Religion

Religion is an important component in many conflict zones and a powerful tool for preventing violence. USIP has been a pioneer in religion and peacemaking, seeking new ways to combat violent extremism across all beliefs.

Violent Extremism: Setting Priorities for Research

Thu, 09/29/2016 - 09:00
Thu, 09/29/2016 - 12:30

The near-daily litany of violence perpetrated by violent extremist groups like al-Qaeda, ISIS and Boko Haram illustrates the dearth of understanding about how these militant organizations successfully tap into social discord to advance their campaigns. On Thursday, September 29, the U.S. Institute of Peace and the RESOLVE Network convened researchers from around the world to help set priorities for policy-relevant research to identify effective responses.

 

Violent extremism presents a number of puzzles: What motivates individuals or groups attracted to political rhetoric advocating violence to take the next step of carrying out violent action? How is this type of violence different from other forms of political violence? When and under what conditions do communities choose to support, abstain from or actively reject violent social movements and extremist groups?  

Amb. William Taylor, Welcome Remarks
Vice President, U.S. Institute of Peace

Keynote and Discussion: Of Barrel Bombs and Beheadings: The Roots of Intergenerational Extremism

Mohammed Hafez, Keynote
Chairman and Associate Professor, Naval Post Graduate School

Georgia Holmer, Moderator
Director of CVE, U.S Institute of Peace

Session 1: The Governance Nexus: Legitimacy, State Fragility and Violent Extremism

Humayun Kabir, Panelist
Vice President, Bangladesh Enterprise Institute

Richard Atwood, Panelist
Director of Multilateral Affairs and Head of New York Office, International Crisis Group

Cheryl Frank, Panelist
Head of Transnational Threats and International Crime Division, Institute for Security Studies

Beza Tesfaye, Panelist
Conflict and Governance Research Manager, Mercy Corps

Cameron Chisholm, Moderator
President and Founder, International Peace &Security Institute

Session 2: A New Narrative: Rethinking the Discourse on Violence & Religious Identity

Eliza Urwin, Panelist
Senior Program Officer, U.S Institute of Peace

Tahir Abbas, Panelist
Senior Research Fellow, Royal United Services Institute

Imtiaz Gul, Panelist
Executive Director, Centre for Research and Security Studies

Houda Abadi, Panelist
Associate Director MENA Projects, The Carter Center

Candace Rondeaux, Moderator
Senior Program Officer and Director of RESOLVE Network Secretariat, U.S. Institute of Peace

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USIP Youth Leaders’ Exchange with the Dalai Lama

Short Description: 

The U.S. Institute of Peace and His Holiness the Dalai Lama have joined to strengthen the abilities of youth leaders working to build peace in the world’s most violent regions. USIP and the Dalai Lama hosted a dialogue in May 2016 with 28 such peacebuilders drawn from networks of the Institute and its partners in 13 countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Many of these countries face the world’s deadliest wars, as well as campaigns by extremist groups to incite youth to violence. These leaders are among their countries’ most effective peacebuilders. The dialogue with the Dalai Lama helped them to build practical skills and personal resilience they need to work against the tensions or violence in their homelands.

The Problem

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Islam, Culture and Sexism: What Needs to Change?

Tue, 10/13/2015 - 13:00
Tue, 10/13/2015 - 14:30
Subtitle: 
Muslim Women Campaign for Gender Equality

ISIS extremists in Iraq and Syria declare that Islamic scripture justifies their taking of refugee women as sex slaves. Men in some Muslim societies cite their religion in defending “honor killings” of women. In the West, many commentators proclaim Islam inherently sexist, and some governments ban the veils traditionally worn by many Muslim women. Amid the turmoil, a growing cohort of female Islamic scholars says Muslim women are marginalized not by the Quran but by patriarchal cultural practices and interpretations of their faith. On October 13, 2015, USIP will screen the recent PBS documentary “Gender Equality in Islam,” and host a discussion on how women can understand and advance the gender-equitable principles of the faith.

Read the event coverage, Islam, Culture and Sexism: Making Change with Religious Learning.

“Gender Equality in Islam” presents the work of Dr. Azizah al-Hibri, a longtime University of Richmond law professor and Islamic scholar who in 1993 founded Karamah, an organization that educates Muslim women about Islamic principles of justice and gender equity. Karamah’s executive director, Aisha Rahman, who is featured in the film, will join other experts to discuss the importance of education and other tools that women need to interpret and promote Islam’s defense of women’s rights.

