Professor Fethi Mansouri was an invited plenary speaker at the recently launched Tunis Process on Europe-Islam engagement, held in Tunisia 28-29 June.
The Tunis Process was hosted under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Tunisia, in partnership with key international agencies most notably the Berlin-based Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (DOC), in partnership with the LBH Foundation (LBH) and Al Jazeera Centre for Studies (AJCS).
The Tunis Process is an innovative year-long series of events to explore the relationships between Islam and Europe through dialogue among a diverse group of international participants.
The Tunis Process will focus on two broad issues: “The effects of Islam in Europe” and “‘The effects of Western culture in Muslim societies”. Within these sets of questions and issues, it will explore how social media, art, film, technology, music, and other forms of creative expression and popular culture can be utilised to overcome differences and create a shared path.
Professor Mansouri presented a plenary paper on the ‘Effects of The Presence of Islam In Europe’. Professor Mansouri argued that we must recognize the significant gap between rhetoric/discourse and lived realities and in the process we must absolutely avoid contributing to a self-fulfilling prophecy about an inability to co-exist in diversity and peace. He reminded the delegates that Islam in Europe is not a new phenomenon, indeed there are European countries (e.g. in the Balkans) that are Muslim majority and yet Islam in Europe is often invoked in relation to minoritised Muslim migrants in particular post WWII.
The key assumption about Muslims in Europe has been around a lack of social integration; clash of values and more recently an association with violent extremism and terrorism. Reflecting on research evidence on Muslims’ integrating in their European countries of residence, Professor Mansouri cited key challenges relating to social mobility; economic prosperity; countering discrimination.
The two-day symposium in Tunis will be followed by sessions at the DOC’s flagship Rhodes Forum (11-12 October 2019 on the Greek island of Rhodes) and in Doha (March 2020). A concluding Symposium will take place at the DOC’s Berlin headquarters in May or June 2020.