December 17, 2020 marked the tenth anniversary of the start of the Arab uprisings in Tunisia. Beginning in 2011, mass uprisings swept North Africa and the Middle East, spreading from the shores of Tunisia to Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, and the Eastern Province of the Arabian Peninsula. A “second wave” of mass protests and uprisings manifested during 2019 in Sudan, Algeria, Lebanon, and Iraq. The persistence of demands for popular sovereignty even in the face of re-entrenched authoritarianism, imperial intervention, and civil strife is a critical chapter in regional and global history.

This is part of an effort to mark, interrogate, and reflect on the Arab uprisings, we launch a yearlong set of events, reflections, and conversations. We hope to produce resources for educators, researchers, students, and journalists to understand the last decade of political upheaval historically and in the lived present. For more, visit

This is the fourth of six parts of a series that presents peer-reviewed articles concerned with the Arab uprisings published in 2010-2020 from our peer-reviewed articles database. In this installment, we highlight those focusing on the discussions of Islamists and democratization.


From Islamists to Muslim Democrats: The Case of Tunisia’s Ennahda

By: Sharan Grewal

Published in American Political Science Review Volume 114, Issue 2 (2020)

Abstract: What drives some Islamists to become “Muslim Democrats,” downplaying religion and accepting secular democracy? This article hypothesizes that one channel of ideological change is migration to secular democracies. Drawing on an ideal point analysis of parliamentary votes from the Tunisian Islamist movement Ennahda, I find that MPs who had lived in secular democracies held more liberal voting records than their counterparts who had lived only in Tunisia. In particular, they were more likely to defend freedom of conscience and to vote against enshrining Islamic law in the constitution. Interviews with several of these MPs demonstrate that they recognize a causal effect of their experiences abroad on their ideologies, and provide support for three distinct mechanisms by which this effect may have occurred: socialization, intergroup contact, and political learning.

Beyond ‘brotherhood’ and the ‘caliphate’: Kurdish relationships to Islam in an era of AKP authoritarianism and ISIS terror

By: William Gourlay

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 47, Issue 4 (2020)

Abstract: Since the rise of the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP), Islam has come to play a more prominent role in public and political spheres in Turkey. This paper draws on ethnographic data gathered in Istanbul and Diyarbakir between 2013 and 2015 to highlight Kurdish attitudes to Islam. Following the electoral success of the AKP amongst Kurds in the general election of 2007, Kurdish actors have sought to incorporate Islamic sensibilities into their political offering in order to appeal to Kurdish constituents. Amid the AKP’s recent authoritarian turn and instrumentalization of religion, and the rise of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), many Kurds have sought to redefine their relationship with Islam to clearly demarcate distinctly Kurdish religious and political spaces.

Cross-ideological coalitions under authoritarian regimes: Islamist-left collaboration among Morocco’s excluded opposition

By: Alfonso Casani

Published in Democratization Volume 27, Issue 7 (2020)

Abstract: The 2011 popular uprisings across the MENA region demonstrated the organization of broad cross-ideological collaborations that were able to overcome some of the political cleavages that have traditionally characterized these societies, and more remarkably, the division between left-wing and Islamist actors. However, political tensions soon arose in the new post-uprising scenarios, with secularist-Islamist polarization increasing once again across the region. Contrary to this trend, Morocco saw an increase in collaboration between the opposition Left and Islamist movements. This article delves into the reasons why the opposition in Morocco has been able to avoid polarization, with, instead, an increase in cross-ideological coalitions opposing the regime. To that end, it analyses the rapprochement between the Islamist association Al-Adl wa-l-Ihsane and the country’s left-wing parties, more noticeably the Democratic Way party. It argues that it is due to the excluded nature of these actors and their lack of electoral interests, that they have overcome political pressures and found new forms of collaboration. By drawing on an extensive corpus of in-depth interviews carried out in the Rabat-Casablanca region, this article examines the development of cross-ideological coalitions in the Moroccan opposition, while contributing, more broadly, to the study of cross-ideological coalitions under authoritarian regimes.

Jihad as a Form of Political Protest: Genesis and Current Status

By: Evgeny I. Zelenev, Leonid Issaev

Published in Iran and the Caucasus Volume 24, Issue 3 (2020)

Abstract: This article presents the evolution of the concepts of jihād from the minimalist and maximalist approaches. In the present article one can find two conceptions: the conception of liminality and the conception of re-Islamisation. Liminality is a form of structural crisis that appears as a result of the split within the Islamic spiritual elite and Muslim community itself. The period of liminality is characterised by political and social instability, crisis of social and individual forms of self-identification and sharp cognitive dissonance among many ordinary believers who conduct their own search for fundamentally new forms of Islamic political existence. Re-Islamisation is the post-liminality period that happens if the maximalist block of Islamic elite wins political power. The events of the Arab Spring can be seen as the result of the appearance in the Islamic ideological space of two different ideological platforms (minimalism and maximalism) around which representatives of not only the Islamic elite, but also the “popular” Islam gathered.

After the Massacre: Women’s Islamist Activism in Post-Coup Egypt

By: Sarah AlMasry, Neil Ketchley

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 12, Issue 1 (2020)

Abstract: This paper draws on event data and interviews to examine the effects of repression on the gendered dynamics of Islamist mobilization in Egypt following the 2013 military coup. Our analysis shows that women’s anti-coup groups were more likely to mobilize following the killing of up to 1,000 anti-coup protestors at Rabaa al-Adawiyya in August 2013. Women’s protests were also more likely in the home districts of those killed at Rabaa. Informant testimony indicates that the Rabaa massacre figured as a transformative event that female activists drew on to motivate their involvement in street protests. Taken together, our findings suggest that very harsh repression can enable women’s participation in Islamist street politics – but this activism can come at a considerable personal cost for participants. Women who joined anti-coup protests were subjected to calibrated sexual violence by Egyptian security forces as well as other social penalties.

Exclusion and Violence After the Egyptian Coup

By: Steven Brooke, Elizabeth R. Nugent

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 12, Issue 1 (2020)

Abstract: Scholars of Islamism have long grappled with the relationship between political participation and ideological change, theorizing that political exclusion and state repression increase the likelihood of Islamist groups using violence. The trajectory of post-2011 Egypt offers a chance to systematically evaluate these theories using subnational data. Pairing district-level electoral returns from pre-coup presidential elections with post-coup levels of anti-state and sectarian violence, we find that districts where Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated candidate Mohammed Morsi performed well in 2012 witnessed more anti-state and sectarian (anti-Christian) violence following the 2013 military coup. The same relationship holds for the performance of liberal Islamist Abdel Moneim Abu El-Fotouh, which is consistent with arguments that political exclusion alone may also drive violence.

Moments in Revolutionary Time

By: Noah Saloman

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 12, Issue 3 (2020)

Abstract: Written in the context of Sudan and Lebanon’s 2018–19 revolutions, this article examines the discourse of two religious movements that are intricately entangled with the state as they negotiate popular demands to rethink that state, weighing competing claims to revolutionary salience along the way. It argues that revolution, even when it is working to reimagine states construed on confessional lines, has a particularly religious character. This is both because it demands that we rethink religion, given its unavoidable imbrication in the workings of the modern state, and because phenomenologically it too advocates ethical and ontological transformation that has the power to transcend and outlive political reform.

Between Exclusivism and Inclusivism: The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood’s Divided Reponses to the “Arab Spring”

By: Joas Wagemakers

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 12, Issue 1 (2020)

Abstract: This article focuses on how and why some Jordanian Muslim Brothers have engaged in relatively exclusive, Islamist ways of confronting the regime during the “Arab Spring,” while others adopted a more inclusive, national strategy in the same period. As such, this article not only contributes to our knowledge of divisions within the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, but also shows how this can impact Islamist-regime relations in the Arab world. It argues that the organization as a whole initially wanted to exploit the uprisings in the region through a relatively exclusive, Islamist approach to the regime, but that others within the organization disagreed with this method as the “Arab Spring” proved mostly unsuccessful. Aware of the dangers of provoking the state from a position of increased isolation, these members advocated a more inclusive attitude toward the regime and others. While both groups were ultimately unsuccessful, the latter at least survived as a legal entity, while the Muslim Brotherhood lost its official presence in the kingdom because the regime was able to exploit the existing divisions within the organization.

The Development and Fragmentation of Kuwait’s al-Jama’a al-Salafiyya: Purity over Pragmatism

By: Zoltan Pall

Published in The Middle East Journal Volume 74, Issue 1 (2020)

Abstract: This article argues that the pragmatism displayed by Salafi politicians after the 2011 Arab uprisings might not apply to the larger networks of the movement. Such pragmatism contributed to organizational dysfunction in Kuwait’s largest Salafi group, al-Jama’a al-Salafiyya. The ideological foundations of the group stood at odds with its extensive institutional structures, impeding it from functioning effectively. To explain this, the article draws on a comparison with the Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait, whose ideology and disciplinary practices facilitated the establishment of tight-knit, highly efficient organizations.

How and Why Has the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan Changed since 2011?

By: Mohamed Abu Rumman, Neven Bondokji

Published in The Middle East Journal Volume 74, Issue 1 (2020)

Abstract: In the wake of the Arab Spring, many younger members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan left the movement, especially after 2015, establishing new political parties due to ideological shifts over the nature of the state and questions of civil liberties. Four factors influenced this transformation: identity crisis, the movement’s organizational rigidity, members’ personal experiences during and after the uprisings, and a growing desire to separate political campaigning from religious outreach.

The Syrian conflict and public opinion among Syrians in Lebanon

By: Daniel Corstange

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 46, Issue 1 (2019)

Abstract: Whom do ordinary Syrians support in their civil war? After decades of repression, the Syrian uprising unleashed an outpouring of political expression. Yet the study of Syrian public opinion is in its infancy. This article presents survey evidence from a large, diverse sample of Syrian refugees in neighbouring Lebanon, one of the first of its kind, and examines their support for the different factions fighting in the civil war. In so doing, it demonstrates that many conventional narratives of the conflict are oversimplifications of a more complex reality. The survey shows that the majority of Syrian refugees support one faction or another of the opposition, but a large minority sympathizes with the government. In line with existing accounts of the war, the government draws its popular support base from wealthier and less religious Syrians, as well as minorities. Nonetheless, large numbers of Sunni Arabs also side with the government, belying sectarian narratives of the war. The survey also finds that supporters of the opposition Islamists and non-Islamists are similar in many regards, including religiosity. The main distinction is that the non-Islamist support base is far more politically attentive than are Islamist sympathizers, in contrast to existing narratives of the war.

