Tarek Masoud

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Times of strain often lead to explosions of religiosity, as people turn to faith as a balm against misfortune. The coronavirus pandemic, with more than 2.8 million lives lost to date, certainly qualifies as one of the most cataclysmic events in recent memory. Faced with the major disruptions of the past year, did people turn to faith, or do we instead see evidence of a “religious recession”?

To find out, we conducted a unique study on the effects of the pandemic in the Muslim world. Our data reinforces the assumption that religion does indeed serve an important function in times of hardship.…  Seguir leyendo »

Source: Nationally representative survey of 2,500 Turkish adults, March 2019. Figure: Tarek Masoud and Aytug Sasmaz

This month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reconsecrated the Hagia Sophia — a UNESCO world heritage site and museum — as a house of Muslim worship. To Erdogan’s many opponents, this looks like the latest move in a long-running attempt to undo Turkish secularism. The president’s supporters dismiss this interpretation, portraying the whole thing as a purely domestic, even mundane, legal matter. But Erdogan himself has hinted at something much more expansive. In a recent speech, he declared that the “resurrection of Hagia Sophia” represents “the footsteps of the will of Muslims across the world to come out of the interregnum,” and the “reignition of the fire of hope of not just Muslims, but … of all the oppressed, wronged, downtrodden and exploited.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Twenty years ago, Edward Djerejian, a former U.S. diplomat, famously worried that Islamists would exploit democratic elections to come to power, after which they would pull the democratic ladder up behind them. Instead of one man, one vote, he said, Islamists wanted one man, one vote, one time.

Last week, Egypt's President Mohamed Morsy, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and his country's first democratically elected president, seemed to fulfill Djerejian's grim prophecy.

In a series of unilateral amendments to Egypt's interim constitution, Morsy declared that his word "is final and binding and cannot be appealed by any way or to any entity," and that he is empowered to "take the necessary actions and measures to protect the country and the goals of the revolution."…  Seguir leyendo »

What Egypt needs now, before anything else, is free parliamentary elections that can help capitalize on the momentum in Tahrir Square and give the opposition a position from which it can dictate the pace of reform. This is not something the Egyptian regime wants.

Instead, Vice President Omar Suleiman would love to sit down with a wide spectrum of opposition groups — some meaningful, many regime puppets — and preside over negotiations for a new Egyptian constitution. He'll make sure the talks aren't just about those bits relating to the power of the president or the ability of the police to have their way with citizens.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hosni Mubarak's promise this week to initiate constitutional reform in Egypt and then step down at the end of his presidential term in September did little to mollify the anger of the demonstrators protesting his rule. Many protesters seemed to agree with the assessment of the opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei that it was “a trick” intended to buy time. With the regime-sponsored ugliness now engulfing Tahrir Square, demands for Mr. Mubarak’s immediate resignation have grown only more urgent, and the risk of a violent conclusion appears to have grown.

But there may still be a chance to effect the “orderly transition” that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has called for.…  Seguir leyendo »