Monday, February 28, 2005

Salon International du Livre de Tanger

For the last two days I have been attending lectures and roundtable discussions at the 9th annual Salon International du Livre a Tanger (International Book Fair in Tangier) where the speakers have been speaking heavily on the direction of the Koran in the 21st century. Yes, it was a pretty exclusive event, but there were Moroccan students from universities around Tangier present and the interest was enormous. The rooms were filled beyond capacity each time. This is proof of an audience, too, for a wider range of films in Tangier to be presented by the CdT (! Yipee!!

At the book fair they showed a documentary/interview with Edward Said before he died. The film was sponsored by Al-Jazeera. I also saw Driss Chraibi speak, kind of, on his writing, and other authors and thinkers.

Noteable quotes from the conference (translated from the french)

Film on Edward Said “Selves and Others” directed by Emanuel Hanon
“There may be more to being out of place than being in/having a place.”
“War hasn’t solved anything so far” (on Palestine/Israel)
The role of the intellectual is to always be critical of power and never to justify power. Power of the strong and power of the weak. By providing alternative models and controversy to make people think. To be against destiny and to point out choice. (paraphrase)

Driss Chraibi“Hash, the messiah of Washington.”
“I am not a demagogue”
Claude Geffre
Called for an imagination when reading and interpreting and translating the religious text-as if it were poetry-to the end of creating a new order of humanity and a contemporary idea of the texts.
“The best interpretation is the text as revelatory, for the beauty of the text and inspiration of the text, of the mysteries of god and the possibilities among us.”

A panel of artists spoke on Islam with the reoccuring theme: “Kill the marionette in yourself.” Which was a pleasant surprised as I have named a collage poem I have almost finished "Faith is a Marionette."

Debate between Hamid Barrada and Guy Sitbon (Interlocutors in the new book “The Arab and the Jew in War” (On Peace in Palestine/Israel or both using Political, Violent means or both)

Hamid Barrada:
In the beginning he says: “Violence isn’t politics.” In the end he says, “we can’t found stability on violence.” But in the middle he says:
“Why have arabs gained a reputation for violence in the last years?” (The room applauds)
“Violence can be revolutionary, it doesn’t always bring misfortune… Moroccan independence was won by politics, yes, but in combination with violence”
Referred to the Israel-Palestine conflict exclusively as a Jewish colonization of Palestinian land.
“Could Algeria have been liberated without the Algerian war?
Hamas was actually organized and funded by Israel as a political rival to Arafat.
“Bush and Sharon are the same person”
“Americans are powerful, but since Vietnam they no longer have the desire to die. If you have the luxury of California you don’t want to die.”

Sitbon: “Colonialism is not a crime. We are all sitting here as products of colonialism.”
Barrada: “And we’re not a pretty picture.”
Sitbon: Israel as a religious state is against the intentions of the Bible. The Bible says the Jews will have israel back when the messiah comes. In 1948 a rabbi called Baghdad against the formation of the Israeli-Jewish state. His point being Zionism is not a religious issue.

In my opinion this was a two-dimensional, demagogic and unsuccessful debate. Mr. Barrada was using rhetoric that was emotional over substantial in order to gain the favor of the room. They were not engaging each other and their discussion was disjunct. And Sitbon unforunately did not protest speaking in Barrada’s terms.

Islam in the 21st century
Rachid Benzine (Author of the “New Thinkers of Islam” )
“The Obesity of Religion”
“One thinks of a doxa these days ahead of time and looks for a justification in the Koran.”
“Interpretation is the result of the history of women and men.”
“ ‘Islam’ is a suite of interpretations of Islam. The project is to classify the ‘Islams’.”
“If the prophet had lived for 4 centuries he would not have had time to say all the words that people put in his mouth.”

Soumaya Naamane-Guessous
“I was trying to buy a plastic box at the market and I asked the man, ‘Is the plastic solid?’ And the man answered, ‘Only Allah himself is solid.’”

Mohamed-Cherif Ferjani
“Religion gave a direction and the prophet gave the religion legitimacy. We must recognize the direction in which it pointed us and recognize that this leadership is over.”

Mohamed Arkoun
Called for an Islamic Enlightenment of reason and intellectual spirit. “The Koran must be put to the test.”

I hope you found this synopsis interesting and not too long. Best to all around the world.


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