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  • Author: Aseil Abu-Baker, Marya Farah
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: The Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth, is one of the natural wonders of the world. Rich in minerals and salt, the lake has attracted visitors for millennia, and the economic value of its mineral riches has been important to both the local Palestinian population and to every colonial power that has ruled the area. Today, Israel exercises total control over the Dead Sea, the northern basin of which lies in the occupied Palestinian territories. Israeli settlements and international businesses, aided by state-funded initiatives, have established a profitable tourism sector and extractive industries based on the Dead Sea’s natural resources, while Palestinians remain effectively excluded from pursuing such opportunities. Qumran National Park, private beach resorts, and the cosmetics company AHAVA, among others, reap enormous profits from settlements in the Dead Sea area, benefiting from Israel’s occupation and unlawful policies and helping to drive a self-serving narrative of the area’s history.
  • Topic: Religion, Territorial Disputes, Settlements, Exclusion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Dead Sea
  • Author: Ye. Zelenev, O. Ozerov
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs: A Russian Journal of World Politics, Diplomacy and International Relations
  • Institution: East View Information Services
  • Abstract: The “LIMINALITy” and “re-Islamization” phenomena1 caused by the split in the ranks of the Islamic theological elite into the moderate major- ity (minimalists) and radically minded minority (maximalists) [Waghid, 2011: 5-8] came to the fore in some of the North African Arab countries and in many sub-Saharan countries with considerable Islamic popula- tions. Radicalization of a part of the Islamic political elite betrays itself in a much greater political and military activity of Muslim maximalists and a much wider scope of activities of extremist Islamic organiza- tions. passivity of the Islamic moderate forces (minimalists) against the background of much weaker institutions of state power is as a rule accom- panied by neocolonial penetration in the affairs of the African states shat- tered by the crisis and, what is even more important, much wider appli- cations of different interpretations of the theory of jihad to justify not only armed struggle against non-Muslims and Muslims but also “re- Islamization” of Islamic society (ummah) in all spheres, including educa- tion.
  • Topic: Religion, Violent Extremism, Militant Islam
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Michelle Nicholasen
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Centerpiece
  • Institution: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: From civil strife in Syria to the war in Yemen to US-Iran tensions, Shi'a groups are emerging as major players on the geopolitical landscape. The 200 million Shi'as around the world comprise 15–20 percent of all Muslims, yet little is understood about their culture, historical legacy, and political dynamics. Shi’as are the majority sect in Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, and Bahrain, and comprise substantial minority groups in Africa, South and Central Asia, and countries throughout the Middle East. Last fall, the Weatherhead Center launched the Project on Shi’ism and Global Affairs to support advanced research on the diverse manifestations of Shi’ism, and to encourage rigorous scholarship on the political dynamics of its role in the Middle East. The project supports scholarship that increases understanding of the intersection between religion and politics in Islam by engaging political scientists, historians, policy makers, religious leaders, and other specializations at the WCFIA. It was a busy first year, replete with talks on important events in Islamic history, the geopolitics of Iraq, the US-Iran confrontation, and more. The project launched the online platform Visions, which offers advanced commentary on all aspects of Shi’a thought, politics, and society. Additionally, project members have travelled to Baghdad and Erbil in Iraq for field work and academic conferences, as well as to the United Kingdom to present research and conduct outreach. Team members have also travelled to various cities across the United States to give presentations and interactive workshops—including to Muslim-American communities in Dearborn, Michigan (home to the largest Arab-American population in North America) and Orlando, Florida—on the topic of religious pluralism, youth activism, Islamic thought, and civil society. Directed by Payam Mohseni, lecturer at Harvard University, the project is funded in part by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. We asked Payam Mohseni and project chairs Melani Cammett and Ali Asani about the motivations behind the Project on Shi’ism and Global Affairs.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Civil War, Religion, Military Strategy, Political Activism, Domestic politics, Pluralism
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ladan Boroumand
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Democracy
  • Institution: National Endowment for Democracy
  • Abstract: The Islamic Republic of Iran is confronted with an unprecedented legitimacy crisis. This article, highlighting the heterodox character of Iran’s theocratic ideology, stresses the tectonic social and cultural changes that have resulted in society’s estrangement from the state over the past forty years in a reaction against this ideology. The nature and depth of these social and cultural changes point to a historic process that is taking Iran toward becoming the first Muslim-majority society to weave into its spiritual, social, and intellectual fabric the principled separation of religion and the state characteristic of the liberal-democratic worldview.
