Conference participants’ bios and abstracts

Listed below are the biographical sketches and abstracts of the keynotes and speakers at the conference “Imams in Western Europe – Conference Authority, Training, and Institutional Challenges,” Rome, November 5-7, 2014

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Abdellah Redouane

Abdellah RedouaneAbdellah Redouane is Secretary General of the Islamic Cultural Center of Rome. He is member of the Council of the Moroccan Community Abroad (CCME), and he is president of its working group “Worship and religious education.” He holds a PhD in the Science of Organizations and Sociology, and a diploma from the Higher Institute of Commerce and Administration of Enterprises in Morocco.

Antonio La Spina

Antonio La SpinaAntonio La Spina is professor of Sociology at LUISS University and co-director of the Master “Management e politiche delle amministrazioni pubblice” (Luiss School of Government and Scuola Nazionale dell’Amministrazione). He is member of the scientific boards of the Bachelet Center and Amministrazione in cammino. He taught at the Universities of Macerata, Messina, Milano (Cattolica) and Palermo. He is member of the scientific staff of several journals (Rivista Italiana di Politiche Pubbliche, Rassegna italiana di sociologia, Aggiornamenti sociali, Studi di Sociologia, Rivista economica del Mezzogiorno), and director of the series “Comunicazione, Istituzioni e mutamento sociale” (Franco Angeli). Among his recent works: I costi dell’illegalità. Una ricerca sul sestiere della Maddalena a Genova (ed), Mulino, 2013; Analisi e valutazione delle politiche pubbliche (with E. Espa), Mulino, 2011; I costi dell’illegalità. Camorra ed estorsioni in Campania (edited with G. Di Gennaro), Mulino, 2010; I dirigenti pubblici e i nodi del cambiamento (edited with V. Antonelli), Luiss Academy, Amc, 2010; Le autorità indipendenti (with S. Cavatorto), Mulino, 2008.

Atif Imtiaz

Atif ImtiazAtif Imtiaz is Academic Director of the Cambridge Muslim College.

He completed his PhD in social psychology at the London School of Economics on Muslim identity politics. In the 90s, he was part of the national committee of the Young Muslims UK and FOSIS. He has worked as an Equality and Diversity advisor to NHS Bradford and Airedale. He has advised the British government on deradicalisation, Bradford Council on integration, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Healthcare Commission and the BBC. He is the author of Wandering Lonely in a Crow: Reflections on Muslim Conditions in the West (2011).


Abstract: Contextualising Islam in the United Kingdom: A Matter of Confidence?

This paper will examine one training programme that has been designed specifically to equip graduates from British Muslim seminaries in order to prepare them for working life in the United Kingdom. With modules on politics, literature, intellectual history, science, art and inter-faith relations, the Diploma in Contextual Islamic Studies and Leadership at the Cambridge Muslim College has sought to increase the confidence of young British Muslim religious leaders as they enter into the world of work. This paper will describe the programme, provide some examples of the material covered and consider some of the challenges that remain in its implementation.

Carmela Decaro

Carmela DecaroCarmela Decaro is full professor of Comparative Constitutional Law at LUISS University, where she teaches Parliamentary Procedures. She previously taught in Bari and Bologna. From 1979 to 2001 she was advisor for the Italian Parliament (Camera dei Deputati). From 1999 to 2006 she was appointed as Deputy Secretary General by the President of the Italian Republic. From 2006 to 2012 she chaired the Association Forum del Libro and from 2008 and 2012 she was Secretary General of the Olivetti Foundation. Among her last works: Itinerari costituzionali a confronto. Turchia, Libia, Afganistan, Carocci, 2013;  Tradizioni religiose e tradizioni costituzionali, Carocci, 2013.

Cédric Beylocq

Cedric BeylocqCédric Beylocq is currently an assistant Professor at the Institut des Sciences Politiques, Juridiques et Sociales (ISPJS), University Mundiapolis, Casablanca (Morocco), and an associate researcher at the Centre Jacques Berque pour les études en sciences humaines et sociales (CNRS USR 3136), Rabat (Morocco). He holds a PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Bordeaux-Segalen for which he was a recipient of a fellowship from the Ministry of Higher Education and Research. Between 2011 and 2013 he served as a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre Jacques Berque pour les études en sciences humaines et sociales (CNRS USR 3136). He has extensively worked on Islam and the secularization process in France, and more recently in Morocco, through an ethnographic perspective. He recently organized a colloquium entitled « People, the State and Politics in the Mediterranean: between Islam and Secularization? », October 9-11th in Casablanca, Morocco. He is the co-author of Profession imâm (Albin Michel, 2009) and the author of Un imâm, la France, ses citoyens musulmans. Autorité religieuse et normes islamiques en contexte laïque, to be published at the Presses Universitaires de Louvain (2015).

Abstract: “A critical imâm inside the French Muslim Brotherhood

From a radical preacher active in the undergrounds of the 1980-90’s French Banlieues inhabited by North African laborworkers and their descents, to being a major figure of liberal and reformist Islam in France recognized by the “République laïque” from which he has recently received the title of Chevalier de la legion d’honneur, Tareq Oubrou paved his own way inside the progressive public emergence of what can be named today “French Islam”.

This paper-presentation starts by briefly offering an account of this peculiar trajectory between the 80s and the years 2000, following a four-sided sociohistorical frame, i.e Colonial and Postcolonial Islam → Islam in France → Islam from France → French Islam (Islam colonial et postcolonial → Islam en France → Islam de France → Islam français).

The paper then sketchs an overview of some of Oubrou’s canonical opinions or theological positions which caused major controversies and reactions inside his own Islamic movement (i.e, the Union des Organisations Islamiques de France, believed to be the avatar of the Muslim Brotherhood in France) and in the broader French Muslim community.

Finally, it lists his reformists views on imâm training (as Oubrou holds the title of Honorary President of the “Association des imams de France”) and evaluate the current obstacles which undermine such propositions, in order to address more directly the themes under examination in this symposium.

Domenico Melidoro

Domenico MelidoroHe completed his PhD in Political Theory in 2008 at LUISS University, where he previously taught Corporate Social Responsibility. He is currently fellow at the Center for Ethics and Global Politics (LUISS). Among his most recent publications: Dealing with Diversity. A Study in Contemporary Liberalism (forthcoming, Oxford University Press); “The Principles of Secularism,” Ragion Pratica, 2014; “Sharia and Human Rights: Hermeneutics and the Risks of State-Centrism,” Global Policy, 2013.

Ersilia Francesca

Ersilia FrancescaErsilia Francesca is Associate Professor of History of Islamic Countries at the University l’Orientale di Napoli.

She has recently published Economia, Religione e morale nell’Islam, Carocci 2013 and La rivoluzione ai tempi di Internet. Il futuro della democrazia nel Maghreb e nel mondo arabo, (edited with A. Di Tolla), Università di Napoli l’Orientale, 2012.

Evrim Ersan Akkilic

Evrim Ersan AkkilicEvrim Erşan Akkılıç studied in Turkey and holds a Masters’ degree in sociology. With a doctoral thesis on the topic of “Biography as a battleground. Transsexuality between sex and violence”, she has been granted with the PhD title by the University of Vienna / Austria. Her main professional experience lies in the field of integration work. Currently, she works at the Institute of Islamic Studies at Vienna University as a research assistant (project: “imams in Austria”). Her field of research ranges from transgender studies, migration sociology and sociology of religion, discourse analysis, qualitative methods and biographical research.

