Error message

Many thinkers and activists in the Middle East in particular argue that a fundamental reinterpretation of Islamic values is a necessary precondition for real and sustained political reform. Such a transformation has long been advocated by a diverse group of Islamic modernists or Islamic liberals, some of whom have made the case for a veritable reformation of Islam. Today, however, Islamic liberals find themselves isolated between the hammer of state enforced autocracy and the anvil of Islamist radicalism. Moreover, they suffer from a regional and international context that is increasingly defined by escalating concerns—a context that is hardly propitious to their efforts.

To better appreciate the challenges and dilemmas facing Islamic liberals, the Middle East Program of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars and the Muslim World Initiative of the United States Institute of Peace will host a talk by Dr. Abdou Filali Ansari, one of the Arab world's most prominent—and in some ways controversial—advocates of Islamic liberalism. Commenting on Dr. Ansari's presentation will be Dr. Daniel Brumberg, a scholar of political reform in the Muslim world and acting director of the Muslim World Initiative. Chaired by Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center's Middle East Program, this promises to be a fascinating discussion. Please join us.


  • Abdou Filali Ansari
    Aga Khan University, United Kingdom
  • Daniel Brumberg, Discussant
    United States Institute of Peace
  • Haleh Esfandiari, Chair
    Woodrow Wilson Center


Related Publications

Afghan Women Defend Their Rights Against the Taliban

Afghan Women Defend Their Rights Against the Taliban

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

By: James Rupert

Afghanistan’s Taliban, determined to capture a major city in the country, have advanced on Kunduz, in the northeast. The Taliban oppose any public role for women in Afghan society and have targeted women’s organizations in Kunduz. But a local journalist and mother, Sediqa Sherzai, for years has run Radio Roshani, a station that broadcasts programs for women’s rights and democracy.

Violent Extremism; Gender; Religion; Non-Violent Movements

The Current Situation in Burma

The Current Situation in Burma

Monday, May 1, 2017

The country’s transition from military rule to representative democracy is complicated by entrenched political and economic interests, religious and ethnic cleavages, and difficult negotiations with an array of armed groups to settle decades-long internal conflicts. As peace talks drag on, the nation’s parliamentary election, slated to take place in late 2015, threatens to exacerbate tensions within and among groups. In addition, the constitution unfairly prohibits  the main opposition candid...


Top Civic Leaders Aid Nigerian Fight to Curb Extremism

Top Civic Leaders Aid Nigerian Fight to Curb Extremism

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

By: Fred Strasser

Nigeria’s Roman Catholic cardinal urges his flock to embrace diversity. The spiritual leader of the country’s Muslims leads efforts to prevent radicalization and condemns Boko Haram. A former United Nations envoy advocates for professionalism among civil servants. A retired army chief of staff presses for the government to reach out more to alienated groups. These leaders and seven other prominent figures form a new high-level advisory group helping northern Nigeria’s powerful state governors address the social, religious and political forces that fuel extremist violence.

Fragility and Resilience; Violent Extremism; Religion; Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

View All Publications