Religion

Coordinator: Marte Nilsen

The Religion research group examines how religious actors, ideas, and institutions influence social and political processes.​

We explore issues at the intersection of religion, conflict, and peacebuilding.

The main research themes include the following:

  • How religious actors, ideas, and institutions influence social and political change
  • The ethical foundations guiding the use of armed force, as understood within different religious traditions
  • The interconnection between religious doctrines, rhetoric, practices, and motivations, on matters relating to peacebuilding and war.

The researchers have diverse disciplinary backgrounds, including development studies, philosophy, political science, religious studies, social geography, and sociology. Religion research at PRIO combines empirical work with strong theoretical ambitions. We aim at advancing the scholarly study of religion, while at the same time providing relevant knowledge and analysis to policymakers and practitioners.​

Past Events

Publications

Recent publications

Borchgrevink, Kaja & Marta Bivand Erdal (2017) With faith in development: Organizing transnational Islamic charity, Progress in Development Studies 17(3): 214–228.
Borchgrevink, Kaja & Marta Bivand Erdal (2017) Muslimsk medmenneseklighet [Muslim compassion], Dagbladet, 30 June.

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Borchgrevink, Kaja & Marta Bivand Erdal (2017) With faith in development: Organizing transnational Islamic charity, Progress in Development Studies 17(3): 214–228.
Ezzati, Rojan Tordhol & Marta Bivand Erdal (2017) Do we have to agree? Accommodating unity in diversity in post-terror Norway, Ethnicities. DOI: 10.1177/1468796816684145.
Erdal, Marta Bivand & Kaja Borchgrevink (2016) Transnational Islamic charity as everyday rituals, Global Networks. DOI: 10.1111/glob.12137.
Reichberg, Gregory M. (2016) Jacques Maritain, l'Espagne, et la guerre sainte [Jacques Maritain, Spain, and Holy War], Revue thomiste 115(2): 215–233.
Gates, Scott & Sukanya Podder (2015) Social Media, Recruitment, Allegiance, and the Islamic State, Perspectives on Terrorism 9(4): 107–116.
Brekke, Torkel (2015) Bridging the gap between ancient and modern in the study of religion and violence in India, Journal of Religion and Violence 3(3): 327–333.
Hatay, Mete (2015) ‘Reluctant’ Muslims? Turkish Cypriots, Islam, and Sufism, Cyprus Review 27(2): 43–63.
Høigilt, Jacob (2014) Prophets in their own country? Hizb al-Tahrir in the Palestinian context, Politics, Religion & Ideology 15(4): 504–520.
Nordås, Ragnhild (2014) Religious demography and conflict: Lessons from Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, International Area Studies Review 17(2): 146–166.
Høigilt, Jacob & Frida Austvoll Nome (2014) Egyptian Salafism in Revolution, Journal of Islamic Studies 25(1): 33–55.
Borchgrevink, Kaja (2013) Transnational Links of Afghan Madrasas: Implications for the Reform of Religious Education, Prospects: Quarterly Review of Comparative Education 43(1): 69–84.
Harpviken, Kristian Berg (2012) The Transnationalization of the Taliban, International Area Studies Review 15(3): 203–229.
Reichberg, Gregory M.; Henrik Syse & Endre Begby (2012) The Ethics of War. Part I: Historical Trends, Philosophy Compass 7(5): 316–327.
Begby, Endre; Gregory M. Reichberg & Henrik Syse (2012) The Ethics of War. Part II: Contemporary Authors and Issues, Philosophy Compass 7(5): 328–347.
Reichberg, Gregory M. (2010) Thomas Aquinas Between Just War and Pacifism, Journal of Religious Ethics 38(2): 219–241.
Brekke, Torkel (2009) The Concept of Religion and the Debate on the Rights of Women in the Constitutional Debates of India, Nordic Journal of Religion and Society 22(1): 71–85.
Brekke, Torkel (2009) Beyond Theological Essentialism and Ethnic Reductionism: A Review Essay about Religion and the Peace Process in Sri Lanka, International Journal of Buddhist Thought and Culture 12: 125–156.
Suhrke, Astri & Kaja Borchgrevink (2009) Negotiating Justice Sector Reform in Afghanistan, Crime, Law and Social Change 51(2): 211–130.
Vogt, Kari & Frida Austvoll Nome (2008) Islamic Education in Qom: Contemporary Developments, Acta Orientalia 69: 35–75.
Harpviken, Kristian Berg & Hanne Eggen Røislien (2008) Faithful Brokers? Potentials and Pitfalls of Religion in Peacemaking, Conflict Resolution Quarterly 25(3): 351–373.
Røislien, Hanne Eggen (2007) Living with Contradiction: Examining the Worldview of the Jewish Settlers in Hebron, International Journal of Conflict & Violence 1(2): 169–184.
Nome, Frida Austvoll (2006) Strained Harmony: Religious Diversity in Syria, report to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

