Luncheon Speaker Series
Is Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals?
Wednesday, 26 October 2016
12:00 – 14:00
Light lunch will be served.
Prof. Dr. Peter Demant
Dialogue Platform, Rue Montoyer 31, 2nd floor, Brussels 1000
Terrorism, including jihadist attacks perpetrated by a small minority of Muslims, is mostly combated with an array of practical security measures. But we can’t fight well what we don’t understand, and understanding is the task of intellectuals. As we classify intellectual and ideological positions from universalism to relativism, we encounter a whole gamut of explanations and proposals, some lucid, others muddled, or simplistic. It also becomes clear why some Western public intellectuals, in particular those on the Left, relativize terrorism, while others on the Right blame Islam en bloc. Why, then, have effective strategies to counter the motivation to perpetrate terrorist acts hardly emerged thus far?
Most intellectual positions, it appears, have a blind spot: reluctance to address the sources of attraction that seduce some people into terrorist activity. Would these sources perhaps lie in the West’s own crisis of belonging and transcendence, for which our intellectual elites share responsibility?
Join us for the discussion with Professor Demant and debate on Intellectuals and Terrorism: Confrontation or Evasion?
About the speakers
Peter Robert Demant is a historian with a PhD from Amsterdam University (UvA) and a “livre-docência” from Universidade de São Paulo (University of São Paulo, USP), Brazil. He specializes in the contemporary Middle East and Islamic world and he has worked as senior researcher at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and as the project director at IPCRI Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information. Since 2001 teaches at USP in Contemporary History (Philosophy, Humanities, and Social Sciences Faculty, FFLCH) and International Relations Institute (IRI) of USP. Current interests are i.a. Islam-West relations, the Israeli-Arab conflict, Muslim minorities in Europe, and terrorism. Publications include O Mundo Muçulmano (2010, 4th ed.) and Islam vs. Islamism: the Dilemma of the Muslim World (2006).
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