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For immediate release: Sept. 22, 2004
Media contact: Patricia Allen, (609) 258-6108, pallen@princeton.edu

Media advisory: Princeton scholar examines democracy-building in Arab world
Politics professor Amaney Jamal available for interviews on Iraq, Afghanistan

PRINCETON, N.J.-- High unemployment and lack of higher education among citizens in the Arab world are the major obstacles to gaining popular support for democracy in the region, according to the initial findings of a study by Amaney Jamal, a Princeton University politics professor.

"While some studies have identified cultural and religious factors as barriers to democracy-building in parts of the Arab world, my research indicates that income levels and education are more directly linked to support for democracy," said Jamal, who presented her study at the American Political Science Association's annual meeting in Chicago this month. Jamal is available to discuss her new study, "Who Are the Democrats of the Arab World?" and offer analysis on democracy-building efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jamal examined the relationship between the government and citizens in Egypt, Jordan and Morocco. All three countries have authoritarian government structures. According to the study, the region is plagued by unemployment rates as high as 50 percent and the serious decline of higher education institutions.

The vast majority of less educated and less affluent Arabs have little interest in government structures and tend to disassociate themselves from the political process, she said. "Subsequently, the democrats of the Arab world tend to be highly educated, economically prosperous and politically engaged."

"Although the past decade has seen movements towards more liberalization, the Arab world today has remained particularly stubborn to democratization efforts," Jamal said. "Parliamentary elections and greater freedoms within civil society have done little to enhance democracy in the region. Democracy in the Middle East is, at best, only a remote possibility."

Jamal's scholarly work includes analysis of the role civic associations play in fostering democracy in the Arab world; Arab-American political attitudes in Detroit; political engagement of Muslims in New York City; women and public office in the Arab world; and politics and Islam. She joined the Princeton faculty in 2003 after teaching at Columbia University. A graduate of University of California-Los Angeles, she earned her doctoral degree in political science at the University of Michigan.

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