One of the potent adversaries of religious freedom is violent extremist jihadism. New research from the Centre on Religion & Geopolitics finds a common ideology communicated through the propaganda of three leading jihadi groups. The following is synthesis taken from the report's summary.
After the 9/11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda had approximately 300 militants. ISIS alone now has, at a low estimate, 31,000 fighters across Syria and Iraq. Understanding how ideology has driven this phenomenon is essential to containing and defeating violent extremism. The jihadi ideology preys upon those who are sympathetic to some of its aims. Unless we understand how the ideology relates to wider beliefs, we cannot uproot it.

NOTE: There is a distinct difference between the ideology of Salafi-jihadism and the Islam practiced by the majority of the world's Muslims. The Salafi-jihadi ideology distorts Islamic religious principles to produce a single-minded focus on violent jihad.

Findings from the Study
The research identified five key motivational themes common in the Jihadi propaganda studied: 

(1) Group Identity, occurring in 89% of the messaging. The ummah (the global Muslim community) is by far the most dominant aspect of jihadi group identity, with almost twice as many references in the propaganda as any other identity theme, according to the study. The importance of tawhid (monotheism) is revealed in a number of themes throughout the propaganda, in different strands of the ideology: one God, one state, and one ummah. 

The importance of honour, and the solidarity of the ummah is also central. The virtue of martyrdom – common to many religions, but here applied deliberately to death in battle – forms a significant part of the value of honour, appearing explicitly in 32% of the propaganda, and implicitly in 68%.

(2) The use of Muslim Scripture or Scholarship is the second most common motivational appeal. Altogether, justifications from the Quran, Hadith or from scholarship appear in 87% of the propaganda. One ISIS statement contained 24 references to the Quran, making up 26 percent of the entire statement. Of these 24 references, 13 different surahs (chapters) were referenced.

While Quranic justifications are usually presented without context, reinforcing the accusation that the groups 'cherry pick' passages that support their case, the ideology makes extensive use of scripture: half of the propaganda references the Quran, with 63 out of the 114 surahs referenced. Hadith justifications are used much less than Quranic justifications, appearing in only 22% of the sample. The accusation that Salafi- jihadi groups pick Hadith that suit their vision may be bolstered by the ways in which they use them: authoritative Hadith are cited with the full details of their origins; the referencing of those of more doubtful provenance is much more vague.

When the groups are criticised for their actions by rival Salafi-jihadi groups or others, the Quran and the Hadith are the first reference points that are used for the rebuttal. Hadith in particular are used in bulk when groups are attacked by other followers of the ideology. Nevertheless, the vaunted Salafi rejection of much Islamic scholarship as 'innovation' (ISIS refers to established scholars as "donkeys of knowledge") is belied by references throughout the propaganda to 45 different scholars from all the major schools of jurisprudence apart from the Hanafi school.

(3) Appeals to right Conduct occur in 82% of the propaganda. This includes extolling the virtues of jihad, seeking the disgrace of enemies, and ending humiliation. 

An emphasis on the nobility of jihad runs throughout the propaganda, often presenting it in chivalric terms, with pictures of fighters on horseback, or references to Saladin. Altogether, such references to jihad appear in 71% of the propaganda.

(4) Propaganda related to Value occurred in 80% of the messages. Ideological values, which form the moral basis of the groups' actions, are present in 80% of all the propaganda sources; these include Islamic creedal values in 62%, the values of honour and solidarity with the Muslim community in 68%, and explicit references to the end of days in 42%. 

The study concluded that the three violent jihadist groups share fundamentally similar ideologies, challenging the concept that "ISIS is more extreme than al-Qaeda".

(5) And calls to accomplish certain Objectives were present in 66% of messaging. 

38% of propaganda included calls for establishing the Caliphate, including the desirability or inevitability of a universal Islamic state. 66% focused on Near or Far Enemies: These are themes that relate to the appropriate targets for jihad. And 34% had calls for the end of a perceived ‘humiliation’ of the global Muslim community.

About the Report
The report - authored by Emman El-Badawy, Milo Comerford and Peter Welby - provides an evidence base for what is already assumed by many, that the ideology of Salafi-jihadism is a vital motivating force for extremist violence, and therefore must be countered in order to curb the threat.

