Religion & Geopolitics Weekly Roundup

At a Glance

Religion & Geopolitics Weekly Roundup

13 Nov 2014

In the Roundup this week we feature our new data section, highlighting the importance of assessing current data alongside the best expert analysis on religion and conflict. We interview Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, on the importance of data in improving policy. Also featured is a backgrounder on the insurgency in Egypt led by the Salafi-jihadi group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, commentary on the latest events in Myanmar and articles on how neighbouring countries are being affected by the growth of ISIS.

Latest Data Analysis

Data and Religious Conflict: To mark the launch of the Centre on Religion & Geopolitics' data section we talk to Brian J. Grim, an expert on religious freedom and international religious demography, about how data can allow us to improve policy and our understanding of religion's role in conflict situations.

Data on Religion, Conflict and Peace: As the role of religion in conflict gains more prominence in media discourse, a new report by the Institute for Economics and Peace investigates the relationship between religion, conflict and peace. We highlight the key findings.

Data and Prosperity: The Centre on Religion & Geopolitics takes a look at the findings from the 2014 Legatum Prosperity Index, which aims to show how prosperity is understood and changing around the world. For more socio-economic data, take a look at our recently launched data section.

Data and Rankings: The Centre on Religion & Geopolitics discusses the use of data and how we need to be aware of misrepresentation, and the Economist reviews the growing number of indices which make information easy to process, but at the same time highlights how caution should be used in some.

Top Stories

Egypt: The insurgency in Egypt led by the Salafi-jihadi group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis received little international attention until the group's reported declaration of affiliation to ISIS. Peter Welby looks into the background of ABM and the implications of the recent declaration.

Myanmar: As international leaders face key decisions on ways to support Myanmar, and President Obama speaks of his concerns for the Rohingya Muslims, Benedict Rogers reports back on a recent visit to the country. He found a country torn between fear and hope, with small numbers of civil society groups working to counter intolerance amidst continuing tensions between religious communities and an increasing fear of extremist groups.

Middle East & North Africa

Israel/Palestine: Israel's new President Reuven Rivlin, both conservative and outspoken on the rights of Palestinians, defies simple categorisation in a conflict often categorised by binary narratives, writes David Remnick.

Jordan: In response to the threat from ISIS, Jordan is clamping down on who can preach and what can be said in the country's Friday prayers, report William Booth and Taylor Luck.

Turkey: With jihadi recruitment often linked to disenfranchisement and alienation, Gunes Murat Tezcur and Sabri Ciftci examine why so many well-integrated Turks are going to fight in Syria.

Yemen: The promise of national dialogue and reconciliation in Yemen has dissolved into a dangerous sectarian mix, write Fouad Siniora and Amr Moussa, proposing a joint Arab defence body as one measure that could support stability.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigeria: As Muhammadu Buhari announces his plans to run for president for a fourth time,  Mark Amaza discusses his chances of victory, considering that his support lies mostly in the predominantly Muslim north, and the mainly Christian south of Nigeria remains suspicious of his perceived Islamist religious leanings. 

Nigeria: President Goodluck Jonathan announced this week his intention to run for re-election.  Siobhan O'Grady wonders if one of his campaign strategies is to blame the United States for failing to destroy the domestic Nigerian Islamist insurgency led by Boko Haram. 

Central African Republic: As insecurity continues despite the presence of a UN mission, Tom Jackson analyses whether the CAR conflict has developed along religious lines. 

South & Central Asia

Pakistan: With Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemning the murder of a Christian couple by a Muslim mob for allegedly desecrating the Koran last week,  Kiyya Baloch looks at who is responsible for persecuting Pakistan's minorities. Baloch says that whilst Islamist groups are certainly targeting minorities, NGOs are beginning to blame the government too.

Pakistan: Even as the Pakistani government continues its fight against Islamist militants in the north-west of the country, it has no plans to close religious schools educating what could be the next generation of pro-Taliban jihadis, writes Mobeen Azhar

India: Film-maker Nisha Pahuja reports from inside one of the 10-day 'training' camps for young Indian women that promote Hindu supremacy, instill deep-rooted prejudice against Muslims and Christians, and present Hinduism as the only legitimate religion of India.

Afghanistan: New government brings hope of change, and with the Taliban leadership not yet refusing to engage with them, there is optimism about reconciliation from both sides  says Jason Campbell. Meanwhile,  Tamim Asey argues for discrimination between Taliban elements that might be brought into the fold and those who need to be dealt with by force.

East and South East Asia

Myanmar: As all eyes focus on the ASEAN summit this week, Tim Robertson asks why Aung San Suu Kyi, a figure who was seen as a symbol of hope for democracy in the country, has stayed so quiet on the subject at a time when the Rohingya Muslims need assurances on their future from leaders.


ISIS: Turkish smugglers are charging high prices to traffic Syrian refugees into Europe. Mike Giglio investigates claims that ISIS is smuggling fighters too.

Deradicalisation: Western states are taking a variety of approaches to the deradicalisation of returning fighters from Syria. Jon Henley examines the Danish model, which prioritises reintegration over prosecution.


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