Radicalism on the Periphery: History, Collective Memory, and the Cultural Resonance of Jihadist Ideology in Tunisia

By: Michael Marcusa

Published in Comparative Politics Volume 51, Issue 2 (2019)

Abstract: This article explores sub-national variation in jihadist Salafist mobilization through a comparative analysis of two Tunisian interior towns: Sidi Bouzid and Metlaoui. After the Arab Spring, while Sidi Bouzid emerged as a bastion of jihadist Salafism and Islamic State foreign fighter recruitment, the movement failed to gain broad-based legitimacy in Metlaoui. On the basis of the comparison, this study introduces a new explanation for the variation in jihadist mobilization: state-building legacies and collective memory. During the 20th century, Sidi Bouzid and Metlaoui were subjected to divergent processes of forced political incorporation that this study argues have had implications for how contemporary citizens respond to jihadist rhetoric. The final part of the article discusses how this insight informs the study of jihadist Salafism in other contexts.

Post-Islamism: Ideological Delusions and Sociological Realities

By: Abdul Ghani Imad

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 12, Issue 3 (2019)

Abstract: The thesis of political Islam’s failure reignites a deep discussion of fundamental questions. At the same time, it opens the door for a discussion of post Islamism as a concept, a term, and a phase. The term “post-Islamism,” like every “post-” term, is undoubtedly characterized by an extremely fluid definition. This leads to certain interpretations expiring without establishing others and to profound transformations occurring within an intellectual and social phenomenon that presages that it will evolve away from its original form. In no circumstance, however, will what comes after resemble what came before. The aspects of the relationship and similarity between the two phases largely remains relative and ambiguous. Although the use of the term “post-Islamism” dates back decades, in particular to the 1990s, it has once again returned to the spotlight, more prominently now than ever, as several Islamist movements are advancing further on the path to accepting democracy, political pluralism, and power-sharing. Several Islamist movements in the Arab and Islamic world today are embracing public and individual freedoms, and advocating a separation of religion and politics. This article examines the concept of post-Islamism, its legitimacy, and credibility as a fundamental shift in Islamist rhetoric and behavior, as well as the causes leading to it, and the conditions, obstacles, and realistic models of this concept or its approximates, both Sunni and Shiite, in the Arab or Muslim world.

Sharīʻa, Islamism and Arab support for democracy

By: Lars Berger

Published in Democratization Volume 26, Issue 2 (2019)

Abstract: The Arab Spring and its aftermath reignited the debate over the relationship between Islamism and democracy. This analysis improves upon previous research by demonstrating the crucial contribution which a more precise understanding of the multiple meanings of the concept of Sharīʻa can have on our assessment of the future of democracy in the Arab world. While support for the Sharīʻa-conformity of laws has a positive impact on the preference for democracy, the insistence that Sharīʻa represents the word of God as opposed to the human attempt to interpret it reduces support for democracy. These findings are of considerable significance for academics and policy-makers interested in the future of democracy in the Arab world as it suggests that generic expressions of support for Sharīʻa are less relevant in explaining support for democracy than what Arab women and men consider to be its essence.

Rethinking the repression-dissent nexus: assessing Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood’s response to repression since the coup of 2013

By: Khalil al-Anani

Published in Democratization Volume 26, Issue 8 (2019)

Abstract: This article examines the repression-dissent nexus in Islamist social movements. Several studies have overwhelmingly focused on the effects of repression on protest volume, level, and tactics. However, understanding the responses of individual members to regime repression and how they relate to the movement’s collective response is rarely discussed. By analysing the response of the Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to regime repression since the coup of 2013, this article explains the effects of repression on opposition movements. It argues that to understand the impact of repression on these movements, we need to differentiate between the collective and individual responses to repression. These two levels of analysis are crucial to better understand the repression-dissent nexus. Also, the article contends that collective and individual responses to repression cannot be explained by focusing solely on the structural and institutional factors (i.e. organization, ideology, leadership, etc.). Members’ personal experiences, memory, emotions, and trauma play a key role in shaping their response to repression. The article thus accounts for both the formal and informal effects of repression on Islamists.

The Obama administration and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab Revolutions. Taming political Islam?

By: Mohamed-Ali Adraoui

Published in International Politics Volume 56, Issue 4 (2019)

Abstract: This article deals with US policy towards the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. How has the leading world state power been dealing with the main Islamist movement, especially in the aftermath of the Arab upheavals? What is the intellectual approach to political Islam, specifically within the Obama administration? Has the anti-US potential been tamed or not? In light of the discourse held by US leaders and diplomats, I highlight the difficulties in addressing the Muslim Brotherhood. More specifically, I shed light on the way US policy of engagement towards the Islamist movement has been conducted.

Crafting a business Umma? transnational networks of ‘Islamic businessmen’ after the Arab Spring

By: Marie Vannetzel, Dilek Yankaya

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 24, Issue 3 (2019)

Abstract: This article focuses on the transnational project, led by Turkish Independent Industrialists and Businessmen Association (Müsiad), of crafting a community of Islamic businessmen. The Arab Springs opened new opportunities to further this project, especially in Tunisia and Egypt where Islamist groups rose to power after 2011. In both countries, Müsiad supported the creation of two Islamic business associations, exporting its own organizational model. Examining this circulation process, we question the classical dichotomy between economic and advocacy transnational networks. We also show how this transnational activism is constrained by divergent domestic patterns of relationships between Islamists, business and states in each country.

Who Is Sisi of Egypt? A Salafi.

By: Ramy Aziz

Published in Middle East Quarterly Volume 26, Issue 2 (2019)

Abstract: Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power in July 2013 through a military coup, supported by many sectors of Egyptian society that wanted to rid themselves of the religious rule imposed by Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government. Yet religion has loomed large in Sisi’s identity, from a 2006 research paper written while studying at the United States Army War College,[1] to his consistent emphasis in speeches and interviews on the importance and necessity of religion, and his direct presidential responsibility for protecting religion and morality in Egyptian society. Has Egypt exchanged one religious regime for a similarly disposed but Salafist ruler?

Who Is Sisi of Egypt? A Reformer.

By: Cynthia Farahat

Published in Middle East Quarterly Volume 26, Issue 2 (2019)

Abstract: In August 2012, Mohamed Morsi, Egyptian president and leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, appointed general Abdel Fattah as-Sisi, then head of military intelligence, as minister of defense in place of Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi. Given his leadership position in the largely Islamist Egyptian army and his family ties to one of the Brotherhood’s cofounders, Abbas as-Sisi,[1] the new minister of defense was widely expected to promote the Brotherhood’s agenda.[2] Instead, not only was Sisi to engineer the overthrow of the Brotherhood regime in July 2013, but he has turned out to be the most moderate president in Egypt’s modern history, and among the most enlightened of Muslim politicians anywhere.

The politics of consensus: al-Nahda and the stability of the Tunisian transition

By: Rory McCarthy

Published in Middle Eastern Studies Volume 55, Issue 2 (2019)

Abstract: Tunisia’s transition away from authoritarianism has been shaped by a politics of consensus, which has brought together representatives of the former regime with their historic adversary, the Islamist movement al-Nahda. This article argues that consensus politics was a legacy of the authoritarian regime that was re-produced during a democratizing transition. The politics of consensus was encouraged and enabled by al-Nahda, which prioritized its inclusion within this elite settlement to provide political security for itself and the broader transition. However, this came at a cost, engineering a conservative transition, which did not pursue significant social or economic reform. The Tunisian case shows that historical legacies, such as consensus politics, can shape a transition as much as contingent, pragmatic decisions by political leaders.

Sectarianized Securitization in Turkey in the Wake of the 2011 Arab Uprisings

By: Ceren Lord

Published in The Middle East Journal Volume 73, Issue 1 (2019)

Abstract: This article examines the growth of sectarianism in Turkish politics since the 2011 Arab uprisings, particularly when it comes to the government’s portrayal of the Alevi community as a security threat. Comparable to elsewhere in the Middle East, this “sectarianized securitization” of domestic politics was catalyzed by the overlap of external geopolitical competition and internal challenges to the government. These dynamics are situated within the context of longer-term processes of nation-building, the nature of Islamic authority, and the increasing prominence of Islamists.

Turkish Islamism, conservatism and human rights before and after Gezi: the case of Mazlumder

By: Fabio Vicini

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 45, Issue 5 (2018)

Abstract: Focusing on Mazlumder, an Islamist human rights organization, the paper sheds light on the complex articulation of Islamism and human rights discourse in post-2002 Turkey. Based on fieldwork and on the analysis of the organization’s press releases and reports on controversial public issues such as the Gezi protests, the paper argues that Mazlumder’s effort should not be read through normative lenses that reduce the issue to a matter of compatibility between Islam and human rights, and suggests that the analysis should instead take into account the positional shifts of the conservative front in relation to recent internal and external turmoil.

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s transnational advocacy in Turkey: a new means of political participation

By: Shaimaa Magued

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 45, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: This study examines the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s transnational media advocacy as a shift in the Islamists’ political participation in general and the Brothers’ in particular. The article argues that the Brothers created their own TV channels in order to challenge the new regime’s legitimacy after 3 July 2013 by taking advantage of a sympathetic political environment in Turkey. Their media advocacy embraced a collective Islamic identity in its denunciation of the Sisi regime and called for a democratic restitution as a common Egyptian cause. Based on interviews conducted with TV presenters and a content analysis of the expatriates’ TV channels, this study presents transnational advocacy as a novelty in the Islamists’ repertoire of action.

Islamic Law, Truth, Ethics: Fatwa and Jurisprudence of the Revolution

By: Youssef Belal

Published in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East Volume 38, Issue 1 (2018)

Abstract: This article is devoted to the study of questions of knowledge, law, and ethics in Islamic context. Starting with a discussion of assumptions about Islamic ethical practices in recent anthropological and historical works on the fatwa, it explores procedures of truth seeking and modes of reasoning in legal opinions authored by Islamic scholars, notably Yusuf al-Qaradawi, at the time of the Egyptian Revolution (2011). This text analyzes also the relationship between interiority and exteriority in ethical practices enabled by these legal options and exemplified by the assessment of the ruler’s faith. It studies the extent to which the very revolutionary gesture informs Islamic scholars’ own legal and ethical practice and enlightens anew the relationship between the inner and the outer as well as between the self and others. Finally, it explores the articulation between Islamic law and revolution in the Egyptian context and the ways in which the former’s authoritativeness and ethical performativity is reenacted, in contradistinction to Western liberal revolutions instituting a new legal order declaring its rupture with the past law and indifferent to the individual’s morality.

Islamic Law, Truth, Ethics: Fatwa and Jurisprudence of the Revolution

By: Youssef Belal

Published in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East Volume 38, Issue 1 (2018)

Abstract: This article is devoted to the study of questions of knowledge, law, and ethics in Islamic context. Starting with a discussion of assumptions about Islamic ethical practices in recent anthropological and historical works on the fatwa, it explores procedures of truth seeking and modes of reasoning in legal opinions authored by Islamic scholars, notably Yusuf al-Qaradawi, at the time of the Egyptian Revolution (2011). This text analyzes also the relationship between interiority and exteriority in ethical practices enabled by these legal options and exemplified by the assessment of the ruler’s faith. It studies the extent to which the very revolutionary gesture informs Islamic scholars’ own legal and ethical practice and enlightens anew the relationship between the inner and the outer as well as between the self and others. Finally, it explores the articulation between Islamic law and revolution in the Egyptian context and the ways in which the former’s authoritativeness and ethical performativity is reenacted, in contradistinction to Western liberal revolutions instituting a new legal order declaring its rupture with the past law and indifferent to the individual’s morality.