The ideological themes presented above appear throughout the propaganda, with a clear internal logic, although its application is often inconsistent. The themes – whether found explicitly or by implication – form a hierarchy, with the ideological values providing a basis for groups' objectives and ideal conduct, and thus their group identity. The themes come together to form a coherent ideology, representative of Salafi- jihadism.

The Centre on Religion & Geopolitics presents informed analysis on the interaction of religion and conflict globally. The Centre has analysed a cross-section of 114 propaganda sources ranging from April 2013 to summer 2015 from three Salafi-jihadi groups: ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Its aim is to identify precisely what ideology is shared by the three groups, as revealed in their propaganda, in order to inform effective counter-narratives from mainstream Muslims, governments and civil society.

86% of the Jewish public support freedom of religion and conscience in Israel, according to the 2015 Israel Religion and State Index.* This is the highest level of support among Jews in Israel since the annual poll began in 2009. The former high was 81% in 2010.

According to the researchers from Hiddush – Freedom of Religion for Israel, this represents a significant increase in support, particularly among the ultra-Orthodox population, up from 40% last year to 56% in this year’s Index. Further, among those who voted for the ultra-Orthodox parties, support for religious freedom has increased from 40% to 65%.

This is significant for a country, that according to an ongoing study by the Pew Research Center, has high government restrictions on religion, and a relatively high level of social hostilities involving religion (see chart at end).

The Hiddush – Freedom of Religion for Israel researchers go on to observe that the results may suggest that support for freedom of religion and conscience is a given. 

However, they say, "this is not the case, and there are concentrations of opposition. 44% of the ultra-Orthodox and 27% of the Zionist Orthodox populations are opposed to freedom of religion and conscience in Israel. 21% of Likud voters and 24% of Jewish Home voters also oppose freedom of religion and conscience. Further, 23% of those who identify as right-leaning believe that Israel should not allow freedom of religion and conscience, compared to 8% of those who identify as centrists and 2% of left-leaning Israeli Jews."

Other Findings from the Survey

The survey finds that support for the separation of religion and state remains stable at 61% as in the previous year. This represents a peak level of support, after the previous peak of 56% in 2011. 

The researchers "believe that a major reason for the lower level of support for the separation of religion and state in Israel, is the perception that such separation means separation between Judaism and the State of Israel. They may be thinking of the full separation of religion and state enforced in France and the USA, which would strip Israel of its Jewish characteristics, including such widely acceptable norms as Bible study in schools, state subsidies for religious services on par with culture and sports, and kashrut standards and Shabbat observances in public institutions." 

The survey finds that 89% of secular Jews support the separation of religion and state in Israel, as do 83% of immigrants and 64% (nearly two-thirds) of the non-Haredim. 15% of the ultra-Orthodox public support the separation of religion and state, but 85% of ultra-Orthodox Jews and 80% of Zionist Orthodox Jews oppose it. 82% of Zionist Camp voters and 84% of Yesh Atid voters expressed their support, but 57% of Likud voters and 54% of Kulanu voters are opposed to separation of religion and state. The researchers note that the "point stressed above is clearly at play when it comes to Kulanu voters, 95% of whom support freedom of religion and conscience! 96% of left-leaning voters are in support, as opposed to 68% of right-leaning voters who oppose it."

* The Israel Religion and State Index is an annual public opinion research poll conducted by the Rafi Smith Polling Institute for Hiddush – Freedom of Religion for Israel. The Index tracks public opinion of Israeli. Jews on issues of religion and state and its changes. It serves as a tool for policy makers, nongovernmental organizations, researchers, communal leaders, the media and the general public in Israel and in the Diaspora. It is based on a larger than usual sample size of 800 people representing the adult Jewish population (aged 18 and over). This year the Index included 25 questions and additional 13 background questions. The 2015 Index is based on a telephone survey conducted from July 27th to 29th 2015. The margin of error may be 3.5%.

Pew Research, Global Restrictions on Religion

"No one should be left behind because of what they believe, whether they have any faith or none," declared Member of  the British Parliament Fiona Bruce in a speech on the Sustainable Development Goals, House of Commons, 10 September 2015. Read a excerpt of her remarks below.
“Let me turn to the importance of leaving no one behind. Earlier, I read out a list of causes for which people can be left behind, whether due to gender, geography or those in minority groups such as the Dalits. This is a paradigm shift: leave no one behind regardless of their ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, race or other status. That is admirable.