PhD Thesis

Nilsen , Marte (2012) Negotiating Thainess: Religious and National Identities in Thailand's Southern Conflict. PhD thesis, Lund Studies in History of Religions, Lund University, Sweden.

Monograph

Brekke, Torkel (2016) Faithonomics. New York: Oxford University Press.
Brekke, Torkel (2011) Fundamentalism: Prophecy and Protest in an Age of Globalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Brekke, Torkel (2002) Makers of Modern Indian Religion in the Late Nineteenth Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Brekke, Torkel (2002) Religious Motivation and the Origins of Buddhism: A Social-Psychological Exploration of the Origins of a World Religion. London: Routledge. Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism.

Book Chapter

Borchgrevink, Kaja & Marta Bivand Erdal (2017) Circulation of ideas and practices of Islamic charity in the transnational social field spanning Europe and Pakistan, in Nowicka, Magdalena ; & Vojin Šerbedžija, eds, Migration and Social Remittances in a Global Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan (259–280).
Erdal, Marta Bivand (2016) Innenfra, utenfra og tredjeposisjoner? Refleksiv posisjonalitet i forskning blant katolikker i Norge [Insider, outsider or third positions? Reflexive positionality in research among Catholics in Norway], in Aschim, Anders; Olav Hovdelien; & Helje Kringlebotn Sødal, eds, Kristne migranter i Norden [Christian migrants in the Nordic countries]. Kristiansand: Portal.
Erdal, Marta Bivand (2016) When Poland became the main country of birth among Catholics in Norway’: Exploring the interface of Polish migrants’ everyday narratives and Church responses to a rapid demographic re-constitution, in Pasura, Dominic ; & Marta Bivand Erdal, eds, Migration, Transnationalism and Catholicism: Global Perspectives. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Pasura, Dominic & Marta Bivand Erdal (2016) Introduction: Migration, Transnationalism and Catholicism, in Pasura, Dominic ; & Marta Bivand Erdal, eds, Migration, Transnationalism and Catholicism: Global Perspectives. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Brekke, Torkel (2016) Religious Teachers in the Indian Army, in Brekke, Torkel; & Vladimir Tikhonov, eds, Military Chaplaincy in an Era of Religious Pluralism: Military–Religious Nexus in Asia, Europe, and USA. Dehli: Oxford University Press (15–38).
Brekke, Torkel (2016) Swami Vivekananda: Reason and Religion (England, 1896), in Bentlage, Bjorn; Marion Eggert; Hans-Martin Krämer ; & Stefan Reichmuth, eds, Religious Dynamics under the Impact of Imperialism and Colonialism: a Sourcebook. Leiden: Brill (77–92).
Brekke, Torkel (2015) The Indian Tradition, in James Turner Johnson, ed., Ashgate Research Companion to Military Ethics. London: Ashgate (415–427).
Brekke, Torkel (2015) Indian Shia Muslims and ideas of home around Partition in the fiction of Rahi Masoom Reza, in Özdalga, Elisabeth; & Daniella Kuzmanovic, eds, Novel and Nation In the Muslim World. London: Palgrave Macmillan (201–215).
