“Introduction: Political Secularism and Religious Difference in Western Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa”
Jeffrey Haynes and Erin Wilson
The introductory paper of this symposium compares the impact of “political secular” governing regimes in the countries of both the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Western Europe. The overall objective is to assess the impact of political secularism in both regions, as a key component of inter-religious and cultural discord and contention with significant political ramifications. The concept of “political secularism,” a contentious term, often lacking in analytical clarity, is briefly assessed. That is, what does “political secularism” mean and what does it look like both within and across Europe and the MENA? Opinions differ from scholar to scholar. As there is no consensus regarding the meaning of the term “political secular,” a core contribution of this introduction is to examine what the term means analytically in the contexts of the MENA and Western Europe.