History is undoubtedly a breeding ground for violence and this violence is sometimes synonymous with the will to live, fight, resist and persist in attaining dignity. Today, however, our democracies are marked by moments of brutality, through terrorist and discriminatory acts that are extremely violent and unjust and should not be confused with resistance. Other equally intolerable experiences have occurred in other countries, to other victims, before we reached this civilizational moment in which Islamic terrorism, imposed in the name of a religion and a pseudo-state (plotted despite the historical truth and distorting the true values of Islam), has become the world’s biggest enemy and wherein the fight against it has become a challenge for democracy and the rule of law.
In view of this state of the world and the threat of terrorism, together with its collateral damage of a headlong surge towards political populism and the increased xenophobia and racism that it brings in its wake, it is important that we hear the voice and listen to the inside view provided by the writer, Tahar Ben Jelloun (1944, Morocco). He is a well-known human rights activist and was the first Maghrebian writer to win the Goncourt Prize, in 1987, for The Sacred Night, which deals with discrimination against women. We need to reflect on the issues that he will address in this session, moderated by Fátima Vieira, a University of Porto professor and recognised specialist in utopian studies.