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Council on Foreign Relations Religion and Foreign Policy Bulletin
May 2012

Spotlight on Father Leonid Kishkovsky

Leonid Kishkovsky, director of external affairs and interchurch relations for the Orthodox Church in America, has devoted his career to advocating for religious freedom in the United States and abroad. Listen to CFR's Religion and Foreign Policy conference call with Father Kishkovsky on the relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Kremlin and the standing of religious minorities in Russia.

Tunisia's Identity Crisis

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(Anis Mili/Courtesy Reuters)


CFR's Victoria Taylor analyzes Tunisia's identity crisis in the wake of last year's pivotal revolution and discusses the country's attempts to reconcile a role for religion in what had been a staunchly secular society. Taylor notes that after years of religious repression many Tunisians are beginning to express their religiosity, attending Mosques and choosing to veil themselves or grow beards. This change has been difficult for Tunisia's secular elite, who remain fearful of a religious minority in power. Against this backdrop, Taylor urges the United States to help Tunisia address its social and economic issues and keep democracy on track.


West African Religion in the United States

Amidst the auto body shops and rail lines of Northern Virginia lies a string of Pentecostal churches, including Victory Temple, a parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), tracing its roots to Lagos. Writing for CFR's Africa in Transition blog, Jim Sanders, a retired West Africa watcher for various federal agencies, reflects on the proliferation of RCCG parishes in North America and their style of worship. Join the Conversation »

Domestic Focus for Israel's Coalition

In this interview, CFR's Robert Danin discusses Netanyahu's national unity government, the largest coalition in Israel's history. The coalition's focus is on domestic politics, says Danin. "...If you read outside commentary you would think that Israel is at the center of a regional tsunami because of the Arab uprisings, the Syrian bloodshed, and the instability all around. But the priorities in Israeli politics right now are domestic, economic, and social." Read the Interview »

The Prince and the Ayatollah

After a recent trip to Bahrain, CFR's Ed Husain reflects upon his conversations with members of the royal family, supported by Saudi Arabia, as well as Shiite opposition groups, backed by Iran. He discusses fissions in both the monarchy and the opposition, including a new figure who has stepped into the limelight: Ayatollah Qassim, an anti-American, Shiite cleric with links to Iran. For him, "Bahrain is an important nation because it is a focal point of what is happening in the Middle East today—the battle to find a balance between preserving the best values of the Islamic tradition while the region eases its way into the modern world." Read the New York Times Op-Ed »



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The CFR Religion and Foreign Policy Initiative connects religious and congregational leaders, scholars, and thinkers with CFR's resources on U.S. foreign policy and provides a forum for this community to discuss a broad range of pressing international issues. For more information, please contact Lizzy McCourt, associate director for the National Program & Outreach, at 212.434.9848 or

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