Ignorance: Islam, Literacy, and Status in the Shadow of Revolution 

By: Nermeen Mouftah

Published in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East Volume 38, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: Mouftah’s article explores Egyptian anxieties about ignorance and how the January 2011 uprising brought new urgency to calls for managing it. In post-Mubarak Egypt, literacy activism became a major platform from which to “continue the revolution.” Drawing on ethnographic research that observes a national literacy campaign among shipyard workers, Mouftah demonstrates how a particular strand of Islamic reformism makes modern education an indicator of morality, ultimately constraining the revolutionary potential of the literacy movement. Literacy activism offers a crucial lens to observe a major challenge for revolutionary action—the negotiation of recognition among social classes. Through attention to teacher-student interactions, she depicts how workers negotiated the power of the written word to gain respect in their early experiments with writing. This article contributes toward an anthropology of ignorance by revealing the political predicaments that arise out of an Islamic literacy activism that, Mouftah argues, is ultimately counterrevolutionary in its effects.

Islamists in Power: The Experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

By: Ahmed Zaghloul Shalata

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 11, Issue 1-2 (2018)

Abstract: In the first parliamentary elections after Mr. Mubarak’s overthrow in February 2011, the Muslim Brotherhood’s newly formed Freedom and Justice Party had won nearly half the seats in the People’s Assembly. The Muslim Brotherhood, had, over the two previous years, gained political expansion in parliament. The Brotherhood entered into a coalition with other Islamist parties including two Salafist parties, forming an Islamist bloc, but their experience ended with their removal from power and significant changes in the structure of the Brotherhood.
Based on the political programs of the Islamist parties in Egypt, this article seeks to analyze the experience of Islamists in power by focusing on their practical perceptions of the Islamist political system. The article concludes that the political Islamist organizations lacked a coherent mechanism to propel them from the stage of the organization’s (political party) management to a stage of state administration. Egyptian Islamist groups had no specific perception of the nature of the state, or of an applied model to implement the “Islamic state.” Although these groups had a declared project, which they had been attempting to establish for decades, their focus was solely on discussing the expected outcome they had hoped to achieve, while neglecting to elaborate on how their affairs could be run, once in power. This shortfall was due to an accumulation of the multiple problems the groups had faced, whether they be conceptual reasons of state, power issues, or the organizational obstacles strewn along the paths of the components that comprised the group, which had prevented them, over decades, from overcoming them. Hence, the traditional mechanisms they continued to apply while in power proved inadequate in responding to the crises inherent in the experience of government. They failed to introduce new mechanisms to address the issues as dictated by the necessity for practical experience and solutions once they had attained power.

Islamist and Non-Islamist Currents and the Struggle for Post-Gaddafi Libya

By: Youssef Mohammad Sawani

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 11, Issue 1-2 (2018)

Abstract: This paper examines the origin and the relationship between Islamist and non-Islamist political trends in Libya, highlighting the development of the contestation between the two before and after the fall of Gaddafi’s rule. The relationship appears to be that of a contestation between Islamists and liberals but this may be misleading. Islamists are not united but they share an adherence to the establishment of a Muslim society and some form of a khilafa. However, non-Islamists may not easily be identified as “on current.” Indeed, the “current” includes an array of political factions of various dispensations with some not necessarily subscribing to liberal models of democracy. Some belong to pre-Gaddafi-era political parties or were political and human rights’ activists during Gaddafi’s reign. They range from leftist, nationalist, and liberal orientations to populist Arab nationalist forces (including the Ba’th, Pan-Arabists, and others with socialist or communist orientations). When the uprising took place in 2011, the positions each trend took differed before some tactical unity was deemed necessary. When the regime fell, however, differences remerged and became more evident once the transitional structures were put in place. Just before and during the first elections in 2012, Islamists broke ranks with their struggle comrades and fired their cannons at the leaders of the liberal, nationalist, and other elements within the non-Islamist orientations. Islam then became crucial in political expression and rhetoric, especially for Islamist actors. Focusing on the development of this contestation, this paper analyzes the reaction of both Islamist and non-Islamist trends to the policies and tactics adopted by each side in the aftermath of the 2011 uprising and the post-Gaddafi phase. It suggests that although ideology, specifically references to Islam, became crucial in the political contention between Islamists and non-Islamists, the cleavage was not entirely ideological, as both trends considered the Islamic identity of Libya central to their political programs. The interviews with leading representatives of both trends that the author conducted for the purpose of writing this article confirm such a view on the role of ideology in the contestation. As the following discussion indicates, ideology is evidently part and parcel of each sides’ tools, ready to be employed against the other. However, when it does not suit all their purposes, they claim ideology has no role, offering insights into the instrumental and tactical approach to the ongoing contestation of both sides. The article therefore examines the struggle between the two factions as a political competition for the control of resources and positions of power, yet it also argues that ideology and ideas have a role to play, as they constitute the instruments deployed in this struggle, which has, with foreign involvement and backing of different sides, reduced Libya to a “failed state.” In fact although ideological contraposition figures in the contestation, political factionalism and contention in post-2011 were actually fuelled by political factors related to the struggle over access to power and resources, which are instrumental in enabling each side to shape the future state and its political order according to their plans. The struggle between Islamists and non-Islamists may have been the most visible, but it is certainly not the most significant factor in explaining the political dynamics and contention in the country since the fall of Gaddafi.

End of moderation: the radicalization of AKP in Turkey

By: Galib Bashirov, Caroline Lancaster

Published in Democratization Volume 25, Issue 7 (2018)

Abstract: Turkey’s Justice and Development Party, AKP, was for many years believed to be paramount in ushering in a new era of moderate Islamism. However, in recent years, AKP has troublingly reversed course. From violent repression of the Gezi protests of 2013 to the 2016 abortive coup and subsequent crackdown on opposition, the party has lost all semblance of moderate Islamism and radicalized. If AKP had truly moderated, how could the party have changed in such a short period of time? What explains the radicalization of AKP? First, we argue that the strategic benefits of moderation far outweighed its costs, rendering it analytically improbable to determine whether AKP’s actions were genuine or merely strategic. Second, we show that AKP has been in a process of radicalization characterized by the adoption of anti-system, anti-democratic, and violent tactics and rhetoric since 2011. The disappearance of domestic and international structural constraints created the requisite background conditions for the party’s radicalization. Radicalization was facilitated by what we call ‘Erdoganization’, an ongoing de-institutionalization process within which Tayyip Erdogan gained complete control over the party. Additionally, a series of four “external shocks” threatened the party’s primary goal of gaining hegemony and caused the party to radicalize.

Wolves in sheep clothing or victims of times? Discussing the immoderation of incumbent Islamic parties in Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia

By: Esen Kirdiş

Published in Democratization Volume 25, Issue 5 (2018)

Abstract: This article discusses the “immoderation” of incumbent Islamic parties – defined by the pursuit of a moral agenda and by an unwillingness to compromise with the opposition – through a comparative study of four incumbent Islamic parties in the socio-politically different regimes of Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia. Building on literature from religion and politics, social psychology, sociology of religion, and on the inclusion-moderation hypothesis, this study argues that (1) Islamic parties’ strong organizations resulted both in their success and in the absence of internal pluralism and that (2) their dominant status in the party system consolidated their majoritarian understanding of democracy. Through its discussion of “immoderation” this study aims to contribute to the interdisciplinary literature on religion and politics.

At the Tipping Point? Al-azhar’s Growing Crisis of Moral Authority

By: Masooda Bano

Published in International Journal of Middle East Studies  Volume 50, Issue 4 (2018)

Abstract: Routinely required to lend religious legitimacy to contentious state policies, al-Azhar’s moral authority has been under pressure since its nationalization in 1961. This article outlines how Shaykh al-Azhar Ahmad al-Tayyib’s recent alliance with President ʿAbd al-Fattah al-Sisi has, however, exposed al-Azhar’s moral authority to unprecedented risks. This is for three reasons. First, the tactics used by al-Sisi’s government to quell the Muslim Brotherhood have been more extreme than those used by previous regimes. Second, the al-Azhari establishment’s defence of these violent tactics has been more unqualified than in the past. Third, current state-led reforms of al-Azhar’s curriculum are more controversial than prior efforts along these lines. As I show, these recent developments are not a complete break from the past; rather, they are a natural outcome of incremental shifts that have been occurring within al-Azhar since its nationalization over fifty years ago.

Justice and Development Party’s Understanding of Democracy and Democratisation: Cultural Relativism and the Construction of the West as the ‘Other’

By: Birgül Demirtaş

Published in Iran and the Caucasus Volume 22, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: The perception of Turkey as a model of attractive country in the region has started to change in the recent years. In the first decade of the JDP rule Turkey was seen as an emerging power with its strong economy, improving democracy and inspiring foreign policy. However, the developments since the Arab Uprisings in the neighbourhood, Gezi movement at home, end of the Kurdish peace process, as well as coup attempt and subsequent de-democratisation harmed the soft power of Turkey. This study argues that the JDP’s understanding of democracy and democratisation has been full of flaws from the very beginning of its rule. The Turkish example shows that countries can experience subsequent processes of de-democratisation and de-democratisation if governing parties did not endogenise the basic norms of democracy. Therefore, it is argued that the reverse wave of de-democratisation characterises Turkey more than the “selective” processes of democratisation. It is also argued that JDP elite via its discourse has been constructing the West as the ‘Other’.

A history of Turkey’s AKP-Gülen conflict

By: Hakkı Taş

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 23, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: Although organized independently, both the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) and the Gülen Movement (GM) have primarily addressed the same base and acted as mediums of upward mobility for Sunni Anatolian conservatives. Targeted by the old secular establishment, AKP and GM forged a mutually beneficial relationship in 2000s, with the former’s political office reinforcing the latter’s social and bureaucratic power and vice versa. Nevertheless, with the demise of their common enemy, this marriage of convenience gradually turned into a brutal fight, as epitomized in the abortive coup of 15 July. This profile provides a critical history of AKP and GM relations, illustrating how and why the image of Gülenists has changed in AKP’s projection from a faith-based community to a terrorist organization.

Egypt’s 2011–2012 parliamentary elections: Voting for religious vs. secular democracy?

