Newsletter — January 2017

Dear friends,

January 2017 has been a very busy month at the IDEO. Several new projects were started which are very promising. I’ll leave it to you to discover them below, and we thank you once again for your support and encouragement! February also looks like it will be a busy month, especially with the Cairo Book Fair which began on January 26th and will go until February 10th.

IDEO Seminars

On January 10th, Mgr Camillo Ballin, prof. Giuseppe Musumeci and M. Roni Nassour presented the Arabic translation of Dictionnaire des religionswhich was published in 1984 under the direction of Cardinal Poupard.

On January 24th, Emilio Platti, OP gave a seminar on the topic “The Oldest Manuscripts of the Qurʾān”. Following the discovery of ancient manuscripts of the Qurʾān, and the Carbon-14 dating of the Birmingham folios to between 568 and 645 AD (56 before Hiǧra to 25 after), a majority of scholars are rallying around a date for the earliest copies of the Qurʾān. (Read the report…)

Humanities and Religion Seminar

On January 13, Guillaume de Vaulx and Amir Jajé, OP inaugurated the five-session seminar, in Arabic, on “Religion under the Microscope of the Humanities” with the first session devoted to the psychology of religion. The following four sessions will focus on 1) belief in light of philosophy, 2) « Sharia » in light of human rights, 3) religious symbolism in society, and 4) interreligious dialogue in light of the intellect. Forty students (out of 175) have been selected. Included are men and women, several students from al-Azhar, some Christians, and even a priest.

Cooperation with al-Azhar

The first two meetings of the steering committee, established by a cooperative agreement between the University of al-Azhar and the IDEO, took place on January 11th and 14th.  We have agreed to organize a monthly seminar to address “extremism: history, definition, and diagnosis”. In a second phase, we would like to plan common activities to meet the challenge of extremism.


From January 23-26, Emmanuel Pisani, OP took part in a meeting of the scientific committee PLURIEL in Granada (Spain) in preparation for the “Islam and Belonging” Conference which will be held in July 2018.

On January 27, Adrien de Fouchier, OP attended the workshop “The Arabic Bible as Book” organized in Munich by the Ludwig-Maximilian University. During the workshop, he gave a lecture titled “The Quire and its Signs in the Christian Arabic Manuscripts of the 13th Century”.


Emmanuel Pisani, OP was elected as a member of the orientation council of Islam Foundation in France headed by Jean-Pierre Chevènement.

IDEO evenings

On January 12th, the IDEO presented the theater piece Pierre et Mohammed, written by Adrien Candiard, OP (see photo). It was performed by Jean-Baptiste Germain, under the direction and music of Francesco Agnello. This play is an imaginary and emotional dialogue between Bishop Pierre Claverie, OP based on his writings, and his driver Mohammed Bouchikhi, who became close friend. Both were assassinated together in an attack in Oran on August 1, 1996.

Congress on Mission

From January 17-21, Rémi Chéno, OP, Jean Druel, OP, Robini Marianto, OP, Claudio Monge, OP and Jean-Jacques Pérennès, OP attended the World Congress of the Dominican Order on Mission, which was organized to end to the celebration of the 800th anniversary of the foundation of the Order. Jean Druel and Jean-Jacques Pérennès led two workshops devoted to the interreligious dialogue. You can listen here to an interview (in French) of Jean Druel on Radio Vatican…

Ph.D. dissertation

On January 19th, Dennis Halft, OP successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation at the Free University in Berlin, titled “The Arabic Vulgate in Safavid Persia: Arabic Printing of the Gospels, Catholic Missionaries, and the Rise of Shiite Anti-Christian Polemics”. He was awarded summa cum laude.


On January 2nd, we had the pleasure to welcome for lunch her Excellency Mme Renáta Kovács, Cultural Counselor of Hungarian Embassy. For several years, we have had an ongoing cooperative agreement with the Catholic University of Hungary.

From January 4‒17, we had the pleasure to receive Emmanuel Pisani, OP, who regularly comes to work for MIDEO and pursue his personal research.

On January 8 and 11, we received bishop Camillo Ballin, Vicar Apostolic of North Arabia (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia). He shared with us news regarding the construction project in Bahrain of the largest Catholic cathedral in the Gulf, which should surpass that of Kuwait.

From January 10 until February 21, we have welcomed Emilio Platti, OP, who comes every year to teach at Dar Comboni and attend the Cairo Book Fair.

On January 28th, we received Mrs. Rolla Scolari, editing director of Oasis journal, which is devoted to interreligious and intercultural Islamic-Christian dialogue.

Scholars’ House

During the month of January, we had the pleasure to receive at the Scholars’ House Mrs. Catherine Mayeur-Jaouen, professor at INaLCO, Mr. András Szenczi, PhD student at the Catholic University of Hungary, Dom Antoine Drouineau, Priest of Saint-Martin community, Dr. Fares Kamal, Professor of psychology at the University of Erbil, M. Renaud Soler, PhD student in Paris, and M. Lutz Rogler, professor at the University of Berlin.

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