Salma Mousa


Working Papers

Mousa, Salma. "Building Tolerance: Inter-Group Contact and Soccer in Post-ISIS Iraq." Working Paper, Sept. 2019.

Can intergroup contact build social cohesion after war? I answer this question by randomly assigning Iraqi Christians displaced by ISIS either to an all-Christian soccer team or to a team mixed with Muslims. I find persistent changes to behaviors: Christians assigned to mixed teams are 12 percentage points more likely to attend a social event open to Muslims, 54 percentage points more likely to train with Muslims six months after the intervention ends, and 25 percentage points more likely to vote for a Muslim player to receive a sportsmanship award. These results seem to be driven by changing norms around social contact as well as a positive experience, with top-performing teams being more likely to patronize a restaurant in Muslim-dominated Mosul. The impact on personal beliefs, however, was mixed. These findings point to the potential for positive and cooperative contact across social lines to build tolerant behaviors after conflict — even if underlying prejudice remains unchanged.

Mousa, Salma. “Boosting Refugee Outcomes: Evidence from Policy, Academia, and Social Innovation.” Working Paper, prepared for the Stanford Immigration Policy Lab & the International Rescue Committee, July 2019.

However measured, refugees are likely to face common barriers towards achieving integration in the West, including language proficiency, difficulty finding a job commensurate with their education and skills, and mental health stressors. This review draws on policy reports and academic studies (descriptive and experimental) to first answer two questions: (1) what do we know about refugee outcomes? and; (2) what factors are associated with these outcomes? I synthesize information on the individual and environmental traits associated with the socio-economic well-being of refugees – ranging from country of origin and gender to ethnic enclaves and rigid labor markets. I then survey pilots and programs aimed at integrating refugees globally, with a focus on the U.S., Canada, and Europe. The evidence base suggests that programs leveraging community support while supplementing income – such as apprenticeships, private sponsorship, and cash transfers dovetailed with financial mentorship – represent promising paths forward.

Alrababa’h, Ala’, Marble, William, Mousa, Salma, and Siegel, Alexandra. “Can Exposure to Celebrities Reduce Prejudice? The Effect of Mohamed Salah on Islamophobic Behaviors and Attitudes.” Immigration Policy Lab Working Paper 19-04, July 2019.

Can exposure to successful celebrities from stigmatized groups reduce prejudice toward that group at large? We exploit the sudden and phenomenal rise to fame of Liverpool F.C. soccer star Mohamed Salah, a visibly Muslim player, to answer this question. We causally estimate the effect of Salah joining Liverpool F.C. on Islamophobic attitudes and behaviors using 936 county-month hate crime observations, 15 million tweets from U.K. soccer fans, and an original survey experiment of 8,060 Liverpool F.C. fans. We find that Merseyside county (home to Liverpool F.C.) experienced a 18.9% drop in hate crimes relative to a synthetic control, while no similar effect was found for other types of crime. We also find that Liverpool F.C. fans halved their rates of posting anti-Muslim tweets (a drop from 7.2% to 3.4% of tweets about Muslims) relative to fans of other top-flight English soccer clubs. The survey experiment suggests that these results may be driven by increased familiarity with Islam. Our findings indicate that positive exposure to outgroup role models can reveal new information that humanizes the outgroup writ large.

Mousa, Salma. "The Causal Effects of Terrorism: Political Preferences, Religiosity, and Iraq’s Sunni–Shi’a Divide." Working Paper, April 2018.

How does sectarian violence shape political and religious preferences?  Using data from the third wave of the Arab Barometer, I leverage Al-Qaeda attacks against Shi’a in Iraq that take place mid-way through the 2013 enumeration period. A difference-in- difference design shows that sectarian violence boosted support for democracy, trust in political institutions, and perceptions of safety among Sunnis by 10 to 30 percentage points, with the opposite trend observed among Shi’a. Moreover, Shi’a respondents became more religious relative to Sunnis: Shi’a were 9 to 13 percentage points more likely to pray daily and listen to Qur’an, and 18 percentage points more likely to support legislating shari’a in the wake of the attacks. The results provide quasi-experimental evidence indicating that exposure to violence differentially shapes political preferences and attachment to religious identity among relative winners and losers of conflict in ways that ultimately deepen sectarian fault lines – with implications for democratic change and reconciliation amid violent conflict elsewhere.

Mousa, Salma. "The Islamic Case for a Universal Basic Income," 2017.

Saleh, Mohamed and Mousa, Salma. "Nation-Building Policies and Cultural Integration: Evidence from Nineteenth Century Egypt." 2018.



