Copts Boycott Committee Drafting New Egyptian Constitution

Calling their participation “futile,” the Coptic Church yesterday withdrew its two representatives from the 100-person committee drafting Egypt’s new constitution. The committee, which is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis, has also suffered recent defections from liberal and secular members, who argue that the committee fails to represent the totality of Egyptian society. Even Al-Azhar University, the country’s leading seat of Islamic learning, has withdrawn from the process, suggesting a division within the Muslim community about the direction the committee is taking. These defections follow the Muslim Brotherhood’s announcement  Saturday that it will run a candidate in upcoming presidential election, notwithstanding earlier pledges to sit out the contest.

Lassner, “Jews, Christians, and the Abode of Islam”

This is an absolutely wonderful looking new study about the interaction of various religious traditions in the pre-early-medieval period — Jacob Lassner’s (Northwestern) Jews, Christians, and the Abode of Islam: Modern Scholarship, Medieval Realities (Chicago 2012).  The publisher’s description follows.

In Jews, Christians, and the Abode of Islam, Jacob Lassner examines the triangular relationship that during the Middle Ages defined—and continues to define today—the political and cultural interaction among the three Abrahamic faiths. Lassner looks closely at the debates occasioned by modern Western scholarship on Islam to throw new light on the social and political status of medieval Jews and Christians in various Islamic lands from the seventh to the thirteenth centuries. Utilizing a vast array of primary sources, Lassner balances the rhetoric of literary and legal texts from the Middle Ages with other, newly published medieval sources, describing life as it was actually lived among the three faith communities. Lassner shows just what medieval Muslims meant when they spoke of tolerance, and how that abstract concept played out at different times and places in the real world of Christian and Jewish communities under Islamic rule. Finally, he considers what a more informed picture of the relationship among the Abrahamic faiths in the medieval Islamic world might mean for modern scholarship on medieval Islamic civilization and, not the least, for the highly contentious global environment of today.

Breton, “Different Gods”

An interesting looking book by Raymond Breton (Toronto) about some of the challenges faced by Canada, Different Gods: Integrating Non-Christian Minorities Into a Primarily Christian Society (McGill-Queen’s University Press 2012).  The publisher’s description follows.

In recent decades the ebb and flow of immigration to Canada has changed significantly, with the majority of immigrants coming from non-European countries. A striking feature of this shift is that a significant proportion of immigrants are non-Christians newly immersed in a society entrenched in Christian ideals.

In Different Gods, Raymond Breton looks at the significance of religious differences and what they mean for immigrants, non-immigrants, and Canada’s future. Breton examines the evolution over time of the religious attitudes and behaviour of the new minorities and the challenges that their presence poses to the receiving society. The analysis consists of a review of recent research and formulates possible conclusions about the transformations that integration may bring about for both the minorities and the receiving society.

An important analysis of immigration in an era of rapidly changing social values, Different Gods looks boldly into issues of collective identity and cultural accommodation.

Silvestri on the Identities of Europe’s Muslim Women

In June, Columbia University Press will publish Europe’s Muslim Women: Beyond the Burqa Controversy, by  Dr. Sara Silvestri, Senior Lecturer in International Politics at City University London.  Silvestri’s text attempts to transcend the international debates—e.g., about the burqa, the niqab, and subjection to men—surrounding Muslim women in Europe that inadvertently have the effect of obscuring who these women actually are.  Through the content of interviews and surveys, Silvestri hopes to paint a truer portrait of the domestic, religious, and socio-political identities of Europe’s Muslim women.

Please see the publisher’s description after the jump. Read more

Marietta on the Politics of Sacred Rhetoric

In March, Baylor University Press published, The Politics of Sacred Rhetoric: Absolutist Appeals and Political Persuasion, by Morgan Marietta, who teaches American politics and political psychology at the University of Georgia.  The volume explores the uses and effects of American politicians’ reliance on religious tropes in expressing their political positions, even where the connection between their language and the sacred is not overt.  The first part of the volume discusses this trend and its effect in general.  The second part delves into how such rhetoric has been used in specific social movements; by specific presidents, such as George W. Bush; and in specific political undertakings, like the 2008 Democratic  campaign.

For the publisher’s description, please follow the jump. Read more