However, I believe that one word and cause of inequality is missing from that group: belief. No one should be left behind because of what they believe, whether they have any faith or none. Ministers know that I have raised on a number of occasions my concern that an underlying cause of poverty is a lack of freedom of belief, freedom of thought or the freedom of speech that can follow, resulting in conflict, violence, loss of opportunities, homelessness, displacement and more. If we are determined to tackle the underlying causes of poverty, we cannot leave that behind. Fostering religious freedom should be seen as a priority not only for tackling conflict once it has happened, but to prevent it before it takes place and to promote stability.

As Brian Grim argues in his book, “The Price of Freedom Denied”, religious freedom fosters respect towards others with a different belief in the same society, therefore reducing tensions. I would go further than that, because I think it will contribute to the achievement of our SDGs. For example, goal 5 promotes the rights of girls and women. So much harassment of women is linked to religious discrimination against women—the respected report by the Pew Research Centre states that such discrimination takes place in 32% of countries. Goal 8 is about economic welfare, and employment discrimination as a result of someone being involved in a faith group is rife, as we see in countries such as Iran.

Let me give another example—sustainable development goal 16, the promotion of peace, as well as sustainable development goal 8, economic growth. In countries where freedom of belief is not respected, conflict disrupts economic activity. Foreign and local investors become reluctant to invest, jeopardising sustainable development and economic growth. As businesses corroborate, an opportunity to invest, conduct normal business practice and prevent industries from struggling is weakened. Egypt’s tourism industry, for example, has faced such challenges. By promoting and practising freedom of belief, a path to security and economic well-being can be laid.

I urge Ministers to consider this and to engage faith groups in their civil society review. Is it not time to review the Department’s faith partnership principles? Finally, would DFID consider engaging in the joint learning initiatives on faith and development instituted by some of the major international NGOs working on poverty relief, such as Tearfund, CAFOD and World Vision?”

This excerpt was provided by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief, which exists to raise awareness and profile of international freedom of religion or belief as a human right among Parliamentarians, media, government and the general public in the UK, and to increase the effectiveness of the UK’s contribution to international institutions charged with enforcing this human right.

Picture© Brian J. Grim
As Pope Francis comes to U.S., he first visits Cuba, a country with a relatively poor record on religious freedom. But outside of Cuba, how do countries fare where Catholics are the majority population

The Economist states that the Holy See stubbornly defends religious freedom. In fact, religious freedom was formally spelled out as a Catholic doctrine when Pope Paul VI promulgated the declaration on religious freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, in 1965.*

An analysis of data from Pew Research studies finds that government restrictions on religious freedom and social hostilities involving religion are more than two times lower in countries where Catholics are the majority population than in countries where Catholics are a minority (see charts below and click here for more details on countries and regions).

Whether Catholic doctrine plays a role in this, however, is not possible to assess from the data. Indeed, the Pew Forum studies do not attempt to analyze the many factors - historical, demographic, cultural, religious, economic and political - that might explain the level of religious restrictions or hostilities in a country. The studies seek simply to measure the restrictions and hostilities that exist in a quantifiable, transparent and reproducible way, based on reports from numerous governmental and nongovernmental organizations.

* Also TEDx conference on Religious Freedom held at the Vatican.
* Catholic demographics.

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In a new RealClearReligion article, Brian Walsh and Brian Grim assert that America's protections for religious workers' civil rights and liberties have strengthened our society and economy.
In the article, they cite social science research finding that protecting the civil rights of religious workers is good for society and good for business. For instance, a study published last year in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion focused on the World Economic Forum's list of indicators of a nation's global competitiveness. Of the 12 leading indicators, 10 have a strong positive correlation with respect for religious civil rights and legal protections against religion-based discrimination. On the flip side, government restrictions on religion damage the economic environment by increasing social hostility, depressing investment, and fomenting uncertainty. 

Walsh and Grim argue that Americans still have a vital vested interest in ensuring that the workplace is not only free from religion-based discrimination, but welcoming of all people regardless of their faith or belief. Respecting and protecting our workforce's religious diversity is at the heart of what made America strong -- and of what will keep it strong in the years, decades, and centuries ahead.

For the full article, which also discusses a recent supreme court case as well as the legal protections against religious discrimination in the US, click here.