Farha, Mark, and Mousa, Salma. "Secular Autocracy vs. Sectarian Democracy? Weighing Reasons for Christian Support for Regime Transition in Syria and Egypt," Mediterranean Politics (20:2), 2015. Special Issue: Arab Spring and Peripheries.

With the spectre of post-Spring Islamist rule looming, Christians in Syria and Egypt were forced to choose between quasi-secular autocracy and sectarian populism. The status quo ante under al-Assad and Mubarak, though democratically deficient, temporarily contained civil hostilities and afforded Christians with a modicum of secular protection and even prosperity, the degree of which sheds light on the relative absence of Syrian Christian protestors and the salient Coptic presence during the Egyptian revolution. This article explores how socio-economic and religious peripheral designations intersected with state policy to determine political (in) action amongst Christian minorities in two crucial countries of the region.


Mousa, Salma, "Faith, Class, and Citizenship in Context: the Christian Predicament in the Syrian and Egyptian Uprisings," ed. Hassan Bashir and Phillip Gray, Deconstructing Global Citizenship: Political, Cultural, and Ethnic Perspectives (London: Lexington Books, 2015).

The essays in this volume represent diverse disciplinary, analytical, and methodological approaches to understand what the implications are of being a citizen of both a nation state and the world simultaneously. In sum, Deconstructing Global Citizenship explores the question of whether a synthesis of contradictory national and global tendencies in the term “global citizenship” is even possible, or if we are better served by fundamentally reconsidering our ideas of “citizenship,” “community,” and “politics.”

Mousa, Salma. “Book Review: Soldiers, Spies and Statesmen by Hazem Kandil,Siyasat Arabiya (2:1), January 2014, pp. 177-181. [Arabic].


"الكنيسة القبطية في مصر وثورة 25 يناير: نقطة تحّول" [The Coptic Orthodox Church and the January 25th Revolution: a Turning Point], Omran (7:2), Winter 2014, pp. 131-151. [Arabic].

في سنة2011، أثارت الانتفاضات العربية التي لاقت ترحيًبا لخطابها المتعلق بالحقوق المدنية، الخشية من إمكان تفاقم الانقسامات الاجتماعية الطائفية الكامنة. ومع ظهور شبح الحكم الإسلامي ما بعد الربيع، وجد المسيحيون في مصر أنفسهم مضطرين إلى الاختيار بين استبداد شبه علماني واحتمال ديمقراطية طائفية وبسبب المظالم الاجتماعية والاقتصادية ذاتها التي أّثرت في مواطنيهم المسلمين، وخيبة أملهم مع إهمال مباركالمتزايدللشؤون المسيحية، سرعان ما انضم العديد من المسيحيين إلى الانتفاضة على الرغم من الإدانات الصارمة الصادرة عن الكنيسة.

شهدت ثورة 25 يناير تح ّو ًلا في العلاقة بين ثلاثي الكنيسة والدولة والأقباط في مصر، إذ ما عادت الدولة قادرة على الاعتماد على الكنيسة لتعزيز دعم النظام في دائرتها. وتساءل كثير من الأقباط بجدية عن الوضع الراهن للقادة الدينيين غير المنتخبين الذين يعملون كمم ّثلي طوائف غير رسميين في الدولة، واختاروا بد ًلا من ذلك التحالف مع مسلمين لبراليين والمشاركة في الحياة العامة عبر منابر علمانية. لكن، نظًرا إلى الظروف الأخيرةالمتمّثلة في هجمات طائفية متكررة وتصاعد ثقافة العداء ضد المسيحيين بسبب الحكم الإسلامي، لا تزال الكنيسة تحتفظ بدورها القيادي الرمزي، فقائدها البابا تواضروس الثاني يجاهر بالتعبير عن حقوق الأقليات في سياقها الوطني لا الطائفي. وعلى الرغم من أن العديد من الأقباط لا يزالون يعتمدون على البابا للتفاوض نيابة عنهم، فإنه يتعين على الكنيسة التكيف مع الضغوط الخارجية والداخلية المتغيرة، وإيجاد توازن دقيق بين دورها التقليدي كمتحدث باسم الطائفة   والسماح في الوقت نفسه لأشكال سياسية أخرى بالوجود خارج إطار الكنيسة

Other Writing

Mousa, Salma, "Syria's Minorities and the Paradox of Neutrality,"  Syria Deeply, February 2016.

"Civil Marriage in Lebanon: For Better, not Worse," The Islamic Monthly (Issue 5, Winter 2013), available at:


"Secular Autocracy vs. Sectarian Democracy? The Christian Predicament in the Syrian Uprising," Yale Journal of International Affairs, January 22, 2013.