Abstract: “Imams in Austria: The crucial role of Imams in the integration process”

This paper aims at presenting the results of a qualitative study of Austrian imams’ roles in and attitudes towards the process of integration. Almost all of the imams who currently work in Austria have not been born and raised there. They rather come from a range of other countries and they receive their training outside of Austria. This situation constitutes specific challenges for the Austrian society as well as for the imams themselves. The sampling of the study takes into consideration the diversity within the imams with regard to their ethnicity, their Islamic education, the organizations for which they work and their current labor situation in Austria. The analysis of divergences and convergences in the attitudes, actions and discourses of imams of Muslim communities highlight various forms and aspects of the imams’ role in the process of integration. On the basis of the empirical data, we constructed four types of imams with a particular interest in their positions in integration, e.g., how they act according to integration at the individual level, how they define integration and how they influence the mosque communities on this topic. The impact of imams on the visibility of Islam in public sphere and on the integration process of Muslim communities in European countries is being discussed by drawing on theoretical concepts of Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor and others.

Farid El Asri

Farid El AsriFarid El Asri is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Political and Legal Studies of the International University of Rabat, where he is researcher at the Laboratoire d’études politiques et de sciences humaines et sociales (LEPOSHS). He is associate researcher at the Centre Jacques Berque and at the Centre Interdisciplinaire d’études de l’islam dans le Monde Contemporain (CISMOC – UCL). Associate at the Master Sociology of European at the University of Padova (Italy). He is director of the network European Muslim Research on Islamic Development (emridNetwork) based in Brussels.


La présence d’islam, si elle est effective, demande dans l’urgence que s’organise son encadrement et sans doute son orientation. Les pays d’origine, les états européens, mais surtout les publics musulmans européens s’y intéressent au plus haut point. Il nous paraît évident que l’ensemble des structures mises sur pied pour l’initiation et la formation de générations musulmanes à devenir imams, dessineront certainement l’islam européen de demain avec le défi récurrent des modèles, de leurs contenus, des encadrants qui y participent et des attentes plurielles. Le facteur temps détermine à l’évidence la variété des projections et les pertinences de modèles ou de décisions qui engagent les projets de formation. L’ancrage à l’Europe, l’émergence d’une dynamique intellectuelle productive et la construction aboutie d’un islam européen ne se fera pas dans l’isolement. La contemporanéité impose inéluctablement, et plus que jamais, des formations locales et des pensées, expériences et modèles globaux et où il faudra tenir compte des spécificités sociétales et des finalités dont les contours restent à préciser.

Federico Cresti

Federico CrestiFederico Cresti is director of the Center for Contemporary Muslim World and Africa (CoSMICA) at the University of Catania. His recent works are: Storia della Libia contemporanea. Dal dominio ottomano alla morte di Gheddafi, Carocci, 2012; Non desiderare la terra d’altri. La colonizzazione italiana in Libia, Carocci, 2011; Gheddafi. I due volti del potere, Carocci, 2011.

Francesca Maria Corrao

Francesca Maria CorraoFrancesca Maria Corrao is Full Professor of Arabic Culture and Language at the Faculty of Political Science in LUISS University of Rome, director of MISLAM Programme (Master in Economics and Institutions of Islamic Countries) of the School of Government at the same university, and chair of the Scientific Committee of the Fondazione Orestiadi in Gibellina (Sicily) and Dar Bach Hamba in Tunis. She is member of The Union of European Arabist and Italian representative of the EURAMAL, European Association of Modern Arabic Literature professors. She has been Research Member of the Institute of Oriental Philosophy, Soka University Tokyo. Among her most recent works: Arab Revolutions. Mediterranean transition, Mondadori, 2011, ‘Ijtihad’ and ‘Relevance of Sharia’ to Contextualize Universal Human Rights Discourse”, in Global Policy 2013, Arab Minorities, Liberalism, and Multiculturalism, in Multiculturalism and Minority Rights, 2014, L’Evoluzione Culturale all’Origine delle Rivoluzioni Arabe, in Economia e Istituzioni dei Paesi del Mediterraneo, 2014.

Francesco Alicino

Francesco AlicinoHe is Fellow in Ecclesiastical Law and Canon Law at University of LUM “Jean Monnet” Casamassima, Bari, Italy). Since 2009 he is a professor (at the University of LUM “Jean Monnet” Casamassima, Bari, Italy) in the following academic course: Systems of State-Church Relations in the Mediterranean Area; Religious Public Law. Since January 2010 he attends a part-time academic course about the “Secularism and Multilevel Constitutionalism Relation” at the Comparative Law academic Course (LUISS University “Guido Carli”, Rome) and Constitutional Comparative Law. His recent books and academic articles are: Costituzionalismo e diritto europeo delle religioni (Collana di Studi del Dipartimento di Scienze Giuridiche della LUISS “Guido Carli”), Padova, CEDAM, 2011; A Pragmatic Approach of the Legal Treatment of Religious Claims: the Attitude of Secularization and the Faith-Based Tribunals, in REVISTA GENERAL DE DERECHO PÚBLICO COMPARADO, 2014, vol. 14; Religion and Sustainable Food in the Age of Consumer Culture, in Rivista di Studi sulla Sostenibilità, 2014.

Abstract: Imams and other Religious Authorities in Italy: A Comparative Perspective.

In Italy imams are more than 800 members. As imams, they are almost all self-taught people. As citizens, most of the times they have a precarious job. During the week, they normally take care of things other than religion. They perform religious functions in their spare time. Moreover, to see them working as imams, you have to go down in some underground parking or in apartments converted into mosques, where sometimes you see minaret and other Islamic symbols, but only in either the picture or in the paintings hanging on the wall.

In the end of the day, we know little or almost nothing about imams. Besides, the Italian law normally do not recognise them as religious authorities. Nevertheless, as imams they play a very important role in local Muslim communities that, under the pressing process of immigration, hold nowadays more than two millions persons.

The paper will analyse the status of Islamic imams in Italy, comparing them with the status of other religious authorities (priests, rabbis, pastors ecc.). In particular, this comparative perspective will be focused on both angles: on the one hand, the research will compare the role of imams with those of religious authorities within their respective community; on the other, we will compare imams with considered the different way through which Italian law treats both imams and other religious authority. This perspective will give us a possibility to underline how both the social context and the Italian legal framework (regulating the State-religions connexions) manage religious claims.

In fact, we have to highlight that this legal framework has been affirmed in the past in relation to a completely different social context. For these reasons, they have been tailored for a substantially monocultural society, which do not always fit in with the problems created by a completely changed religious geography. While the legal instruments regulating the State-religions connexions ensure the decentralization of States’ power and potentially greater diversity in the public sphere, they do not necessarily promote the interests of all group members, starting with those who are part of Islamic groups, usually made up of immigrants. In this manner, the same policy, which seems attractive for some religious and cultural perspectives, can systematically be seen as a disadvantage, if not discriminatory, towards Islamic communities and the relative authorities.

This problem is also alimented by the fact that that the “State-Islam connection” is often facing the lack of overlapping consensus over the basic liberal constitutionalism: namely the meaning and the scope of freedom of religion, secularism, the separation Churches-State, equal treatment and the rule of law. Because Muslims often come to adopt their basic values by very different ways, the understandings of the nature, scope and force of such laws are likely to be affected by competing and, therefore, contested fundamental reasons and worldviews. Besides, all this takes place in a political contexts where “tradition” is increasingly instrumentalized by majority to refuse inclusive policies towards minorities under the guise of uniform or formally equal laws.

Hence, for all these reason, the said perspective will give us an opportunity to understand how important is the role of imams for improving the “State-Islam connection”, even considering the imperative balance between the universal need for a peaceful coexistence and the equal protection of specific religious-cultural rights. Not only the rights of a Islamic group to be different from other religious groups, but also the individual rights with or within the Muslim community.

