The Geopolitics of Religious Moderation in the Middle East and North Africa

March 24, 2021
11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. EDT
Location: Online Zoom Webinar

Since 2001, various governments in the Middle East and North Africa have positioned themselves as sources and champions of “moderate Islam.” More recently, in the aftermath of the Arab Uprisings and in the face of the challenge from ISIS, leaders in countries such as Morocco, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia have been associated with a stream of conferences and summits focused on themes such as pluralism, tolerance, and coexistence.

How should we understand the nature and significance of this trend? Is it best understood as a means by which regimes can underscore their international security cooperation and counter-terrorism credentials? Does it represent a religious expression of longstanding—and in some cases newer—regional political rivalries? To what extent are we seeing a reconfiguration in the relationship between states, religious institutions, and Islamic scholars? In this sixth conversation in the Religion in Foreign Policy comparative series, a part of the Geopolitics of Religious Soft Power project, a panel of leading scholars and experts whose own work has explored the politics of religious moderation from various perspectives shared their insights on these and other questions.

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