I participated in the Fourth World Congress for Middle East Studies (WOCMES) held at Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Turkey, August 18–22, 2014. The congress was organized by the Department of Political Science and Public Administration and the Graduate Program of Middle East Studies at METU, in collaboration with the Turkish Social Sciences Association.
After the highly successful experiences of the three previous WOCMES meetings held in Mainz, Germany, in 2002, Amman, Jordan, in 2006, and Barcelona, Spain, in 2010, WOCMES Ankara brought this unique event to the Eastern Mediterranean region.
WOCMES 2014 was attended by a remarkable number of very distinguished academics, policymakers, and researchers, who represented a wide variety of universities and institutions from 74 countries. The scientific program of the Congress, with its 400 academic sessions, meetings, exhibits, roundtables, and poster presentations, was impressive. It was designed to facilitate exchange and strengthen networking among more than 1,500 experts from all branches of the humanities, social sciences and related disciplines, and from all over the world.
The main disciplines at the congress were: Anthropology, Archeology, Architecture, Economics, Education, Fine Arts, Gender Studies Geography, History, International Relations, Journalism, Labor Studies, Law and Legal Studies, Literature and Linguistics, Environmental Studies, Peace and Conflict Resolution, Philosophy, Political Science, Religious Studies, Social Psychology, and Sociology.
Topics covered in the academic presentations focused on: Ancient Middle East, Islam in the Past and Present, Christian and Biblical Studies, Urban Studies and Space, Water and the Environment, Economics and Politics, Women and Gender Studies, Normative Phenomena and Legal Research, Migration Studies, Media and Cultural Studies, Linguistics and Literature, Nationality, and Identities and Ethnicity.
On August 20, 2014, I participated in the panel, “Iraq: Human Costs of Occupation,” which was organized by the International Association of Middle Eastern Studies (IAMES) in cooperation with the International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies (IACIS). Two other scholars joined me in the panel: Dr. Mundher Al-Adhami (Iraq) and Dirk Adriaensens (Belgium), as well as the moderator Prof. Raymond Baker (USA). My presentation was titled: “The Power of Political Islamization in Iraq, the Case of Ending the Civil State: Psycho-Political Perspective.”
In my presentation, I argued that The American Coalition Provisional Authority helped leaders of religious groups and parties to dominate the political scene. Since the occupation of Iraq in 2003, Islamic political parties have been trying to reproduce the state and society in accordance with their sectarian views. Their attempts to Islamize Iraqi society go against the deep-rooted secularist trends that had dominated the public life since the establishment of the nation-state in the 1920s. Based on my six years of research on political Islam, I concluded that the psychological basis of political Islam includes: a phobia of freedoms; hostility to beauty; denial of the basic facts of human nature; women’s complex (women’s erotic nature and their inferiority to men); a wish to impose ignorance on society; a glorification of the past and fear of the future; an instinctive trend toward money, power, and sex; and hatred of national identity. These undeclared motives of political Islam that dominate public life in Iraq have produced a number of negative social phenomena, including: fighting the social secularist trends in Iraq; spreading false religiosity; immortalization of hostage society; strengthening the masochistic trend in Iraqi mentality; undermining the Baghdadi identity; academic corruption in the Iraqi universities; targeting and terrorizing of minorities; and Green Zone psychology.
The issues that my presentation raised focused on: my research methodology, the role of The American Coalition Provisional Authority in providing the opportunity for political Islam to dominate public life, and whether the psychological basis of political Islam I listed above can be generalized to political Islam in other countries in the Middle East.
WOCMES 2014 was a real and genuine opportunity for me to update my viewpoints regarding the issues and crises of the Middle East from multiple academic perspectives. It gave me the chance to build networks with many scholars from several countries. Such an academic event is a true occasion to strengthen the values of peace and tolerance, as long as the hundreds of participants can contribute to shaping their countries’ policies towards the Middle East.
Thanks so much to TAARII for giving me the chance to participate in WOCMES 2014. This support helped me to present a theoretical paper regarding the relation between political Islam and society in Iraq, as well as to attend numerous sessions and meetings of the Congress.
Faris Nadhmi, Ph.D., Social Psychology. Nadhmi is a writer, researcher, and lecturer in political, social, and personality psychology at Baghdad University, Salahaddin University-Erbil. He can be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org