The CSS Blog Network

ISN Weekly Theme: Religion Resurrected?

Photo: James Quinn/flickr

Photo: James Quinn/flickr


From DC to Tel Aviv to Riyhad and all points in between, religion is increasingly taking center stage in the political world…or is it?

As the holiday season approaches, this question is our weekly theme.

Dr Jonathan Fox of Bar Ilan University asks in this week’s Special Report whether there is a resurgence of religion on the world scene or whether religion was always present but ignored. Dr Lisa Watanabe of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy complements this article commenting on the interplay between security and religion at the state level, with a specific focus on Islam and IR.

  • Over in the Links Library, we’re highlighting Think Again: God. In the article, Karen Armstrong reviews aspects of religions such as its relation to politics, democracy and violence, its effect on women and its compatibility with science.
  • The Abraham Fund Initiatives foments dialogue between Israel’s Jews and Arabs. Find out more in the IR Directory.
  • Also in the Directory, the Quilliam Foundation, a think tank that focuses on a revival of Western Islam.

And feel free to browse all of our religion-religion related content by keyword.

Switzerland: Quo Vadis?

Minaret in Serrières, Switzerland

Minaret in Serrières, Switzerland

It was the first Sunday of Advent and a black day for everyone who cherishes the values of enlightenment. It was unexpected since everyone seemed to be against it: almost all political parties, the national churches, representatives of the economy and many other organizations.

But it happened still: The Swiss banned the construction of minarets in yesterday’s vote.

Reactions after the result were impressive. Within minutes I received text messages and Facebook group invitations from all sorts of people. One of the groups is “I am ashamed of the results of the Anti-Minaret initiative!.” When I wanted to invite more friends to join I realized that they were all already there – from the most conservative to the most liberal people I know.
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ISN Weekly Theme: Islam in Southeast Asia

Muslim girls walking to school in Indonesia, photo: Shreyans Bhansali/flickr

Muslim girls walking to school in Indonesia, photo: Shreyans Bhansali/flickr

Islam, Islamic politics and religiously motivated violence are usually issues associated with the wider Middle East region or South Asia.

Less visible, yet no less significant is the presence of Islamic politics, tensions and political expression in Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

A region marked by immense historical and religious diversity, by painful historical schisms, and in certain cases by an unrivaled dynamism and ability to marry Islam with modernity, Southeast Asia deserves closer inspection and more contextually sensitive analysis.

This week the ISN publishes a Special Report on the issue with a backgrounder on Islam in the region and a case study of the Abu Sayyaf Group in the Philippines.

We have a wealth of further information on the topic in our Digital Library and Current Affairs section- check out:

  • In our Links section, check out the website of the National Bureau of Asian Research which analyzes less visible issues related to Islam and Muslim societies in Asia.

Shopping in Sarajevo

Stylin' in Sarajevo/photo: sarajevo-x.com

Stylin' in Sarajevo / photo: sarajevo-x.com

Bosnians are not really into protesting. Clearly, it requires too much mental and physical energy that is better spent … well, in the Bosnian fashion: living life, seizing the day (with coffee and cigarettes, but nonetheless).

Every now and then small groups of war veterans and pensioners will gather in front of a government building to protest not having received their funds, and once, last year, there was a protest when a teenager was stabbed to death by another teenager, but it was entirely unclear against whom the protests were directed (presumably God). Other than that, the only protest to note was when a down-on-her-luck female education official attempted to distract herself from her personal problems by causing a Christmastime uproar, proposing the sacking of Santa and his replacement by some previously unknown Muslim version of the jolly fellow. This time, a few handfuls of people (representing all ethnic-religious-secular groups) gathered in protest outside the main cathedral in the city center.

In the past few weeks, however, a new target for potential protest is a newly opened shopping center. Though the protests are unlikely to develop beyond the verbal complaint and tacit boycott phase, the shopping center is the latest exciting controversy and the main topic of call-in radio and television talk shows. The problem: Well, the shopping center is Arab built and run and refuses to sell pork in its supermarket or to allow the sale of alcohol or the presence of betting shops, the latter a major Bosnian hobby of late.
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