Women leaders in the Arab world were asked what three government actions are needed to foster “dignity.” The responses from women in four key Arab countries covered everything from disarming militias to imposing penalties for sexual harassment and more equitable tax laws.
Egypt’s post-revolution constitution does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender or religion. It only recognizes women’s domestic role within a family “founded on religion, morality, and patriotism.” Clerics will have the final word over the new laws.
The second anniversary of Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution reflected the deepening political divisions across the North African country. Five different political factions—two Islamist and three secular parties—took to the street of Tunis on January 14 to mark the ouster of former President Zine al Abidine Ben Ali. They had starkly different messages.
In an interview with CNN, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi called for Syrian President Bashar Assad to be tried for war crimes at the International Criminal Court. Morsi also pledged to respect Egypt’s treaty with Israel while supporting Palestinian efforts to attain “their full-fledged rights.” He outlined his new attempt to reconcile Hamas and Fatah, the two dominant Palestinian parties that have split up the West Bank and Gaza since factional fighting in 2007.
Muslims across the world share the same main tenets of Islam but “differ significantly in their levels of religious commitment, openness to multiple interpretations of their faith and acceptance of various sects and movements,” according to a Pew Research Center report. Pew conducted interviews with 38,000 Muslims in 39 countries on their core beliefs and practice of Islam. The following are selected results from the August 2012 report “The World’s Muslims: Unity and Diversity.”
Muslims are the world’s youngest population, with a median age of 23—five years younger than the global median of 28. The median age of Christians is 30 years old, while the median age of the world’s Jews is 36. The median age of Hindus is 26 and Buddhists is 34, according to a Pew Research Center survey.
After 32 years without diplomatic relations, Egypt and Iran have initiated a dialogue since the Muslim Brotherhood has risen to power. But the Islamic Republic and the Brotherhood are not natural allies. The Brotherhood is a mainstream Sunni Islamist group that is more aligned to other Arab states in the Gulf than to Iran.
On January 8, the Quilliam Foundation released a new strategic briefing on the Al Nusra Front (Jabhat al Nusra), a powerful rebel group fighting the Syrian regime. The report warned that the hard-line Islamist group is linked to al Qaeda, seeks to create a new jihadist umbrella movement in Syria and ultimately create a caliphate.
In 2013, millions of Israelis, Iranians, and Arabs will vote in at least 10 pivotal elections that will, in turn, address basic issues facing the Middle East. These countries have vast political, religious, ethnic, and economic differences. But most confront a common trend—the rise of the right or the religious right—that will influence elections as well as policies both at home and in the broader region.
The Tunisian National Constituent Assembly issued a draft constitution on Dec. 14, 2012. Civil society representatives in six of Tunisia's 24 governorates met with assembly members to discuss the text later that month. The National Constituent Assembly launched the initiative with the United Nations to "enhance citizens' participation in the debate." The following is a non-official English translation of the draft constitution by the United Nations Development Programme project in Tunisia.