This article provides an overview of the issues addressed in a series of papers on the general theme of ‘religion and the state in the Arab world’ published in Contemporary Arab Affairs over the past 12 months. The papers were initially presented at a conference convened by the Center for Arab Unity Studies and the Swedish Alexandria Institute, held in Hamamaat, Tunisia, in November 2012. Further to his own paper on the topic (published in issue 6(4) in this journal) here Abdelilah Belkeziz identifies the purpose of the whole exercise, namely to explore a range of different perspectives on the theme. He positions these perspectives on a spectrum between two extremes: at one, he contends, the case for separation between religion and state verges on hostility to religion itself; and at the other, an exclusivist version of Islam is accorded primacy over all other considerations in the running of a state and thence political discourse. He discusses the dangers inherent in both extremes and makes the case for a model of secularism that accords space to both religion and politics in the national project.

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