By: H. Ege Ozen

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 23, Issue 4 (2018)

Abstract: This study investigates whether individuals’ attitudes towards democracy and secular politics have any influence on voting behaviour in Egypt. Based on data from survey conducted immediately after the Egyptian parliamentary elections in January 2012, this study finds that Egyptians’ attitudes towards democratic governance were quite negative around the parliamentary elections, yet Egyptians still endorsed democracy as the ideal political system for their country. However, empirical findings suggest that support for democracy has a limited impact on electoral results. On the other hand, the main division in Egyptian society around the first free and fair parliamentary elections was the religious–secular cleavage. As people support secular politics more, they become significantly less likely to vote for Islamist parties. These results illustrate that preferences in regard to the type of the democracy – either a liberal and secular or a religious democracy – were the main determinant of the historic 2012 elections in Egypt.

Negotiating Values in the Islamist Press after 2013

By: Michelanglo Guida

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 27, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: Turkey’s Islamist press has been influenced essentially by three contingencies: partisanship, lack of political autonomy, and lack of economic autonomy. These contingencies are reflected in the opinion pieces of Islamist columnists, five of whom are examined here in detail. To understand how their opinions are shaped, this article focuses on their interpretations of two dramatic events: the Gezi Park protests and the December 17–25 corruption scandals, both of which took place in 2013. This analysis provides a granular look at how the different Islamist columnists produced highly contrasting responses to government policies and choices, giving a unique insight on the intellectual dynamics within the Islamist community as the July 15, 2016 coup approached.

The Pre-2011 Roots of Syria’s Islamist Militants

By: Line Khatib

Published in Middle East Journal Volume 72, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: Islamist militancy is not a new phenomenon in Syria; indeed, many of the groups active since the outbreak of the popular uprising in 2011 have existed since the early 2000s. The emergence of these Islamists and the Islamization of the Syrian conflict can primarily be traced to the earlier foreign policy of the regime of Bashar al-Asad, of which harboring and collaborating with Islamist militants was an integral part. The outcome of this policy was the rise of a radical and apocalyptic type of Islamist movement that the regime cannot effectively control and that is at odds with Syria’s more ecumenical and intellectual Islamic tradition.

When Islamists Lose: The Politicization of Tunisia’s Ennahda Movement

By: Rory McCarthy

Published in Middle East Journal  Volume 72, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: This article is a case study of how Tunisia’s Islamist party, the Ennahda Movement, responded to new political opportunities that opened up after the 2011 Arab uprisings. It argues that Ennahda chose to make a hard-to-reverse commitment to politicization in the pursuit of electoral legitimacy, as protection from repression, and for fear of marginalization. The article demonstrates how the context of a democratic transition exposed internal debates within the movement over ideology, strategy, and organizational structure, ultimately dislocating the relationship between political ambitions and the religious social movement.

Egypt’s New Authoritarianism under Sisi

By: Bruce K. Rutherford

Published in Middle East Journal  Volume 72, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: While many have noted how the regime of ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi differs from that of Husni Mubarak, scholars have not yet conceptualized these differences’ significance. This article utilizes the literature on authoritarianism to argue that the Mubarak–Sisi transition was an attempt to shift from a provision pact, grounded in an extensive patronage network, to a protection pact in which elites back the regime because it protects them from internal and external threats. This transition is incomplete and, as the protection pact disintegrates, Egypt is left with a fragmented elite and a fractured state that renders the country more difficult to rule.

An Evolving ‘Fuzzy’ Islamic Public: The Case of Sheikh al-Amoud in Egypt

By: Dina Hosni

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 10, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: The paper deconstructs the dichotomization of Islamic educational institutions into those run under the state’s purview and those operating as ‘parallel’ Islamic institutions usually as part of Islamic group activism. It argues for the existence of ‘fuzzy’ Islamic educational institutions that have merged dīn (religion) and dunyā (life) – without delving into the modern dawla (state). Focusing on contemporary Egypt, the paper uses Sheikh al-Amoud as a case study of these ‘fuzzy’ Islamic educational entities that have emerged as Islamic publics following the 2011 Egyptian uprisings attracting a wide array of Muslim youth in Egypt. The paper expects Sheikh al-Amoud to survive partly due to its non-political orientations and to its indirect connection with al-Azhar. Due to the novelty of the topic, the paper mainly depends on fieldwork through interviews and observation.

Turkey’s Constitutional Coup

By: Aslı Bâli

Published in Middle East Report Volume 48, Issue 288 (2018)

Abstract: Turkey has undergone a dizzying array of crises over the last five years. Beginning with the repressive crackdown against the Gezi Protests during the summer of 2013, the country has gone from being cited as a model Muslim democracy to taking pride of place on the growing worldwide list of democratic reversals. Pundits now lump Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in with populist authoritarian leaders ranging from Hungary’s Victor Orbán to the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte. On some indices Turkey leads the pack, jailing more journalists than any other country, throttling the independence of the judiciary and establishing a near total stranglehold on the media.

Turkey’s Purge of Critical Academia

By: Muzaffer Kaya

Published in Middle East Report Volume 48, Issue 288 (2018)

Abstract: The crackdown on academia undertaken by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) began in early 2016 with the repression of the group of anti-war university professors and scholars who became known as the “Academics for Peace.” It was followed by an all-out government purge of higher education—including the mass expulsion of more than 6,000 academics and the prosecution of hundreds more, university closures and institutional restructuring—during the emergency rule that followed the failed July 2016 coup attempt against President Erdoğan. Authorities also routinely interfere with student protests on campus and monitor academic research on sensitive topics.

Regulating religious authority for political gains: al-Sisi’s manipulation of al-Azhar in Egypt

By: Masooda Bano, Hanane Benadi

Published in Third World Quarterly Volume 39, Issue 8 (2018)

Abstract: The shedding of blood is a serious matter in Islamic law; disregard for human life negates the very essence of just rule. By standing by General al-Sisi as he suppressed the Muslim Brotherhood, the popular legitimacy of al-Azhar – the oldest seat of Islamic learning – was called into question. This article shows how the al-Sisi government skilfully deployed the two other state-controlled religious establishments, the Ministry of Awqaf (Religious Endowments) and Dar-ul-Ifta, to boost al-Azhar’s popular legitimacy in this context. Existing scholarship highlights the importance of competition within the Egyptian religious sphere to explain how the Egyptian state co-opts the al-Azhari official establishment. This article instead shows how the state, equally skilfully, uses state institutions to boost al-Azhar’s popular legitimacy – albeit to ensure that it remains useful for the purposes of political legitimisation. Political authority and religious authority in Egypt thus remain closely entangled.

A question of faith? Islamists and secularists fight over the post-Mubarak state

By: Bjørn Olav Utvik

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 10, Issue 1 (2017)

Abstract: Since the military coup of July 3, 2013, guns and batons have, broadly speaking, taken the place of open debate and elections in deciding the political future of Egypt. How can the political struggle be understood with regard to the shape and content of the reformed post-Mubarak state that took place during the period of relative free debate and of tentative steps towards a democratic system between February 11, 2011 and July 3, 2013. In light of the deepening polarization between the Muslim Brothers and the more secular political tendencies that characterized the period, the conflict is often portrayed by the media and by some researchers as between a project of Islamization and a secularist agenda. To what extent does this hold true? In this article I will argue (1) that what took place was rather a power struggle involving competing elites as well as what is sometimes termed the ‘deep state’, i.e., the entrenched power holders from Mubarak’s time, especially in the military, the police and the judiciary; and (2) to the extent that secularization was at stake, in some important aspects Islamists turned out to be, if anything, more secularizing than their secularist competitors. What follows is nothing near a full treatment of the transitional period. Neither is it a formal study of constitutional issues, although it does dwell on some important aspects of the new constitution finalized in 2012. The primary interest here is what the struggle over the new constitution, and more broadly over the path to be followed in the transition process, can tell us about the main forces at work at the heart of the intense political conflict that developed.

Limiting violent spillover in civil wars: the paradoxes of Lebanese Sunni jihadism, 2011–17

By: Tine Gade

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 10, Issue 2 (2017)

Abstract: Research on violent spillovers in civil war has often exaggerated the potential for conflict contagion. The case of Lebanon is a counter-example. Despite the massive pressure of the horrific war in next-door Syria, it has, against all odds, remained remarkably stable – despite the influx of more than 1 million Syrian refugees and almost complete institutional blockage. This paper, based on ethnographic research and semi-structured interviews from Lebanon, studies the determination to avoid a violent spillover into Lebanon from the perspective of the country’s Sunni Islamists. Recent trends in the scholarly literature have shown that Islamists are not inherently revolutionary, nor always dogmatists, and often serve many social purposes at home. The main argument is that the Syrian war has not been imported into Lebanon; instead, the Lebanese conflict is externalized to Syria. Lebanon’s conflicting factions, including the Islamists, have found the costs of resorting to violence inside Lebanon to be too high. Even those Lebanese Sunnis who have crossed the borders to fight in Syria do so because of domestic reasons, that is, to fight against Hezbollah on Syria soil, where they can do so without risking an explosion of the Lebanese security situation. Sectarianism, in the sense of opposition to Hezbollah and the Lebanese Shia, is the main driver of radicalization for Lebanese Sunnis.

Conquering versus democratizing the state: political Islamists and fourth wave democratization in Turkey and Tunisia

By: Murat Somer

Published in Democratization Volume 24, Issue 6 (2017)

Abstract: What do we learn from Turkey and Tunisia regarding the relationship between political Islamism and democratization? Variables identified by current research such as autonomy, “moderation”, and cooperation with secular actors can cut both ways depending on various political-institutional conditions and prerogatives. Particularly, the article argues that preoccupation with “conquering the state from within as opposed to democratizing it” has been a key priority and intervening variable undermining the democratizing potential of the main Turkish and Tunisian political Islamic actors – primarily the AKP and Ennahda. These actors have prioritized acceptance by and ownership of their respective nation states over other goals and strategies, such as revolutionary takeover or Islamization of the state and confrontations with state elites. This has led to a relative neglect of designing and building institutions, whether for Islamic or democratic transformation. Hence, while contributing to democratization at various stages, these actors have a predisposition to adopt and regenerate, reframe and at times augment the authoritarian properties of their states. Research should ask how secular and religious actors can agree on institutions of vertical and horizontal state accountability that would help to address the past and present sources of the interest of political Islamists in conquering rather than democratizing the state.

The Egyptian Muslim Sisterhood between Violence, Activism and Leadership

By: Erika Biagini

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 22, Issue 1 (2017)

Abstract: On 25 January 2015, the fourth anniversary of the uprising that toppled Hosny Mubarak and brought the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) into power, Egyptian security forces arrested Aya Alaa Hosny in front of the Journalists Union in central Cairo. Aya is one of the spokeswomen and leader of the Women against the Coup, one of the most active women-only movements established by the Muslim Sisterhood following the Egyptian coup d’état in 2013. Since then, thousands of Islamist women and sympathisers have joined the Sisters in street demonstrations, human rights advocacy and anti-regime protests, notwithstanding the high risk associated with political activism in a context of retrenched authoritarianism. This article offers a gendered analysis of the Egyptian MB by examining the activism of the Muslim Sisterhood, its female wing, post July 2013. Contrary to mainstream academic literature on Islamist women’s activism, which considers Islamist movements’ conservative gender ideology and sexual division of labour as an impediment to female political leadership, this study argues that Islamist informal networks can be conducive to female leadership under ‘negative’ political circumstances. As the case of the Muslim Sisterhood demonstrates, the repression of Islamists following the coup favoured the emergence of women’s leadership, firstly within women-only movements and subsequently, as the very survival of the MB became increasingly compromised, in the MB movement as a whole.

