Author, columnist, speaker

Mustafa writes about: Politics, Religion

Mustafa Akyol is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, where he focuses on the intersection of public policy, Islam, and modernity. Since 2013, he has also been a frequent opinion writer for The New York Times, covering politics and religion in the Muslim world. He is the author of four books in English, most recently Reopening Muslim Minds: A Return to Reason, Freedom, and Tolerance (2021). The book has been excerpted or reviewed in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Economist, Los Angeles Book Review, Friday Times (Pakistan), and various other publications across the Muslim world.

“The Thinking Muslim,” a popular podcast, defined Akyol as “probably the most notable Muslim modernist and reformer.” In July 2021, the Prospect magazine of the UK also listed him among “The world’s top 50 thinkers.”

Before joining the Cato Institute in 2018, Akyol worked for more than a decade as an opinion columnist for two Turkish newspapers, Hurriyet Daily News and Star—until they were co-opted and transformed into pro-government propaganda outlets. His articles have also appeared in a wide range of other publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Newsweek, The Guardian, and more. He has appeared frequently on CNN, BBC, NPR, and Al Jazeera English, and on prominent TV shows such as Fareed Zakaria GPS and HARDtalk. His 2011 TED talk, “Faith versus Tradition in Islam” has been watched by more than 1.2 million viewers.

Akyol is also the author of six books originally written in Turkish, including Rethinking the Kurdish Question (2006), and the co-authored Ethical Capitalism (2012).

Akyol has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in Ottoman history from the Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, Turkey. Throughout the past decade he gave regular lectures at the NATO Defense College and Acton University, in addition to many talks on campuses and public venues in the United States and around the world. In 2017, he was also a senior visiting fellow at the Freedom Project at Wellesley College.

Those who hope to nurture genuine religiosity should first establish liberty.


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