Category Archives: News

Conference on “Islam & World Peace” an International Success

For three days this September 2015, the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life at Columbia University; the Institute of African Studies at Columbia University; and Majalis (African Muslim Heritage) co-hosted a group of researchers, journalists, government officials, and religious leaders for a conference which included, in addition to a series of academic panels and discussions, Sufi music, poetry, fine art, and food.


Conference participants examined the successes and struggles of the Senegalese Sufi model for nonviolence, tolerance, and coexistence, and discussed the lessons of Sufi leaders as a means of political and cultural resistance.

album_warc_clip_image012Islam & World Peace: Perspectives from African Muslim Nonviolence Traditions” was the American component of an international partnership: panels were also held concurrently in Dakkar, Senegal, organized by the West African Research Center (WARC).  On Sunday, September 13th, the two groups convened via web-conference for a dialogue in which clerics and academics responded to extremisms.album_panels_clip_image064

This conference, a part of the Sufi Islam in 21st Century Politics project, made possible through a grant from the Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs, was organized by project leaders Mamadou Diouf and Souleymane Bachir Diagne and by Majalis President Abdoul Aziz Mbacké.  The third project leader for Sufi Islam in 21st Century Politics, Katherine Pratt Ewing, has organized a conference on Sufis in Pakistan and India to be held two weeks later.

album_participants_clip_image062Many more photos from both the American and the Senegalese events are available at

You can watch the opening ceremonies for the conference, including remarks from Mamadou Diouf, Karen Barkey, and Abdoul Aziz Mbacké, as well as musical performances by Sufi singers Musa Dieng Kala and Ahmeth Diop, below.  More videos, including interviews with select members of the American participants can be found at

George Rupp’s Beyond Individualism Now Available


George Rupp’s latest book, Beyond Individualism: The Challenge of Inclusive Communities, is now available through Columbia University Press.

To celebrate the release of his book, the IRCPL and CUP are hosting an event at Butler Library. Professor Rupp will speak on “The Power – and Limitations – of Individualism,” then discuss the issues raised with a panel of guests including Kati Marton, Scott Pelley, Wayne Proudfoot, and Kenneth Roth.  Following the event, there will be a reception, with copies of the book available for sale and signing.  More information is available here.

George Rupp is Columbia University President Emeritus, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, Adjunct Professor of religion, public health, and international affairs at Columbia University, and a founding principal at NEXT: Transition Advisors, a consulting partnership for academic, cultural, and social service organizations.

This event is sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life and by Columbia University Press.


Ibrahim Bechrouri Writing on Surveillance Policies in Muslim Communities in Politique Américaine


IRCPL Visiting Scholar Ibrahim Bechrouri recently published an article in Politique Américaine based on his research into the surveillance of Muslim communities by the New York City Police Department.  The article, “L’impact des politiques de surveillance post-11 septembre sur les communautés musulmanes: l’exemple du NYPD” (“Local Surveillance Policies on Muslim Communities. The example of the New York Police Department”), is now available to read online.

Ibrahim, a former Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration, and Religion, is a Fulbright grantee currently working on his PhD dissertation, titled Geopolitical approach of counter-terrorism strategies of the New York Police Department: a multiscale analysis.

2015 IRCPL Undergraduate Essay Contest Winner


The inaugural winner of the Religion, Culture, and Public Life Essay Contest is Meghan Hartman’s “Spoiled Fruit.”

Meghan’s essay analyzes the motifs of extreme violence depicted in two short stories of Urdu author Saadat Hasan Manto in consideration of the events surrounding the 1947 Partition of India.  Congratulations Meghan!

For more information on the IRCPL Undergraduate Essay Context, please visit the guidelines page.  The dates for the 2016 are now available online.


IRCPL Visiting Research Scholar Aaron Rock-Singer’s article in the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies now available


The September 2015 issue of the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies contains an article by Aaron Rock-Singer, IRCPL Visiting Research Scholar for 2015-16 and PhD candidate in Princeton’s Near Eastern Studies department.

A Pious Public: Islamic Magazines and Revival in Egypt, 1976–1981” “explores how and why middle class Egyptians pursued ‘religious respectability’ through Islamic magazines and argues that they were formed and formed themselves as religious subjects at the intersection of growing urbanisation and literacy, state educational policies and competing projects of religious mobilisation.”

The full text of the article is now available to read online at


MuCEM Exhibition on Shared Sacred Sites on View in Marseille


A new exhibition on display at the Musée des civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée through the end of the summer focuses on the sacred sites of the Mediterranean which are shared between people of different religions.


The fruit of several years of scientific research conducted by CNRS and Aix-Marseille University, this exhibition takes a fresh look at the religious behaviour of Mediterranean populations and highlights some of the most interesting (and most overlooked) phenomena in the region, namely the sharing and exchange between religious communities.

The exhibition will be open from April 29 to August 31, 2015, in Marseille, France.  Much more information is available at  Additional videos, including guided tours of the exhibit, can be seen at

For information on the IRCPL’s research into shared sacred spaces, see our project on Shared Sacred Spaces and the Politics of Pluralism.

IRCPL Visiting Research Scholar George Gavrilis in Foreign Affairs: “Bordering on Insanity: Afghanistan’s Struggle to Control Its Borders”

George Gavrilis, Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life, writes in Foreign Affairs:

gavrilis_borderinoninsantiy_police“Today, Afghanistan has a hefty national border police funded by the international community. But despite their crisp uniforms and neat organizational charts, the Afghan Border Police are nowhere near ready to protect the country’s borders. And that may be a good thing.”

The entire article is available to read at

Gavrilis is also the author of The Dynamics of Interstate Boundaries (Cambridge University Press, 2008), and recently served as Executive Director of the Hollings Center for International Dialogue (Washington, DC and Istanbul, Turkey).