In his closing remarks, Tlili thanked the speakers for sharing many perspectives that warrant further exploration and academic research. He described the symposium as the beginning of an ongoing debate, and raised the question of why such a debate can take place in the West but not the Muslim world. This is a major problem, as discussed by Wild; many Muslims do not have the benefit of the discourse developed here.
Ideas can influence progress and impact lives, Tlili stated. Unlike Charfi, who suggested that Islamism is losing its force, Tlili believes Islamism is still the dominant political discourse, and that there is a dangerous polarization between Western radical discourse and Islamist radical discourse. Because of this, regimes in the Muslim world are increasingly retreating from a commitment to openness and secularization, a trend seen in places like Turkey and Tunisia. New mosques are drawing large crowds and there are ever more social taboos in the name of religion. Yet these phenomena are too new and complex to be fully analyzed yet, Tlili said. The Muslim world is caught between the state and the Islamists: two forces of confused religiosity.
Tlili asked how we can reopen the conversation and give universities and intellectuals a renewed sense of possibility in light of the obstacles posed by the media and political structures. In answer, he stressed the need for stronger dialogue between the West and the Muslim world, and enjoined the West to recognize its stake in the outcome. Granting that all civilizations have contributed to global culture over the course of history, but that the last three centuries have been dominated by the Enlightenment, Tlili suggested that the West has a moral responsibility to engage the Muslim world intellectually by, for instance, opening their doors to figures like Abdullah. The Muslim–Western dialogue has tremendous implications for all. If we leave the Muslim world to choose between oppressive regimes, radical Islamists, and a confusing religiosity divorced from modernity, the future is not bright. Tlili closed by expressing the hope that all present felt a need for this conversation to continue, and that the symposium had made them feel more engaged in the dialogue.Back to the top.