Religion and diplomacy in the Middle East

Hosted by the Department of International Relations and the LSE Religion and Global Society Unit

Wolfson Theatre, Cheng Kin Ku Building


Professor Michael Driessen

Professor Michael Driessen

Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, John Cabot University

Professor Madawi Al-Rasheed

Professor Madawi Al-Rasheed

Visiting Professor at the Middle East Centre, LSE, and Fellow of the British Academy

Professor Fabio Petito

Professor Fabio Petito

Professor of Religion & International Affairs, University of Sussex


Professor James Walters

Professor James Walters

Professor in Practice in the Department of International Relations, LSE

Join Michael Driessen, Madawi Al-Rasheed and Fabio Petito as they discuss with Professor in Practice James Walters how events since 7 October have reshaped the interreligious landscape.

Recent years have seen a growth in state-sponsored interreligious dialogue initiatives, particular within, and connecting with, the Middle East. For some, this is a welcome recognition of the religious entanglements in the conflicts of the region which can only be addressed when faith traditions are engaged. For others it is a cynical exercise in “interfaith washing” and a distraction from the real issues. In this discussion, Michael Driessen presents the findings of his new book The Global Politics of Interreligious Dialogue as the basis for a discussion of how events since 7th October have reshaped the interreligious landscape.

Meet our speakers and chair:

Michael Driessen is Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs and Director of the MA program in International Affairs at John Cabot University. Driessen’s books include The Global Politics of Interreligious Dialogue (Oxford University Press, 2023) and Religion and Democratization (Oxford University Press, 2014). He has published scholarly articles in Comparative Politics, Sociology of Religion, Politics and ReligionConstellations and Democratization and essays in America Magazine and Commonweal.

Madawi Al-Rasheed is Visiting Professor at the Middle East Centre, London School of Economics and Fellow of the British Academy. Her research focuses on history, society, religion and politics in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, Middle Eastern Christian minorities in Britain, Arab migration, Islamist movements, state and gender relations, and Islamic modernism. She has published several books on Saudi Arabia. Her most recent book is The Son King: Reform and Repression in Saudi Arabia (OUP 2020).  

Fabio Petito is Professor of Religion and International Affairs and Professor of International Relations in the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex. He is also the Director of the Freedom of Religion or Belief & Foreign Policy Initiative at the University of Sussex and the Head of the ISPI Programme on ‘Religions and International Relations’ supported by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and member of the OSCE/ODIHR Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief.


James Walters is founding director of the LSE Faith Centre and LSE Religion and Global Society. Since opening in 2014, the centre has developed programmes to promote religious literacy, interfaith leadership and a better understanding of religion-related conflict among LSE’s diverse student body, in government and among wider global publics. Professor Walters is a Professor in Practice, affiliated to the Department for International Relations and an associate of the LSE Department of International Development.

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The Religion and Global Society Unit at LSE is an interdisciplinary unit conducting, coordinating and promoting religion-related social science research at LSE.


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