Religion and Peacebuilding

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.

Learn more about USIP's Religion and Peacebuilding center.

Sectarian Conflict in Pakistan: Local and Regional Dimensions

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

Please join us for 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.

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
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.

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.


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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Egyptian President Resigns after Peaceful Protests

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has resigned on Feb. 11 after weeks of peaceful protests. USIP takes a comprehensive look at the situation and its implications.


UPDATED: February 15, 2011

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned on Feb. 11 after weeks of peaceful protests. USIP takes a comprehensive look at the situation and its implications.

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 14:35
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Notes from Sudan

Ahead of the country's critical 2011 referendum on whether the South should secede from Sudan, USIP is dedicated to help resolve internal conflicts and help ensure the country's future stability and security. In "Notes from Sudan," USIP's Jon Temin writes about his recent tour of the country to get an update on the status of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended decades of civil war in Sudan and learn about preparations for the 2011 referendum and the 2010 national elections. 


Jonathan Temin

by Jonathan Temin

Fri, 08/21/2009 (All day)
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Pakistan’s Resurgent Sectarian War

The violence across the Middle East has energized sectarian militant networks on both sides of the conflict in Pakistan. This report gives an overview of the history of conflict between Sunni Deobandi and Shia militant and political organizations in Pakistan and offers warnings about further radicalization there and its effects on the politics of the state.


  • Sectarian violence between Sunni Deobandi and Shia Muslims in Pakistan has escalated in recent years. Most of this violence is perpetrated by local networks, but the sectarian phenomenon also has important ties to regional security dynamics and transnational terrorist networks.
Arif Rafiq
Wed, 11/05/2014 - 12:18

Religious Leaders Countering Extremist Violence: How Policy Changes Can Help

Constructive actions such as these underpin a set of recommendations developed by more than a dozen religious leaders, scholars and other activists and presented recently to U.S. and United Nations policymakers. Among the suggestions was to increase assistance to constructive faith-based organizations, taking care to support their work without endangering their lives and legitimacy, so they can be in an even stronger position to prevent and counter radicalization.

Religious Authority and the Promotion of Sectarian Tolerance in Pakistan

Sunni-Shia tensions have been a recurrent problem in Pakistan for more than three decades, as domestic and international factors have polarized sectarian identities. Recently, the Shia minority has suffered the brunt of the violence. This report examines what has fostered intolerance and tolerance between Sunnis and Shias in Pakistan and the role that religious authorities may play in reducing sectarian prejudice.

Michael Kalin and Niloufer Siddiqui


  • Sunni-Shia tensions have been a recurrent problem in Pakistan for more than three decades, with the Shia minority suffering the brunt of the recent violence.
  • Sectarian identity has become politicized as a result of domestic and international factors. Historical case studies and interviews suggest that sectarian networks are usually local but are often bolstered by transnational religious communities and can be highly responsive to international events.
Thu, 10/23/2014 - 12:38
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Articles & Analysis

November 20, 2014
The archbishop, along with Imam Omar Kabine Layama and Reverend Nicolas Guérékoyama outlined their interfaith initiative to foster dialogue and social cohesion across religious lines, and their vision for peace, during a discussion Nov. 10.

Our Work In The Field

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Classroom Courses

Hamid Khan
January 26, 2015
Acquire a firm grounding in the principles, concepts, and terminology of Islamic law as well as an introduction to its history and its role in the contemporary era, including Islamic constitutionalism, criminal law, and human rights law.


Muslims in general and Muslim leaders particularly have often been severely criticized for not more energetically condemning the violent acts of Muslim extremists. The uninformed often assume that extremists represent Islam’s mainstream.
Ethan Beuno de Mesquita
This report was commissioned by USIP's Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention. Consistent with the center’s commitment to conflict prevention, this report aims to inform the center’s ongoing work to expand the understanding of the determinants of terrorism and its support base.