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Thursday, June 20
The Indiana Daily Student

academics & research

IU professor appointed religious freedom scholar

IU Professor Jamsheed Choksy has been appointed as a scholar for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The commission is designed to protect rights to freedom of religion or belief and make policy recommendations.

Throughout the summer, Choksy will research how political changes in the Middle East are impacting various religious communities, so he can make suggestions to the commission.

The commission will then evaluate and summarize his findings and send them to Congress, Choksy said.

His research will focus on the current hot spots of conflict: Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Bahrain.

Part of Choksy’s research will be studying the communities and seeing what causes conflict within them.

To function well, societies need to tolerate people of different backgrounds, beliefs and particularly religions, Choksy said.

Explaining his interest in this area of study, Choksy said most of the world’s religions have their roots in the Middle East.

“Our overall goal is to help ensure there is a smooth social transition as a society starts rebuilding,” Choksy said.

The U.S. is taking more action now, Choksy said.
 
The commission explores how the U.S. can efficiently be an external mediator, because as Choksy explained, when there are groups or individuals in conflict, external mediators are often necessary.

“One of the paths for the commission is to figure out what new approaches we can take to try to help these communities better help each other and accommodate their differences,” Choksy said.

Research on this commission is important to the U.S. because it has a particular interest in this part of the world, but also because it provides it with a lot of foreign aid, he said.

“They need to make sure U.S. money is being spent well,” Choksy said.

Another goal is to mitigate the impact on the lives of people who have nothing to do with the conflict.

“We are trying to find ways so people aren’t being targeted because of their religious beliefs,” Choksy said.

Currently, Choksy is signed on for one year with the commission. After that, his future with the commission will be decided.

Choksy will continue teaching at IU in the fall. He will also become chairman of the Department of Central Eurasian Studies this fall.

“Ultimately, we are making sure the functions of these societies there are peaceful and harmonious,” Choksy said.

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