Here are some pictures from the conference that give a sense of the gathering.
George Stephanopolous is the moderator. Shirin Ebadi, from Iran, first Islamic woman to win the Nobel Prize, starts speaking in Farsi. Shirin says she prefers to talk about ideology than religion. When she says ideology in Farsi the word sounds the same as in English. Ideology, she says, can be either religious or secular, as in Cuba. Ideology serves to give life a purpose. But when ideology is managed unilaterally by the state it becomes a tool for political oppresion. Islam is a religon she thinks. But Islam used to govern is an ideology. Is Islam compatible with democracy? The problem is that in the Islamic world governments manage Islamic law and people who are against the government are seen not as the opposition but as infidels. Shirin, however, believes that Islam is compatible with democracy and human rights but that it has to be reconquered from non democratic rulers. Key is to separate religion from ideology.