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I wrote this paper in advance of giving a talk at the London Interfaith Centre, “Why Secularism Matters for Peace in the Middle East”, on October 9 2017.

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This paper looks at the question of secularism in the Middle East as one of four factors pertaining to regional stability, the other three being suggested as firstly the comparative youth of its nations, secondly Western invasions and interventions, and thirdly its mineral resources. The uneven course of secularism in the Middle East is briefly charted and then the tensions are explored firstly between rival religious groupings and secondly secondly between religious and secular political philosophies. It is suggested that secularism is seen less favourably in the Middle East than in the West because it appears to lead to atheism, of greater concern in Muslim countries than in Western ones. Finally it is suggested that Islam may eventually form a better relationship with secularism than Christianity did because of its stricter rejection of the anthropomorphism of God (Allah).

Why Secularism Matters for Peace in the Middle East

Keywords: Middle East, secularism, stability, peace, toleration, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes.

First published: Stochastic Press / Papers

Year: 2017, no of words: 3,294