Between social contention and takfirism: the evolution of the Salafi-jihadi movement in Tunisia

By: Fabio Merone

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 22, Issue 1 (2017)

Abstract: This article analyses the evolution of the international jihadi movement during the Arab uprisings. It is based on the case study of Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia, which emerged in 2011 and disappeared in 2013, after it went through a process of failed institutionalization. I argue that, under certain circumstances, the jihadi movement can be institutionalized, i.e. transformed into a radical social movement in which violence is an undesirable option. In analysing the Tunisian case, I examine the ideology and social practices of the movement, showing how within the jihadi movement there coexists two tendencies: a social-political movement (social and popular consensus/ nationally based/ political strategy of the Islamic front) and a takfiri tendency (apocalyptic/ internationalist/ non-compromising). I finally use Hafez’s political process approach to show how the prevailing of one tendency over another depends on political opportunities.

The Constrained Institutionalization of Diverging Islamist Strategies: The Jihadis, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Salafis between Two Aborted Egyptian Revolutions

By: Jerome Drevon

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 22, Issue 1 (2017)

Abstract: This research analyses the comparative institutionalization of the strategies of three major components of the Egyptian Islamist social movement family: the jihadis, the Muslim Brotherhood and the salafis. It uses historical institutionalism to amend rational choice paradigms and to investigate the constraints and opportunities posed by these actors’ past trajectories on their subsequent strategic choices. This article argues that 1981 and 2011 were two critical junctures that have shaped these actors’ ideational and organizational construction through path-dependent causal mechanisms regulating their mobilization and socialization processes. It contends that these mechanisms have shaped these groups’ evolution and mediated the institutionalization of their strategies.

Of Monarchs and Islamists: The ‘Refo-lutionary’ Promise of the PJD Islamists and Regime Control in Morocco

By: Mohamed Daadaoui

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 26, Issue 4 (2017)

Abstract: The article engages the literature on political parties in semi-authoritarian regimes to examine the state and Islamists’ strategies in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab uprisings in Morocco. The pace of state reforms and the regime’s institutional flexibility pre-Arab spring, the cosmetic reforms in the new constitution, and the 2011 legislative elections so far have insulated the Moroccan regime against any meaningful constitutional and institutional changes. However, the electoral contests produced an opportunity for the Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD) to enter the Moroccan political scene at the helm of the government. Using extensive field research and interviews with PJD members, I argue that the party is pursuing a pragmatic ‘refolutionary’ strategy within the regime’s constitutional rules of the game, aiming to mitigate the authoritarian features of the government while tackling, with limited success, Morocco’s major socio-economic issues. Ultimately, the regime’s control over the political system continues to influence Moroccan politics. The monarchy has a long tradition of managing opposition parties through cooptation and confinement, allowing opposition parties some stake in power, while the king and the palace’s shadow government of advisers are firmly in control.

Trickster Defeats the Revolution: Egypt as the Vanguard of the New Authoritarianism

By: Walter Armbrust

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 26, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: Egypt’s January 25 Revolution often has been viewed as an explicit contest between the Hosni Mubarak regime and its cronies, who were able to prevail by pulling the levers of a ‘deep state,’ and revolutionaries espousing progressive visions, albeit visions divided between those of Islamists and non-Islamists, and often seen by each as mutually incompatible with the other. The defeat of the January 25 Revolution’s progressive aspirations can be understood, to a substantial degree, as a victory by the old regime. However, revolution understood as a Liminal Crisis allows us to see the rise of ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi not as a straightforward restoration of the old regime, but as both a revolutionary outcome and as an instantiation of a New Authoritarianism that has been making significant strides toward power in the wake of the 2011 revolutions. Liminality is understood here as the intermediate stage in a transition as described in Victor Turner’s Ritual Process and recently reinterpreted in the context of politics by Bjørn Thomassen. The potential dangers of liminality often are controlled by ritual, but this is not the case in revolutions, which become liminal crises precisely because there is no conventionalized means for closing off the state of being in-between. In such circumstances Tricksters—beings at home in liminality and often-elaborated in myth, folklore, and literature—become potentially dangerous in politics. Sisi can be seen as a Trickster politician. But more broadly, the structuring of liminality through the global political-economic order of contemporary capitalism both creates a generalized precarity outside the most elite levels of society, and at the same time predisposes those compelled to live in precarity to be attentive to political Tricksters. Hence liminality can be seen as both the beginning and the end of revolution.

The Nour Party: Weathering the Political Storm in Post-Revolutionary Egypt

By: Maha A. Ghalwash, Lawrie Phillips

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 26, Issue 4 (2017)

Abstract: This article addresses the role of the Salafi Nour party in the current Egyptian political arena, examining its ability to survive in a tumultuous environment by investigating three junctures in the revolutionary and post-revolutionary period: the January 2011 demonstrations, the ouster of President Muhammad Morsi, and the 2015 parliamentary elections. The investigation relied on two theoretical approaches. The first, framing theory, enabled us to investigate the party’s frames and how these were modified in response to unfolding events. Second, because frame ideas frequently are produced and modified through discourse, we employed discourse analysis to explore these issues. The combination of these approaches allowed us to examine the statements issued by party leaders on their Facebook pages and in their interviews with local newspapers. Based on our analyses, we make three claims: First, that the Nour party’s central frame contained two major components, nationalist and Islamist concerns, which were developed in order to expand party supporters. Second, the development of the party’s major ideas constituted a contested and shared process, with different leaders articulating diverse views. The ensuing disagreements contributed to the contraction of the party’s support base, as reflected in the 2015 parliamentary elections. Third, the party’s ideational trajectory reflects its pragmatism.

Turkey’s Slide into Authoritarianism

By: Burak Bekdil

Published in Middle East Quarterly Volume 24, Issue 1 (2017)

Abstract: Not available

The Egyptian Muslim Brothers’ ideal state model: a religious state – out; a civil state – in

By: Limor Lavie

Published in Middle Eastern Studies Volume 53, Issue 6 (2017)

Abstract: This article examines the change in the discourse of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt regarding the model of a civil state. It outlines a transition in the doctrine of the movement from an all-Islamic state to a modern nation state with Western norms and institutions. The paper traces milestones in the process that led to the acceptance of the civil model into the Muslim Brothers’ rhetoric and political platform albeit a creative interpretation of the concept. Due to the movement’s inconsistency and vagueness using this vision, the article focuses on the post-Mubarak era and the Morsi administration in order to test this shift in practice.

Qatar and the UAE: Exploring Divergent Responses to the Arab Spring

By: David B. Roberts

Published in The Middle East Journal Volume 71, Issue 4 (2017)

Abstract: During the Arab Spring, Qatar tended to support the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates, while the United Arab Emirates opposed them. This article argues that, despite these states’ ostensible similarities, their different political structures fostered contrasting experiences with an ascendant political Islam. Subsequently, the policies reflected each leader’s approach to statecraft: Abu Dhabi crown prince Muhammad bin Zayid Al Nahyan, who steers Emirati foreign policy, reacted with a security-focused check on such groups, while the former Qatari emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani sought to build relations with them.

Post-Islamism and fields of contention after the Arab Spring: feminism, Salafism and the revolutionary youth

By: Markus Holdo

Published in Third World Quarterly  Volume 38, Issue 8 (2017)

Abstract: In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, conflicts in Egypt and Tunisia over the authority to rule and the role of religion in society raised questions about these societies’ capacity for reconciling differences. In retrospect, the conflicts also raise questions about the theoretical tools used to analyse regional developments. In particular, the ‘post-Islamism’ thesis has significantly changed the debates on ‘Islam and democracy’ by bringing to light the changing opportunity structures, and changed goals, of Islamist movements. However, this paper argues that the theory underestimates differences within post-Islamist societies. Drawing on field theory, the paper shows how the actual content of post-Islamism is contingent on political struggle. It focuses on three fields whose political roles have been underestimated or misrepresented by post-Islamist theorists: Islamic feminism, Salafist-jihadism and the revolutionary youth. Their respective forms of capital – sources of legitimacy and social recognition – give important clues for understanding the stakes of the conflicts after the Arab Spring.

Tunisian Women at the Crossroads: Antagonism and Agonism between Secular and Islamist Women’s Rights Movements in Tunisia

By: Loes Debuysere

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 21, Issue 2 (2016)

Abstract: The recent rise in Islamist-inspired women’s activism is posing challenges to the longstanding secular women’s movements in post-Ben Ali Tunisia. Starting from the conviction that cohesive, cross-class women’s coalitions are better suited to achieve gender justice for women of all walks of life, this article draws on the concept of ‘agonistic pluralism’ (Chantal Mouffe) to understand how Tunisia’s women’s movements can deal with the new, multifaceted conflict in their ranks. Through a discussion of the ‘Dialogue of Tunisian Women’, the grounds for strategic coalition-building and ‘agonistic’ engagement between secular and Islamist women’s rights actors are illustrated.

Sisi, the Sinai and Salafis: Instability in a Power Vacuum

By: Lyndall Herman

Published in Middle East Policy Volume 23, Issue 2 (2016)

Abstract: Not available

Sisi’s Egypt

By: Hazem Kandil

Published in New Left Review Issue 102 (2016)

Abstract: Not available

Ḥizb al-Nahḍah: from revolution to government and to a second referendum

By: Mohammad Dawood Sofi

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 8, Issue 3 (2015)

Abstract: The year 2011 witnessed watershed events in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), resulting in long-awaited political and social transformation, with Tunisia acting as catalyst and modus operandi for the other countries of the region. Although the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ now seems to be gripped in a stalemate in Egypt, where vagueness still prevails, and in Syria and Libya, where the security situation continues to be extremely precarious and unstable, there seems to be a wind of change in the political context in Tunisia, where on 26 October 2014 the population witnessed the second post-revolution elections. The political party Ḥizb al-Nahḍah (Renaissance Party), officially founded in 1981, has been having a considerable impact on the political milieu of the region since its political career has experienced a renewed boost. Furthermore, Salafism has emerged as a legitimate force in the country demanding al-Nahḍah to redefine its role and strategy. While in power al-Nahḍah faced multifarious political, social and economic challenges that compelled it to devise new strategies and policies to suit the changing socio-political climate. In addition to exploring post-revolution transitions and transformations in Tunisia, this paper focuses on Ḥizb al-Nahḍah, the issues and challenges it encountered while in power, and those that lie ahead.

