Category: Egypt

Lawrence Rubin on Islam and Ideational Balancing

When it comes to foreign policy and international relations, can theological ideas promoted by one country become “weapons” or “threats” to other regimes? Prof. Larry Rubin (Georgia Tech) discusses how the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the Sudanese Revolution of 1989 affected the ideational balance of power in the Middle East and how Egypt and Saudi Arabia mobilized ideational resources to respond.

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Matthew Derrick on the Geography of the Umma

The notion of “the umma” — the community of Islamic believers — is often thought to be at odds with modern (post-Westphalian) notions of national territory. Islam, it is said, transcends the geographic boundaries of the nation-state and this may present unique problems for how societies understand and interact with one another. Prof. Matthew Derrick discusses the role of territory in history and how the umma fits into this, taking on scholars such as Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis who see a disjuncture between the umma and national territory. Prof. Derrick, a geographer, argues that territory is still important and often trumps transnational religious identity, or is at least a concept that cannot be discarded so easily.

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William Inboden on Religious Liberty, Foreign Policy, & the Arab Spring

With events in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East changing rapidly, we take a look at how the issue of religious liberty is taking form in countries touched by the Arab Spring (or Arab Awakening). Prof. William Inboden of the University of Texas, and a former policy advisor, explains what the Arab Spring is, how it came about, and how issues of religious freedom play into the political changes we are witnessing in that region of the world. We also discuss whether the US should be promoting religious liberty in its foreign policy as a means of limiting extremism and violence.

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Mark Glickman on the Cairo Genizah

It is amazing what can be found hidden in plain sight! Rabbi Mark Glickman recounts the tale of the discovery of valuable Jewish documents located in the genizah of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo, Egypt during the late 19th century. While many individuals knew there was a storehouse of old documents in this synagogue, it wasn’t until Rabbi Solomon Schechter of Cambridge University got hold of a snippet of the Ben Sirah manuscript that anyone realized how remarkably valuable these documents “hidden in plain sight” were. Rabbi Glickman takes us on the journey of discovery, reveals the treasures contained in these documents, and tells his own story of his visit to the Cairo Genizah. A “must listen to” podcast for those interested in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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Allen Hertzke on Religious Liberty

Prof. Allen Hertzke of the University of Oklahoma joins us to discuss religious liberty around the world. We cover why religious liberty has become an increasingly important issue in foreign affairs and why many intellectual and government elites tend to dismiss its importance. The conversation also includes current threats to religious freedoms in many parts of the world and what positive effects might arise from the spread of religious liberties.

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Daniel Philpott on Religious Resurgence & Democratization

Is the global resurgence in public religiosity over the past 40 years linked in any way to the increase in democratic governance over the same period of time? Prof. Dan Philpott (Notre Dame) covers the historical trends of church-state relations and discusses how changes in political theologies and the increasing independence of religious organizations have provided a fertile ground for political democratization in some corners of the world. We examine how and why some religious traditions have been involved in promoting democracy under authoritarian conditions. Our discussion turns toward some speculation about the future of the “Arab Spring” at the end of our interview. This is the first part of a discussion of the book “God’s Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics.”

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Thomas Farr on Religion, Religious Liberty & US Diplomacy

Prof. Thomas Farr discusses the important role of religion and religious liberty in foreign relations. Dr. Farr brings both a scholar’s insight and his experience as a 21 year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service and recent director of the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom. We examine why American diplomats have often had a blind spot for religious issues and then turn our discussion to why promoting religious liberty is in the national security interest of the United States (and other nations).

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Nathan Brown on the Muslim Brotherhood

Prof. Nathan J. Brown of George Washington University and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace details the history and impact of the Muslim Brotherhood. We trace the origins of the Brotherhood back to the 1920s in Egypt through the regimes of Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat, and then through the Mubarak regime. Our discussion includes reflections on the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in the protests rocking Egypt in January and early February of 2011.

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