Høigilt, Jacob (2015) Hizb al-Tahrir between Context and Ideology, in Adli Daana, ed., Islamic Hizb Ut-Tahrir In Palestine. Beirut: The Arab Institute For Research and Publishing (19–44).
Hatay, Mete & Ali Dayioglu (2015) Cyprus, in Scharbrodt, Oliver; Ahmet Alibasic; Jorgen Nielsen; & Egdunas Racius, eds, Yearbook of Muslims in Europe: Volume 7. Netherlands: Brill (157–173).
Brekke, Torkel (2014) Secularism and the market for religion in Scandinavia and India, in Loconzsci, Peter; & Walter Van Herck, eds, Secularism, Politics and Religion: Contexts and Concepts In India and Europe. New York: Routledge (158–176).
Brekke, Torkel (2014) The Sikh Tradition, in Reichberg, Gregory M.; & Henrik Syse, eds, The Comparative Ethics of War. New York: Cambridge University Press (672–701).
Hatay, Mete (2014) Three Ways of Sharing the Sacred: Choreographies of Coexistence in Cyprus, in Choreographies of Shared Sacred Sites: Religion, Politics, and Conflict Resolution (Ed. Elazar Barkan and Karen Barkey). New York: Columbia University Press (69–96).
Roy, Kaushik (2014) Hinduism, in Reichberg, Gregory M.; & Henrik Syse, eds, Religion, War, and Ethics: a Sourcebook of Textual Traditions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (471–543).
Hatay, Mete & Ali Dayioglu (2014) Cyprus, in Nielsen, Jørgen S.; Ahmet Alibašić; & Egdūnas Račius, eds, Yearbook of Muslims in Europe, Vol. 6. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers (153–175).
Brekke, Torkel (2012) Hinduism and Security, in Seiple, Chris; Dennis R. Hoover; & Pauletta Otis, eds, Routledge Handbook of Religion and Security. New York: Routledge (80–94).
Brekke, Torkel (2012) Breaking the Thigh and Breaking the Warrior Code, in Aquil, Raziuddin; & Kaushik Roy, eds, Warfare, Religion, and Society In Indian History. Dehli: Manohar (43–63).
Brekke, Torkel (2012) The Dharam Yudh or Just War in Sikhism, in Kaushik Roy, ed., Warfare and Politics In South Asia from Ancient to Modern Times. New Dehli: Manohar (387–414).
Harpviken, Kristian Berg (2012) Warlordism: Three Biographies From Southeastern Afghanistan, in Suhrke, Astri; & Mats Berdal, eds, The Peace In Between: Post-War Violence and Peacebuilding. London: Routledge (173–191).
Nilsen, Marte (2012) Military Temples and Saffron-Robed Soldiers: Legitimacy and the Securing of Buddhism in Southern Thailand, in Tikhonov, Vladimir; & Torkel Brekke, eds, Buddhism and Violence. Militarism and Buddhism In Modern Asia. London: Routledge (37–53).
Ezzati, Rojan Tordhol (2011) 'Alle ser på oss som utlendinger uansett': Selvbilder og andre bilder av unge menn med muslimsk bakgrunn etter 11. september 2001, in Eriksen, Thomas Hylland; & Hans Erik Næss, eds, Kulturell kompleksitet i det nye Norge. Oslo: Unipub (57–67).
Borchgrevink, Kaja & Kristian Berg Harpviken (2010) Afghanistan: Civil Society Between Modernity and Tradition, in Thania Paffenholz , ed., Civil Society and Peacebuilding: a Critical Assessment. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner (235–257).
Harpviken, Kristian Berg(1998) The Hazara of Aghanistan: The Thorny Path Towards Political Unity, 1978-1992, in Atabaki, Touraj; & O'Kane, John, eds, Post-Soviet Central Asia. : I. B. Tauris(177–198).