Secular Autocracy vs. Sectarian Democracy? Weighing Reasons for Christian Support for Regime Transition in Syria and Egypt

By: Mark Farhaa, Salma Mousa

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 20, Issue 2 (2015)

Abstract: 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.

A History of Insecurity: From the Arab Uprisings to ISIS

By: Waleed Hazbun

Published in Middle East Policy Volume 22, Issue 3 (2015)

Abstract: Not available

The Impact of the Arab Spring on the Political Future of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East: Jordan as a Case Study

By: Abdelmahdi Alsoudi

Published in Middle East Review of International Affairs Volume 19, Issue 3 (2015)

Abstract: The events of the Arab Spring have led to new political realities in the Arab world and paved the way for the Muslim Brotherhood to form short-lived governments in Tunisia and Egypt. Encouraged by these developments, the Brotherhood in Jordan played a leading role in the uprising there, adopted extreme positions, and boycotted the 2010 and 2013 parliamentary elections. The movement today is in open confrontation with the Jordanian regime and suffers from internal division and conflict. The disastrous outcome of the Arab Spring for Syria, Libya, and Yemen, as well as the banning of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE has weakened the movement’s political influence in the region, especially in Jordan. Its political future in Jordan now depends on government policy and the unfolding of internal crisis within the movement. This article argues that the Arab Spring has had a serious negative impact on the Brotherhood both in Jordan and in the region and that serious efforts would be required to restore its previous political role and influence.

Islamists between revolution and the state: an epilogue

By: Abdul Ghani Imad

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 7, Issue 2 (2014)

Abstract: The problematic addressed in this article is the challenge initiated by the Arab revolutions to reform the Arab political system in such a way as to facilitate the incorporation of ‘democracy’ at the core of its structure. Given the profound repercussions, this issue has become the most serious matter facing the forces of change in the Arab world today; meanwhile, it forms the most prominent challenge and the most difficult test confronting Islamists. The Islamist phenomenon is not an alien implant that descended upon us from another planet beyond the social context or manifestations of history. Thus it cannot but be an expression of political, cultural, and social needs and crises. Over the years this phenomenon has presented, through its discourse, an ideological logic that falls within the context of ‘advocacy’; however, today Islamists find themselves in office, and in a new context that requires them to produce a new type of discourse that pertains to the context of a ‘state’. Political participation ‘tames’ ideology and pushes political actors to rationalize their discourse in the face of daily political realities and the necessity of achievement. The logic of advocacy differs from that of the state: in the case of advocacy, ideology represents an enriching asset, whereas in the case of the state, it constitutes a heavy burden. This is one reason why so much discourse exists within religious jurisprudence related to interest or necessity or balancing outcomes. This article forms an epilogue to the series of articles on religion and the state published in previous issues of this journal. It adopts the methodologies of ‘discourse analysis’ and ‘case studies’ in an attempt to examine the arguments presented by Islamists under pressure from the opposition. It analyses the experiences, and the constraints, that inhibit the production of a ‘model’, and monitors the development of the discourse, its structure, and transformations between advocacy, revolution and the state.

Egyptian Salafism in Revolution

By: Jacob Høigilt, Frida Nome

Published in Journal of Islamic Studies Volume 25, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: The political breakthrough of Salafism during and after the revolts in the Arab world in 2011–12 has challenged established descriptions of Salafism as an apolitical form of Islamic activism. Nowhere is the political breakthrough clearer than in Egypt where, in 2011–12, three Salafi parties contested the first free elections in decades. This article charts the impact that entry into politics has had on Egyptian Salafism, and how it has related to other political actors. We conclude that despite homogeneity on the ideological and theological level, Salafism as a social movement in Egypt presents several different faces, and that it is just as prone to the influence of the political context as other social and religious movements. Salafism has proven remarkably flexible in its adaptation to the new political reality in Egypt—something that contradicts established accounts that categorize it as a rigid, theology-focused movement.

Gender and Citizenship Center Stage: Sondra Hale’s Legacy and Egypt’s Ongoing Revolution

By: Sherine Hafez

Published in Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies Volume 10, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: Sondra Hale’s deep and long-term relationship with Sudan has produced a substantial body of scholarship that has transformed the anthropology of gender in the Middle East. She argues in her work that a version of Islamic citizenship was articulated by Hassan al-Turabi’s Islamist government in Sudan in the 1990s to shape society’s notion of the ideal Muslim woman. This essay looks at Hale’s work on women’s citizenship in Sudan to examine the constitution of this notion and how it shapes women’s citizenship in post-Arab Spring Egypt. My aims are to explore the various conflicting powers through which ideals of women’s citizenship in Egypt after the revolution are produced and to problematize Hale’s notion of citizenship to better understand the role that Islamism plays in shaping these gendered political subjectivities.

Studying Islamism after the Arab Spring

By: Ewan Stein

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 19, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: This intervention argues that the events associated with the ‘Arab Spring’, particularly in Egypt, raise important questions for the study of political Islam as a discrete phenomenon or uniquely resonant set of ideas in Muslim societies. It stresses the need for a better understanding of how specific groups utilize Islamist ideas in reshaping the collective imagination over time, and how these processes in turn affect the popularity, strategies and political behaviour of state and non-state actors.

Islam, Democracy and Islamism After the Counterrevolution in Egypt

By: Muqtedar Khan

Published in Middle East Policy Volume 21, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: Not available

What Egypt’s President Sisi Really Thinks

By: Daniel Pipes

Published in Middle East Quarterly Volume 21, Issue 4 (2014)

Abstract: Not available

The Arab Spring and the Uncivil State

By: Jacqueline S. Ismael, Shereen T. Ismael

Published in Arab Studies Quarterly Volume 35, Issue 3 (2013)

Abstract: This article examines the ongoing Arab Spring uprisings. The Arab Spring is characterized as a fundamental challenge to the postcolonial political order of the Arab world. The postcolonial Arab world has been defined by its oppressive nature and its subjugation within the international system. This autocratic and peripheral order represents the political legacy of colonial rule, where the postcolonial regimes inherited and refined the repressive techniques of the colonial regimes while, owing to international developments, reinforcing their subjugated status within the international system. The Arab Spring has, thus, represented an attempt to chart an independent path in Arab politics, marked by efforts towards democracy and civil rights. The successes and failures of the Arab Spring are critically evaluated, paying special attention to the role played by Islamist political actors. Beyond an evaluation of the domestic factors behind the various protests, the regional significance of the uprisings is evaluated, providing discussion of counterrevolutionary forces and political-sectarian developments.

Democracy in Modern Islamic Thought

By: Nazek Jawad

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 40, Issue 3 (2013)

Abstract: Despite the hostility they exhibit towards each other, almost all Arab secularist and radical Islamists agree that democracy and Islam are irreconcilable, and that belief in one inevitably precludes belief in the other. In this article I will focus on the beliefs of the Islamist Rachid Ghannouchi regarding this issue. First I will examine his notion of how democracy can be achieved in an Islamic state. I will then explore issues of conflict that have arisen between traditional and modern Islamist thinking relating to the compatibility of democracy and Islam. Finally I will focus on two variables that are claimed to be major obstacles to liberal democracy in Muslim states: secularism and modernisation.

The Islam and Democracy Debate after 2011

By: Saïd Amir Arjomand

Published in Constellations Volume 20, Issue 2 (2013)

Abstract: The debate on Islam and democracy sharply shifted in the direction of neo-conservativism after and in constant reference to the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran, and the contention that Islam was incompatible with democracy received a tremendous boost from 9/11. The proponents of a clash of civilizations waxed eloquent. Samuel Huntington refused to make any distinction between Islam and Islamic fundamentalism as the source of global trouble after the Cold War,1 and Bernard Lewis sought to demonstrate what went wrong with Islam under Western impact.2 The establishment of a new political order purporting to embody the rule of God in the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran, it is true, was a watershed in the history of modern Middle East. And indeed, it provided great ammunition for the proponents of the incompatibility of Islam and democracy. The 1979 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran made Shi‘ite Islam the cornerstone of constitutional reconstruction in a way that was far more substantive and far-reaching that the largely symbolic declaration of God’s sovereignty in the 1956 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the first state to be designated as Islamic in history. It would indeed be impossible to understand the constitutional placement of Islam after subsequent revolutions of the Muslim world without reference, positive or negative, to the historical watershed consisting of the entrenchment of Islam in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

State and religion in a revolutionary era: perspectives and demands of the Islamic awakening

By: idwan Al-Sayyid

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 6, Issue 3 (2013)

Abstract: This paper tackles the relationship between Islam and the state in light of the ongoing revolutions. It focuses on two perspectives: the Islamists’ claim that the Shari’a and not the umma (community) are the source of legitimacy in the evolving regimes; and that it is the duty of the state to protect religion and apply the Shari’a. The main disadvantage of these propositions is that they preclude the Umma both from political power and Shari’a, thus pitting it against these two assets which become manipulated to its disadvantage by those holding power. On the other hand, an open-minded and reformist Islamic perspective believes in people regaining the prerogative to rule themselves, guided by their intellect and the public good. The main call for the Arab uprisings is to quit political Islam, which seems to be the major threat to religion, and dangerously divisive for societies.†

Relationship between state and religion: Egypt after the revolution

By: Tarek El-Beshry

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 6, Issue 3 (2013)

Abstract: According to Tariq Al-Bishri, it is not true that it is the Islamic current that controls the state in Egypt as a political project is in the process of crystallizing. His main proposal is for the three forces dominating the structure and dynamics of political life in Egypt – namely the army and judiciary, the Muslim Brotherhood, and liberals – to collaborate and avoid posing religion and the state as two opposing entities. Having to deal with the Shari’a as the source or reference for legislation need not be a polarizing issue as religion is being dealt with as ‘the dominant culture’; moreover, much work has already been done along this line throughout the 20th century. Al-Bishri argues that democracy within a society becomes vacuous if it is detached from solving its socio-economic challenges. To this end he prioritizes four main issues: (1) freeing the Egyptian national will from American and Israeli pressures; (2) reforming and rebuilding government administrative bureaucracy; (3) organizing civil society; and (4) drafting a constitution. Al-Bishri considers that ‘after Islamists assume power in Egypt’ it is imperative for the existing political and cultural forces in Egypt to cooperate as none of them has enough power to negate the others or lead on his own.

Yarmuk Refugee Camp and the Syrian Uprising: A View from Within

By: Nidal Bitari

Published in Journal of Palestine Studies Volume 43, Issue 1 (2013)

Abstract: Not available

The ‘Arab Uprising’, Islamists and Democratization

By: Jeffrey Haynes

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 18, Issue 2 (2013)

Abstract: This article surveys political activities of selected Islamists in three Arab countries in the Mediterranean region: Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco. Each is notable for recent growth in Islamist political activity in the context of democratization (Tunisia, Egypt) and political liberalization (Morocco). Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco are undergoing political changes consequent to the recent ‘Arab uprising’. The ‘Arab uprising’ involved country-specific yet variable outbursts of popular political anger, although not necessarily with a clear and consistent democratizing focus. Generally, protests focused on interrelated political and socio-economic demands, including: greater ‘freedoms’, improved human rights, better social justice and economic progress, especially more jobs for millions of unemployed youths. The aim of the article is to explain recent developments in relation to the ‘Arab uprising’ in three Mediterranean Arab countries – Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco. The purpose is to complement the individual foci on these countries in subsequent papers in this special issue by providing a thematic overview and to locate the activities of Islamist entities in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco in comparative context.

