Rabat - The Free University of Brussels launched the Fatima Mernissi Cultural Chair on the night of January 26.
Rabat – The Free University of Brussels launched the Fatima Mernissi Cultural Chair on the night of January 26.
In a tribute to Fatima Mernissi, the Free University of Brussels (FUB)held a ceremony to celebrate the launch of the Fatima Mernissi Cultural Chair. The well-known Moroccan sociologist was a great inspiration in the development of feminism in the Muslim world.
With the instalment of the chair, the University hopes to pursue Mernissi’s lifelong vocation of building a bridge between the Arab and Western world, stressing the sociologist’s worldwide achievement in examining the tensions between power, gender and Islam.
Iman Lechkar, current holder of the Fatima Mernissi Chair at the FUB, explained that the idea originated with Flemish congresswoman Yamila Idrissi and Saïda Sakali, project coordinator for the King Baudoin Foundation. “They thought it was remarkable that there were no specific teachings on Islam at the FUB, nor was there any research on the religion. When Mernissi died on December 30th 2015, they saw the perfect opportunity to point out this omission,” Lechkar explained in an interview with the university.
After a successful celebration of Mernissi’s legacy on March 8, 2016, the university decided to launch a cultural chair in the name of the sociologist, whose ideas inspired a binding interdisciplinary program of public lectures, workshops and research projects about power, gender and Islam. The chair created a framework for an open dialogue with opinion leaders, civil society organizations, artists and activists.
The rector of the FUB, Caroline Pauwels, paid tribute to the Moroccan sociologist, during a ceremony organized on this occasion, specifying that the FUB will be called upon to dispense, in the short and long terms, courses on Islam and the anthropology of religions
Pauwels also mentioned the possibility of setting up an interdisciplinary master’s degree on Islamic studies in North Africa and the Middle East. This master’s program, she added, will give rise to the teaching of subjects such as Arab media, Arabic and Islamic philosophy, Middle East politics and history, and Arabic literature.
The rector concluded the ceremony saying regretfully that “Arab thought is so rich that it saddens me to see it reduced to stereotypic slogans nowadays.”