Christopher de Bellaigue was born in 1971 in London to an Anglo-French family, and grew up in the UK.

Between 1995 and 2007 he lived in New Delhi, Istanbul and Tehran, writing for the Economist, the New York Review of Books, the Guardian and many other publications, before taking up a visiting fellowship at St Antony’s College, Oxford.

Christopher is an award-winning author and frequent broadcaster on the BBC. He is currently working on a book about the transformation of Middle Eastern civilization by modern ideas–an Islamic ‘Enlightenment.’


  • Nice has titled France towards fascism. Read More 
  • Eton's magic touch - inside the poshest school in the world. Read More
  • Family life in Paris - Jacques Audiard's Dheepan Read More
  • The problem of radicalisation in France is an existential one.       Read more 
  • How is France going to solve its prison radicalisation problem? My Guardian Long Read piece explains. Read more 
  • Qajar snaps: a confrontation, in New York, between the wet collodion method and the writ of kings. Read more 
  • Twenty-two summers ago I fell for Blur while homesick in New Delhi. Read more
  • 'Not Like Argo' - the travails of being a tour guide in Iran, for which I won a 2015 Foreign Press Award. Read more 

The New Book: The Islamic Enlightenment: the Struggle between Faith and Reason, 1798 to Modern Times, comes out in February 2017 

Islamic Enlightenment? To look at the Middle East's current movements of fundamentalist revival, you might think it never happened. In fact, from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present day Islamic society in its Middle Eastern heartlands has been transformed by modern ideals and practices, and the retreat of religion under a wave of secular knowledge defined by rationalism.

Who were the scholars, scientists, artists and administrators who brought about these remarkable changes-from the adoption of modern medicine to the emergence of women from purdah and the development of democracy-and and is their legacy now under threat from a burgeoning counter-Enlightenment? Spanning more than 200 years of Middle Eastern history, and encompassing the Arab, Turkish and Persian worlds, the Islamic Enlightenment describes the collision of an ancient civilisation with new ways of living in the world.   

Follow Christopher on Twitter: @bellaigueC