Pitfalls of consensus-orientated dialogue: the German Islam Conference (Deutsche Islam Konferenz)
Amir-Moazami, Schirin (2011)
The Donner Institute, Åbo Akademi
This article discusses one deliberative approach to dialogue as conceptualized by the philosopher Jürgen Habermas and brings this into a conversation with the current dialogue practice of the Deutsche Islam Konferenz (DIK) in Germany. This ongoing dialogue forum was initiated by the Ministry of the Interior in the autumn of 2006 in order to enact a structured conversation with Muslims and as a means of recognising them as ‘German Muslims’. My main argument is twofold. Focusing on Habermas’s ideal of dialogue as a consensus oriented rational discourse of equal citizens in non-hegemonic structures, I will argue, on the one hand, that much of the promise of the DIK to enact a dialogue with Muslims at eyelevel and to recognise them as equal citizens on the basis of the liberal-democratic order has not been fulfilled. With its top-down approach to Muslims as mere re-actors the DIK has so far turned out to be much more a governmental technique which aims at reshaping Muslims according to liberal/secular norms. On the other hand, I claim that although the DIK obviously runs counter to Habermas’s principles in many ways, it also shares and simultaneously lays bare the difficulties entailed in his consensus orientation, and, more importantly, in the secular bias of his approach.
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