Aykan Erdemir is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy institute focused on foreign policy and national security. 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, he 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. Erdemir was recognized in 2014 as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons by the Junior Chamber International Turkey in the field of political, legal and governmental Affairs. He was also awarded the 2016 Stefanus Prize for Religious Freedom.
Erdemir received his BA in international relations from Bilkent University, Ankara, and holds an MA in Middle Eastern studies, as well as a PhD in anthropology and Middle Eastern studies from Harvard University. He was a doctoral fellow at Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and a research associate at the University of Oxford’s Center on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS). In March 2015, Erdemir was awarded a distinguished fellowship at the Oxford Centre for the Study of Law and Public Policy at the Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford. He has taught at Bilkent University in Ankara, and Middle East Technical University, where he also served as deputy dean of the Graduate School of Social Sciences and graduate director of the German-Turkish Masters in Social Sciences.
Dr. Erdemir has coauthored three books and edited seven volumes including Antagonistic Tolerance: Competitive Sharing of Religious Sites and Spaces (Routledge, 2016).