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Grand Mosque of Paris

In October of last year, the French Senate approved a bill banning parents of Muslim students from wearing headscarves during school trips. The bill came on the agenda of the Senate after a French far-right official shouted at a Muslim volunteer parent with a veil to take off her scarf during a school trip to a regional council in Dijon in eastern France. The ruling En Marche, which has the majority in the National Assembly, is opposed to the bill, so it is unlikely to be passed at the assembly.

However, anti-Muslim laws and policies became the norm in France…


We entered 2020 by talking about US-Iranian relations. The killing of Qasim Soleimani by the American forces in Iraq and Iran’s missile attacks against the US military bases concerned many with the possibility of a new war in an already unstable region.

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Funeral of Qasem Soleimani Tehran, Iran on 6 January 2020

For observers of the moves of the US foreign policy in the last three years, the events are not surprising. The US government has pursued policies to roll back Iranian influence in the Middle East.

The US mediated between the Arab states and Israel to better coordinate the anti-Iranian policies in the region.

With the new developments, a…


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A Christian pilgrim prays at the historic Deyruzzaferan monastery in Mardin, in southeastern Turkey, AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

Vowing to better protect Christians, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told media at the White House recently that Turkey will restore churches damaged during the civil war in northeastern Syria.

With this statement, Erdoğan might have hoped to send signals addressing western concerns about the vulnerabilities of Christians in his own country, too. The percentage of Christians in Turkey declined from nearly 25% in 1914 to less than 0.5% today.

As I write in my recent book on religious minorities in Turkey and France, international events and domestic political interests improved the status of Christians in the 2000s.

Yet, the…


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Photo by Faruk Melik ÇEVİK on Unsplash

On May 6, Turkey’s Higher Electoral Council canceled the mayoral elections in Istanbul and ordered the rerun of the race on June 23. This decision wiped away the humiliating defeat of the governing Justice and Development Party in Istanbul. Turkey had already been in the path to authoritarianism under the presidency of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, but rejection of an electoral defeat put the last nail on the coffin of Turkish democracy.

How has Turkey come to this point? Not long ago, many considered Turkey as an example of democracy in a region of volatility and instability. However, the rise of…


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U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on January 14, 2019. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/Public Domain]

In January 2019, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had a Middle East tour with the goal of forming an alliance that could contain Iran in the region. He vowed to “expel every last Iranian boot” from Syria and decrease Iran’s role in Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen. For observers of the moves of the US government in the last two years, the message of Pompeo’s visit was not surprising. If there is one policy that the US government has set in the Middle East in the last couple of years, it is the pursuance of a regional coalition that could…


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The arrival of British High Commissioner Herbert Samuel to Palestine Mandate in 1920. From left to right: Thomas Edward Lawrence, Emir Abdullah, Geoffrey Salmond, Herbert Samuel, and Wyndham Deedes. (Photo Credit: Library of Congress)

Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Egypt and gave a speech at American University in Cairo. Secretary Pompeo criticized President Obama’s foreign policy in the region by referring to his famous speech, “A New Beginning,” given in Cairo after he became the president in 2009. He blamed Obama of retreating American presence in the region and said: “America is a force for good in the Middle East. Period.[…] When America retreats, chaos follows. When we neglect our friends, resentment builds. When we partner with enemies, they advance.”

Two questions arise from the speech: Is Western involvement for good…


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Photo by David Monje on Unsplash

On October 19, Sheikh Abdulrahman al-Sudais, the imam of the Grand Mosque of Mecca and the highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia, delivered a sermon and declared the Saudi crown prince Muhammad bin Salman as a renewer of religion whom all Muslims should obey. This move was in reaction to the accusations against the crown prince for his potential involvement in the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Muhammad bin Salman has been busy to create a religious establishment in accord with his political ambitions. He imprisoned several religious scholars including former imams of…


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Photo by Mitch Lensink on Unsplash

On 12 November 2018, the Amnesty International withdrew its most prestigious human rights prize from Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s chief of government, accusing her of perpetuating human rights abuses against the Rohingya Muslim minority. In the past, Suu Kyi was put on house arrest for several years by the military regime in Myanmar. She received numerous awards including 1991 Nobel peace prize for her fight for freedom and democracy. However, after coming to power, she did nothing to stop the persecution of the Rohingya Muslims; in contrast, she legitimized the oppression with her silence. …

Ramazan Kılınç

Professor of Political Science at U of Nebraska at Omaha and author of Alien Citizens (https://amzn.to/2shIgYX). https://ramazankilinc.com/

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