Francesco Zannini

Francesco ZanniniFrancesco Zannini is currently Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (Rome), where he holds the Chair of “Contemporary Islam and Islamic Law” and is the editor of the P.I.S.A.I. Journal “ENCOUNTER”. He is also a member of “Istituto per l’Oriente”, Rome, Italy, a life member of the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, Dhaka and a Member of the American Oriental Society, Ann Arbor, USA. He is author of several books and articles. His recent published work include: Religious Freedom from the Perspective of Fundamental Human Rights, Beder Journal of Humanities Vol I/1, Hëna e Plöte Bedër University,Tirana 2013; “The Covenant and its Prophets in the Tafsîr al-Kabîr of Muqâtil Ibn Sulaymân,” in Una presenza, non un ricordo Studi di lingua e letteratura araba in memoria del professor Sameh Faragalla, a cura di Olivier Durand e Giuliano Mion, Aracne Roma 2013, The Covenant and its Prophets in the Tafsîr al-Kabîr of Muqâtil Ibn Sulaymân, in “Una presenza, non un ricordoStudi di lingua e letteratura araba in memoria del professor Sameh Faragalla, Olivier Durand e Giuliano Mion (Eds.), Aracne Roma 2013 L’Islam in Italia: mappe, percorsi, processi, in “Religioni, dialogo, integrazione”, COM NUOVI TEMPI, IDOS, Roma 2013; Inter-religious Dialogue in Asia with Muslims, “Gott-einzig und vielfältig Religionen im Dialog Band 2: Gott überschreitet Grenzen”, Klaus Beurle Ed., Echter Verlag, 2014

Giovanni Orsina

Giocanno OrsinaGiovanni Orsina is currently professor of History at LUISS University, Rome, where he is also Deputy Director of the School of Government and Director of the Master in European Studies. He is a research fellow of IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca, where he is the coordinator of the PhD in Political History. His books include: Il berlusconismo nella storia d’Italia, Marsilio, 2013; Culture politiche e Leadership nell’Europa degli anni Ottanta, (ed) Rubbettino, 2012; L’alternativa liberale. Malagodi e l’opposizione al centro sinistra, Marsilio, 2010

Hilary Kalmbach

Hilary KalmbachHilary Kalmbach is Lecturer in Middle East History at the University of Sussex. Dr Kalmbach is on the Council of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) and the Board of the Syrian Studies Association (SSA). 2012). Her most recent works include: “Dar al-‘ulum.” In: Encyclopaedia of Islam 3. Encyclopaedia of Islam Three, 2012-2 . Brill, Leiden, 2012; “Islamic authority and the study of female religious leaders,” in Women, leadership and mosques: changes in contemporary Islamic authority. Women and gender: the Middle East and the Islamic world (11). Brill, Leiden, 2012; “Social and religious change in Damascus: one case of female Islamic religious authority,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 35 (1), 2008.

Abstract: “Authority in Islam: Men, Women, and Religious Leadership in Europe”

In many areas of the globe, women speak on behalf of Islam by teaching, preaching, and interpreting Islamic texts.  This keynote address introduces female Islamic leadership through its historical contexts, discussing early Islamic precedents as well as the social, cultural, and political trends that have contributed to contemporary forms of Islamic leadership, male and female.  It then draws on the theories of Barth, Bakhtin, and Bourdieu to make two main points.  First, it argues that cross-cultural interactions have played – and continue to play – a key role in the ‘fragmentation’ of Islamic authority and ‘proliferation’ of Islamic religious leadership roles from the turn of the twentieth century through to the present day.  It introduces these dynamics through a brief discussion of twentieth-century Egyptian preachers Hassan al-Banna and Zaynab al-Ghazali, before moving on to discuss contemporary Europe.  Second, it argues that European women are at the forefront of changes in female Islamic leadership, from the organic and invisible to the overt and jarring.  Therefore, to understand the myriad ways in which Islamic leadership is changing in the twenty-first century, scholars, activists, and policy-makers need to pay more attention to the activities of Muslim women, especially in Europe.

Imam Yahya Pallavicini

Imam Yahya PallaviciniYahya Pallavicini is Vice President of the Italian Islamic Religious Community (COREIS), Treasurer of the Islamic Cultural Center (Mosque of Rome) and ISESCO Ambassador for the Dialogue among Civilisations. Advisor for Islamic Affairs for several Italian Institutions such as the Ministry of Interiors, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Integration. His books include: Il misericordioso Allah e i suoi profeti, Edizioni Messaggero Padova 2009; Dentro la Moschea, Bur, 2007; L’Islam in Europa: Riflessioni di un imam italiano, Il Saggiatore, 2004.

Jan Jaap de Ruiter

Jan Jaap de RuiterJan Jaap de Ruiter is Arabist and Assistant Professor at Tilburg University (Tilburg School of Humanities, Department of Culture Studies). His interests include the status and role of the Arabic language and of the religion of Islam in Western Europe and Morocco. His publications, in diverse languages, among which French, centre on these themes. Furthermore he participates in the debate on Arabic and Islam in national and international contexts. He participated in many Dutch and European Research and Development Projects.

His publications include: Langues et cultures en contact : le cas des langues et cultures arabe et turque en France et aux Pays-Bas (as editor), L’Harmattan, 2008; Les jeunes Marocains et leurs langues, L’Harmattan, 2006.

Abstract: The ideological struggle of Imams in the Netherlands.

There is an ideological struggle within the Muslim communities in the Netherlands. Key point is whether Muslim leaders and officials should cooperate with Dutch authorities. Orthodox salafi circles believe that Muslims and therefore imams should focus only and exclusively on their own communities while ‘moderate’ Muslims consider it important that Muslims increasingly integrate into Dutch society. The latter are often regarded as traitors by the former. In my lecture I present the relevant current discourse in the Netherlands of this ideological struggle: focusing on the one hand on salafi circles and imams and on the other hand on the ‘integration current’ and its spokesmen/imams. Against this background, I sketch in the first place the Dutch government’s policies on Islam, which is characterized by an ambiguous picture. On the one hand, the government seeks separation of church and state while on the other hand the Minister of Social Affairs regularly holds informal meetings with leading Muslim personalities on the issue of the integration of Islam in the country. Secondly, I outline the anti-Islam rhetoric, especially from the side of the Populist Party for Freedom of Geert Wilders, which is gaining strength in the Netherlands and which influences this ideological struggle considerably. The presentation ends with the formulation of an expectation of the further integration -or not- of the Muslim communities in the country.

Jasser Auda

Jasser AudaJasser Auda is a Professor teaching at the Qatar Faculty of islamic Studies in Doha, a founding member and a member of the executive board of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, a member of the academic committee of the International Institute of Islamic Thought, and a Fellow of the International Institute of Advanced Systems in Canada. He wrote a PhD thesis on the Philosophy of Islamic law in the University of Wales, UK, and a PhD thesis on systems analysis in the University of Waterloo, Canada, and a M.Jur. thesis on maqasid/purposes of the Shariah in the Islamic American University. Early in his life, he had studied Fiqh, Usul, hadith, Sunnah, and memorized the Quran in the halaqas of the Azhar Mosque in Cairo. He worked as a Deputy Director of the Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics in Doha, Director of the Maqasid Center in the Philosophy of Islamic Law in London, as a professor in the Faculty of Law, Alexandria University, Islamic Fiqh Academy of India, American University in Sharjah, University of Waterloo, Canada, and lectured on Islam in dozens of universities and institutes around the world. He wrote a number of books, some of which were translated to a dozen languages

Abstract: “Imams in the West: Challenges of New Fatwa and Community Leadership”.

The two primary challenges that Imams in Western Europe face are the challenge of leadership of the community, which is a task that they do not have to assume in Muslim majority countries, and the challenge of fatwa, which is a task that implies an understanding of the specific context of Europe. To face both challenges, training is the answer. For the task of leadership, I suggest certain qualities that must exist in any European Imam, as well as training in a number of topics from sciences other than the Shariah sciences. And to face the second challenge, I suggest training in new trends of Islamic ijtihad/reasoning, especially the science of Maqasid Al-Shariah. A special focus on the role of Muslim women in the mosque is made, and a number of benefits from training in Maqasid Al-Shariah is outlined.