Related to this, the Weekly Number's analysis of a Pew Research Center report finds that the 12 countries identified in the study as having very high religious diversity each outpaced the world's economic growth between 2008 and 2012. 

Among the 12 countries (5%) with very high religiously diversity, all are located outside of Europe and North America. Six are in Asia-Pacific (Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea, China and Hong Kong); five are in sub-Saharan Africa (Togo, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Benin and Mozambique); and one is in Latin America and the Caribbean (Suriname). 

Between 2008 and 2012, the world's average growth in gross domestic product (GDP) was 1.7%. By contrast, each of the 12 countries with very high religious diversity had higher average growth, and most by substantial margins. 

Average GDP growth between 2008-2012 in China, the world's 9th most religiously diverse country, averaged 9.3%. In seven of the twelve very diverse countries, average GDP growth was double or more that of the world average of 1.7%: Mozambique (7.0%), Vietnam (5.8%), Singapore (4.4%), Surinam (4.1%), Togo (4.0%), Benin (3,8%) and Taiwan (3.4%). In the remaining four very diverse countries, average GDP growth was also measurably higher than the world average: South Korea (2.9%), Ivory Coast (2.6%), Hong Kong (2.6%) and Guinea-Bissau (2.3%). 

The underlying data for the religious diversity report are based on a December 2012 Pew Research Center study of the size and distribution of eight major world religions: Buddhists, Christians, folk religions, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, other religions considered as a group and the religiously unaffiliated. Taken together, these eight major groups comprise the world’s total population.

According to Arab business leader, Fouad Makhzoumi, religious freedom is a key ingredient to peace and stability, as measured by the absence of violent religious persecution and conflict. This is particularly important for business because where stability exists, there are more opportunities to invest and to conduct normal and predictable business operations, especially in emerging and new markets. Read the full text.
Fouad Makhzoumi is a leading industrialist, philanthropist and statesman. In 1997, Mr. Makhzoumi founded the Makhzoumi Foundation, a private Lebanese non-profit organization that contributes through its vocational training, health care and micro-credit programs to Lebanese civil society development.

Follow this link to Mr. Makhzoumi’s prepared comments for a 21st August 2015 address to the Rimini Meeting, a gathering attracting up to 500,000 people from across Italy and the world each summer.

This is part of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s new Leaders Speak series of talks and articles where business, religious and civic leaders speak out on countering violent extremism and increasing interfaith understanding and peace. For more on the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s own work on countering radicalization, see the Empowerment+ Initiative

Poverty, some argue, can only be effectively tackled by governments enforcing top-down, big-P Poverty reduction policies and programs. But a host of religious groups haven’t gotten the memo. Innovative faith-based initiatives worldwide are tackling poverty using bottom-up, small-p poverty alleviation approaches that empower individuals to be resourceful, resilient and self-reliant.
Indeed, a central aspect of religious freedom is that it gives faith groups license to innovate and contribute to the the wellbeing of individuals, communities and nations. But where religious freedom is curtailed, so are such innovations. For instance, reform-minded Saudi princess Basmah bint Saud argues, religion “should not be a shield behind which we hide from the world but a driving force that inspires us to innovate and contribute to our surroundings.”

In this new installment of an ongoing series on the connection between religious freedom and sustainable development, Brian Grim describes these small-p initiatives and concludes with a case study of how one faith group is directly targeting and reducing poverty in its congregations worldwide. Such faith-based activities directly contribute to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 – Ending poverty in all its forms everywhere.

Read the full analysis and case study here.

The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation is publishing a new series of analysis and data on the connection between religious freedom and sustainable development.
Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights defines Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) as follows: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

An oft used definition for Sustainable Development is: “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Our Common Future, Oxford University Press, 1987).

So, what might be the connection between these seemingly very different concepts? A recent research summary indicates that religious freedom contributes to sustainable development in a number of ways, including (1) fostering respect for differing faiths and beliefs, including people with no particular faith; (2) helping to reduce corruption by allowing faith-based ethics to be voiced; (3) engendering peace by defusing religious tensions thereby reducing religion-related violence and conflict; (4) encouraging broader freedoms; (5) developing the economy as religious groups play a measurable role in the human and social development of countries; (6) overcoming the over-regulation associated with such things as coercive blasphemy laws; and (7) multiplying trust among employees whose faith and beliefs are respected.

