Common Word Conference

A Common Word:

The Boundaries of Religious Pluralism & Freedom: The Devil is in the Detail

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Georgetown University

ICC Auditorium, Intercultural Center

As the official representative of A Common Word in North America, ACMCU is hosting this conference on the fifth anniversary of the historic Common Word initiative. The program is a follow-up to A Common Word: A Global Agenda for Change, held in October 2009 andResponding to the Challenges of Religious Pluralism & Conflict Resolution, held in April 2011. This year’s conference will explore the challenge of religious pluralism and intercommunal conflicts in Christian-Muslim relations today in post Arab Spring governments in Egypt and Tunisia, and their impact on religious freedom, civil liberties and security, equality of citizenship, and gender relations.

*Note: The Common Word Conference, originally scheduled for Oct 31, 2012, was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy. This is the rescheduled program.*

Conference Program:

Opening John L. Esposito, Georgetown University
Welcome President John J. DeGioia, Georgetown University


Panel 1: Are There Limits to Religious Freedom that Religions Agree On?

Few dispute the value and centrality of religious freedom, but religious traditions also often guard areas of faith, practice, or community that they hold beyond the reach of that freedom. If religious traditions agree on the importance of religious freedom, can they agree to limitations on blasphemy, building churches, and missionary work?

Richard Cizik, New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good

David Law, Georgetown University Law Center & Washington University in St. Louis
Thomas Farr, Georgetown University
Farid Esack, 
University of Johannesburg - South Africa

11:00-11:15am -- Coffee Break

Panel 2: Challenges to the Relationship of Law to Religion in Western Democracies and in Post Arab Spring State Building

Religious communities have had different arrangements with the (nation) states in which they exist. In Western secular democracies, the relationship between state and religion and the complexities this poses for religious freedom have emerged more clearly than ever. At the same time, in Egypt and Tunisia, questions of the relationship of religion to the state and its impact on equality of citizenship and religious freedom are at the forefront in state building. What will the Arab Spring mean for religious freedom? Will governments dominated by Islamic parties seek to limit it or embrace it?

Mohammad Fadel, University of Toronto

Emad Shahin, American University in Cairo - Egypt
Said Ferjani, Al-Nahda Party - Tunisia
Mohamed Yousry Salama, Al-Dostour Party - Egypt

Nancy Okail, Freedom House - Egypt

12:45-1:45pm -- Break

Plenary: The Challenge of Religious Pluralism in Christian-Muslim Relations: The Arab Spring

However different, Muslim countries from emerging democracies in Egypt and Tunisia struggle with the issue of religious pluralism in guaranteeing equality of citizenship and political representation. What are the key issues and the way forward?

Chris Seiple, Institute for Global Engagement


Seyyed Hossein Nasr, George Washington University 
Abdulaziz Sachedina, University of Virgina
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington Emeritus 
Dalia Mogahed, Former Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies

3:30-3:45pm -- Coffee Break

Panel 3: Gender & Religious Freedom in Christian-Muslim Relations
Do gender issues (for example: hijab, shariah, family laws, education) create obstacles for multi-faith understanding/relations
, religious freedom, and civil liberties?

Tamara Sonn, College of William & Mary

Margot Badran, 
Georgetown University
Kathleen Moore, University of California Santa Barbar
Merve Kavakci-Islam, George Washington University


Free and open to the public

For a map showing the location of the Intercultural Center, please visit:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 9:00am to 5:00pm

Edward B. Bunn, S.J. Intercultural Center, Auditorium
37th and O St., N.W., Washington

Event Type

Academic Events


Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding


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