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Last modified: Tuesday, April 14, 2009

IU Bloomington faculty member named Carnegie Scholar

April 14, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington political scientist Abdulkader Sinno has been named a 2009 Carnegie Scholar, the Carnegie Corp. of New York announced this week. He is one of 21 well-established and promising young thinkers, analysts and writers selected to receive the prestigious award, which provides $100,000 over two years to support original research.

Abdulkader Sinno

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Sinno, an assistant professor of political science and near eastern languages and cultures in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences, will examine the dynamics of Muslim representation in Western parliaments, a phenomenon that is likely to be extremely important in the next 20 to 30 years.

"We are delighted to learn of the selection of Dr. Sinno as a Carnegie Scholar," said Bennett I. Bertenthal, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "His research on the politics of Muslims in Western countries will help to illuminate the current dynamics of Islam in liberal democracies, and will also spur vital public dialogue on the interplay of religion and civil rights in our society. Dr. Sinno is addressing a critical question of our time, and we believe he is most deserving of this award."

Sinno is among the fifth class of Carnegie Scholars to focus on Islam, part of an effort to stimulate vibrant public dialogue, guided by bold and nuanced scholarship.

His research will address key questions about Muslim representation in legislative bodies of the U.S., Canada, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand. He will examine why Muslim minorities are proportionally over-represented in the parliaments of some countries but under-represented in others, and will examine the effectiveness of different approaches taken by elected Muslims, including their support for assimilation, for Muslim identities and for civil liberties.

The project will result in a book, tentatively titled Muslims in Western Parliaments; a series of articles for academic journals; and accessible writings to inform policy debates.

Sinno said Western democracies are "at a fork in the road" when it comes to Muslim minorities. Muslims may become "a permanent lower caste" that is economically disadvantaged and resentful, or they may integrate into society and prosper while maintaining religious and cultural distinctiveness.

The success of Muslim representatives in Western parliaments, Sinno said, will be a decisive factor in determining which path is chosen. The future and stability of Western liberal democracies may well depend on their success in making a place for fast-growing Muslim minorities.

Muslims make up about 2 percent of the population in the United States and Canada and about 4 percent in Western Europe, including 10 percent in France. In the U.S., only two of the 535 members of the House and Senate are Muslims: Reps. Andre Carson of Indianapolis and Keith Ellison of Minnesota.

Sinno conducts research on strategy and organization in politicized group conflicts, parliamentary settings and transnational relations, with a geographic focus on North Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan. He is the author of Organizations at War in Afghanistan and Beyond (Cornell University Press, 2008) and the editor of Muslims in Western Politics (Indiana University Press, 2009).

The Carnegie Scholars program allows independent-minded thinkers to pursue original research projects. Scholars are selected for their originality, their proven intellectual capacity and their ability to communicate ideas in ways that can catalyze public discourse. For more information, see