Arab rulers are increasingly asserting control over Islamic institutions with administrative and coercive tools. These top-down policies are framed by authoritarian regimes as “reforms,” but are often calculated attempts to eliminate potential sources of dissent in ministries, seminaries, mosques, and other religious entities

At the other end of the spectrum, Islamic institutions in conflict-wracked Arab states have become prizes for competing factions to bolster their authority and popular support. Understanding these dynamics has important implications for countering violent extremism and resolving conflict, as well as appreciating evolving state-society relations across the Arab world

Carnegie’s Middle East Program is pleased to invite you to a public discussion marking the release of a new edited volume, Islamic Institutions in Arab States: Mapping the Dynamics of Control, Co-option, and Contention, which examines the interplay between religious establishments and governance in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco

Nathan J. Brown, Maysaa Shuja Al-Deen, and Laila Alrefaai will present the study’s findings, drawing from field research on Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, and Syria

Annelle Sheline will serve as a discussant and Frederic Wehrey as moderator. Research for this project was made possible through a generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation


Frederic Wehrey is a senior fellow in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His research deals with armed conflict, security sector governance, and U.S. policy, with a focus on Libya, North Africa, and the Gulf

Nathan J. Brown, a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, is a distinguished scholar and author of six well-received books on Arab politics

Annelle Sheline is a research fellow in the Middle East program at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Her research focuses on the manipulation of religious authority by Arab monarchies

Maysaa Shuja Al-Deen is a Yemeni journalist and non resident fellow at Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies. She frequently writes for Jadaliyya, Weghat Nazar, and several Yemeni newspapers

Leila Alrefaai is a Syrian writer and researcher specializing in religious affairs


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