Read the full article.

Interview with Gina A. Zurlo*

Q: Gina, you’ve had a central role in pulling together the just-released Brill Yearbook of International Religious Demography.** What do you see as the most important trend in religion that policy makers should be aware of?

A: I think the most important trend in global religion is the massive exodus of Christians from the Middle East. This is an issue that needs more attention from policy makers all over the world. In 1910 Christians were 13.6% of the region’s population, but by 2010 were only 4.2%. By 2025 the authors expect them to be only 3.6% - nearly a fourfold decline. Their diminishing presence is especially troubling when viewed in light of centuries of relative demographic stability; from 1500 to 1900, Christianity held steady at 15% of the Middle East’s population. The urgent question is one asked even by the New York Times: Is this the End of Christianity in the Middle East
Q: The yearbook has an interesting article on global religious diversity. What’s the world’s most religiously diverse country? And how does the U.S. fare?

A: The Yearbook actually has two articles on global religious diversity, which highlights how important it is. The world’s most religiously diverse country in Singapore, home to Buddhists, Christians, the unaffiliated, Muslims, other religions, Hindus, folk religionists, and Jews. Overall, the entire Asia-Pacific region is by far the most diverse.

People often say that the United States is the “most religiously diverse” country, but it simply isn’t so. True religious diversity means a country has high percentages of lots of different religions, but that isn’t quite the situation in the USA. Nearly 80% of the USA is still Christian, with much smaller populations of agnostics, Buddhists, Jews, and Muslims. Many countries in Asia are far more diverse than the United States.

Q: Are there any religious demographic trends that people might find surprising?

A: People in the West might find it surprising that religion is actually on the rise around the world, not on the decline. Americans, Canadians, and Europeans often think that the rest of the world is like their countries, where relatively few people attend weekly religious services and religion is mostly relegated to one’s private practice. In reality, most people in the world are highly religious, of all kinds—Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and so on—and many local and national leaders around the world do not separate their faith from their work or business.

Q: Are there any religious demographic trends that people might find worrying?

A: Some people might be worried about what they perceive to be a rise of atheism and agnosticism, as this is certainly something that’s been in the news a lot recently. Around 13% of the world is non-religious, but this has been a declining percentage since 1970. Yet, it is growing in Europe and North America. Most of the world’s non-religious live in Asia, however, particularly China and North Korea.

Q: Reflecting on all that’s in this year’s volume, how would you rate the importance of interfaith understanding and freedom of religion or belief?

A: Interfaith understanding and freedom of belief are simply critical in today’s world, and their importance cannot be understated. With Christians from the Middle East in diaspora all over the world; Muslim immigration to traditionally-Christian countries; and a continued rise of interreligious marriages, the world can’t afford to ignore religious realities.

Q: Religion extremism is often in the news. Does the yearbook have any information that might be useful to policy makers or researchers working on countering violent extremism?

A: One area that has seen a lot of religious extremism recently is Nigeria, which is nearly evenly split between Christians in the South and Muslims in the North (and is home to the world’s third largest tribal religionist population). This reality coupled with a close connection between religion and politics makes for a terrible risk of religious violence. In addition, the Yearbook shows that four of the ten countries with the largest Muslim populations in 2014 were in Africa, signifying a shift of the religion toward that continent. Researchers working on countering violent extremism would do well to focus on interreligious dialogue efforts particularly in sub-Saharan Africa as the religion continues to grow there and clash with Christianity.

Q: What is your personal favorite among the various reports and articles in this year’s volume? 

A: I find the article on historical Hasidism absolutely fascinating. There is a debate among historians how large Hasidism was in the 19th century, and I think Marcin Wodzinski does a fabulous job outlining his argument, which utilizes creative low-scale local data. It’s an exciting area of research with significant implications for the Jewish community even today, and its an area where there is still a lot more research to be done.

Gina A. Zurlo is a PhD candidate at Boston University, Assistant Director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and a Research Associate at Boston University’s Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs. Her research focuses on international religious demography and the history of sociology of religion, in particular the application of quantitative methods to religious adherence. She is the co-editor of the World Christian Database (Brill) and also a data contributor to the World Religion Database (Brill). 

