Miller Center

Peter Henne

Government, Georgetown University

Varieties of Hesitation: Religious Politics and US-Muslim Counterterrorism Cooperation

Henne photo

Peter Henne is Assistant Professor of Political Science

Peter Henne is currently assistant professor of Political Science at the University of Vermont. Henne's research and teaching focus on the Middle East and global religious politics. He is particularly interested in the different ways states restrict or support religion, and what effect this has on their international and domestic politics. His first book—which will be published by Cambridge University Press—analyzes how Muslim states' relationship with Islam affects their counterterrorism policies; the study includes a large-n statistical analysis as well as in-depth case studies of Pakistan, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates

Henne received his PhD in Governemnt from Georgetown University, and a B.A. in Political Science from Vassar College. Henne's dissertation analyzes the effects of religion on Muslim states’ cooperation with U.S.-led counter-terrorism initiatives. Muslim responses to US counter-terrorism initiatives—both before and after 9/11—have been marked by both significant religiously-influenced opposition among Muslim societies and general cooperation on the part of Muslim states. At the same time, there has been great variation in the extent of Muslim states’ cooperation, and occasional periods of tension between the United States and Muslim states. Peter points to debates over the proper role of religion in society and the political and institutional conditions of religion in Muslim states to explain these patterns of opposition and cooperation. In response to religious-secular divide in recent decades, some Muslim states have established close ties to religious groups over recent decades, granting these groups disproportionate political power and giving the state an incentive to adopt religiously-motivated policies. Others have allied with secular groups, and maintained some autonomy from religious groups. When the former domestic situation coincides with a religiously-contentious international issue—like the American-led “Global War on Terror”—religious groups gain influence over the state’s foreign policy. This can result in tensions over US counter-terrorism initiatives. The latter group of states, in contrast, can insulate their foreign policy from domestic religious politics. Peter’s dissertation includes a quantitative study of counter-terrorism cooperation and case studies of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. 

Peter Henne was the lead researcher for a report the Pew Research Center released in February 2015. The report analyzes trends in government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion around the world. He has made several media appearances to promote the report, including on NPR's All Things Considered.

Fellowship year: 2013

Mentor: John Owen, University of Virginia

Selected Recent Publications

"Pew Study On Religion Finds Increased Harassment Of Jews." interview by Tom Gjelten, All Things Considered, NPR, February 26, 2015.

"Latest Trends in Religious Restrictions and Hostilities.Pew Research FactTank, February 26, 2015.

"A look at the damage governments inflict on religious property.Pew Research FactTank, July 10, 2014.

"How Religious Harassment Varies by region Across the Globe." with Angelina Theodorou, Pew Research FactTank, May 2, 2014.

← Return to Fellowship home