The Istanbul Network for Liberty held its fourth annual conference at the Idrissides Hotel in Marrakech, Morocco between 18-20 May, 2015, in partnership with the Arab Centre for Scientific Research and Humane Studies. A special thanks to Google for its sponsorship of the conference.

IMG_2057The conference was entitled “Civil society and free market economy in Muslim majority countries” and there were more than 60 participants from Morocco, UK, US, Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia, France, Algeria and Bosnia.

The opening session started with a welcome message from Mrs Linda Whetstone, chairman of Network for Free Society and Dr Nouh El Hermouzi; Director of the Arab centre for scientific research and humane studies.

The panel of the first session chaired by Dr Maszlee Malik from Malaysia included Dr Paul Heck (USA) who presented his interesting insights on the concept of open society in Islam. The second key note speaker was Dr Ali Ajgo from Algeria talking on the importance of religious freedom in fostering social cohesion.

The second session was chaired by Dr Mazen Deraoaun and included both Dr Taha Hmidani from Morocco and Peter Welby from the UK. The first key note speaker addressed individual freedom from an Islamic perspective while the second one presented a paper on secular politics and freedom.

The third session was chaired by Dr Peter Menzel (USA) and the panel included Dr Setti from Morocco and Dr Maszlee from Malaysia. Dr Setti discussed liberal understanding within the Islamic movement in Morocco while Dr Maszlee addressed the topic of whistelblowing as a tool of empowering civil society in the Muslim world toward better governance.

IMG_2012Mrs Ozlem Caglar chaired the fourth session in which Dr Can Ceylan from Turkey presented a paper entitled “ What is civil society to stand for in Islam?’’.

The whole morning of the second day was dedicated to addressing topics related to economics and trade in the Islamic world. The morning was divvied into two sessions; the first one was chaired by Youcef Maouchi and included both Hicham El Moussaoui from Morocco and Admir Cavalic from Bosnia. While DR El Moussaoui discussed the role of institutions in fostering economic development , Mr Cavelic presented a paper on economic freedom in the Islamic countries. The second session of the morning was chaired by Mr Edo Omercevic from Bosnia and the panel was composed of Souad Adnane who addressed the topic of women economic empowerment and Dr Vasileios Syros who presented his work on Islamic and European ideas on trade.

The last afternoon of the conference was composed of two sessions; the first was chaired by Bican Chahin and the second one by Dr Nouh El hermouzi. Mr Lorenzo Montanari ( USA) opened the first session of the afternoon with a study on property rights as indicator of economic freedom. His presentation was followed by a paper of Dr Mustapha Radji from Algeria and his paper on religious people and their support for market economy presenting insights from the World Value Survey. During this first session of the afternoon, Dr Raza Ullah from Pakistan also presented his work on Islam and liberal democracy challenges featuring Pakistan as a case study. The closing panel included three key note speakers; Imdad Hussain ( Pakistan) talking about civil society and civil freedom in the Islamic world featuring a case study from Pakistan, Moussad Tijani 11167914_854540597959038_8862283494884538125_n( Morocco) discussing the case of Moroccan civil society and Ali Salman ( Pakistan) addressing the issue of tradeoff between security and freedom.

Throughout both days of the conference, rich and dynamic discussions took place during the questions and answers sessions.  The participants were keen to raise issues relating directly to the current socio political climate in the Islamic world. Rule of law, democracy, freedom and issues related to civil society were raised by the attendees

Coffee breaks, lunches and dinners were occasion for participants to interact with each others. Various publications were presented by the Arab Centre for Scientific Research and Humane Studies.