Dr. Aykan Erdemir is a Senior Fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is a former member of the Turkish Parliament (2011-2015) who served in the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, EU Harmonization Committee, and the Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee on the IT Sector and the Internet. As an outspoken defender of pluralism, minority rights, and religious freedoms in the Middle East, Dr. Erdemir has been at the forefront of the struggle against religious persecution, hate crimes, and hate speech in Turkey. He is a founding member of the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief, and a drafter of and signatory to the Oslo Charter for Freedom of Religion or Belief (2014) as well as a signatory legislator to the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism. On April 27, 2016, Dr. Erdemir was awarded the Stefanus Prize for Religious Freedom in recognition of his advocacy for minority rights and religious freedoms.
After completing his BA in International Relations at Bilkent University, Ankara, Dr. Erdemir received an MA in Middle Eastern Studies and PhD in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University, where his doctoral dissertation was entitled, “Incorporating Alevis: The Transformation of Governance and Faith-based Collective Action in Turkey.” He also worked as a doctoral fellow at Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a research associate at the University of Oxford’s Center on Migration, Policy and Society. Dr. Erdemir was faculty member at Middle East Technical University's Department of Sociology (2004-2011) and Bilkent University's Department of Political Science and Public Administration (2015-2016).
Dr. Erdemir has edited seven books, including Rethinking Global Migration: Practices, Policies, and Discourses in the European Neighbourhood (KORA) and Social Dynamics of Global Terrorism: Risk and Prevention Policies(IOS Press). He is co-author of the 2016 book Antagonistic Tolerance: Competitive Sharing of Religious Sites and Spaces (Routledge). His work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, Politico Europe, The Huffington Post, The National Interest, The Cipher Brief, Business Insider, Turkish Policy Quarterly, Hürriyet Daily News, Ahram Online, and The Times of Israel, and quoted in media including The Economist, Financial Times, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, The New York Times, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Jerusalem Post, Time, and Foreign Policy.