This report investigates how Salafist groups conduct and manage the illegal trafficking of antiquities in south-west and north-west Syria, with a particular focus on Idleb Governorate. It provides details on the interactions among the actors involved (diggers, traders, armed groups and smugglers) and analyses the various kinds of interactions between religious beliefs and norms, on the one hand, and the illegal trade in cultural assets, on the other.
Caught in the crossfire of ambitious geopolitical players, Al-Azhar struggles to chart a course that will guarantee it a measure of independence while retaining its position as the guardian of Islamic tradition. So far, Al-Azhar has been able to fend off attempts by Mr. Al-Sisi to assert control but has been less successful in curtailing the influence of Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that increasingly are pursuing separate agendas.
Although a theoretically ever-expanding Caliphate does not recognize international borders or traditional states, its leadership nonetheless strived to reproduce all the traditional signs of sovereignty. Last but not least, they created a new currency. Minting of dinars and dirhams was the final component in solidifying the physical reality of the group’s millenarian utopia.
In this interview, Hong Kong scholar Edward Irons explains the historical roots of the proscription of certain groups as xie jiao (heterodox teachings) in China, and how being on the list of the xie jiao means being a main target for persecution.
Neopagan supporters and detractors of the U.S. presidency of Donald Trump are using magical rituals to either bless or curse the new administration and their political opponents. While Neopagan groups have long joined magic with politics, this marriage of mysticism with activism was most strongly evident in the months after Trump’s election in 2016, drawing criticism from some quarters of the American pagan community.
Analysing the current phenomena of alternative religiosities through a post-Soviet lens may be productive in the Azerbaijani context, given the so-called “religious revival” experienced by the countries of the former Soviet Union. This article focuses on three specific groups/areas in Azerbaijan: ekstrasensy and parapsychologists, popular “occulture”, and the Hare Krishna community.
Church planting, once the specialty of evangelicals, is now becoming more common among mainline Protestants seeking to reverse decades of decline in their ranks. In the process of starting new churches both kinds of Protestants are reworking their identities to appeal to the growing ranks of Americans loosely tied or not affiliated with religious institutions.