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Mumbaï (India), January 2004 - Bangalore (India), August 2005

The context

In the contemporary political discourse, the argument of ‘religious fundamentalism’ associated with that of ‘terrorism’ has become a standard justification of excesses committed by certain individuals and groups in view of consolidating their authority and power. These fundamentalisms, whether stemming from Judaism, Confucianism, Islam , Buddhism, Christianity or Sikhism, make use of people’s beliefs to manipulate them and reach their envisaged political ends.

JPEG In India for example, Hindu fundamentalists have made use of the Hindu religion to establish a nationalist discourse, ultra-conservative and causing violent conflicts against Muslim, Christians, Sikhs and all other religious groups in the country.

Despite all this, the Hindutva forces have not succeeded in imposing one State religion, which distinguishes India from its neighbours in the South Asian region, where, in these countries, the dominant religion has acquired a quite privileged status at the expense of the other existing religions. Thus, from Pakistan to Sri Lanka, from Bangladesh to Kashmir, violence is regularly stirred up with a certain chauvinism in the name of one of these dominant religions.

Spiritualities and identities

(Mumbai World Social Forum, January 19, 2004)

JPEG The Muslim-Christian dialogue concerning underdevelopment is not an optional question; it is necessary because – over and above the difficulties it presents, it affects without doubt the very future of our planet. The rise of Muslim and Christian fundamentalism as well as Hindu-Buddhist fundamentalism renders this dialogue difficult, yet more and more urgent. A big number of countries experience tensions that take the form of more or less acute or latent conflicts between Christian and Muslim populations. Religious discourse that often accompanies these conflicts can sometimes hide the underlying social, cultural and economic imbalances. These circumstances make this dialogue urgently necessary, inasmuch as these populations are greatly marked by the absence of means and perspectives (for example: the landless, the homeless, the unemployed, the unskilled).

Spiritualities, in all their diversity, are part of the human heritage and are basic in the dialogue of civilizations. Not one form alone can offer all potentialities. Each one needs enrichment by its contact with others. This is possible where there is no attempt at creating a hierarchy of spiritual and cultural differences, no aim at domination, but at dialogue on equal bases. The quest for alternatives must be a common undertaking for all humanity. It should also be a process of interdisciplinary research with an intercultural approach.

With this background, the workshop focused on the obstacles against dialogue and the approaches that favor dialogue.

Workshop Organizers

The workshop was jointly organized by AREDS (India), Development and Civilizations - Lebret-Irfed international centre (Switzerland, France), BRES (France).

To access to the participants’ contributions, click here.

Religious fundamentalism and globalization

JPEG After having co-organized a workshop at the World Social Forum in Mumbai (January 2004) on the theme « Spiritualities and identities in the dialogue of civilizations », and in line with the seminar on the same theme which took place in Beirut in October 2003, the South Asia regional seminar was held on August 1-4, 2005 in Bangalore.

The Bangalore seminar focused specifically on the theme : « Religious fundamentalism and globalization » and structured around three main sub-themes :

  • religious fundamentalism and globalization in India, illustrated by realities with the dalit, tribal, workers and women sectors
  • living together in diversity: identity and pluralism
  • strengthening civil society: political action and networking.

Majority of the 25 participants represented Indian organizations from different sectors, beliefs and geographical locations. Participants from other countries (Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia, Lebanon, France) also shared their own reflections on the theme. A public meeting was organized on the last evening to share the results of the discussions with a wider public. Journalists were invited and a press statement was issued by the organizers at this occasion.


Following the regional seminar in Beirut (october 2003) on the theme « Dialogue of Civilizations and People’s Development », the south-asian regional seminar took place in Bangalore from the 1st to the 4th of august 2005 with the theme « Religious Fundamentalism and Globalization ». The participants were about thirty ; in the majority from India, of which many were women ; the other countries represented were Nepal, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Lebanon and France. Their organizations represented different social sectors, beliefs or religious belongings and geographical origins. A public meeting was organized at the end of the seminar in order to let know the results to a larger public. A report of the seminar exists in English and Tamoul.

The English on-line version is available here. A printed English edition will be available in AREDS, India, by the end of 2008.

The press statement is available here.

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