Edited Volume

Pasura, Dominic; & Marta Bivand Erdal, eds, (2016) Migration, Transnationalism and Catholicism: Global Perspectives. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Brekke, Torkel; & Vladimir Tikhonov, eds, (2016) Military Chaplaincy in an Era of Religious Pluralism: Military–Religious Nexus in Asia, Europe, and USA. Dehli: Oxford University Press. Religion and Democracy.
Tikhonov, Vladimir; & Torkel Brekke, eds, (2015) Buddhism and Violence: Militarism and Buddhism in Modern Asia. London: Routledge. Routledge Studies in Religion.
Reichberg, Gregory M.; & Henrik Syse, eds, (2014) Religion, War, and Ethics. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Brekke, Torkel (ed.) (2009) The Ethics of War in Asian Civilizations: A Comparative Perspective. London: Routledge.
Reichberg, Gregory M.; Vesselin Popovski; & Nicholas Turner, eds, (2009) World Religions and Norms of War. Tokyo, New York, Paris: United Nations University Press.
Syse, Henrik; & Gregory M. Reichberg, eds, (2007) Ethics, Nationalism, and Just War: Medieval and Contemporary Perspectives. Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press.

Non-refereed Journal Article

Høigilt, Jacob (2016) Islam og islamisme i konflikten mellom Israel og palestinere, Religion og livssyn. Tidsskrift for Religionslærerforeningen i Norge 28(3): 6–12.
Røislien, Hanne Eggen (2006) Religion is Not Just Religion, Global Knowledge(1).
Lende, Gina (2004) Med Jesus for Palestina - palestinske kristne [Jesus for Palestine: the Palestinian Christians], Babylon- tidsskrift om Midtøsten og Nord-Afrika 1(2): 90–97.

Popular Article

Borchgrevink, Kaja & Marta Bivand Erdal (2017) Muslimsk medmenneseklighet [Muslim compassion], Dagbladet, 30 June.
Borchgrevink, Kaja & Marta Bivand Erdal (2015) Muslimer flest feirer id [Most Muslims Celebrate Eid], Dagbladet, 16 July.
Erdal, Marta Bivand & Rojan Tordhol Ezzati (2015) Når blir du norsk? [When do you become Norwegian?], Aftenposten, 8 May.
Rudolfsen, Ida (2015) Islam og konflikt [Islam and conflict], Ny Tid, 1 April.
Gleditsch, Nils Petter & Ida Rudolfsen (2015) Brannen i islams hus [The Fire in the House of Islam], Aftenposten innsikt, 12 March.
Borchgrevink, Kaja & Marta Bivand Erdal (2014) Norske fremmedhjelpere [Foreign helpers], NRK Ytring, 19 December.
Jakobsen, Jonas & Odin Lysaker (2014) Den sekulære religiøse tidsalder, Morgenbladet, 12 December.
Borchgrevink, Kaja & Marta Bivand Erdal (2014) Muslimsk dugnad for de fattige [Muslim charity for the poor], VG, 28 July.
Borchgrevink, Kaja & Marta Bivand Erdal (2013) Den usynlige bistanden, Klassekampen, 11 July.
Ezzati, Rojan Tordhol (2011) Fragmentering i terrorens tid [Fragmentation in the Time of Terror], Dagsavisen, 2 August.
Lende, Gina (2011) Er religion umoderne? [Is Religion Old Fashioned?], Stavanger Aftenblad, 31 May.
Lende, Gina (2011) Den nye vinen [“The It-thing” – Charismatic Christianity], Stavanger Aftenblad, 12 April.
Lende, Gina (2011) Fleire veger til Golgata [There are Several Paths to Golgotha], Stavanger Aftenblad, 1 March.
Ezzati, Rojan Tordhol (2010) Kravet om forklaring, Dagsavisen, 14 July.
Harpviken, Kristian Berg & Kaja Borchgrevink (2009) A Muted Voice? Religious Actors and Civil Society in Post-2001 Afghanistan, Afghanistan Info, 15 March.
Røislien, Hanne Eggen (2007) Religionens fornyede rolle [The Renewed Role of Religion], Aftenposten, 16 January.

PRIO Report

Frydenlund, Iselin (2005) The Sangha and its Relation to the Peace Process in Sri Lanka, PRIO Report, 2. Oslo: PRIO.

Conference Paper

Nordås, Ragnhild 2008 Gunning for God? Religion and Conflict Severity, presented at Peace Science Society (International) 2008 North American Meeting, , 24–25 October.
de Soysa, Indra & Ragnhild Nordås (2006) Islam's Bloody Innards? Religion and Political Terror, 1980-2000, presented at Religion and Political Terror, 1980-2000, Meeting in the Environmental Factors in Civil War Working Group, 21 September, September.
Nordås, Ragnhild 2005 The Future of Religious Values – Impacts of Globalization and Intrastate Factors, presented at The Third European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) conference, , 8–10 September.
Nordås, Ragnhild (2005) Religious Diversity and State Strategies: Impacts on Development and Conflict, presented at the 46th Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, Honolulu, HI, 1–5 March.

