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.


Amr Hamzawy, Ph.D., Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

A former member of the People's Assembly who won a seat in the first parliamentary elections following Egypt's 2011 revolution, Hamzawy specializes in democratization processes, political movements and civil society, political change and the rule of law, and human rights and governance in the Arab world. He has held many positions at academic institutions and research centers, including his current positions as senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and associate professor of political science at the American University in Cairo.

Hamzawy’s research analyzes the dynamics of Islamist splintering and its impact on the Egyptian political scene, exploring the different trajectories that Islamist movements have exhibited since 2013 and their visible decline in political significance as a consequence.


Amel Boubekeur, Université Grenoble

Currently based in Grenoble, Boubekeur has been a research fellow at several research institutions, including the Brookings Doha Center and Carnegie Middle East, where she studied the Maghreb, democratization in the Arab world, Euro-Arab and U.S.-Arab relations, and Islam in Europe. She is a regular consultant for various UN agencies and the European Commission. Her book, "Whatever Happened to the Islamists," was nominated for the Foreign Policy 2012 Best Books on the Middle East award.

Boubekeur's research examines the political influence of Islamist parties in the Maghreb beyond their electoral victories in the post-Arab Spring period, exploring their struggle in promoting their Islamic governance project as an alternative to inherited authoritarian rules. 


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.