Jonathan Laurence

Jonathan LaurenceJonathan Laurence is associate professor of Political Science at Boston College and nonresident senior fellow in Foreign Policy studies at the Brookings Institution (Washington, DC). He is also an affiliate of the Center for European Studies at Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D. in 2006. His essays, articles and commentary on international affairs regularly appear in US and European periodicals and news media, and he is frequently invited to speak in international academic and policy settings. Laurence is author of the award-winning The Emancipation of Europe’s Muslims (Princeton, 2012) and of the highly praised Integrating Islam (with Justin Vaïsse, Brookings, 2006).

Abstract: The Imam and the State.

Terrorist attacks in the early 2000s and regime turnover in the early 2010s spurred the professionalization of imam training across the Muslim-majority and Muslim-minority world. The institutionalization of imam training and religious governance has been underway since the modern nation-state era. Does government’s continued involvement in religion mean taking sides in the Islamist-Secularist cleavage that still divides many countries? Is there such a thing as the “objective” civilian oversight of religion policy? The talk will explore justifications for state oversight of Islamic affairs and examine the relationship of established religion, regime legitimacy and religious minorities abroad. Empirical examples will be drawn from the history of the Ottoman Empire and the Roman Catholic counter-reformation, and from recently conducted interviews with senior religious affairs officials in Turkey, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

Jorgen Nielsen

Jorgen NielsenJørgen S. Nielsen was Professor of Islamic Studies, Faculty of Theology, University of Copenhagen until June 2013 and is now retired. He holds degrees in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies from London and a PhD in Arab history from the American University of Beirut. He has previously held academic positions in Beirut, Birmingham (UK), and Damascus. Has been a visiting professor at the universities of Copenhagen and Utrecht and a consultant to the Council of Europe and to the EU Presidency on religious minorities. Founding Trustee and Board member of the International Center for Minority Studies and Intercultural Relations, Sofia (since 1991), and member of the Arab Group on Christian-Muslim Dialogue (since 2001). His research has been focused on the situation of Muslims in Europe. Major recent publications include: Methods and Contexts in the Study of Muslim Minorities, ed. with Nadia Jeldtoft, Routledge, 2012; Muslim Political Participation in Europe, ed., Edinburgh University Press, 2013; Everyday Lived Islam in Europe, ed. Jointly with Nathal Dessing, Nadia Jeldtoft and Linda Woodhead, Ashgate, 2013).

Abstract: “Imams in Europe: the confusions of a title”

Historically the term imam has come to mean a number of different things, different roles, different status, loaded with much authority and with hardly any. In the European environment the focus has been placed on one particular function which itself is a concoction of several traditional ones. The European context has read into it the function of a Christian pastor or priest which has led to both misunderstandings and to new meanings of the term imam.

Juan Ferreiro Galguera

Juan Ferreiro GalgueraJuan Ferreiro Galguera is Professor of Law and Religion at the Department of Public Law of the University of A Coruña.. He was Deputy Director of Relations with Denominations at the Ministry of Justice of Spain (2006-2010). Prof. Ferreiro is the coordinator of the project “the Arab Spring in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia” financed by the Spanish Ministry of Economy. His research focuses on freedom of expression, freedom of education, freedom of conscience, limits of religious freedom, and relations between churches and State: specially regarding Islam. His books include, Profesores de religión de la enseñanza pública y Constitución Española (2004), Relaciones Iglesia-Estado en la II República Española (2005), Islam and State in EU: Imams training centres (2011); Relaciones Iglesia-Estado en el Franquismo y en la Transición. (2013) At this moment is the Main Researcher of a Project about “the Arab Spring in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia”financed by the Spanish Ministry of Economy. His most recent books include: Relaciones Iglesia-Estado en la II República Española, Atelier, 2005; Islam and State in EU: Imams training centres, Peter Lang Gmb, 2011; Relaciones Iglesia-Estado en el Franquismo y en la Transición. Antecedentes de los Acuerdos de 1979, Aranzadi, 2013.

Abstract: Imams training in Spain

In Spain there are 51 public universities, 17 private universities and 7 Universities belonging to the Catholic Church. Spanish law (according to the Cooperation Agreements of 1992, and Organic Law 6/ 2001 of December 21st) gives denominations which have signed Cooperation Agreements in 1992 the possibility of creating university centres for theological studies where their religious ministers can be trained and receive state-recognized certification. So far, only the Catholic Church has university theology centres but the Spanish Government is obliged under the above mentioned University Act to implement this right for Protestants, Muslims and Jews. This remains something to be done in the future. With regard to training centres for imams, there used to be online Islamic studies courses offered by two universities and two courses organised by two Islamic organizations. Nowadays there is only one solid structure referred to imam training and it is organized by the Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities (FEERI) in cooperation with the Islamic University of Rotterdam. They offer four different diplomas in Koran, Islamic Jurisprudence, Arab language and Hadiz, Sira and history. Nevertheless, currently, these studies receive no state recognition.

Khalid Hajji

Khalid HajjiKhalid Hajji is currently the Secretary General of the European Council of Moroccan Oulema (CEOM) in Brussels. He holds Ph.D. in Anglo–American studies from La Sorbonne. He has been teaching Anglo–American poetics, and American Civilization at the English Department, at Mohamed 1st University, Faculty of the Humanities, in Oujda, Morocco, since 1994. He is a founding member of Aljazeera Center for Studies in Doha, where he served also as a researcher between 2005 and 20010, and founding member of “Science and Culture Group of Study,” and the “Circle of Wisdom for Thinkers and Researchers”, in Rabat, Morocco. Hajji also served as co–Editor of Almunaataf, a quarterly Moroccan magazine. His books include: Khalid Hajji. Lawrence d´Arabie ou l´Arabie de Lawrence: geographie, politique, poetique, sagesse. (Paris: L´Harmattan, 2001); Min maddaiiq al–Hadatha ila Fadai al–Ibdaa al–Islami wa al–Arabi (From the Narrowness of Modernity towards a New Space of Islamo–Arabic Creativity) Arabic (Beirut, Casablanca: Arab Cultural Institution, 2005); Assabil wa Al–Hadara (The Road and Civilization: History of Landscapes and Mindscapes); Abderrahman wa al–Bahr (Beirut, 2010), a novel in Arabic, translated in German.

Kirstine Sinclair

Kirstine SInclairKirstine Sinclair is Assistant Professor at the Centre for Contemporary Middle East Studies at the University of Southern Denmark. Her theoretical interests involve modernity theory, social movement theory, place, space and the sensory turn. Empirically, her work focuses on Muslim minorities in the West especially Islamic universities and Islamist transnational organisations.

Abstract: Islamic Universities in the West and Questions of Authenticity: Educating Tomorrow’s Muslim Community Leadership.

Allegedly, Islam has a hegemonic position as a symbolic source in defining modern forms of Muslim life for practicing Muslims inside and outside the Muslim majority Middle East. However, very little is known about Islamic universities’ role outside the Middle East, and the research that has been done in this field, has dealt almost exclusively with fiqh (jurisprudence and legal interpretation) rather than the role of these institutions in combining modern education with references to Islamic traditions. The aim of this paper is to discuss how Islamic universities in the West facilitate and condition the formation of the future leaders of Muslim communities. By comparing two institutions – Cambridge Muslim College, UK, and Zaytuna College, California, U.S. – it becomes clear how the ambitions of these institutions are shaped by different understandings of minorities and the role of religion in the two countries. Thus, this contribution wishes to discuss these institutions’ discourses and social practices in current times and their influence on the formation of modern Muslim community leaders and communities. In doing so, questions concerning conceptualizations of “authenticity” are raised.