** The Yearbook of International Religious Demography presents an annual snapshot of the state of religious statistics around the world. Every year large amounts of data are collected through censuses, surveys, polls, religious communities, scholars, and a host of other sources. These data are collated and analyzed by research centers and scholars around the world. Large amounts of data appear in analyzed form in the World Religion Database (Brill), aiming at a researcher’s audience. The Yearbook presents data in sets of tables and scholarly articles spanning social science, demography, history, and geography. Each issue offers findings, sources, methods, and implications surrounding international religious demography. Each year an assessment is made of new data made available since the previous issue of the yearbook.

The 2015 issue highlights both global and local realities in religious adherence, from the demographics of the world's atheists to the emigration of Christians from the Middle East. Other case studies include inter-religious marriage patterns in Austria, Muslim immigration to Australia, and methodological challenges in counting Hasidic Jews.

Edited by Brian J. Grim (Georgetown and Boston University), Todd M. Johnson (Boston University & Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), Vegard Skirbekk (Columbia University), Gina A. Zurlo, (Boston University).

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Are Muslim countries receptive to religious freedom? The short answer is "yes, some are," according to an analysis by Notre Dame scholar Daniel Philpott, in a recent Washington Post article.
PictureClick: more Weekly Numbers on Islam
Philpott argues that comparative political science can offer helpful perspective on one of the most challenging issues of our time - the rise of ISIS and the ongoing rhetoric of groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria, whose name itself means Western education is forbidden. 

Philpott states that "an aggregate, satellite view does indeed show a dearth of religious freedom in [Muslim-majority countries]." Indeed, based on research by Brian Grim and Roger Finke, Muslim-majority countries clearly have considerably lower levels of religious freedom than the rest of the world and Christian-majority countries. In “The Price of Religious Freedom Denied: Religious Persecution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century,” Grim and Finke show that 78 percent of Muslim-majority countries have high levels of government restrictions on religious freedom, compared with 43 percent of all other countries and 10 percent of Christian-majority countries. 

Philpott asks whether these aggregate scores prove that Islam is indeed generally inhospitable to religious freedom, then? His answer is "No. Zooming in from a satellite view to a more fine-grained view reveals far greater diversity." He notes that: 
  • Twelve out of 47 Muslim-majority states (about a quarter) fall into the category of “low restrictions on religious freedom,” meaning that they are essentially religiously free. Philpott argues that these include Kosovo, Djibouti, Albania, Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone – most of them noticeably outside the Arab world. 
  • In tracing the roots of why these are toward the freer end of the scale, Philpott notes that "for some, the roots of freedom may lie in a particular form of Islamic theology or culture that embodies tolerance. In others, freedom may have arisen through a modus vivendi between Islam and other religions at some point in the country’s history. All of these cases, though, show that Muslim populations can, under certain circumstances, prove hospitable to religious freedom." 
  • Among the other 35 Muslim-majority states, which have moderate, high or very high levels of restriction, there are significantly different patterns of repression, which yield different conclusions about Islam. 
  • “Islamist” regimes are present in 21 of these countries, including, according to Philpott, Saudi Arabia the other Gulf Cooperation Council members, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, Malaysia [arguably for strict versions of Islamic law applied to the Muslim population], Indonesia [not nationally, but in Ache] and Nigeria [in the north, especially under Boko Haram] 
  • “Secular repressive” are present in the other 14 of these countries (including, according to Philpott, Uzbekistan, pre-Arab Spring Egypt, pre-AKP Turkey, Algeria and pre-revolutionary Tunisia. 
  • Philpott notes that the Iranian Revolution may serve as inspiration for Islamist states, while the French Revolution may be a model for the secular-repressive pattern, in which the power of government is used to manage religion. 
  • According to Philpott, the standard bearer of restrictive secular regimes is the Republic of Turkey, founded by Kemal Ataturk in 1924, and after World War II, many Arab states followed this model as well. 

Daniel Philpott is Professor of Political Science and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame and Director on Administrative Leave at The Center for Civil and Human Rights. His research focuses on religion and global politics and on reconciliation in politics. He has pursued an activist dimension of his work in reconciliation in Kashmir and the Great Lakes region of Africa. He is the author of “Just and Unjust Peace: An Ethic of Political Reconciliation” (Oxford University Press, 2012). He also publishes a regular blog, Arc of the Universe, devoted to resurfacing justice – examining the day’s headlines from the deep commitments of ethical traditions.

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