Questions of Religion, Migration, and Democracy
With record numbers of migrants moving between countries around the world, what are the new challenges that western democratic countries face?
What does the growing presence of religious minorities mean for a country’s view of secularity?
What are the tensions between national identity and the demands for further inclusion by religious minorities?
How does the public space look and feel when its traditional makeup is challenged by these minorities?
Questions from the Facing History and Ourselves workshop A CROSS-ATLANTIC DIALOGUE: Secularism, Religious Freedoms,and National Identity (Paris, April 29, 2011)
“You must focus on the strangers you meet and try to understand them. The more you understand a stranger and the greater is your knowledge of yourself, the more power you will have."
Moroccan scholar Fatema Mernissi remembers the advice of her grandmother, Yasmina, who felt that each encounter with strangers was a chance to learn.
“To travel is the best way to learn and empower yourself,” said Yasmina, my grandmother, who was illiterate and lived in a traditional household with locked gates that women were not supposed to open. “You must focus on the strangers you meet and try to understand them. The more you understand a stranger and the greater is your knowledge of yourself, the more power you will have . . ."
To learn from travel, one must train oneself to capture messages. “You must cultivate isti’dad, the state of readiness,” Yasmina used to whisper conspiratorially in my ear . . . “The most baggage carried by strangers is their difference."
More in "Understanding Strangers" >>
"Immigration is in fundamental ways at the very center of the human story. We are what we are, as a species, because of human movement, because of migration."
Listen as scholars Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, John R. Bowen, and Sir Keith Ajegbo outline different circumstances, histories, and reasons for immigration across countries.