PRIO Policy Brief

Borchgrevink, Kaja & Marta Bivand Erdal (2015) Other Voices, Other Choices?, PRIO Policy Brief, 15. Oslo: PRIO.
Erdal, Marta Bivand & Kaja Borchgrevink (2015) Diaspora Development Engagements Seen Through the Prism of Islamic Charity, PRIO Policy Brief, 16. Oslo: PRIO.
Nilsen , Marte & Stein Tønnesson (2014) Myanmar’s National Census – Helping or ​Disrupting Peace?, PRIO Policy Brief, 1. Oslo: PRIO.
Nilsen , Marte & Stein Tønnesson (2014) High Risk of Electoral Violence in Myanmar, PRIO Policy Brief, 6. Oslo: PRIO.
Nilsen , Marte & Stein Tønnesson (2014) High Risk of Electoral Violence in Myanmar (BURMESE version), PRIO Policy Brief, 6. Oslo: PRIO.
Tariq, Mohammed Osman; Kaja Borchgrevink & Kristian Berg Harpviken (2011) Building Trust and Institutions - Religious Institution-Building in Afghanistan: An Exploration, PRIO Policy Brief, 2. Oslo: PRIO.
Borchgrevink, Kaja & Kristian Berg Harpviken (2010) Teaching Religion, Taming Rebellion: Religious Education Reform in Afghanistan, PRIO Policy Brief, 7. Oslo: PRIO.
Nome, Frida Austvoll (2008) Engaging Religion To Reduce Tension: The Case of Syria and Lebanon, PRIO Policy Brief, 1. Oslo: PRIO.

PRIO Paper

Borchgrevink, Kaja (2007) Religious Actors and Civil Society in Post-2001 Afghanistan, PRIO Paper. Oslo: PRIO.

Report - Other

Erdal, Marta Bivand; Alice Ennals; Kari Helene Partapouli; & Nadia Falch Bandak, eds, (2015) Diaspora og Utvikling [Diaspora and Development]Oslo: Development Fund.
Borchgrevink, Kaja; Kristian Berg Harpviken; Kanishka Nawabi; Mirwais Wardak; Astri Suhrke; & Arne Strand (2007) Disconnected and Discounted? Religious actors and Civil Society in Post - 2001 Afghanistan, PRIO-CPAU-CMI Policy Brief. Oslo/Bergen: PRIO/CPAU/CMI.

Report - External Series

Frydenlund, Iselin (2015) The rise of Buddhist-Muslim conflict in Asia and possibilities for transformation, NOREF Policy Brief. Oslo: NOREF.
Borchgrevink, Kaja (2011) Pakistan’s Madrasas: Moderation or Militancy? The Madrasa Debate and the Reform Process, Noref Policy Papers. Oslo: NOREF.
Borchgrevink, Kaja; & Kristian Berg Harpviken (2011) Taking Stock: Madrasa Reform in Pakistan, Noref Policy Brief, 4. Oslo: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre (NOREF).
Borchgrevink, Kaja; & Kristian Berg Harpviken (2010) Afghanistan’s Religious Landscape: Politicising the Sacred, Noref Policy Brief, 3. Oslo: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre (NOREF).
Harpviken, Kristian Berg; & Hanne Eggen Røislien (2005) Mapping the Terrain: The Role of Religion in Peacemaking, State of the Art Paper to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Oslo: PRIO.

Book Review

Brekke, Torkel (2015) Review of Sullivan, Winnifred Fallers; Elizabeth Shakman Hurd; Saba Mahmood; & Peter G. Danchin, eds, Politics of Religious Freedom, in Reading Religion .