M. Mansur Ali

Mansur AliMansur Ali studied classical Islamic studies and Arabic at Darul Uloom Bury, UK and Al-Azhar University Cairo, Egypt. He then completed an MA and a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies (Hadith studies) at the University of Manchester where he also lectured as a graduate teaching fellow. During this time he also worked as a Muslim chaplain at Ashworth High Security hospital in Liverpool. Shortly after completing his PhD, he worked on an AHRC/ESRC funded project on Muslim Chaplaincy in Britain alongside Professor Sophie Gilliat-Ray at Cardiff University. He is interested in Hadith studies as well as applied theology. His recent publications include one monograph (Understanding Muslim Chaplaincy) and two articles on applied theology (Is the British Weather Anti-Islamic: the ‘ulama, shari’a and change & Perspectives on drug addiction in Islamic history and theology). He is currently the Jameel lecturer in Islamic Studies at Cardiff University and Khatib of Darul Isra Mosque, Cardiff, UK.

Abstract: British Imams in Chaplaincy: Working at the interface of ‘public’ and ‘private.’

It is commonly believed that Muslim religious leaders are relics ossified in time with little bearing on the modern world. This is assumed to be truer for imams trained in South Asian seminaries (Darul Uloom) than their university trained Arab colleagues. However, research has shown that British-based South Asian seminaries are not only producing graduates who are involved in ‘bonding activities’ but are also involved in ‘bridging activities’ with the wider secular British community. Over the last two decades, more public institutions in Britain have begun to employ these graduates as chaplains to provide pastoral care to hospital patients, prison inmates, students in HEIs and so on. Their role encompasses a range of pastoral, educational, advisory, and religious dimensions, and they are called upon work at the interface of both the private and public sphere. This paper will look at some case studies from a two year AHRC project on Muslim chaplaincy based at Cardiff University. It particularly reflects upon the way in which graduates of British-based South Asian Darul Ulooms are shaping policies and procedures in public institutions, thereby creating recognised spaces for Islam in public life, whilst also meeting the private pastoral needs of British Muslims.

Marco Ventura

Marco VenturaMarco Ventura is a professor at KU (Katholieke Universiteit) Leuven, where he directs the Master in Society, Law and Religion and the Doctoral School in Canon Law and Law and Religion. He is on leave from a position as full professor with tenure at the Faculty of Law of the University of Siena. After a PhD at the University of Strasbourg, he has visited the universities of London (UCL), Oxford, Strasbourg, Brussels (ULB), the Centro de Formação Jurídica e Judiciária of Macau, the Indian Law Institute in Delhi, the University of Cape Town, and Al Akhawayn University. He is a member of the European Consortium for Church and State Research and of the Centre for Droit, Religion, Entreprise et Societé at the University of Strasbourg and CNRS. He is a member of the Editorial Board of the Ecclesiastical Law Journal (Cambridge University Press). He is the author of several books and many book chapters and articles on human rights and religion, religious freedom, law and religion, canon law, church and state relationships, comparative religious laws, bioethics and biolaw, including the recent Religion and Law in Italy (Alphen aan den Rijn: Wolters Kluwer, 2013), Creduli e credenti. Il declino di Stato e Chiesa come questione di fede (Torino: Einaudi, 2014) and the forthcoming From Your Gods to Our Gods. A History of Religion in British, Indian and South African Courts (Eugene OR: Cascade Books). At the invitation of the EU Delegation in Vietnam and of the Vietnamese governmental committee for religious affairs, he visited Hanoi and Dak Lak province in September 2013 and in September 2014. In September 2014 he co-chaired the first summer school on human rights of the Council of European Churches.

Abstract: Training religious personnel in Europe: The Islamic challenge.

Since the end of Cold War, the training of religious personnel in Europe has undergone substantial change. Adjusting to an increasingly secular and multi-religious society, governments and religious actors have reshaped their mission with regard to the rationale, curriculum and framework of religious training. The legal dimension has proved crucial. Being the tool through which change has been carried (mainly church and state arrangments), law was changed as a result of the transformational process. The legal structure of religious training has thus been reframed in order to respond to the new role of majority churches, the needs of minorities, the ambition of governments to increase their neutrality and impartiality, and yet their reluctance to relinquish control in a decisive area. The settling and development of Islamic communities has emerged as a crucial challenge to regulations in the field. The Islamic demand of trained personnel, the strategies in Europe of Arab-Muslim countries and the European governments’ anxiety to strengthen ‘moderate Islam’ through State-controlled education, have prompted creative attempts to training Muslim leaders. Experiments question the utility and legitimacy of a Muslim exception. Also they challenge the solidity and consistency of systems of training of religious personnel at large.

This paper will look into both the internal Islamic challenge, which is the endeavor with how to best organize the training of Muslim leaders, and the external Islamic challenge, which is the impact of experiments in the training of Muslim leaders on the training of religious personnel in general. The paper will look at five issues: a) how to define a religious minister; b) how to understand the difference, if any, between spiritual training and cultural training; c) how to categorize the role and action of governments; d) how to draw the line between the national and the international action; d) how to frame religious autonomy.

Main legal data for this paper have been collected at the 2014 annual meeting of the European Consortium for Church and State Research. The paper is also based on experiments with training of religious personnel at the University of Strasbourg, at KU Leuven and by FIDR (Forum Internazionale Democrazia e Religioni). The author’s visit to the Imam education programme at the University of Al-Akhawayn (Morocco) has also proved a valuable source of reflection.

Melanie Kamp

Melanie KampMelanie Kamp, M.A. is Ph. D. candidate in Islamic Studies, Freie Universität Berlin and a former researcher at Freie Universität Berlin and at the Zentrum Moderner Orient (Berlin). Her main research interests are Islam in Europe, questions of religious authority and Islamic revivalism. Among her publications is “Prayer leader, counselor, teacher, social worker, and public relations officer – on the roles and functions of imams in Germany”, in: Thielmann, Jörn / al-Hamarneh, Ala (Hrsg.): Islam and Muslims in Germany. Leiden [u.a.]: Brill 2008, 133-160.

Michael Driessen

Micheal DriessenDr. Michael Driessen is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at John Cabot University (Rome, Italy) where he teaches courses on Religion and Politics, Comparative Politics, Middle East Studies and Peace Studies.  Professor Driessen obtained his PhD in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, and in 2011-2012 was a resident post-doctoral fellow at Georgetown University’s Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) in Doha, Qatar.  His last work: “Religion and Democratization: Framing Political and Religious Identities in Catholic and Muslim Societies”

Mohammed Hashas

HashasHashas is a postdoctoral fellow at LUISS Guido Carli University of Rome. He holds a PhD in Political Theory from the same university, with a dissertation entitled “The Idea of European Islam: Voices of Perpetual Modernity” (2013). He has also joined the American University of Rome as an adjunct faculty to teach Arabic and Islam and Politics. Hashas was a research fellow at Babylon Center for the Study of the Multicultural Society in Tilburg, the Netherlands (July-October 2010), and at the Center for European Islamic Thought at the University of Copenhagen (Sept 2011 – July 2012). His papers so far have appeared with the Journal of Muslims of Europe, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, and the Journal of Studia Islamica, besides contributions to edited books. Hashas has been contributing opinion articles to web magazines and newspapers in Arabic and English since 2007. His academic concerns are the emerging European Islamic thought, Arab-Islamic political theology, and the ongoing socio-political and cultural transformations of the Arab societies, with a focus on Morocco. 