  • Topic: Religion, Culture, Democracy, Protests
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Alberto Gasparetto
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Rest: Journal of Politics and Development
  • Institution: Centre for Strategic Research and Analysis (CESRAN)
  • Abstract: This paper focuses on Turkey’s foreign policymakers’ attitudes in the context of the 2003 US decision to wage war against Iraq. The main goal is to assess and downplay the impact of religion in relation to security-related concerns. Drawing on official speeches, interviews, declarations by key figures in the foreign policy process, the paper argues that religion is nothing more than an intervening factor in the case of Turkey’s approach to the 2003 war in Iraq. Therefore, notwithstanding the role of Islamist elites in the foreign policy decision-making of Turkey, Turkey’s foreign affairs were rather inspired by realist behaviour, driven by pragmatic considerations, aimed at pursuing rationalist goals.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, War, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Sadia Rafique, Khalid Manzoor Butt
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Political Studies
  • Institution: Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab
  • Abstract: Social movements are considered by sociologists as agents of social change. They are not isolated entities but an outcome of prevailing circumstances and at, the same time, result from continuity with the historical roots. Moreover, the mobility of contemporary movements can only be shown in comparison with previous kind of collective actions. Two revolutionary movements within one century (Constitutional Revolution 1905-06 and Islamic Revolution1979), and eight years’ IranIraq war (1981-89) and globalization have significantly contributed to the evolution of distinctive nature of contemporary Iranian society. This makes it an interesting subject for research in general, and particularly the case of social movements and their transformation. The paper aims to give an overview of Iranian social movements from the constitutional movement to the recent Green movement of 2009. The intention is to find out, first, whether there was any continuity in social movements during this period; secondly, to investigate the differences of the recent Green movement from the previous social movements of modern-day Iran. An overview of social structure, the state-society relationship, causes of mobilization and the outcomes of each movement will be studied. Moreover, the complex relation between state and social movements that emerged overall will also be examined. The Touraine/Melucci model has been applied in Iranian milieu
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Social Movement, State, Revolution, Society, Mobilization
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Sonia Boulos
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on International Security Studies (RESI)
  • Institution: International Security Studies Group (GESI) at the University of Granada
  • Abstract: The perception of Islam as antithetical to European human rights values is widespread in Europe. Such perceptions complicate the task of integrating Muslim minorities across Europe. While incrementing respect to human rights norms among migrant communities is an important element of any integration policy, this goal should not be perused by forcing migrant communities to adhere to human rights norms based on purely secular grounds. The drafting history of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the ultimate proof that human rights can be justified from different political, philosophical and religious perspectives. While European States cannot compromise their commitment to human rights, even in relation to migrant communities, still, they must allow other narratives on the importance and the meaning of human rights to emerge. Muslim migrant communities must be allowed to engage in intra-group religion-based dialogues to reevaluate their stance on human rights and to debate their meaning. After being given the opportunity to engage in internal debates on the significance of human rights, Muslim migrant communities should also be engaged in cross-cultural dialogues with the rest of community to generate a wider agreement on the meaning and the application of human rights. This two-fold strategy is consistent with the principle of subsidiarity, which suggests that for human rights be effective they must be seen as legitimate by all those small groups that are close to the individual. Such legitimacy cannot be imposed from the outside, it must emerge from within these small groups. However, for these intra-group and cross-cultural dialogues to succeed, the separation of religion and State cannot be understood as the complete exclusion of religion from the public sphere. Individuals of different philosophical or religious convictions must have an equal access to public debates on the centrality of human rights in the European legal order.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Islam, Religion, Culture, Integration
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Murat Ülgül
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Novus Orbis: Journal of Politics & International Relations
  • Institution: Department of International Relations, Karadeniz Technical University
  • Abstract: What is the relationship between religion and empire, and what role do religious ideas play in the empire-formation process? This paper focuses on these questions by analysing the role of Islam in the formation of the Umayyad and the Ottoman Empires. Although the literature about these Islamic empires is extensive enough, they generally provide a rich historical narrative without theorization. To fill this gap, I use constructivist theory in the analysis and point out that religion as a structural force helps states to turn into empires over time. Nevertheless, following the agent-structure debate, I also argue that the individual characteristics of these states are essential to understand how religion affected their policies and how they interpreted the religion. The findings show that as the Umayyad Empire was not recognized as legitimate by various sects in religious terms in the seventh and eighth centuries, religion played less of a regulatory role in imperial policies and its rulers did not hesitate to adopt ruthless stratagems and a divide-and-conquer strategy. On the other hand, the Ottoman Empire benefited from religion in its conquests and its policies were primarily restricted by religious norms and values. As a result of this dependence, ruthless stratagems were adopted less often, and Ottoman policies were heavily shaped by religious norms and values.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Empire, Constructivism, Ottoman Empire, Umayyad Empire
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: B. Dolgov
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs: A Russian Journal of World Politics, Diplomacy and International Relations
  • Institution: East View Information Services
  • Abstract: The Palestinian Problem is one of the worst headaches of the middle east and one of the greatest geopolitical challenges. The Soviet Union/Russia, which was present when it originated, was one of the countries that tried to resolve problems related, among other things, to Israeli and Palestinian statehood and the fact that Palestine is the cradle of three world religions – Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Religion, Territorial Disputes, Statehood
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Edward Aspinall, Marcus Mietzner
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Democracy
  • Institution: National Endowment for Democracy
  • Abstract: Though pluralism and democracy are generally seen as being mutually supportive, recent developments in Indonesia suggest that they can also be in tension. Over the last five years, an old social cleavage separating pluralists from Islamists has been reactivated. In the 2019 presidential election, the incumbent, Joko Widodo, won by increasing support from religious minorities and traditionalist Muslims; his authoritarian-populist challenger, Prabowo Subianto, was backed by groups promoting a greater role for Islam in political life. Empowered by this socioreligious polarization, Widodo’s government has relied on increasingly illiberal measures to contain the populist-Islamist alliance, undermining some of Indonesia’s democratic achievements in the process.
  • Topic: Religion, Democracy, Secularism, Pluralism
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia