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April 18, 2014  |  About the Berkley Center  |  Directions to the Center  |  Subscribe
 
Topics Traditions Countries Classroom US/China  

COUNTRY

Saudi Arabia

POPULATION

26,534,504 (July 2012 est.)

GDP PER CAPITA

$24,500 (2011 est.)

RELIGIONS

Muslim (official) 100%


Saudi arabia

Saudi Arabia

Interviews (15)

The royal family of Saudi Arabia charges itself with the protection of the two holiest cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina, and the propagation of the Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam. The Muslim faith began in Mecca with the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century CE and quickly spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa along with Arab culture. Abdul Aziz Al Saud (1926-53) consolidated control over the Arabian Peninsula in the early 20th century, relying militarily on the Ikhwan, a Bedouin militia dedicated to spreading and enforcing Wahhabism. Islam is the state religion, and Wahhabi ethics are enforced by morals police. Non-Muslims may practice their faiths in private, but public displays of religion are limited to Wahhabi Sunni Islam. Of particular concern is the tendency of Wahhabism to breed militant Islamists; numerous terrorist attacks have been carried out against Saudi rule, and 15 of the 19 hijackers in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were Saudi.


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  • December 10, 2010
    Background: This conversation occurred between Farina So and Nathaniel Adams and DC-Cam's office in Phnom Penh on December 10, 2010. In it, Ms. So discusses issues of religion and identity in Cambodia's Cham community, including the role of women in safeguarding and transmitting these traditions. She also explains the importance of oral history, or as she calls it “history from below”, for empowering marginalized groups in Cambodia. She discusses how the Cham Oral History Project...
  • December 9, 2010
    Background: This discussion preceded a consultation on faith and development in South and Central Asia in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on January 10-11, 2011. The interview was by telephone between Michael Bodakowski and Keshab Prasad Chaulagain, and expanded upon by email exchange on February 16, 2011. In this interview Mr. Chaulagain discusses the peace process in Nepal, the diverse actors, and the importance of engaging faith communities. He describes his collaboration with UN WOMEN and the crucial...
  • November 24, 2010
    Background: Thoraya Obaid and Katherine Marshall sat down to reflect on Dr. Obaid's engagement with faith actors during a UN staff workshop in Turin, Italy in November 2010. In addition to discussing the upcoming stages of her career, after she leaves UNFPA in December 2010, the conversation builds on earlier exchanges and explores both the positive and less enthralling aspects of Dr. Obaid's longstanding determination to actively take culture and religion into account in pursuing UNFPA's...
  • July 2, 2010
    Background: This July 2010 discussion between Afeefa Syeed and Katherine Marshall focuses on Afeefa's pioneering role within USAID and her rich experience there. She highlights the importance of listening to what communities want and driving programs from that perspective. Women are natural peacemakers, she argues, across many regions, from family to community to regional levels, sought out in conflicts because of their skills and approach. She also speaks to the active roles of youth, many...
  • June 5, 2010
    Background: This June 2010 exchange between Manal Omar and Susan Hayward highlights Omar’s experiences and insights into religion and its intersection with women's empowerment, development, and peacemaking, particularly with respect to Muslim women in the Middle East. She speaks to the challenges she herself faces as a spiritually devout Muslim woman operating in an often secular-biased development field, and she emphasizes the need to build relationships between secular and religious women.
  • May 18, 2010
    Background: This May 2010 exchange between Ayse Kadayifci-Orellana and Susan Hayward focuses on Dr. Kadayifci-Orellan's experience leading workshops on Islamic peacemaking in the Middle East, and her observations of women's roles, absences, and strengths for peacemaking. She also reflects on the challenges women religious peacemakers face, and gulfs that separate secular and religious women working for empowerment and peace.

  • February 10, 2010
    Background: As part of the Foreign Policy Practitioners Interview Series, Dr. Thomas Farr interviewed Elliott Abrams, former member and Chairman of United States Commission on International Religious Freedom and current Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations Washington Office. In this interview, Abrams speaks about how his professional and religious experience led to his involvement with the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. Additionally,...
  • September 4, 2009
    Background note: The context for this discussion was preparation for a consultation on faith and development in Southeast Asia, held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on December 14-15 2009. The consultation was an endeavor of the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD), the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University, with support from the Luce Foundation, and the University of Cambodia. Its aim was to take stock of the wide range of ongoing work by different...
  • August 25, 2009

    You have long been a vocal leader within the Catholic Church, and among religious leaders more broadly, on humanitarian and development issues. How did you come to those concerns?

    It's hard to know where to start. I think perhaps there were two things that in a very special way brought me to this kind of a life. The first was the vocation that I found in the priesthood, because the priesthood is a life that hopefully demands that you look out for the poor, the handicapped, the stranger, and...
  • May 27, 2009
    Background: As part of the Peacebuilding Practitioners Interview Series, Ilan Cooper interviewed Abdul Sau, who is the Vice President of the Islamic Council of Mozambique and on the electoral observancy commission of Mozambique as a coordinator of the Technical Board. In this interview, he shares his opinions on how religion has played a role in determining key political outcomes in Mozambique. He specifically addresses education as an area of potential cooperation between the government and...
  • December 15, 2007
    Background: In preparation for a December 17, 2007 symposium in Doha on global development and faith-inspired organizations in the Muslim World, Katherine Marshall and Hady Amr met again to discuss Mr. Amr's recent work. In this interview, Mr. Amr reflects on his work at the Brookings Doha Center and the role of faith in the public square in both the United States and in the Muslim World. He discusses Islamic social movements and reemphasizes the potential and necessity of a partnership...
  • December 3, 2007
    Background: Dr. Hany El-Banna is Co-Founder and President of Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), an international relief and development organization that aims to alleviate the poverty and suffering of the world's poorest. He is a member of the Three Faiths Forum and was selected to be a member in the World Economic Forum's Community of West-Islam Dialogue (C-100). El Banna is also a trustee of the Disasters Emergency Committee and a member of the Advisory Group to the International Department of...
  • November 27, 2007
    Background: The following conversation between Patrice Brodeur and Katherine Marshall was conducted by phone as part of preparation for a December 17, 2007 conference in Doha on "Global Development and Faith-Inspired Organizations in the Muslim World." Mr. Brodeur shares how he became passionate about the study of religions and discusses his current involvement in the interfaith dialogue in the Islamic world. He describes his vision of "inter-worldview dialogue" as intended to merge the...
  • November 23, 2007
    Background: Dr. Hasan Ali Yurtsever is President of the Rumi Forum, an organization founded in 1999 to promote interfaith and intercultural dialogue, and teaches in the Math department at Georgetown. He participated in the symposium on “Global Development and Faith-Inspired Organizations in the Muslim World,” co-sponsored by the Berkley Center, in December 2007. Yurtsever has a long history of participation in the Gulen Movement, which began in Turkey under Fethullah Gulen and has spread...
  • March 23, 2007
    Background: This discussion between Hady Amr and Katherine Marshall took place as part of the preparatory work for an April 16, 2007 conference on faith-based organizations and global development policy. In this interview, Mr. Amr highlights the need for further exploration of the dynamics of faith-based organizations, and how they differ from their secular counterparts. He speaks about his own experiences working with Islam and development in the Middle East, and concludes that faith is "the...