July 11, 2019
The Muslim religious leaders that issue declarations are not seen as credible sources of religious authority, especially by the individuals that carry out attacks. Given that declarations are unlikely to reduce the likelihood of violence, what is their intended purpose?
June 10, 2019
Whether admiring his reforms or damning his abuses, news coverage of Saudi Arabia tends to portray Mohammed bin Salman as the kingdom’s key change agent. However, although MbS wields considerable power, he has not singlehandedly altered Saudi society.
May 3, 2019
Although abandoning U.S. government engagement with faith-based organizations is hardly the solution, best practices would likely result from appointing individuals with the expertise necessary to protect equal rights and democracy, as core components of promoting religious freedom and tolerance.
May 14, 2019
Morocco has worked to establish itself as a bulwark against religious extremism, and developed an international reputation as a bastion of religious tolerance. But to what extent do Moroccans view state leadership in religion favorably, or see head of state King Mohammed VI as a source of religious authority?
March 19, 2019
Religious authority is an increasingly influential but poorly understood source of power in governments throughout the Middle East. Who speaks for Islam in the region? How do Islamists and fundamentalists harness and exert religious authority, despite Islam’s largely decentralized power structure?
With Courtney Freer and Scott Williamson, Nathan Brown moderating
November 21, 2018
A number of Middle Eastern regimes have been touting moderate Islam to appeal to Western governments. How successful have these efforts been? Has there been any substantial domestic impact? Whatis moderate Islam and what role if any should the United States and other Western countries play in supporting it?
October 23, 2018
Governments around the world are introducing legislation to crack down on “fake news,” and frequently use new laws to silence criticism. Allegations of fake news allow authoritarian governments to discredit individuals or views that challenge their control. If politicians are rewarded with elected office despite adopting authoritarian hostility towards a free press, both the press and the democracy it supports may be in danger.
November 9, 2017
MbS is aware of the need to improve his country’s image to better target investors who might otherwise avoid the kingdom. However, as skeptics have noted, promoting moderate Islam is no small feat. It requires significant restructuring of religious institutions and changes in educational curriculums as well as reshaping long-held cultural or tribal traditions.
May 11, 2017
A subsection of the larger piece, “Official Islam in the Arab World: The Contest for Religious Authority” by Nathan Brown
Oman’s religious sphere is distinctive in two respects. The state gives special emphasis to tolerance and it also exerts greater control over the religious sphere than in most other Arab countries. These features are not unrelated.
There is no real agreement on the meaning of moderate Islam, of course. Muslim-majority governments that wish to be labeled moderate generally need to comply with the agenda of the United States. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and particularly since the rise of the Islamic State, moderation has more specifically corresponded to the rejection of violence.