Blog Posts

Archetypal Enemies Exist in All Religions

Posted by Trond Bakkevig on Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Some religious leaders use language which others use to justify terror. These leaders should instead take responsibility for teaching people how to critically interpret religious texts. “The Day of Judgement will not come about until you fight the Jews. The Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and ... Read more »

Are We Nearing an End to Buddhist Extremism in Myanmar?

Posted by Marte Nilsen on Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Ma Ba Tha and similar groups of extremist monks in Myanmar could face resistance after a government official finally rebuked their brand of nationalism. It took just one dismissive comment from the chief minister of Yangon to seemingly deflate Ma Ba Tha. The Buddhist nationalist organisation has become known for ... Read more »

Interfaith Dialogue can Help Build Peace

Posted by Trond Bakkevig on Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Interfaith dialogue is a necessary aid in conflicts involving religion. Some years ago, many Western social scientists were claiming that religion was a dying phenomenon. Such assertions were part of an arrogant assumption that the entire world would soon come to resemble the north-western corner of Europe. In Eastern Europe, ... Read more »

Suicide Bombing ≠ Religious Fervor

Posted by Ragnhild Nordås on Friday, 8 April 2016

Is it just religious fanatics who blow themselves up as suicide bombers? Bernt Hagtvet, Professor of Political Science at the University of Oslo, has been active in the Norwegian media lately, stating that only religion (he focuses mostly on Islam) brings the fervor to commit suicide attacks as part of ... Read more »

Are Myanmar's Monks Hindering Democratization?

Posted by Iselin Frydenlund on Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The upcoming general elections in Myanmar raise the question of religion’s role in democratisation processes. Previously Buddhism has been an important force in favour of democracy, but in the 2015 election campaign strong Buddhist forces are supporting the military-aligned Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). This is their democratic right, ... Read more »

Most Muslims Celebrate Eid

Posted by Kaja Borchgrevink & Marta Bivand Erdal on Thursday, 16 July 2015

Now that Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, is ending, most Muslims – in Oslo, as elsewhere in the world – celebrate the festival of Eid. It is a time for celebration. For many Muslims, it is also a time to help those less well-off than themselves, either through the ... Read more »

The Rise of Political Buddhism in Myanmar

Posted by Marte Nilsen on Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Narrow Burman-Buddhist nationalism remains the country’s biggest barrier to sustainable political reform. The Organization for the Protection of Race and Religion, known by the Burmese acronym Ma Ba Tha, is gaining ground in Myanmar. It has also been receiving increased international attention—last month for its proposal to ban Muslim headscarves ... Read more »

Endangered Co-Existence: Buddhist-Muslim Friction in Asia

Posted by Iselin Frydenlund on Friday, 26 June 2015

Disputes about everything from holy sites to ritual animal slaughter and compulsory family planning are causing dangerous tensions between Buddhists and Muslims in countries such as Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Friction between Buddhists and Muslims in Southeast Asia is putting pressure on a centuries-long tradition of religious co-existence, tolerance and ... Read more »

ASEAN’s Rohingya Challenge: Can ASEAN fail to act and yet be a Community?

Posted by Stein Tønnesson on Wednesday, 17 June 2015

A human tragedy has been unfolding in the Bay of Bengal. Thousands of poor Rohingya and Bangladeshi refugees and job seekers have been the victims of xenophobia, cynical smugglers and incapable governance. What has ASEAN done? So far very little. Yet this crisis is exactly the kind of non-traditional trans-national ... Read more »

The Buddhist Face of Peace: Buddhist Peace Initiatives in Times of Religious Intolerance

Posted by Iselin Frydenlund & Susan Hayward on Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Buddhist radicalism is on the rise in countries like Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Buddhist anti-Muslim rhetoric, violence against Muslim minorities and hate speech against UN officials are now global media sensations. Less known is the growing number of religious peace initiatives, by both Muslims and Buddhists, to address the situation. ... Read more »

Islam and Conflict

Posted by Ida Rudolfsen on Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The number of civil wars worldwide has fallen in recent years, but meanwhile the number of civil wars in Muslim countries is increasing. From early on in the 21st century, we have also seen a marked growth in the number of active groups of Islamist insurgents. The media in Western ... Read more »

