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Egypt: A PubHub Reading List

February 02, 2011

Egypt_protest_350 As historic protests and calls for democracy in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere in the Middle East continue, here are a few reports from our PubHub catalogue to help you put recent developments in context.

The role of social media in inspiring, spreading, and amplifying the demonstrations has been much discussed. Global Publics Embrace Social Networking, a survey by the Pew Research Center's Pew Global Attitudes Project, shows that as of spring 2010, 18 percent of those surveyed in Egypt used social networking sites -- compared with 24 percent of Jordanians and 18 percent of Lebanese -- 6 percent did not, and 76 percent did not have Internet access.

What might the fall of authoritarian regimes that have suppressed all opposition, including Islamist movements, mean for the intersection of democracy and religion? Based on a spring 2010 Pew Global Attitudes Project survey, Muslim Publics Divided on Hamas and Hezbollah offers findings from Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Turkey regarding respondents' views of Hamas, Hezbollah, and al Qaeda, as well as the role of Islam in politics.

Deradicalizing Islamist Extremists, a study by the RAND Corporation with support from the Smith Richardson Foundation, analyzes the processes through which Islamist extremists become disengaged and deradicalized, and outlines best practices, implications, and policy recommendations.

A Five-Year Review of Scholarship on Islam 2005-2009, a report from the Carnegie Corporation of New York's Scholars Program, profiles six recent fellows and their research on Islam. They include Brian T. Edwards, who explored the circulation of "American civilization" in North Africa and the Middle East; Noah Feldman, who examined recurring themes and features of constitutional initiatives in majority-Muslim countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Bahrain, and Nigeria; and Bruce Lawrence, who researched the role of Christian and Muslim minorities in Africa and Asia. The work of two fellows is of particular interest, in light of recent events: Amaney Jamal's research focuses on the type of "political agency" Islam produces among ordinary citizens in the Arab world -- i.e., how different "frames" shape levels of civic engagement and which formal political institutions are best equipped to meet the demands of citizens within the Arab world; and Vali Nasr's work, which examines prospects for the rise of Muslim democratic political parties and platforms in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Turkey.

Could the current instability spread to other countries in the region? Saudi-Iranian Relations Since the Fall of Saddam: Rivalry, Cooperation, and Implications for U.S. Policy, another RAND Corporation report made possible with support from the Smith Richardson Foundation, examines how structural, sectarian, and ideological tensions and differences over energy interests between Saudi Arabia and Iran have evolved since 2003. The report also analyzes the roles of the United States and Iraq and makes policy recommendations.

What is the role of Turkey as a majority-Muslim "functioning democracy" struggling to balance secularism and Islam? Getting to Zero: Turkey, Its Neighbors and the West, a Transatlantic Academy report funded by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation,  examines Turkey's changing global and regional role; its foreign policy agenda of "zero problems with neighbors" as well as its energy policy and promotion of democracy, trade, and migration; and underlying domestic and regional trends.

Global Restrictions on Religion, a report from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, analyzes government and social restrictions on religious beliefs and practices worldwide, including the percentage of countries with "low," "moderate," "high," or "very high" limitations; the percentage of the global population living in those countries; and the types of limitations in religious belief and practice.

Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Muslim Population, also from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, highlights findings from a demographic study of the Muslim population worldwide, including data and maps on the geographic distribution of Muslims by country and territory, region, sub-region, sect, and majority status. Interactive maps also show the distribution of Muslims worldwide as well as each countries' relative "size" based on its Muslim population.

Last but not least, the Women's Foreign Policy Group's Faces of Contemporary Islam: Fresh Perspectives on Theory, Practice, and Foreign Policy summarizes the proceedings of a November 2008 conference convened to promote understanding between the Muslim world and the West. Among other things, the report examines perceptions about the compatibility of Islam and democracy, Muslim women, Western attitudes toward Islam, and the role of the media in the Muslim world.

-- Kyoko Uchida

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Posted by Bradford Smith  |   February 02, 2011 at 03:56 PM

Foundations are constantly funding research that is relevant to the issues of our time and these reports culled from PubHub provide a great (and timely) example.

Posted by Rick Schoff  |   February 03, 2011 at 08:30 AM

Kyoko - what a great service. Kudos for posting this!

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