Secularizing Islamism and Islamizing Democracy: The Political and Ideational Evolution of the Egyptian Muslim Brothers 1984–2012

By: Sumita Pahwa

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 18, Issue 2 (2013)

Abstract: The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) emerged in Egypt in the early twentieth century to resist secularism and political pluralism in favour of religious revival and a unitary Islamic state. After three decades of political participation culminating in its formation of a government in Egypt, the MB has prioritized electoral paths to power, while claiming to defend individual rights, popular majorities and a civil state. Nevertheless, the MB’s discourse continues to straddle religious and secular terrain: in recent election campaigns, MB leaders promised to build an ‘Islamic state’ and a ‘caliphate’, all the while insisting that the people, not God are the source of all power. What explains these contradictions, and what do they tell us about the Brotherhood’s apparent adoption of political and ideational pluralism and democratic values? The article contends that the MB’s ambivalence about democracy is not a sign of dissimulation or lack of ideological evolution. Instead, it has its roots in a 30-year process of partially adapting to democratic and ‘secular’ political ideas by reframing them in religious terms which, however, resulted in creating what the article discusses as a hybrid ‘secularized’ Islamism. This hybridization has both enabled and constrained the Brothers’ adaptation to democracy in the post-Mubarak period.

Democracy, Civil Liberties and the Role of Religion after the Arab Awakening: Constitutional Reforms in Tunisia and Morocco

By: Emanuela Dalmassoa, Francesco Cavatorta

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 18, Issue 2 (2013)

Abstract: The electoral results following the Arab Awakening have rewarded Islamist parties in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco. Their arrival in power sparked once more intense scholarly and policy debates related to the relationship between Islamism, democracy and individual rights. This article examines that relationship in the context of the constitutional debates in Morocco and Tunisia, which have seen the prominent role of Islamist parties in attempting to shape the new constitutional charters. What emerges from this analysis is that, in the parties examined, pragmatism plays a greater role than fixed ideological positions.

The Threat to Un-Moderate: Moroccan Islamists and the Arab Spring

By: Matt Buehler

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 5, Issue 3 (2013)

Abstract: Across the Islamic world, Islamist groups have chosen to join popular protests stemming from the 2011 Arab Spring. In Morocco, however, an exception emerged. The country’s main Islamist opposition political party – the Justice and Development Party (hizb al-a’dala wa al-tanmia) – declined invitations to join demonstrations organized by the February 20th Movement for Change. Under what conditions do Islamist movements support Arab Spring uprisings? Why did the PJD choose to stay outside these protests demanding greater reform? The PJD, some scholars argue, did not support Arab Spring unrest because it is a co-opted Islamist movement. In contrast, I argue that the PJD refused to join the protests because it thought it could leverage them to its advantage. By threatening the Moroccan regime to leave formal party politics for the street, the Islamist party used the unrest to increase its bargaining power, sideline its rivals, and win its policy demands. This threat to “un-moderate” empowered the PJD to get what it wanted from the regime during the Arab Spring.

Salafist Movement and Sheikh-ism in the Tunisian Democratic Transition

By: Fabio Merone, Francesco Cavatorta

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 5, Issue 3 (2013)

Abstract: The article examines the complexity of Tunisian Salafism in the context of the Tunisian transition to democracy. Building on primary sources and original field work, the article highlights the theoretical and practical divergences that affect the Salafist camp in Tunisia in its struggle to continue a revolutionary project for a sector of disenfranchised youth unwilling to support a process of renewal of political institutions that they perceive as contributing their marginalization. In addition, the article explores the ways in which, paradoxically, the emergence and public presence of Salafism can contribute to the strengthening of democratic debate in the country.

Hamas and the Arab Spring: Strategic Shifts?

By: Beverley Milton-Edwards

Published in Middle East Policy Volume 20, Issue 3 (2013)

Abstract: Not available

Between Grievances and State Violence: Sudan’s Youth Movement and Islamist Activism Beyond the “Arab Spring”

By: Khalid Mustafa Medani

Published in Middle East Report Volume 43, Issue 267 (2013)

Abstract: Not available

Revolutionary Salafi Islamists in Egypt: An Analysis and Guide

By: Barry Rubin

Published in Middle East Review of International Affairs Volume 17, Issue 2 (2013)

Abstract: While the ruling Muslim Brotherhood has received a great deal of attention in Egypt, the varied Salafi groups have been far less studied. At times allies and at times rivals of the Brotherhood, the Salafists are widely varied. Whether the two groups can cooperate will determine the future of Islamist rule in Egypt. The Salafists pull the Brotherhood to take stronger action more immediately and may have faith in the larger organization or consider it to have betrayed the revolution. Moreover, the Salafists operate with a wide deal of autonomy, being able to take extraparliamentary action ranging from terrorist armed struggle to violent attacks on Christians and other opponents of the regime. The fact that there are now four competing Salafi parties shows the different streams of ideology and strategy. This article was written prior to the army action, but still shows how the Salafists are organized and their different camps.

Understanding the Success of Mass Civic Protest in Tunisia

By: Michele Penner Angrist

Published in The Middle East Journal Volume 67, Issue 4 (2013)

Abstract: On the surface, the 2011 Tunisian Revolution seems attributable primarily to economic causes, social media, and the army’s refusal to back the regime of President Zine El-‘Abidine Ben ‘Ali. A deeper look reveals that its success depended on the interaction between the structural brittleness of a regime that had alienated many key civilian constituencies and the emergence of sustained, cross-class, geographically widespread, mass demonstrations. These demonstrations were facilitated by Islamist moderation, secularist-Islamist rapprochement within the opposition, and the actions of the Tunisian General Union of Labor (Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail, or UGTT). In the wake of Ben ‘Ali’s departure, Islamist moderation and the fruits of secularist-Islamist rapprochement facilitated the holding of elections and the drafting of a new constitution

Beyond Secular and Religious: An intellectual genealogy of Tahrir Square


Published in American Ethnologist Volume 39, Issue 1 (2012)

Abstract: Competing visions of Egypt’s future have long been divided along secular versus religious lines, a split that both the Sadat and Mubarak regimes exploited to weaken political opposition. In this context, one striking feature of the Egyptian uprising that took place last spring is the extent to which it defied characterization in terms of the religious-secular binary. In this commentary, I explore how this movement drew sustenance from a unique political sensibility, one disencumbered of the secular versus religious oppositional logic and its concomitant forms of political rationality. This sensibility has a distinct intellectual genealogy within Egyptian political experience. I focus here on the careers of three Egyptian public intellectuals whose pioneering engagement with the question of the place of Islam within Egyptian political life provided an important part of the scaffolding, in my view, for the practices of solidarity and association that brought down the Mubarak regime.

Reflections on Secularism, Democracy, and Politics in Egypt

By: Hussein Ali Agrama

Published in American Ethnologist Volume 39, Issue 1 (2012)

Abstract: I reassess dominant understandings of the relations between secularism, democracy, and politics by comparing the Egyptian protests that began on January 25, 2011, and lasted until the fall of Mubarak with some of the events that occurred in their aftermath. The events that occurred after these protests demonstrated the obliging power of what I call the “problem‐space of secularism,” anchored by the question of where to draw a line between religion and politics and the stakes of tolerance and religious freedom typically attached to it. By contrast, the protests themselves displayed a marked indifference to this question. Thus, they stood outside the problem‐space of secularism, representing what I call an “asecular” moment. I suggest that such moments of asecularity merit greater attention.

Palestinian youth and the Arab Spring. Learning to think critically: a case study

By: Nadia Naser-Najjab

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 5, Issue 2 (2012)

Abstract: The subject of this paper is a case study based on evidence gathered informally through delivery of a course at Birzeit University entitled ‘Modern and Contemporary European Civilization’ and from end-of-semester evaluations that asked students to reflect on the impact of the course on their lives. The author is, naturally, aware of the limitation of the methodology used in this study, and does not claim that its findings can be generalized authoritatively to a wider group of people in the Arab world. What is clear, however, if one considers reviews of internet blogs and media programme debates, is that extrapolations from this evidence have wider reference, revealing commonalities and similarities between Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories and Arab youth involved in the Arab Spring on the subject of political reform. The discussions engaged in by my students actually parallel the debates generated by traditionalists and secularists in post-revolution Egypt and Tunisia. These debates revolve around what it means to live in a civil, democratic state that grants social justice and freedoms, and crucially, at present led by scholars and politicians, address the possibility of reconciling the concept of modernity with Islam and the legislative framework of Islamic law (sharīʿah). It could be argued that the data collected are specific to this one case study, since Palestinians living under Israeli occupation form a unique group in the Arab world and probably are more concerned with basic issues of daily life and more sensitive to Western concepts of modernity. The significance of this data is, however, that gathered during the Arab Spring, they were based on reactions to material covered in a class which related to issues raised by the Arab revolutions, such as democracy, liberalism and revolution. Furthermore, these tentative findings suggest that more research is needed into issues such as the role of education, gender, tolerance and the reconciliation of Islam with modernity – areas of interest which are of particular importance at a time when Islamic groups are winning elections and debates on concepts of authority, democracy and liberalism occupy the foreground of media programmes in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia.

The ‘end of pan-Arabism’ revisited: reflections on the Arab Spring

By: Youssef Mohamed Sawani

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 5, Issue 3 (2012)

Abstract: This article draws on implications of the Arab Spring so as to elucidate the dynamics that characterize its revolutions. The analysis builds upon the results of major public opinion surveys conducted in the Arab world, both immediately before and after the Arab Spring, in order to facilitate the identification of developments that shape the relationship between Arabism and Islamism in the context of mass media, the demographic ‘youth bulge’ and Arab ongoing intellectual debates. The argument advanced here is that the Arab Spring consolidates the view that Arabism and Islamism have maintained their position and hold on public opinion and prevailing attitudes as the primary and inseparable trends of Arab thought. The interaction and shifting relative weights of both trends provide the context for the identity, conceptual outlook and reciprocal framework of contemporary Arabs; and the Arab Spring seems only to confirm the two trends as constituting the essential point of reference and departure for Arabs. Within this context and scope of analysis this article traces the emergence of a ‘historical mass’ for change that, coupled with an indelibly engrained link between the two trends is opening up a new conceptual sphere and public space for the emergence of a new Arabism. Such development is also supported by the role of mass media and the thoughtful intellectual contributions that have been advancing a new Arab paradigm which further refutes the ‘End of Arabism’ thesis.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the January 25 Revolution: new political party, new circumstances

By: Mona Farag

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 5, Issue 2 (2012)

Abstract: This paper highlights the Muslim Brotherhood’s experience in Egyptian elections since the 1980s with an emphasis on their last attempts during the Hosni Mubarak era in 2010 and in light of their most recent showing in the 2011 elections. This summary reveals how past electoral activities and failures have positioned this organization the better to capitalize on the newfound democratic climate in a post-revolution Egypt and perform well during the 2011 parliamentary elections. Drawing on these and more recent sources, an attempt is also made to bring the features of today’s Egypt’s political field into clear focus in the wake of the January 25 revolution and the subsequent emergence of newly formed political parties on the Egyptian scene. The paper concludes with a broad assessment of the prospects for the political future of the Muslim Brotherhood in view of its showing in the initial phase of elections for the People’s Assembly that took place in November 2011.