Niels Valdemar Vinding

Niels Valdemar VindingNiels Valdemar Vinding is assistant professor at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies at University of Copenhagen. His PhD was on Muslim Positions in the Religio-Organisational Fields of Denmark, Germany and England (2013). His current project is on “Imams of the West” and is funded from 2014 to 2017 by the Carlsberg Foundation. Most recent publication is “Challenged Pragmatism-Conflicts of Law and Religion in the Danish Labour market.” International Journal of Discrimination and the Law (2013) with Lisbet Christoffersen.

Oliver Scharbrodt

Oliver ScharbrodtI studied Comparative Religion, Islamic Studies and Philosophy at the University of Bonn in Germany and completed my graduate studies and research in London, obtaining my MA and PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies. After teaching in London, the US and Ireland, I joined the Department of Theology and Religious Studies in September 2014. My appointment as the University of Chester’s first Professor of Islamic Studies is part of its strategic aim to turn Chester into one of the prime centres for the academic study of Islam in the UK.

At the moment, I am the principal investigator of a research project on Shia communities in Britain and their links to the Middle East, funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation. In addition, I am translating a 10th century Shia text from Arabic to English for the Institute of Ismaili Studies. I am also the executive editor of the Yearbook of Muslims in Europe, published by Brill.

Paolo Luigi Branca

Paolo Luigi BrancaPaolo Branca (Milan, 1957) teaches Arabic Language and Literature and Islamic Studies at the Università Cattolica, Milan. Specialized in the issues of the relationship between Islam and the modern world, he has published Voci dell’Islam moderno: il pensiero arabo-musulmano fra rinnovamento e tradizione, Marietti, Genova 1991, Introduzione all’Islam, S. Paolo, Milano 1995, I musulmani, Il Mulino, Bologna 2000, Il Corano, Il Mulino, Bologna 2001, Yalla Italia! Le vere sfide dell’integrazione di arabi e musulmani nel nostro Paese, Edizioni Lavoro, Roma 2007 and, with Barbara de Poli and Patrizia Zanella, Il sorriso della Mezzaluna, Carocci, Roma 2011. He translated the novel of the Egyptian Nobel Prizewinner, Nagib Mahfuz, Vicolo del Mortaio, Milano, Feltrinelli.

Abstract: Imams in Italy: Children of a Lesser God?

Nobody really seems interested in organizing the question of the training of suitable Muslim religious leaders in Italy: this can be understood from the numerous factors that can easily be observed and documented. The relatively ‘young’ Italian Muslim communities have probably been busy until now with other priorities, helped in this ‘distraction’ by a social and institutional situation of the country that has preferred to ignore this requirement, along with others. The choices that have not been made by both sides are showing worrying consequences.

Who could deal with this and how? What are the unsolved problems that prevent taking responsibility in this regard? What interaction is desirable with the countries of origin, with other European experiences or in other continents of ‘new’ Islamization?

Raffaele Marchetti

Raffaele MarchettiRaffaele Marchetti is Assistant Professor in International Relations, joint appointment at the Department of Political Sciences and School of Governemnt. He holds a Jean Monnet European Module on EU’s Engagement with Civil Society. He is Academic Coordinator of the Corso intensivo di preparazione al concorso per la carriera diplomatica, School of Government. Director of the Research Unit on Political Risk Analysis, ICEED International Center on Democracy and Democatization and Member of the LUISS-ICEED Unit of the national research project (PRIN) on Economic Crises and Quality of Democracies in Europe. Among his most recent works: Contemporary Political Agency, 2013, Global Democracy, 2011, Civil Society, Conflicts, and the Politicization of Human Rights, 2011, Conflict Society and Peacebuilding: Comparative Perspectives, 2011, European Union and Global Democracy, 2010.

Riem Spielhaus

Riem SpielhausRiem Spielhaus is a Research Fellow at the Erlangen Centre for Islam & Law in Europe (EZIRE). She majored both in Islamic Studies and African Studies. After completing her Magister Artium Riem Spielhaus has been working as advisor for the commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration of the German Federal Government. Spielhaus was a member of several working groups, which were set up by the German government, local administrations and civic organizations like the first “German Islam Conference” (2006-2009). Among her publications: “Who is a Muslim anyway? The emergence of a Muslim consciousness in Germany between ascription and self-identification.”

Abstract: “The longing for homegrown Imams and the Establishment of Islamic Theology in Germany”

In 2002 the Central Council of Muslims in Germany demanded the establishment of academic professorships for the university education of teachers of Islam and imams. This demand was followed by a recommendation of the German Council of Science and Humanities, the most important government advisory body that oversees education, to establish several centres for Islamic theology in different German regions with significant Muslim population, i.e. in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Hessen, Lower Saxony and North-Rhine Westphalia. As part of their integration policy, the Federal Ministry of Education and Science (BMBF) established academic programs in Islamic theology at four German universities in Tübingen, Frankfurt/Gießen, Münster/Osnabrück and Erlangen-Nürnberg. The four centres aim to train Islamic theological researchers, social workers, educators, and specialized religious scholars, who could become the future staff of mosques and most importantly school teachers. Furthermore, the University of Osnabrück has established a special course for on the job training of Imams and other mosque employees and several other initiatives have been made to train Imams who are interested in further education, especially pastoral care and social counseling. This paper will give an overview on current initiatives to train and educate Imams in and for their work in Germany and discuss the rationale behind these projects. Thus it is most of all interested in what expectations Imams are confronted with.

Riitta Latvio

Riitta LatvioRiitta Latvio is a project coordinator of FOKUS (Forum for Culture and Religion FOKUS) in Finland. She is also a researcher at the University of Helsinki. She works for the Department of World Cultures and she contributed to some publications of the Department of Comparative Religion. Her last publications include: Neimed: exploring social distinctions and sacredness in early Irish legal sources, Immunity and liability in neimed-commoner relationships.

Romain Sèze

Romain SezeRomain Sèze holds a master’s degree in Islamic studies (École Pratique des Hautes Études/Sorbonne) and a PhD in social sciences (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales). He teaches at Reims University and he is a post-doctoral researcher at the Groupe Sociétés, Religions et Laïcité (EPHE-CNRS). His research interests are in Muslim leadership in Europe, conflicts relating to Islam visibility in public sphere, and radicalization phenomenon. He is the author of Être imam en France. Les transformations du clergé musulman en contexte minoritaire (Le Cerf, 2013).

Abstract. “For a visible Islam. The emergence of a protest speech in French mosques?”

In France, as in many European countries, while the wide movement of secularization leads to a reclusion of religious expression in the private sphere, many imams are trying to encourage Islam’s visibility in the public space, to the point that this one has become a subject of debate, sometimes a struggle’s stake (scandals about “big mosques”, street prayers…). If so, this is also because the protest generated by this visibility would come from a phenomenon of “minorization” against which Muslim leaders intend to mobilize. To promote expressions of the faith as the “testimony”, as to participate in social and civic life come close to a search for recognition, which goes through their ability to embody an “acceptable Islam” with regard to categories that structure the public debate. To reverse speeches describing the Islamic magisterium as a foreign and sometimes incompatible institution with the Western democracies reality, that dynamism reflects the ability of imams – mostly Foreign and often untrained – to “patrimonialize” Islamic identity while supporting Muslims in the challenges experienced by their integration into the French Republic.

En France, comme dans d’autres pays européens, tandis que le vaste mouvement de la sécularisation fait pression en direction d’une réclusion de l’expression islamique dans la sphère privée, nombre d’imams s’efforcent d’encourager la visibilité de l’islam dans l’espace public, au point que celle-ci est devenue un objet de débats, parfois un enjeu de lutte (« mosquées-cathédrales », affaires des prières de rue…). S’il en est ainsi, c’est aussi parce que le rejet que cette visibilité suscite relève d’un phénomène de minorisation contre lequel les leaders musulmans entendent se mobiliser. La promotion de manifestations de la foi de l’ordre du « témoignage » comme la participation active et sous des formes multiples à la vie sociale, relèvent d’une recherche de reconnaissance qui passe par leur capacité à incarner un « islam acceptable » au regard des catégories qui structurent le débat public. À revers des discours qui décrivent le magistère islamique comme une réalité allogène et parfois incompatible aux démocraties occidentales, ce dynamisme témoigne de la capacité des acteurs qui l’incarnent – étrangers la plupart du temps et sans formation bien souvent – à patrimonialiser l’identité musulmane tout en accompagnant les musulmans dans les défis rencontrés par leur intégration dans la République française.

