Research Articles

The Two Sides of Counterterrorism

by Adam Garfinkle Truly pious people of all faiths are by nature humble, and generally have more questions than answers. Less pious people in all societies, usually the clear majority, tend to be more self-assured, and often seem content with the answers they already have. Society needs both kinds of people: the pious to dampen […]

Love and Heartbreak

by Adam Garfinkle Love breaths its deepest within us at quiet times of dim light and easy breezes, moments of gentle touches amid aromas of spice and strong tea. But heartbreak en masse prefers flashes of brightness and thunder amid odors of gunsmoke and superheated concrete dust. So it is in this early winter of […]

Meet Gedalia, Son of Ahikam

by Adam Garfinkle Once upon a time, here and there if not everywhere, Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived in towns together and, while keeping their versions of Abrahamic beliefs and traditions apart, managed still to share knowledge of and even some merrymaking amid each other’s holidays. Over many centuries—again, here and there, if not everywhere—people […]


by Adam Garfinkle Are there any tears left? Have we become so numbed by the intolerance and violence pouring within and projected out of the Middle East these days that, just to protect ourselves from daily emotional shattering, we create ever-thicker barriers between the small shard of humanity we engage face-to-face and the much larger […]

Global Cultural Rights and the Democracy of Pluralism and Coexistence

by Abd al-Hadi A’rab Until recently, cultural rights were among the most neglected forms of human rights — especially when compared to the “primary” rights, such as civil and political rights. Difficulty in application is one reason why this issue has long been neglected. Cultural rights are also closely related to values, morals, and religion, […]

Popular Religion in Egypt

by Saniyah al-Bahat The role of religion has always been a pressing issue for Egyptian sociologists and policy institutions — but over the past four years, it has acquired considerably more attention. The change would appear to relate to shifts in public spiritual rituals and performances, following taboos that had been placed on such forms […]

The Intolerant/Polarizing Personality, and How to Spot It

by Adam Garfinkle It’s a scene that repeats itself over and over again. Someone perpetrates a hate crime or, God forbid, a political murder or even a terrorist attack. Then the journalists come around to interview neighbors and friends. And the neighbors always say that they had no idea that such-and-such a person could do […]

Pluralistic Societies: Integration and State Policies

Al Mesbar’s 108th monthly book, for December 2015, addresses religious, cultural, and political pluralism in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Sudan. It explores identity, its cultural manifestations, and its relationship with history, heritage, and collective memory. The study is grounded in the desire to trace hopes for a “pluralism” that is built on freedom, coexistence, and […]

Nimr al-Nimr, Political Violence, and the Future of Saudi Shi’ites

BURAYDAH, CENTRAL SAUDI ARABIA—In 2010, I paid a visit to the city of Al-Qatif, in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, where the largest concentration of the country’s Shi‘a minority lives. An SMS message addressed to me arrived on the mobile phone of my friend Habib, who accompanied me on the trip. Habib is a […]

On the Execution of Saudi Shi’ite Cleric Nimr al-Nimr

by Joseph Braude – In the Arab world as well as the West, recent discussion of the execution of Saudi Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr has been strident: Sunni Gulf states applaud the action as a step forward in the struggle against terrorism, Iran and Arab Shi’ites condemn it as part of a war on their […]