democracy

With Democratization Comes More Religious Freedom and Less Terrorism

How would religious freedom decrease transnational terrorism, thereby decreasing the need for counterterrorism coordination? The answer, I believe, lies in a nation’s level of authoritarianism. Put another way, with more democracy will come more open theological debates on sensitive public policy issues and less resort to violence to address grievances. In turn, terrorist groups will find it more difficult to manipulate religious doctrine to persuade recruits their cause is just and sanctioned by God.

A free marketplace of religious ideology will provide the political space needed for religious scholars to openly challenge on the merits Al Qaeda, ISIS, or their progeny’s twisted interpretations of Islam.

Permanent Link: https://www.religiousfreedominstitute.org/cornerstone/2017/7/9/with-democratization-comes-more-religious-freedom-and-less-terrorism

Toward a Strategy for Engaging a Resurgent Russia on Democracy, Human Rights, and Religious Liberty: Part I

By: Karrie Koesel and Christopher Marsh

The promotion of democracy, human rights, and religious liberty is a worthy cause. In Russia, however, these ideas are seen as imposed from the West, not compatible with Russian political culture, or intended to topple the current regime. Over the past several years, Russia has witnessed hundreds of victims of racism and ethno-religious violence. Our argument here is that Russia must still be held accountable for its failings in these areas. We believe that a change in Russia’s foreign policy will only occur if the political system itself returns to the democratic path it embarked upon in the early 1990s.

Like democracy, religious freedom in Russia today is in decline, but this transition has not been altogether linear.

Permanent Link: https://www.religiousfreedominstitute.org/cornerstone/2016/8/15/toward-a-strategy-for-engaging-a-resurgent-russia-on-democracy-human-rights-and-religious-liberty-part-i

What History Says About the Prospects for Islamic Democracy

By: John M. Owen

Scholars, pundits, and journalists often look to Western history for analogies to help us understand ongoing dynamics in the Middle East: Jihadi terrorists are like European anarchists a century ago; the Arab Spring was like the European Revolutions of 1848; the spread of the Islamic State and the deepening Saudi-Iranian rivalry means that the region is entering its own version of the miserable Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648); and so on. As Yuen Foong Khong has written, analogies can be misleading, sometimes tragically so. However, when used judiciously they can be helpful, and my recently published book, Confronting Political Islam: Six Lessons from the West’s Past (Princeton University Press, 2014) is built around several such analogies. One particularly telling comparison concerns the prospects for Islamic democracy in the Middle East. 

Permanent Link: https://www.religiousfreedominstitute.org/cornerstone/2016/7/26/what-history-says-about-the-prospects-for-islamic-democracy