During the second semester of the 2003-2004 academic year, the chair was held by the Syrian professor, Dr. Sadik Al-Azm (°1934, Damascus). He holds a Doctorate in Philosophy from Yale and is an Emeritus Professor of Modern European Philosophy with the University of Damascus. He has taught as a visiting professor at various Arab, European and American universities (incl. Beirut, Kile, Harvard, Princeton) and is an expert on (Islamic) fundamentalism and the relationship between the West and the Arab world. During his stay in Antwerp, he was granted the prestigious Leopold Lucas Award (Tübingen) and the Erasmus Award (The Netherlands).
Prof. Al-Azm is considered to be one of the most self-critical voices within the Arabic world. He does not shy away from controversy. After the Six-Day War (1967), he wrote a remarkable book in which he criticised the then Arab leaders. Shortly after, he published a criticism of the obscurantism of Islamic traditionalism. He was accused of incitement, but was eventually acquitted, probably in part thanks to his noble birth (Al-Azm belongs to an old and respected Syrian family). As a result, he gradually gained the status of an independent critic - which uniquely enabled him, as an Arab Intellectual, to publicly defend Salman Rushdie.
Prof. Al-Azm taught an introductory course on "Islam in the 20th Century" and an advanced course on "Issues in Contemporary Arab Social and Political Thought". On 28 April 2004, he presented an inaugural address entitled "Two Years After 9/11: Some Stocktaking". On the occasion of the granting of the Leopold Lucas Award by the University of Tübingen, the renowned German Islamologist Prof. Josef Van Ess presented an introduction to this lecture that dealt with secularism and interfaith dialogue in the Middle East.
During his stay in Antwerp, Prof. Al-Azm also presented about a dozen lectures at University of Antwerp, VUB, KULeuven and RUG. He was a frequent guest speaker at various events and was extensively interviewed by the media (Tertio, Knack, Klara, …).
UCSIA assisted in the publication of his book on "Het maatschappelijke debat in de Arabische wereld" (Dutch).
You can find the report on the lecture "Two Years After 9/11: Some Stocktaking" in Dialogue Series II, Islam and Secularism.
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