Dr Ziya Meral is a British and Turkish researcher. He specialises on politics and foreign policies of Turkey and Middle East, thematic issues surrounding interaction of religion with global affairs, and British defence and security. He is a Senior Resident Fellow at the UK Army's new Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research - a civilian and military think tank providing independent analysis and research on defence and security based at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He is also a Senior Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute. He is also the Director of the Centre on Religion and Global Affairs, based in London and Beirut. He regularly serves as an advisor and consultant to various projects, companies and as a board member to charitable initiatives in the UK and Middle East.
He is a frequent commentator in international and British media, including live television interviews on Al Jazeera, France 24, MSNBC, BBC programs; and interviews on BBC World Service radio and BBC Radio's flagships programs including the Today Programme, and have been interviewed by leading newspapers including the Financial Times and the New York Times. He travels widely to lecture and delivered talks at leading diplomatic and academic institutions and conferences around the world. These have included expert statements and talks at the UK House of Commons and House of Lords, the U.S. Congress, Danish Parliament, US Sate Department, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK Department for International Development, and the NATO Defense College.
He holds a 1st Class BA Hons from Brunel University in London, MDiv from International School of Theology in the Philippines, where he lived for more than 3 years, a MSc in Sociology from the London School of Economics and a PhD in political science from the University of Cambridge. He studied Russian Literature at Ankara University. He has undertaken short-term studies and research in a wide range of countries, including Iran, Egypt, China, Canada, Nigeria, Israel, Turkey, USA and Jordan. He worked as a human rights advocate with a focus on religious freedom in the Middle East and North Africa, ran advocacy campaigns and lobbied various governments on individual cases and thematic issues. During 2010-2011, he was a Joseph Crapa Fellow at the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in Washington DC, conducting research on ethno-religious violence.
His first book in Turkish, Ve Tanrı Ağlıyordu (And God was Crying; Essays on Life, Hope and God) was published by GOA publications in 2006. His comparative study of Nietzsche's and Dostoyevsky's lives, thoughts and beliefs was published in Turkish as Budala: Nietzsche ve Dostoyevski Karşı Karşıya (The Idiot: Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky Face to Face) by Kaknüs publishing in 2011. He has also contributed to edited volumes. In 2012, Yale University Press published "Abraham's Children: Liberty and Tolerance in an Age of Conflict", which featured an essay by Ziya Meral alongside a leading group of Muslim, Christian and Jewish voices, including President Jimmy Carter, President Abdurrahman Wahid, Abdulkarim Souroush. He is the author of various briefings and special reports on specific countries and thematic issues in the Middle East. These include the 2011 report "Prospects for Turkey" published by the Legatum Institute and the report on Islam and human rights, No Place to Call Home: Experiences of Apostates from Islam and Failures of the International Community, which is based on in depth field research in 6 countries, legal surveys of Muslim-majority states and theological surveys of current and traditional Islamic thought. He co-authored the official reports, "Article 18: An Orphaned Right" and "Aslum Claims in the UK on Religious Freedom Grounds" of the All Party Parliamentary Group on International Religious Freedom at the British House of Commons. A play he has written, Kohelet, has been produced by Tiyatro 6 Unsur for stage in Istanbul in 2010. His new book, How Violence Shapes Religion: Belief and Conflict in Africa and Middle East, was released by the Cambridge University Press in 2018.