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A Different Route to Countering Violent Extremism: What Works?

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 09:30
Tue, 04/14/2015 - 11:30

From Paris to northeastern Nigeria to Burma, violent extremism has emerged as a critical threat to peace and stability. Military and police responses make headlines, but many governments, civil society organizations and individuals also are doing painstaking work to build resilience, support alternative narratives, reduce underlying divisions and ultimately counter the allure of militant groups. State Department Counselor on Counterterrorism and Preventing Violent Extremism, Eric Rosand, joins the Conflict Prevention and Resolution Forum on Tuesday, April 14, at the U.S. Institute of Peace for a discussion of the results of these efforts, and how to build on effective approaches.

Experts: 

The Conflict Prevention and Resolution Forum (CPRF) provides a monthly platform in Washington for highlighting innovative and constructive methods of conflict resolution. Established in 1999, the forum’s goals are to (1) provide information from a wide variety of perspectives; (2) explore possible solutions to complex conflicts; and (3) provide a secure venue for stakeholders from various disciplines to engage in cross-sector and multi-track problem-solving.

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Religion and Gender in Extremist Violence: A Discussion with Human Rights Defenders

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 13:30
Thu, 02/12/2015 - 15:00

Former President Jimmy Carter calls discrimination and violence against women and girls one of the most serious and pervasive -- yet ignored -- violations of human rights. Escalating violent religious extremism fuels this pattern. On Thursday, Feb. 12, the U.S. Institute of Peace and The Carter Center were pleased to host this event, which addressed ways in which human rights defenders in Libya and Iraq are working to build peace with particular attention to the role of religion and gender. 

Manal Omar, Welcoming Remarks
Acting Vice President, Center for Middle East and Africa, USIP

Karin Ryan, Remarks
Senior Advisor for Human Rights and Project Director, Mobilizing Action for Women and Girls Initiative, The Carter Center

Panel Discussion: 

  • Dr. Alaa Murabit
    Founder, The Voice of Libyan Women
  • Mubin Shaikh
    Counterterrorism, CVE and De-radicalization Expert in Canada
  • Sanam Naraghi Anderlini
    Co-Founder & Executive Director, International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
  • Fatima Kadhim Al-Bahadly
    Director, Al-Firdaws Society, Iraq
  • Susan Hayward, Moderator
    Interim Director, Religion & Peacebuilding Center, USIP

Q&A with audience

carter center logoReligion often is used to justify violence and the unequal status of women. More than ever, these problems are interrelated, and efforts that address them in isolation fail to produce comprehensive, long-term strategies.

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After Peshawar: Domestic Security in Pakistan

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 14:00
Tue, 01/27/2015 - 15:30

December 16, 2014, may well have been Pakistan’s September 11. Join the U.S. Institute of Peace for a panel discussion assessing Pakistan’s domestic security situation in the wake of the attack on the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar.

In the wake of the brutal attack that day, Pakistani civilian and military policymakers came together to formulate a new National Action Plan, making fresh pledges of concerted action against the full host of militant groups operating within Pakistan.

The new security agenda has led to a controversial amendment of the Pakistani constitution to institute new military-run courts for terrorist suspects. Capital punishment has resumed. New initiatives seek to curtail terrorist financing and media access. And combat actions continue in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Experts: 
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Sectarian Conflict in Pakistan: Local and Regional Dimensions

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 11:00
Wed, 11/19/2014 - 12:30

The U.S. Institute of Peace hosted a discussion analyzing factors that have contributed to sectarian tension in Pakistan and the surrounding region.

Sectarian divisions are growing in Pakistan. Contemporary public opinion surveys suggest these religious communal identities are hardening and violent militant organizations – drawn primarily but not exclusively from the Sunni Deobandi tradition – are increasingly targeting rival religious minorities, killing thousands across the country in attacks over the past decade.

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Peacebuilding in Central African Republic: The Views of Top Religious Leaders

Mon, 11/10/2014 - 14:00
Mon, 11/10/2014 - 15:30

Please join us for a discussion with the highest-ranking Muslim, Catholic, and Protestant leaders in CAR, Imam Omar Kabine Layama, Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga and Reverend Nicolas Guérékoyame Gbangou, as they discuss their efforts to foster dialogue and social cohesion across religious dividing lines, and lay out a strategic vision for the future of the country through their Interfaith Peace Platform.

