With modern Turkey approaching its 100th anniversary in 2023, Turkey appears headed in neither an Islamist nor a Kemalist direction. Many analysts are at odds about how exactly Turkey has been able to bridge Islam and secularism while maintaining its democratic character. If any country has proven that Islam and democracy can co-exist in the Middle East, it is Turkey. But how is it that Turkey succeeded where other countries in the region have not been able to even take the first step? Can providing basic freedoms to allow a vibrant civil society inclusive of religious groups while maintaining a secular government be a formula for democracy to take root in the Middle East?
Jacob Zenn is a Legal Advisor for The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL). Prior to joining ICNL in 2011, Jacob worked as a research assistant at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington DC. Zenn received his JD degree from Georgetown University Law Center where he was a Global Law Scholar and recipient of the Certificate in Refugee Law and Humanitarian Emergencies. He was an intern at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Malaysia and at the National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms (HOOD) in Yemen. He was the recipient of the Arthur C. Helton Fellowship from the American Society of International Law and the Chadbourne & Parke LLP Middle East and North Africa Fellowship. Jacob received his B.A. from Emory University. He received a graduate degree in international affairs from the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Nanjing, China. Zenn’s publications on international security were published by the Jamestown Foundation, West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, the Asia Times, Hurriyet and the Yemen Times. He is also a member of the Department of State’s “Young Turkey/Young America: An New Relationship for a New Age” initiative.
The Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) at Washington, D.C. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, independent, nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C. dedicated to innovative studies on national, regional, and international issues concerning Turkey and US-Turkey relations.