Religious Freedom and Religious Extremism: Lessons from the Arab Spring

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Showing the Fostering Religious Freedom & Curbing Religious Extremism in the Arab Spring - Lessons for US Policy Video

Showing the How Repression Breeds Religious Extremism - and How Religious Freedom Does the Opposite Video

Showing the Religious Freedom and Religious Extremism: Lessons from the Arab Spring (Keynote Discussion) Video

Showing the Samuel Tadros on Religious Freedom and Radicalization Video

Showing the Samer Shehata on the U.S. Rhetoric Regarding Egyptian Democratization Video

Showing the Jillian Schwedler on Moderation and the Logic of Alliance in an Inclusive Political System Video

Showing the Dennis Ross on the Political Mobilization of the Muslim Brotherhood Video

Showing the Mohammed Hafez on the Malleability of Islamist Movements Given Their Political Contexts Video

Showing the Stephen Hadley on Religious Freedom vs. Religious Tolerance in the Middle East Video

Showing the Brian Grim on the Correlation Between Anti-Blasphemy Laws and Social Tension Video

Showing the Johanna Birnir on the Consequences of Politically Excluding Religious Minorities Video

Showing the Elliot Abrams on the Bush Administration's Strategy in the Middle East Video

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March 16, 2012
10:15 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Location: Copley Hall Copley Formal Lounge

The success of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi parties in the recent Egyptian elections highlights the complex relationship between religious freedom, religious extremism, and democracy in the region. Democratization has meant freedom for Islamic groups to participate in the political life of the new Egypt. At the same time, the success of Salafi parties and ongoing tensions with the military threaten the viability of the fledgling democratic institutions that might guarantee religious freedom, religious pluralism, and civil peace in the new Egypt.

In Egypt and elsewhere, what is the relationship between religious freedom and religious extremism, defined as religious political engagement hostile to constitutional democracy and open to the use of violence? Can religious freedom limit religious extremism? How should US foreign policy seek to promote democratic institutions and regimes of religious freedom that best counter religious extremism in practice?

A first panel addressed the relationship between religious freedom and religious extremism. Experts discussed a growing body of work on two issues: whether and how the denial of religious freedom encourages violent and extremist forms of religious political engagement; and the conditions under which greater religious freedom undermines religious extremism in practice. A second panel explored the implications of the religious freedom-religious extremism relationship for U.S. policy towards Egypt and other nations affected by the Arab Spring. Experts discussed the outlines of a smart religious freedom agenda designed to more effectively contain religious extremists and safeguard democracy into the future.

SCHEDULE

Panel 1: How Repression Breeds Religious Extremism - and How Religious Freedom Does the Opposite | Johanna Kristin Birnir, Brian Grim, Mohammed Hafez, Monica Duffy Toft

Keynote Discussion: Religious Freedom, Religious Extremism, and the Arab Spring: Bush and Obama Administration Perspectives | Elliott Abrams, Stephen Hadley, William Inboden, Dennis Ross

Panel 2: Fostering Religious Freedom and Curbing Religious Extremism in the Arab Spring - Lessons for US Policy | Thomas Farr, Jillian Schwedler, Samer Shehata, Samuel Tadros

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