Skip to main content

Religion in the Public Square: 20 Years Since 9/11

The attacks of 9/11 shocked and shook the world. The wars that followed shifted the geopolitical landscape. Even today – twenty years later – the fallout is unforeseeable, both locally and globally. Religion is crucial to the public and political dynamics that unfolded in the aftermath of the attacks. Whether religion is interpreted as a force for cohesion or as a factor for conflict, it continues to stir up controversies. Violence in the name of religion is rife. The construct of the clash of civilizations in which Islam clashes with Christianity as much as Christianity clashes with Islam is persistent in European and American public perception of religion. In addition to Islamophobia, antisemitism is on the rise, fuelling nativist populist politics in a wide variety of contexts and countries. What, then, is the role of religion in the public square twenty years after 9/11?

Black and White logo for the Centre for Theology and Public Issues

Organised by the Centre for Theology and Public Issues (CTPI) at the University of Edinburgh, this international and interdisciplinary symposium brings together leading experts in theology, philosophy, sociology as well as cultural and political studies to reflect on the role of religion in the public square. Drawing on Jewish, Christian and Islamic thought and theology, the symposium explores the enduring legacy and essential lessons to be learnt from 9/11 in order to examine the significance of religion for politics today.


1–1:30pm - Welcome: Terror and Theology. Re-thinking Religion after 9/11 – Ulrich Schmiedel (University of Edinburgh)

1:30–2:15pm - Twenty Years After 9/11: Religionizing and Depoliticizing the World – Farid Hafez (Williams College)

2.15–3pm - Making Sense of the Religious Aspects of Transnational Jihadi Movements – Mona Kanwal Sheikh (Danish Institute for International Studies)

3–3.15 pm - Break

3:15–4:00pm - Religious Literacy Beyond the Security Paradigm – Atalia Omer (University of Notre Dame)

4–4:45pm - Religion and Secularity as Supersessionist Categories: A Reflection on Diversity and Otherness Twenty Years after 9/11 – Jayne Svenungsson (University of Lund)

5–6pm - Panel Discussion with Response by Brian Klug (University of Oxford)

6–6:45pm - Reception


Farid Hafez, Visiting Professor of International Studies at Williams College, US

Mona Kanwal Sheikh, Senior Researcher in Global Security at the Danish Institute for International Studies, Copenhagen, DK

Brian Klug, Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy at St Benet’s Hall, University of Oxford, UK

Atalia Omer, Professor of Religion, Conflict and Peace Studies at the Keugh School of Global Affairs, University of Notre Dame, US

Ulrich Schmiedel, Lecturer in Theology, Politics and Ethics at the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh, UK.

Jayne Svenungsson, Professor of Systematic Theology at the Centre for Theology and Religious Studies, University of Lund, SE


Register on eventbrite