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  • Author: Cathrine Thorleifsson
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: This policy brief examines the paradox of Mizrahim (Arab Jews) supporting right-wing Israeli policies through a case study of the border town of Kiryat Shemona. Based on ethnographic research, it illuminates the enduring power of ethno-nationalism and demonstrates how it affects Mizrahi lives. Mizrahim became trapped by Israeli nation-building on the geographic and socioeconomic margins of the state positioned between the dominant Ashkenazi elite and the Palestinian population. Factors such as Mizrahim's partial inclusion in the nation; tensions between Jews and Arabs, and between the secular and the religious; the decline of the welfare state; and a shared perception of threats and dangers informed everyday nationalism in the town. Mizrahim contested Ashkenazi Israeliness through ethnic and transnational identifications and practices. Simultaneously, their support for the nation-in-arms and identification as "strong"and "civilised" reinforced the dominant logic of ethno-nationalism. Mizrahi support for right-wing militarism is likely to persist as long as national unity is used as a colonial practice by the centre. The inclusion of Mizrahim as equals together with other marginalised citizens would necessarily entail an Israeli Spring.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Nationalism, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Samuel Helfont
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: In 2006, during the heart of the Global War on Terrorism, a New York Times reporter went to Washington in an attempt to ascertain the extent that American officials understood the ideologies underpinning Islamist terrorism. The reporter began with a simple question: could senior counterterrorism officials identify which groups were Sunnis and which were Shi'is? Remarkably senior officials and lawmakers – including the Chief of the F.B.I.‟s national security branch, and members of the U.S. House of Representatives‟ committees on intelligence and counter terrorism – had “no clue” whether actors such as Iran, Hezbollah, or al-Qaida were Sunnis or Shi„is. A number of questions emerged from this encounter. First, who are the Sunnis and Shi„is? Second, where are they located? And, finally, does it matter?
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Qamar ul Huda
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The recent desecration of the Koran and Islamic writings caused violent unrest in Afghanistan and raises concerns about essential training in culture and religion for U.S. personnel. Basic knowledge of religious actors and their roles in peacebuilding and conflict management is still barely factored in by policymakers and advisers to U.S. government. There needs more effort by local, regional, and international religious leaders to promote nonviolent and tolerant reactions even in midst of incendiary events. An assessment is needed to evaluate whether efforts at promoting inter-cultural sensitivity are working or not, and identifying processes for mitigating tensions.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Religion, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Human Rights First
  • Abstract: President Obama's 2009 Cairo speech and Secretary Clinton's 2012 speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace persuasively argued for policies that promote international religious freedom (IRF), including links to national security, economic development, and democracy promotion, and as an antidote to religious extremism and terrorism. Unfortunately, current IRF policy--in place since 1998 and largely built around the threat of economic sanctions which no administration has been willing to use--is not up to the challenges or the opportunities that President Obama and Secretary Clinton so eloquently identified. To correct that, the White House needs to embrace a leadership role, building an infrastructure and providing the necessary resources for a reinvigorated policy of new tools and strategies to thrive. The need is pressing.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Economics, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Chris Kwaja
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Communal clashes across ethnic and religious faultlines in and around the city of Jos in central Nigeria have claimed thousands of lives, displaced hundreds of thousands of others, and fostered a climate of instability throughout the surrounding region.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Religion
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: Yalım Eralp
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: There are many negative elements in EU-Turkey relations. Some consider the difference in religion as the primary factor. The issue is deeper than that. It is cultural contradiction. When Europe says cultural diversity is richness, it tends to mean cultural integration.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Regional Cooperation, Religion, Culture
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: Sudan stands today at a precipice. In 100 days the South will hold a referendum on self-determination with a vote for independence expected. Extensive early warnings exist indicating a real threat of the commission of mass atrocities surrounding the referendum, with those populations most at risk already identified. This threat looms while intertribal violence in the South is rising; conflict in Darfur persists; attacks by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Central and Western Equatorial states continue unabated; and a return to war in the South is a possibility.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Genocide, Religion
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Author: Jon A. Olsen
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The particularly polarizing environment in prisons creates an increased risk of religious radicalisation, especially among young people with a newly formed religious identity. Prison inmates iare used to dividing the world into separate groups and cementing their identity by rhetorically dissociating themselves from other groups of inmates. The risk of radicalisation is increased when this world view is applied to religious identity formation. Therefore, it is important that there is a good and stabile representation of imams in prisons who can convey an inclusive understanding of religion to the inmates so that they do not use their religion to dissociate themselves from the surrounding society. A noticeable presence of an imam in a prison also makes it harder for other inmates with a radical religious world view to assume an authoritative role in relation to the young converts. This requires an increased focus on the issue as well as a co-ordinated effort. This brief looks at radicalisation in prisons and how it can be dealt with.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Islam, Religion, Terrorism
  • Author: Simon Henderson, Jasmine El-Gamal
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This week, Saudi Arabia is organizing a global interfaith conference in Madrid, with more than 200 Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist religious leaders from 54 countries expected to attend. The conference, in the words of its main organizer, the Mecca-based Muslim World League, will "focus on common human values." Many in the West, however, will likely judge the conference as a Saudi public relations effort to emphasize its leadership of the Islamic world, and to ward off criticism, especially from the United States, that Saudi Arabia bears continuing responsibility for political and financial backing of Sunni extremists across the Middle East.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 14, the Iranian government arrested six prominent Bahai leaders and accused them of "endangering national security." The timing of the arrests has led some to speculate that the Iranian government is trying to link these leaders to the April explosion at a religious center in Shiraz that killed fourteen people. Considering Iran's clerical establishment believes the existence of religious minorities undermines official Shiite orthodoxy, these latest arrests are just another black mark on Iran's long and dismal record of protecting individual human rights and religious freedom.
  • Topic: Government, Human Rights, Human Welfare, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East