Highlights from Mardin

Special thanks for the ILN 9th Conference donors and partners: Network for a Free Society, Atlas Network, Acton Institute, Association for Liberal Thinking and Mardin Artuklu University.

After 3 years of virtual activities and online conferences, the ILN 9th International Conference was held on October 27th and 28th 2022 in Mardin, Türkiye, in partnership with Mardin Artuklu University.
The best way to describe the 2-day conference is to quote one of the speakers, Edo Omercevic from Bosnia: ”I think we all had a great time in Mardin. Everything was just excellent. People, topics, city, food, just everything.” The other speakers have expressed similar opinions, and the ILN team couldn’t be prouder.
After receiving more than 80 applications from around the world, 16 speakers from 12 different countries were selected to participate in our conference. These countries are Indonesia, Bangladesh, the United States, the UK, Turkiye, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Bosnia, Iran, Pakistan and Tunisia. This shows that all the continents were represented, and scholars coming from different areas around the Muslim majority countries and beyond were present. They all came together to discuss several interesting topics such as religious moderation movements, Islamic ethics and refugees, economic progress in Muslim majority countries, Western secularism and multi-faith socieites, the dynamics between Islam and freedom, and the salafi drive. All the presented papers are already available on our website, along with a photo album of the conference: https://islamandlibertynetwork.org/9th-conference-mardin-turkey/. 
The papers presented during the conference highlight various challenges faced by the Muslim majority countries and Muslim communities as well. We heard about how a Middle level leadership by the civil society is pushing back wave of violence in Pakistan and also about how personal freedoms are now at stake in Afghanistan as well as in India for different reasons. We learned how free market and limited government in the experience of Islamic civilization helped in achieving prosperity. In addition, we learned that the Millet system by the Ottoman empire ensured peace and pluralism and might offer some ideas for modern secular democracy. In order to offer a measure of good governance and economic freedom in the Muslim majority countries, preliminary and comparative findings of an index were shared during the conference, which will hopefully lead to an annual publication in the future. One of the challenges that was highlighted was how Muslim majority countries need to improve human rights standards by stressing that most of these countries do not offer legal rights to refugees, which should be ensured following Islamic teachings.
The discussions that took place after each presentation were engaging, especially after controversial ones. But the discussions that took place in coffee breaks, over meals and during long walks in the beautiful city of Mardin were even deeper and very efficient at networking. Mardin is a historical city where different races and religions co-exist. That is why we made sure to include a city tour in our conference program after all the presentations were over, and everyone seemed to have enjoyed it. Everyone is now back home, but ILN now has a more expanded network with brilliant scholars from different parts of the world, which means more exciting collaborations to come.
Stay tuned!

Ali Salman & Tasnim Idriss