The Arab uprisings have reminded U.S. and EU diplomats that they need to communicate with Islamist actors in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Western diplomacy has undergone a modest yet nonetheless significant “religious turn” as a result, acknowledging the relevance of religion in foreign policy, particularly in this key region. While the United States has had a long history of both promoting religious freedom internationally and accommodating the political influence of domestic faith-based groups, the
European Union has only recently started to account for religion in its external relations. This paper investigates the origins, evolution, and future prospects of this new approach within the context of the Middle East and North Africa, with a particular emphasis on engagement with Islamist religious and political actors.