Socio-Religious Inclusion

Carnegie Project Working Group 3 — Socio-Religious Inclusion

The Socio-Religious Inclusion working group, led by A.Kadir Yildirim, Ph.D., examines the relationship between religion and politics in light of the new social, political and economic context brought about by the Arab Spring. This new context has underscored the roles of religious actors in the political arena, which include Islamist parties, Salafist groups and transnational actors such as ISIS. Members of this working group focus on identifying mechanisms for better integrating marginalized religious actors in decision-making processes, incorporating them into democratic procedures and preventing them from sliding into extremism. 

This working group is part of a two-year project that confronts the governance crisis in the Middle East and identifies effective and lasting policy interventions to foster more inclusive and pluralistic states in the region.

Group Members



A.Kadir Yildirim, Ph.D., Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy

Yildirim is a research scholar at the Baker Institute. His main research interests include democratization, politics and religion, political Islam and Turkish politics. His most recent book, "Muslim Democratic Parties in the Middle East: Economy and Politics of Islamist Moderation," analyzes the trajectories of Islamist parties in Egypt, Morocco and Turkey.


Mirjam Künkler, Ph.D., Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study

Künkler is a professor at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study specializing in comparative relations between religions and the state, particularly in Iran and Indonesia. Her work examines the interplay of religion and state related to political parties, questions of law and constitutionalism, religious education, Islamic authority and the legal system. She is currently working on her second monograph on constitutionalism in Iran.

Künkler's research presents an overview of new national initiatives to promote female religious authority in the Muslim societies of the Middle East, discussing the structure and reach of these programs and offering a typology of the types of religious authority in which women are customarily trained.


Nathan Brown, Ph.D., George Washington University

Brown is a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University and the author of six well-received books on Middle East politics. His expertise spans religion, law and politics in the Arab world. In addition to his academic work, Brown serves on the MENA advisory committee for Human Rights Watch.

Brown’s research compares the state religious bureaucracies in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, probing the authority, autonomy and political role of religious officialdom in both countries. It explores the extent to which widespread religious bureaucracy allows the state to either dominate the religious sphere or be subordinate to religious authorities.


Mustafa Gurbuz, Ph.D., Arab Center

Gurbuz is a nonresident fellow at the Arab Center in Washington, D.C., and an adjunct faculty member of the Arab World Studies program at American University. He is a political sociologist whose research focuses on political violence and terrorism, conflict resolution, social movements, Muslims in the West and ethnic/sectarian politics in the Middle East.

His publications have appeared in Sociological Inquiry, Sociological Forum, Middle East Critique, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, European Journal of Turkish Studies and Research in Social Movements, Conflict, and Change. Gurbuz is the author of "Rival Kurdish Movements in Turkey: Transforming Ethnic Conflict" (Amsterdam University Press, 2016).