Samim Akgönül

Samim AkgonulSamim Akgönül, Historian and Political scientist, is a Professor at the Strasbourg University and researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research, CNRS. His main research field is religious minorities. Especially, he is working on non Muslim minorities in Turkey, Muslim minorities in the Balkans and New Minorities in Western Europe. He teaches; inter allia, Turkish history and civilisation, minorities and migrants in contemporary Europe, State-Religion relations in Europe. Among his works: “Droit et religion en Europe”, “The minority concept in the Turkish context” and “Laïcités Et Religiosités : Intégration Ou Exclusion ?”

Sara Borrillo

Sara BorrilloSara Borrillo obtained a Phd in Middle East and North Africa Studies at University L’Orientale in Naples. She is associated researcher to the Centre Jacques Berque – CNRS in Rabat and she collaborates in the research project “Which Gender of Citizenship? Voices from the South Shore of the Mediterranean” at University of Florence (Regione Toscana). Her interests are mainly focused on gender and Islam, secular and Islamic feminisms, new female religious authorities and women rights in MENA region, in particular in Morocco. She is coauthor of the on-line photo-narrative project “Svelate. Marocco: femminile plurale” ( and she is UNDP Expert for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Public Administration. Her last articles are: “The 20th February movement and gender equality in Morocco: between internal debate and constitutional reform” (2012), “Feminisms in Morocco between gender politics and social movements. Some recent evolutions” (2013), “TV-preachers and on-line activists in Morocco: the construction of gender through the media between Islamic model and individual liberties” (2014).

Abstract: “Murshidat in Moroccan mosques: a new female religious authority?”

Muršidāt are women preachers that a recent reform of the Ministry for Islamic Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco established with the task of teaching the “right” Islam in mosques. The fact that a woman can speak about Islam officially and in the public space of the mosque, traditionally monopolized by male voices, could be perceived as a significant gain in the direction of the application of gender mainstreaming in public, even religious, institutions, or like a form of “Islamic State feminism”. But Islamic feminism aims at a deep egalitarian access to religious institutions based on the right to have the necessary authority to interpret sacred texts, in a gender ğihād perspective. This religious authority can contribute to putting Islamic patriarchal tradition under discussion and to affirming gender equality in society. The reform analyzed, however, aims differently to establish the respect of the gender complementarity principle in continuity with the traditional conception of the gender division of labor. So, I conclude, it appears as one of the results of a bi-dimensional political strategy, interested firstly in disciplining the national Islamic discourse which is contested by some movements of Political Islam and, secondly, to show that Morocco is respecting human rights and the gender mainstreaming approved by international convention. Analyzing the Moroccan religious institutions as dispositive of power to consolidate the “regime of truth” based on Allah, al-waṭan, al-malik formula, thanks to an ethnographical work, I consulted the voices of women preachers of Islam comparing their personal opinions about women’s rights and liberties in public and private sphere with their functional discourse. It is possible to consider that women preachers are both agents of central power and agents of change? In which sense are they expression of a new religious authority? Is there a space for them in European Islam?

Sara Silvestri

Sara SilvestriSara Silvestri (PhD Cantab; Laurea Rome) is Senior Lecturer in International Politics at City University London and Affiliated Lecturer at Cambridge University, where she also leads the Faith, Ethics and Public Policy programme at the Von Huegel Institute. She has held fellowships in Paris (Marie Curie), Cambridge (ESRC post-doc), and Chatham House. In Brussels she worked on the migration and on the intercultural dialogue dossier at the EU Commission president’s cabinet and directed the Islam in Europe programme for the think tank European Policy Centre. She serves as a member of the Global Experts group with the UN Alliance of Civilisations and as scientific advisor of the Anna Lindh Foundation, for which she contributed to the first 2 Gallup opinion poll of the EuroMediterranean region.  Her research and publications examine articulations of Muslim identity and political mobilisation as well as public policies about migration, faith-based transnational actors, and diversity across the Euro-Mediterranean region. She is also interested in the assumed nexus radicalism-multiculturalism and regularly advises governments and international organisations in these areas. Her key publications include articles providing a systematic institutional analysis of the salience of faith in EU policy-making, the analysis of British counter-terrorism, various reports on migration, and a forthcoming book on Europe’s Muslim women, based on empirical research in 5 countries. Sara also convenes the British International Studies working group on Religion, Security and International Relations. Most recently she was the joint recipient of a British Council/Luce Foundation grant for various transatlantic initiatives on religion and foreign policy.

Abstract: ISIS’ Caliphate: what authority for Muslims in the West?

 This paper examines the claims of the Caliphate invented by Mr Baghdadi in the summer 2014 and considers the implications that the resurrection of this Islamic institution has for Muslims in the West, both in terms of Islamic practices and international relations. In doing this the paper also discusses the variety of Muslim political actors and institutions in global politics and in Europe, demonstrating, how social movements and civic activism located in an international context, more than traditional forms of authority, are shaping behaviours and political claims.

Shaukat Warraich

Shaukat WarraichShaukat Warraich is currently the Chief Executive of Faith Associates in the UK. He has a Bachelors degree from Kings College, University of London and has a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). He currently lectures at the Cambridge Muslim College; he is also a fellow of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). He has held a number of leadership positions in the commercial and charitable sectors. He has been responsible for producing a number of key pieces of literature and community interventions. He was the lead consultant commissioned by the British Government for the national consultation and ultimate launch of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory body (MINAB), which constitutes over 600 Mosques and Islamic centres in the UK. He has worked and advised over 30 local authorities and regional governmental agencies in the UK to develop community interventions and strategies to interoperate policy on the ground. Shaukat has also published the 1st Mosque management guide and toolkit which is targeted at leaders of the Muslim community responsible for maintaining and enhancing their centres to become beacons for all communities. He has also authored the “Mosque open day guide” and the “Madrassah management guide”. He has travelled extensively training and lecturing on these and other topics related to leadership and Management in the UK and overseas. He is also a regular commentator in the media. He was also invited to chair the youth forum in Madrid and attend the Media for Social change panel in Istanbul for the United Nations – Alliance of Civilisation initiative.

