Congrès Mondial des Études sur le Moyen-Orient et l'Afrique du Nord

Barcelone du 19 au 24 Juillet 2010


National Identity and Confessionalism in Modern North Africa and Middle Eastern Countries (268) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED institution: University of Catania, Faculty of Political Science- SESAMO (Italy)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Alessia Melcangi

· NOT_DEFINED language: English/Français

· NOT_DEFINED description: The panel would like to focus on problems related to National Identity in modern Middle Eastern countries where the presence of a pluralistic confessional composition of the population has played and continues to play a major role in the dynamics of construction of the State. Aim of the panel is to go beyond the old category of majority/minority, or the division between dhimmi and Muslim, in order to investigate the impact of concepts like citizenship, secularism, constitutionalism, in changing the self consciousness and the definition of the ‘other’. A multidisciplinary approach is most welcome, to better underline the role of historical, juridical, sociological, and political factors among the religious communities, Christian, Jew and Muslim, with consideration of their internal differences.

Chair: Paola Pizzo, University of Chieti - Pescara - SESAMO

Discussant: Anna Bozzo, University of Roma Tre- SESAMO.

Paper presenter: Alessia Melcangi, University of Catania, Faculty of Political Science – SESAMO, The Copts and the nationalist politics of Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasser.
The problem of the Copts and its integration inside a national and homogeneous community, went through many problematic phases during the political rule by the Egyptian leadership, after the coup led by the Free officers (1952).Essentially, the nationalistic view, represented by Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasser, belongs to a Muslim society, and the presence of a Christian community in this society may bring to question the ideals of a united Egypt in its social composition and its history. In this work, we will try to highlight the relationship between an old rooted social group which is well-adjusted in a territory, the Coptic Christians, and the political institution of the reference country, Egypt. This relationship will be analysed following the fundamental phases of nasserian Egypt, directing particular attention to the nationalistic ideology which through its ideological and pragmatic corollary, succeeded in damaging, both institutionally and socially, the reality of this minority group present in Egypt. In this case, the comparison between these groups refers to a political program which aims to improve the economy by putting it only into the hands of the Egyptians, with the purpose of creating a local management. During the last few years of Nasser’s life, especially in the sixties, a full concordance on the different positions of Egyptians and Coptic Christians and the complete support of the Coptic community for the Egyptian nationalistic ideals, promoted by the regime, seems to have been achieved. This positive result depended on the particularly friendly relationship that was created in that period between the patriarch Cyrillo VI and the head of the Egyptian State.

Paper presenter: Paola Pizzo, University of Chieti - Pescara – SESAMO, Civil Society, Confessionalism, Religion in contemporary Egypt: elements of a debate.
In the aim of studying the structure of confessional relations in Egypt in modern times we can refer to some key concepts, as that of citizenship, national identity, civil society, that symbolize open crisis on which has to be based the future of the religious coexistence in the Country. Egyptian contemporary society has not yet solved the problem of its complex confessional composition. Nowadays, the different religious communities live different levels of integration in the political, judiciary, social system of the State. The process from dhimmah to mu’tanah has not yet concluded.

Paper presenter: Massimiliano Cricco, University of Perugia SESAMO, Non-Muslim minorities in Libya: from the Sixties to the Earliest Years of Qadhafi's Regime.
This paper aims to analyze the attitude of the Libyan Governments towards the non-Muslim minorities in the Arab Country during the Sixties, under the rule of King Idris al-Senussi, and in the early Seventies, under Qadhafi's government. The two most populous communities were Christian and Jew communities. King Idris' Libya was quite tolerant towards both the communities, that had lived in Libya for Centuries, but the Six Days War of June 1967 provoked the hatred of the Muslim people and the Jewish community was expelled. In that dramatic occasion, more than 4.000 Libyan Jews were forced to escape to Italy, where they obtained support by the Jewish communities in the main Italian cities. Three years after, on July 21 1970 the new Libyan leader, Muammar Qadhafi approved a series of laws that established the seizure of the Italians' and Jews' assets in Libia and the expulsion of the members of both the communities. So, Qadhafi decided to expel the majority of the Religious minorities living in his Country, respecting the right to profess a Non-Muslim Religious creed in Libya, but only for a tiny minority of both communities, Christians and Jews, that were allowed to remain in Libya.

Paper presenter:Giorgio Del Zanna, Catholic University of Milano – SESAMO, Christians in Ottoman Empire: the shift from ‘millets’ to nations.
Between the XIX and the XXth century the Ottoman Empire turned out to be weak, which caused the western culture to influence the Empire itself. The ottoman Christians noticed to be part of a wider, western-centred horizon. This caused the upward of the Christian middle-class, which structured once again its identity from an ‘ethnic’ point of view. This was the ground on which the national principle developed itself. The shift from ‘millets’ to nations was an answer to the need that Christian people felt, in order to find new collective identities inside the imperial crisis. Christian people, set in the junction between modernization and nationalization as they were, proved to be victims of a historical process which they supported and underwent at the same time. Europe gave Christian people a cultural background, starting from the concept of nation above all, which caused the Turkish and Arabian Middle East to progressively outcast them.

Paper presenter: Paolo Pieraccini, University of Florence – SESAMO, Catholics of Holy Land and Arab nationalism.
In the aim of studying the structure of confessional relations in Holy Land during the Second World War, we can refer to some key concepts, as that of citizenship, national identity, civil society, that involve the role of the Catholics in that country. During the Ottoman period, the number of Christians approached 30%. Emigration to the predominantly Christian-populated areas of neighbouring Lebanon, as well as South America drastically reduced the number of Christians by the beginning of the twentieth century. Prior to the independence of the state of Israel, approximately 10% of Palestine's (excluding Transjordan) Arab population was Christian. This struggle for existence, inevitably, has to deal with the main features of the Arab nationalism.