in today’s society?