Read the event coverage, Central African Republic: Religious Leaders Call for Dialogue Backed by Grassroots.

Experts: 

In the Central African Republic, the situation remains precarious as ethno-religious violence continues despite the deployment of United Nations peacekeepers. In this context, religious leaders committed to peacebuilding provide a particularly important perspective.

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Inside Iran

Thu, 01/09/2014 - 09:30
Thu, 01/09/2014 - 11:00
Subtitle: 
With Robin Wright and David Ignatius

Two long-time Middle East experts have recently returned from Iran. Their discussions with cabinet members, ayatollahs, hardliners, Members of Parliament, economists, opposition figures and ordinary Iranians offer rare insights into Iran’s increasingly vibrant political scene since President Rouhani took office and the implications of the new nuclear agreement. Robin Wright and David Ignatius offer fresh perspectives on what’s next.

Read the event coverage, Wright, Ignatius Analyze Iran Developments

Please join us for a moderated discussion on these and other issues important to Iran, its internal politics, and its relations with the world. Join the conversation on Twitter with #InsideIran.

This event will feature the following speakers:

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Current Challenges to Christian-Muslim Relations in Egypt

Fri, 06/14/2013 - 10:00
Fri, 06/14/2013 - 12:00

On Friday, June 14, two Egyptian religious leaders, Grand Mufti Mohamed Ali Goma’a and Bishop Mouneer Hanna Anis, discussed the challenges their communities face in the democratic transition of their state.

Experts: 

After decades of authoritarian rule, Egypt’s transition to democracy is tackled incredible challenges including political, social and economic reform, infrastructural development, and the ongoing religious sectarianism.

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Articles & Analysis

By:
USIP Staff

Nine months after the Central African Republic (CAR) held free, peaceful and democratic elections for president and parliament, the country continues to struggle for stability and progress. Half of the country remains in need of humanitarian aid, and an increase in violent incidents since September threatens to destabilize any progress made to date. At the end of November, clashes between factions of the ex-Séléka, a formerly united alliance of primarily Muslim armed groups, left 85 dead, 76 injured and 11,000 newly displaced. The targeting of a specific ethnic group in the fighting, the...

By:
Keith Mines

Shimon Peres served twice as Prime Minister of Israel and most recently as President. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, for securing the Oslo peace accords, and he never stopped believing in the agreement’s principals and main contours for a two-state solution.  

By:
Nancy Lindborg

For 35 years, the International Day of Peace on September 21 has served as a rallying point for governments, organizations and ordinary people working to help end violent conflict around the world.

Videos & Webcasts

A day after the United States’ deadliest-ever mass shooting, the Dalai Lama led a Washington audience in a silent prayer for peace. But he said prayers will be ineffective without “serious action...

Muslim women worldwide need to reclaim the place as leaders that the Islamic faith accorded them in its early centuries, USIP Acting Vice President Manal Omar told guests at a June 25 iftar...

Nigeria’s next government needs to have the political will to act decisively against the Boko Haram extremist group, said Pastor Esther Abimiku Ibanga ahead of the country’s March 28 presidential...

Our Work In The Field

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There are currently no upcoming classroom courses.

Online Courses

Peter Weinberger
This course presents a set of "soft skills" for participants who engage with religious peoples for partnerships, programming and project implementation.
It touches on often-contested issues such as gender and women’s voices, religious freedom, discussing personal beliefs in the public sphere, and how to integrate religion and programming.

Publications

In January 2016, the Marrakesh Declaration was issued by Muslim scholars and politicians as a concerted response to the persecution of and violence against minorities in Muslin-majority countries. This report, published with the Cambridge Institute on Religion and International Studies, provides background on the Marrakesh Declaration and recommendations to those from both Muslim and non-Muslim majority contexts to ensure the Declaration’s implementation and legitimacy.
By:
USIP Staff
The Peace Day Challenge is a global effort to turn the International Day of Peace into a day of global action that affirms peace as a real alternative to the increasing violence we see daily. It encourages people to build peace on September 21, and to inspire others to join in, using the social media tag #PeaceDayChallenge.