Islam and Religious Freedom Action Team

The Islam and Religious Freedom Action Team explores and supports religious freedom from within the traditions of Islam. The work of this team includes researching the traditions of Islam, developing education programs about Islam and religious freedom, translating resources by Muslims about religious freedom, fostering inclusion of Muslims in religious freedom work both where Muslims are a majority and where they are a minority, and partnering with RFI’s other teams in advocacy. The Islam and Religious Freedom Action Team has staff in Washington, DC and Copenhagen.

Our activities:

  • research topics related to religious freedom in the traditions of Islam

  • advocacy in collaboration with the other RFI Action Teams

  • promote circulation of media by Muslims about religious freedom

  • education programs about Islam and religious freedom

  • strategic communication to share our work

Director: Ismail Royer

Website: To learn more about the work of the Islam and Religious Freedom Action Team visit:

Director: Ismail Royer

Ismail Royer.jpg

Research Fellow: Kareem P.A. McDonald

Ismail Royer serves as Director of the Islam and Religious Freedom Action Team for the Religious Freedom Institute. Since converting to Islam in 1992, he has studied religious sciences with traditional Islamic scholars, and spent over a decade working at non-profit Islamic organizations. In June 2003, Royer was indicted for assisting the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) and pleaded guilty to weapons charges related to the violation of United States neutrality laws. Since his release he has worked with nonprofits to promote peace between faiths and to undermine religious extremism. His writing has appeared in publications such as the Washington Post, Journal of Religion and Society, Public Discourse, Detroit Free Press, Al Jumuah, and Muslim Matters.


Kareem P.A. McDonald holds an MA in Advanced Migration Studies, an LL.M in International Human Rights Law, an M.Phil in Modern History, and a BA in Modern History and Political Science obtained through studies in the UK, Ireland and Denmark. He previously served as a Program Associate at the RFI’s Islam and Religious Freedom Action Team and at the Center for Islam and Religious Freedom. He has also worked for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Consortium and the Danish Institute for Human Rights. 

His research interests focus on the intersections between migration and religion, and specifically but not limited to, the nexus between migration and freedom of religion. He is also interested in: refugee and migration law in a European and global context, human rights literacy and education, and the relationship between Islam and religious freedom. 

He is a member of the European Academy of Religion and recently presented scholarly work at the Academy’s annual conference in Bologna, Italy. He has also delivered papers at the University of Sarajevo in Bosnia, at the RFI’s offices in Washington DC, and lectured on Islam and human rights at the Law Faculty of George Mason University in Virginia. 

He recently completed a course about the history of religious freedom in America at the Newseum’s Religious Freedom Center and is currently enrolled on a FORB Trainers Course, a course designed for people who want to train others in FORB, organised by the Nordic Ecumenical Network on Freedom of Religion or Belief (NORFORB). He is also preparing aspects of his recent research on religious freedom and Danish asylum centers for publication in several academic journals.