Solenne Jouanneau

Solene JouanneauSolenne Jouanneau is Assistant professor at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques of Strabourg. Her most recent work is: Les imams en France : Sociologie d’une autorité religieuse sous contrôle, Editions Agone, 2013. Her other contributions include: « “ Not Losing Faith in the Imamate”: How Volunteer Imams in France Maintain Their “Vocation.”, in Sociétés Contemporaines, à paraître en 2014. (avec Yann Raison du Cleuziou), « Exercice et répertoires d’autorité dans les institutions religieuse », in Genèses, n° 88, à paraître. « L’imam, clerc sans clergé ni église : Les répertoires d’une autorité dissimulée dans les cadres de l’interaction », in Genèses, n° 88, à paraître. « Pour une lecture française plus ethnographique de la « frame analysis », présentation du texte de D. Snow (traduit en collaboration avec Yann Raison du Cleuziou) : « Une ethnographie du recrutement et de la conversion nominale au Nichiren shoshu dans les années 1970 » in Genèses, n° 88, 2012/3, p. 132-134. « “Ne pas perdre la foi dans l’imamat”. Comment se maintiennent les “vocations” d’imams bénévoles en France », in Sociétés Contemporaines, n° 84, 2011, pp. 103-125 « Régulariser ou non un imam étranger en France : Droit au séjour et définition du « bon imam » en pays laïque », in Politix, n°86, 2009, pp. 147-166

Stefano Allievi

Stefano AllieviStefano Allievi is Professor in Sociology at Università degli Studi di Padova and Secretary for Sociologia della Religione at AIS, Italian Sociology Association, Stefano Allievi is President of Sociology Master’s degree from 2013. He supervised and took part to several italian and international research programs on cultural and religious plurality. Among them, “Conflicts over mosques in Europe” of Network of European Foundations. He is specialized in migratory phenomenon, sociology of religions and cultural change in Europe, especially in the matter of Islam and religious pluralism. Among his recent books: Ma la moschea no… I conflitti sui luoghi di culto islamici, Le Gru, 2012, La guerra delle moschee. L’Europa e la sfida del pluralismo religioso, Marsilio, 2010, Mosques of Europe. Why a solution has become a problem, 2010, Producing Islamic Knowledge. Transmission and dissemination in Western Europe, 2011, Conflicts over Mosques in Europe. Policy issues and trends, 2009.

Thijl Sunier

Thijl SunierThijl Sunier is Professor in Cultural Anthropology at University of Amsterdam, chair ‘Islam in European Societies’, Thijl Sunier teaches ‘Religion, Identity, Conflict’ and ‘Global Religion, Local Diversity’. He is specialized in Anthropology of Religion (Islam, politics and Islam, leedership, young people and Islam), migration, ethnicity and nation-building, European History and Turkey. He is President of Dutch Association of Anthropologists, President of NISIS (Netherlands Interuniversity School of Islamic Studies) and Affiliated fellow at the Leiden University Centre for the Study of Islam and Society. Recent publications: “Domesticating Islam: Exploring Academic Knowledge Production on Islam and Muslims in European Societies”, “Schooling and new religious diversity across four European countries” and “Cosmopolitan theology. Fethullah Gülen and the making of a ‘Golden Generation’”.

Abstract: Aesthetics of Islamic authority: making Islam work in Europe

There is a growing body of scholarly work that addresses the transformations taking place in the ways Muslims experience, practice and lives Islam in Europe. One of the issues that have been taken up is the changing relation between (established) religious authority and ordinary Muslims. There is a growing consensus that these relations are under pressure. Old established configurations of authority are destabilized and increasingly challenged by rival voices and practices. However, both the position that Islamic authority is simply generated from Islamic sources and the depiction of the Islamic landscape in Europe as thoroughly fragmented and individualized do not properly address the question how religious authority is produced. How does authority get acknowledged and how incorporated into people’s life worlds? In other words what are the (changing) sources of religious persuasion and conviction and how do they bear upon the constitutive process of authorization? I will argue that modes of religious knowledge production and conveyance not just operate cognitively but involve the whole range of bodily experiences that shape the relation between religious practitioners and leaders. Studies that consider authority a predominantly discursive and formal matter tend to ignore the aesthetic underpinnings of religious authority by locating authority solely in the discursive realm.

Tom Bailey

Tom BaileyTom Bailey studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Oxford and received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Warwick. After teaching at Warwick and the Open University, he moved to Italy, first as a researcher at the University of Pisa and now teaching philosophy at John Cabot University and St. John’s University in Rome. He also taught for some years in the Center for Ethics and Global Politics at LUISS University in Rome.

Bailey specializes in modern and contemporary moral and political philosophy and his current research focuses on the treatment of religion in contemporary political theory. He is a member of the advisory council of the Guarini Institute for Public Affairs, the International Research Network on Religion and Democracy, the Making Democracy Network, the European Consortium for Political Research standing groups on Religion and politics. Bailey has organized conferences at the University on Rawls and Religion with LUISS University, ‘Cosmopolitanism and Conflict‘ with the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, and ‘Rethinking Political Catholicism‘ with Professor Michael Driessen, as well a summer Graduate Seminar on Religion and Global Politics, funded by the European Consortium for Political Research. His last works: Rawls and Religion, Columbia University Press, 2015, Global Justice and Avant-Garde Political Agency, in Ethics & International Affairs 28:2, 2014.

Tuomas Martikainen

Tuomas MartikainenTuomas Martikainen is a Researcher in the Post-Secular Culture and a Changing Religious Landscape in Finland Project that is Åbo Akademi University Centre of Excellence in Research in Turku, Finland. His areas of interest include religion, migration and interfaith activities. Martikainen is currently studying how recent changes in welfare state structures and policies change state–religion/minority relations. His publications include Immigrant Religions in Local Society (2004, Åbo Akademi University Press) and Religion, Migration, Settlement: Reflections on Post-1990 Immigration to Finland (2013, Brill).

Abstract: “Efforts to establish Imam training in Finland”

There have ongoing discussions in Finland to establish imam training in Finland in the 2010s. The presentation will present how the discussions have evolved and what are the issues at stake. The presentation will then tie these discussions to the broader realm of organized interfaith activities in Finland. The paper will argue that a new group of stakeholders are emerging in religion politics in Finland that aim to get a foothold to strengthen the role of religious diversity in Finnish society.

Valentina Gentile

VElentina GentileValentina Gentile completed her PhD in Teoria Politica at University LUISS in Rome. She has been Associate researcher at UCL, School of Public Policy in London in 2010. She took part to several international conferences and workshops, among the most recent: Conferenza Internazionale “Global Migration and Multiculturalism: …”; CRONEM, Surrey University, UK, 2011; “Between Rawls and Religion”; LUISS, 2010; Workshop “Politics and religion in European-Indian intercontextual perspectives”, Antwerp University, 2010; “Thinking WithOut Borders”, II International Political Theory Conference, St. Andrews, UK, 2010. Her most recent publications: Rawls and Religion: Liberalism in a Postsecular World, Columbia University Press (New York), 2012, “Secularism in Contemporary India” in Politics, Religion, Secularisation: India and Europe, 2012.

Zaid Eyadat

Zaid EyadatZaid Eydat completed his Phd at University of Southern California in Political Science. He is Professor at the School of International Studies and Political Science at University of Jordan. Eyadat is Middle East and North Africa Regional Representative for Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FUNGLODE), Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; member of the Steering Committee, Center for Ethics and Global Politics, LUISS Guido Carli, Rome; Erasmus Mondus Award for Scholars Exchange, International Institute of Political Science, Masaryk University, Czech Republic. He is specialized in Political theory / Islamic thought (politics, ethics, and Human Rights), Research methodology (game theory, modeling, and quantitative and qualitative discourse analysis) and Comparative politics / Middle Eastern studies (international relations, conflict management, democracy). His publications: “Minorities in the Arab World: Faults and Faults Lines” in Eva Pföstl and Will Kymlicka, ed., Multiculturalism and Minority Rights in the Arab World. Oxford, Oxford University Press. Forthcoming: March 2014, “Political Islam in the Arab Spring” in Eva Pfostl, ed., Religion and Politics. APES. Forthcoming: February 2014, “Hegemony, Islamic Activism, and the State: Islamic Movements and the Arab Spring in Jordan” in Massimo Campanini, ed., Islam and the Arab Revolutions. Bologna, il Mulino, September 2013, Migration, Security, and Citizenship in the Middle East. “The Modern Muslim World” series. Palgrave Macmillan, August 2013, “The Arab Revolutions of 2011: Revolutions of Dignity” in Stephen Calleya and Monika Wohlfeld ed., Change and Opportunities in the Emerging Mediterranean. Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, Malta, Gutenberg Press, 2012, 3-19, Count Bernadotte’s Mediation to Palestine 1948: Mediation and Assassination. University of Jordan, 2011.