Making Democracy One's Own: International Conference at JCU

Making Democracy's One's Own

From left: JCU professor Michael Driessen, Rashied Omar, Roberto Catalano, Fadi Daou, Najeeba Sayeed, Lailatul Fitriyah

The John Cabot University Interfaith Initiative co-hosted a major international conference last week on Making Democracy One’s Own: Muslim, Catholic and Secular Perspectives in Dialogue on Development, Democracy and Peace, in partnership with the University of Notre Dame, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Sophia University Institute and the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.

The conference brought together scholars, policy-makers, practitioners and theologians to explore the links between contemporary, religiously rooted projects of making democracy, interreligious dialogue and foreign policies aimed at countering religious extremism. Keynote speakers included Scott Appleby of the University of Notre Dame, Graeme Wood of the Atlantic Monthly, Katherine Marshall of Georgetown University and the World Bank, Asef Bayat of the University of Chicago, Amer al-Hafi from Jordan’s Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies and Khalid Chaouki of the Italian Parliament.

A dynamic public roundtable session was held on evening of Monday, May 30th at John Cabot University, featuring a panel of contemporary practitioners of Muslim-Catholic-Secular dialogue. On Tuesday, May 31st a second public session was held at the Italian Senate, hosted by the chairman of the Italian Senate’s Foreign Relations committee, the honorable Pier Ferdinando Casini. Shaun Casey, the US Special Representative for Religion and Global Affairs, made a landmark speech to open the evening’s conversation in which he defended the institution of his office and the role it has played in engaging religious communities abroad and countering religious expressions of violent extremism over the last 5 years.