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Professor sees encouraging signs in Middle East turmoil

April 07, 2011

  • Paul Powers, associate professor and chair of the Department of Religious Studies

Undergraduate Campus

Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies Paul Powers offers a cautiously optimistic analysis of the transformational events in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

“It’s surprising how secular the revolts have been,” he said in an interview with the Lake Oswego Review. “They haven’t been driven by al Qaeda or militant groups. Most of the militants arrived late to the dance and came across as quite marginalized. This is not 1979 in Iran. Religious theocracies won’t be put in place.”

Powers has traveled extensively in the Muslim world, including Yemen, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Morocco, and India. He teaches a range of courses about Islam and Religious Studies, including “Islam in the Modern World” and “Religious Fundamentalism.” He is currently undertaking a new project examining Islamic law in its cultural contexts, both pre-modern and modern; this project explores how Muslims not formally educated in Islamic law have understood Islamic legal ideas, institutions, and representative persons, such as judges and legal scholars.

Read the rest of his Powers’ interview.

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