KUN0050 4 GEN 0562 KUWAIT /KUNA-PQC0
First "Secular Islam Summit" to convene early next month in Florida
NEW YORK, Feb 27 (KUNA) - The first ever "Secular Islam Summit," to be
convened in St. Petersburg, Florida, on March 4-5, will bring together
hundreds of thinkers and activists worldwide to counter the voices of
reactionary Islam which have been speaking on behalf of all Muslims, the
organizers of the event said late Monday.
About 500 people from all over the world are expected to attend, including
speakers and government guests from Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan,
Bangladesh, Europe, Canada and the US.
Iranian Banafsheh Zand, one of the organizers, told KUNA that people in
Islamic countries were taken into the "dark ages by the politicization of
"An age of reformation is upon us that needs desperately to be responded to
by people who embrace not only the faith as a personal and private matter, but
who also wish to see their countries and nations move forward in a progressive
and prosperous way to catch up with the 21st century," she added.
She indicated that the Summit will become a "sanctuary for a lot of people
who have been intimidated by the Jihad and radical Islamist forces, and to
essentially create an atmosphere of embracing the ideas of enlightenment, of
greater understanding of science, reason, secular ideas, such as separation of
religion and state, and of embracing their own cultural and national heritage,
their historical identities and the formation of a solidarity movement that
will help the Middle East and South Asian countries to have a leap forward in
Another organizer Austin Dacey also told KUNA that the most important
thing for participants is the hope that this Summit will be the "beginning of
a coherent cross-culture movement for secularism in Islamic societies."
"There are countless individuals who are standing up for critical reasoning
and freedom of conscience and secular values, but until now there really
hasn't been a global movement that brings them together as a force for change,
" he argued.
He explained that the "forces of reactionary Islam have their own global
networks, which are very well established and well funded. These secular
Muslims hope to do the same."
"We do think it is important that these alternative voices from the Muslim
World are heard by policy makers and government officials in the US," he
The Summit is expected to adopt a declaration at the end of the two-day
meeting demanding from governments, for instance, "the release of Islam from
its captivity to the totalitarian ambitions of power-hungry men and the rigid
strictures of orthodoxy."
The Summit, organized and sponsored by the Centre for Inquiry, a global
federation committed to science, reason, free inquiry and secularism, will be
held in partnership with the International Intelligence Summit, a non-partisan
and neutral forum that brings together members of the international
intelligence community to discuss issues of terrorism.
The organizers said this will be an opportunity for this community to
listen to and learn from each other and to share ideas in the common war
Both Summits will be held simultaneously in the same hotel, in order to
share costs, the organizers explained. (end)
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