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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. A Turkish journalist and author, he is a regular contributing opinion writer for the New York Times since 2013, and has been a regular opinion columnist for Turkish publications such as Hurriyet Daily News, and for the Middle-East focused

Akyol is the author of Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty praised by The Financial Times as “a forthright and elegant Muslim defense of freedom.” The book was longlisted for the 2012 Lioner Gelber Prize, and has been published in Turkish, Malay and Indonesian. (It was subsequently banned in Malaysia in 2017 after Akyol’s short arrest by the country’s “religious police” merely because Akyol delivered a public lecture defending religious freedom.) He is also the author of The Islamic Jesus: How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims and of six books in Turkish, including Rethinking the Kurdish Question.

Over the past two decades, Akyol’s articles have also appeared in a wide range of other publications such as The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Newsweek, First Things, The Weekly Standard, The Financial Times, The London Times, The Guardian, The Washington Times, and The Forward. He has appeared frequently on CNN, BBC, NPR, and Al-Jazeera English, and on prominent TV shows such at Fareed Zakaria GPS and HARDtalk. His TED talk on “Faith versus Tradition in Islam” has been watched by more than a million viewers.

Before joining the Cato Institute, between January 2017 and June 2018, Akyol was a senior visiting fellow at the Freedom Project at Wellesley College. He studied political science and history at Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey.

More from Mustafa Akyol


Turkey: Three Years After the Coup

Center for Global Policy. July 14, 2019.

Love Will Set You Free from Populism

Foreign Policy. July 1, 2019.

Who’s Afraid of Arabic Numerals?

The New York Times. June 4, 2019.

Public Filings

Testimony on Religious Freedom in Turkey

Testimony. June 27, 2019.

Cato Reviews & Journals

Is Liberalism Good for Religions?

Policy Report. July/August 2019.