The Secular Suicide Bomber

Posted by Iselin Frydenlund on Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Is the all-consuming focus on Islam leading us to ignore the fact that suicide attacks have also been carried out by Christian, Hindu and secular martyrs? There can be no doubt that violent actions conducted in the name of Islam constitute a threat to state and individual security not only ... Read more »

A Muted Voice? Religious Actors and Civil Society in Post-2001 Afghanistan

Posted by Kristian Berg Harpviken & Kaja Borchgrevink on Wednesday, 25 March 2015

In general, religious actors are not perceived as possible contributors to civil society. In Afghanistan, where religion permeates society and politics, and where religious leaders and networks bear considerable influence, this is particularly problematic. There is a need for a thorough rethink of what civil society is, and the role ... Read more »

The Fire in the House of Islam

Posted by Nils Petter Gleditsch on Friday, 20 March 2015

Generally speaking, the global map of conflict is increasingly shaped by armed conflicts involving Muslims on one side or the other, or on both. Are Muslim countries particularly belligerent? Is the religion to blame? Despite the numerous items of bad news delivered by the mass media on a daily basis, ... Read more »

Buddhist Nationalism Threatens Myanmar’s Democratic Transition

Posted by Marte Nilsen on Thursday, 12 March 2015

It’s election year in Myanmar, the big test for the country’s aspiring democratic transition. Among the spirited national debates there are four controversial pieces of legislation currently under consideration in Myanmar’s Assembly of the Union parliament (the Pyidaungsu hluttaw). These reportedly aim to protect race and religion. But in truth, ... Read more »

Between the Mosque and the Temple Mount

Posted by Trond Bakkevig on Friday, 27 February 2015

Unrest on and around the Al Aqsa Mosque/Temple Mount in Jerusalem last autumn caused the Palestinian president, Mahmood Abbas, to warn that the conflict between Israel and Palestine could escalate into a religious war.  The site has extremely powerful national and religious symbolic value for both Palestinians and Israelis. Jordanian ... Read more »

Legality and Courtesy

Posted by Trond Bakkevig on Friday, 30 January 2015

In his opinion article in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten on 21 January, Per Edgar Kokkvold (secretary general in the Norwegian Press Association) stated the obvious, “It is people who must be protected – and who are protected under current legislation, under the law that prohibits discriminatory or hateful utterances, persecution ... Read more »

The Road to Hell is Paved With Rapid Reactions

Posted by Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh on Wednesday, 14 January 2015

In the wake of a vicious crime, caution and restraint are a virtue. Once upon a time, in the realm of Xanadu, two and a half dim-witted but well-armed, well-funded and well-trained professional criminals committed cold-blooded murder, commando-style. While committing their crime, they uttered two sentences vocally and publically, following ... Read more »

Foreign Helpers

Posted by Kaja Borchgrevink & Marta Bivand Erdal on Friday, 19 December 2014

While a small number of young Norwegian Muslims have travelled to Syria to join militant groups as “foreign fighters”, far greater numbers of young Muslims are supporting humanitarian efforts. Most media attention is focused on young people travelling abroad to fight, rather than on young people’s humanitarian work. Throughout the ... Read more »

A Dangerous Census

Posted by Marte Nilsen, Kristin Dalen & Kristin Jesnes on Friday, 17 October 2014

Norway has spent NOK 40 million to help fund a census in Myanmar (Burma). The census results are at odds with previous assumptions and may increase the level of conflict in the country in the run-up to the elections in 2015. Norway must take responsibility. Every country needs to know who ... Read more »

Muslim Charity for the Poor

Posted by Kaja Borchgrevink & Marta Bivand Erdal on Monday, 28 July 2014

Fasting and celebration At this time Muslims all over the world are celebrating Eid – Islam’s most important religious festival. Eid marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. After the Eid prayer, families and friends gather to celebrate. This is a time for dressing in fine clothing, eating ... Read more »

Invisible Aid

Posted by Marta Bivand Erdal & Kaja Borchgrevink on Friday, 4 July 2014

Muslims pay 15 times more “religious tax” than the rest of the world gives in humanitarian aid. Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, has just started. A time of fasting for devout Muslims, this is also the time of year when most Muslims pay their annual zakat. Zakat ... Read more »