Islam and Secularism: the Azerbaijani experience and its reflection in France
Press Release: On 15 June 2013, The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS), in association with the Institut de Découverte et d’Étude du Monde Musulman (IDEMM), hosted a symposium entitled Islam and Secularism: Shared stakes — the Azerbaijani experience and its reflection in France at the Musée d’Aquitaine in Bordeaux, France. The symposium, chaired by Tareq Oubrou, Head of the Bordeaux Mosque and Director of IDEMM, gathered together academics and religious representatives from the Aquitaine region. During the event, the speakers reflected on the concept of secularism, including the role the State should take in religious matters, exploring the notion and experience of secularism in Azerbaijan, and outlining the differences and similarities between the Azerbaijani and French experiences of secularism.
Following a keynote speech by Socialist MP Vincent Feltesse and President of the Urban Community of Bordeaux (CUB), Nijat Mammadly, Professor of Political Science and Sociology, Baku State University and Director, International Relations at the Azerbaijani State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations, presented the Azerbaijani model of secularism and religious diversity. He also touched upon the role of the state in promoting religious tolerance in the country, saying: “We want to share Azerbaijan’s experience and see whether our model of secularism and religious tolerance can also be an inspiration for others.”
Hervé Rehbi, Head of Yavné, a Jewish cultural centre, then discussed the tradition of secularism in Bordeaux, a French city where interreligious dialogue is notably tolerant.
Mr Oubrou, who travelled to Azerbaijan with TEAS in April 2013 on a study trip focusing on Azerbaijan: secularism and religious tolerance in the Muslim world and who also participated in the Intercultural Dialogue Forum that took place in Baku from 29 May–1 June 2013, shared his experience and appreciation of the Azerbaijani model of secularism. He explained that the peaceful experience of interreligious dialogue and secularism in Azerbaijan must be viewed within today’s context of globalisation, and it is important that secular states like France and Azerbaijan share their experiences and address common challenges.
About 150 academics, members of religious communities, opinion-makers and civil society representatives attended the symposium, all of which were interested in discussing the concept of secularism and the future of cohabitation between different religious communities, in France and elsewhere in the world.