Revolt and revolution: the place of Islamism

By: Beverley Milton-Edwards

Published in Critical Studies on Terrorism Volume 5, Issue 2 (2012)

Abstract: The outbreak of revolt and revolution in the Middle East has given rise to a re-consideration of threat and security analyses as they pertain to the region and beyond. The resilience of some authoritarian regimes and the rapid collapse of others signal a significant transition within the region to which jihadi Islamist groups form one part of a powerful matrix. This article analyses the part and place of jihadi Islamism and Islamisms 1 more generally in the revolts and revolutions. The article contends that events provide both opportunities and threats in strategies aimed at countering terrorism in the Middle East.

Democratization and the Arab Spring

By: Edward D. Mansfielda, Jack Snyderb

Published in International Interactions Volume 38, Issue 5 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

New Findings on Arabs and Democracy

By: Mark Tessler, Amaney Jamal, Michael Robbins

Published in Journal of Democracy Volume 23, Issue 4 (2012)

Abstract: Examined with data from the first and second wave of Arab Barometer surveys are support for democracy, understandings of democracy, desires for reform, values associated with a democratic political culture, views about the political role of Islam, and the relationship between support for political Islam and the embrace of democratic values. Broad continuing trends include strong support for democracy, understandings of democracy that emphasize economic considerations, and a division of opinion about Islam’s political role. Findings from surveys in Egypt and Tunisia in 2011 are discussed in greater detail in relation to post–Arab Spring developments in the two countries.

Tunisia’s Transition and the Twin Tolerations

By: Alfred Stepan

Published in Journal of Democracy Volume 23, Issue 2 (2012)

Abstract: In 2011, Tunisia achieved a successful democratic transition, albeit not yet a consolidation of democracy. It did so while adhering to a relationship between religion and politics that follows the pattern of what I have called the “twin tolerations.” The first toleration is that of religious citizens toward the state. It requires that they accord democratically elected officials the freedom to legislate and govern without having to confront denials of their authority based on religious claims—such as the claim that “Only God, not man, can make laws.” The second toleration requires that laws and officials must permit religious citizens, as a matter of right, to freely express their views and values within civil society, and to freely take part in politics, as long as religious activists and organizations respect other citizens’ constitutional rights and the law.

The Transformation of the Arab World

By: Olivier Roy

Published in Journal of Democracy Volume 23, Issue 3 (2012)

Abstract: In order to grasp what is happening in the Middle East, we must set aside a number of deep-rooted prejudices. First among them is the assumption that democracy presupposes secularization: The democratization movement in the Arab world came precisely after thirty years of what has been called the “return of the sacred,” an obvious process of re-Islamization of everyday life, coupled with the rise of Islamist parties. The second is the idea that a democrat must also, by definition, be a liberal. What is at stake is the reformulation of religion’s place in the public sphere.

Islamist Parties Post-Arab Spring

By: Khalil Al-Anani

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 17, Issue 3 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

Salafism in Tunisia: Challenges and Opportunities for Democratization

By: Stefano M. Torelli, Fabio Merone, Francesco Cavatorta

Published in Middle East Policy Volume 19, Issue 4 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

Hizballah and the Arab Revolutions: The Contradiction Made Apparent?

By: Jonathan Spyer

Published in Middle East Review of International Affairs Volume 16, Issue 1 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

The Arab Spring: Progress Report and Conclusions

By: Ziad AbuZayyad

Published in Palestine – Israel The Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture Volume 18, Issue 1 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

From the Arab Peace Initiative to the Arab Spring and Back

By: Ron Pundak

Published in Palestine – Israel The Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture Volume 18, Issue 1 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

The Turkish Model and the Arab Spring

By: Alon Liel

Published in Palestine – Israel The Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture Volume 18, Issue 1 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

Perceptions of the “Arab Spring” Within the Salafi-Jihadi Movement

By: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Tara Vassefi

Published in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 35, Issue 12 (2012)

Abstract: This article provides a detailed examination of how the Salafi-jihadi movement perceives the “Arab Spring” revolutionary events. Although Western scholars almost unanimously agree that these events will have an enormous impact on Al Qaeda and other groups that share its ideology, the voice of the jihadis has not been examined in detail. This article addresses this critical gap in the literature through an analysis of 101 significant documents produced by jihadi thinkers within a year following the movement’s very first statement on the uprising in Tunisia. These include statements released by jihadi spokesmen, interviews with the movement’s intellectual leaders, and discussions on jihadi Web forums. The article concludes that Al Qaeda and the jihadi movement largely believe that the uprisings provide them a great deal of new opportunities, and outlines the movement’s developing strategy to capitalize on rapidly changing events on the ground.

Institutional and Ideological Re-construction of the Justice and Development Party (PJD): The Question of Democratic Islamism in Morocco

By: Ashraf Nabih El Sherif

Published in The Middle East Journal Volume 66, Issue 4 (2012)

Abstract: An analysis of fieldwork research on the deliberations, policy option debates, and outcomes of the 2008 Sixth National Convention of the Justice and Development Party (PJD) crystallizes issues relevant to the party’s recent transformations, with focus on the balance between its Islamist character and its democratic/governance merits, central to the leadership transition that occurred during convention. This investigation presents potential scenarios of this ambivalent Islamist democratic experiment in Morocco amid rapidly changing national and regional contexts in the wake of the Arab Spring in 2011 and the new politics that resulted.

Does It Take Democrats to Democratize? Lessons From Islamic and Secular Elite Values in Turkey

By: Murat Somer

Published in Comparative Political Studies Volume 44, Issue 5 (2011)

Abstract: Do political-Islamic elites need to be democrats for participation in democracy, how do their values compare to secular elites’, and how do their values change through participation and affect democratization itself? A comparative-systematic content analysis of three Islamic-conservative and two pro-secular Turkish newspapers over nine years shows that, overall, political-Islamic elites adopt democratic political values. Furthermore, they began to view that liberal-democratic rights and freedoms serve their interests. However, value democratization, and, thus, moderation and democratization, is not a linear and inexorable process automatically resulting from participation or socioeconomic development. It occurs through ruptures such as conflicts with secular actors, and interdependently through the interactions of secular and religious actors. Hence, religious actors’ adoption of more democracy may paradoxically make some secular actors less democratic. The consolidation of pluralistic democracy requires the emergence of both religious and secular democrats by resolving complex problems of commitment, and of clashes in areas like social pluralism where Islamic values are less open to change.

Jihadism in The Post-Soviet Era: The Case of Interaction of theoretical and Practical Aspects of The Revolutionary Struggle

By: Dmitry Shlapentokh

Published in Iran and The Caucasus Volume 15, Issue 1-2 (2011)

Abstract: The revolutionaries—and jihadists could be regarded as revolutionaries of the sort—often had two aspect of their approach to the reality. First, it is vision of the doctrine, often rigid and dogmatic. The other side is practical, and here jihadists changed their approached to the reality.

Stalemate and Stagnation in Turkish Democratization: The Role of Civil Society and Political Parties

By: Ş. İlgü Özler, Ani Sarkissian

Published in Journal of Civil Society Volume 7, Issue 4 (2011)

Abstract: Both civil society organizations (CSOs) and political parties are expected to be vital actors in democratic societies, yet the ideal relationship between the two types of groups has not been fully explored. This article analyses how the interaction between CSOs and political parties has affected democratic consolidation in contemporary Turkey. Through personal interviews with leaders of both types of groups, the study finds that traditional power relations have shifted to include a greater number of political actors. Islamists, who were previously peripheral in politics, have joined the traditionally dominant secular nationalists at the ‘centre’ of political power. However, instead of increased pluralism, the study finds Turkish society now polarized along secularist/Islamist lines, both in political parties and among CSOs. While restrictions against non-governmental organizations have been lifted in recent years and the number of groups has grown, most are still viewed as ‘arms’ of political parties, lacking an independent voice and political power. These findings suggest that the civil society sector in Turkey is underdeveloped and unable to contribute positively to the democratization process.

The Tunisian Uprising and The Precarious Path to Democracy

By: Emma C. Murphy

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 16, Issue 2 (2011)

Abstract: Not available

Modernist Islamic Political Thought and The Egyptian and Tunisian Revolutions of 2011

By: Mohammad Fadel

Published in Middle East Law and Governence Volume 3, Issue 1-2 (2011)

Abstract: As revolution in the Arab world became clear, questions were raised whether political Islam had or would hae any role in the revolutions. The popular press seemed to minimize or deny the role of Islam in the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. The attempt to minimize the role of Islam in these revolutions does little to help us understand the course of Islamic political thought over the last 150 years in the Arab world, its relationship to the democratic demands of the Arab peoples, and the prospects for a reconciliation between modern Islamic political thought and certain forms of democratic secularism. The central hypothesis of this essay is that neither the Tunisian nor the Egyptian Revolutions can be properly understood without the contributions of Islamic modernism to modern political thought in the Arab world.

The Muslim Brotherhood and Democratic Transition in Egypt

By: Carrie Rosefsky Wickham

Published in Middle East Law and Governence Volume 3, Issue 1-2 (2011)

Abstract: Not available

Egypt’s Antiquities Caught in The Revolution

By: Alexander H. Joffe

Published in Middle East Quarterly Volume 18, Issue 2 (2011)

Abstract: Not available

Islamism and Democracy in The Modern Maghreb

By: Jnc Hill

Published in Third World Quarterly Volume 32, Issue 6 (2011)

Abstract: This paper examines the legitimacy of the restrictions the Moroccan and Algerian governments have placed on democracy in their countries. In each case the democratic process is subject to a range of limitations. These controls are justified on the grounds that they help prevent Islamist parties from winning power and that, if in government, these parties would roll back many of the political and civil rights enjoyed by Moroccan and Algerian citizens. Yet is this the case? By looking at the PJD’s and MSP’s manifesto pledges from the most recent parliamentary elections, the paper uncovers a different attitude. Far from opposing democracy and the various rights and liberties commonly associated with it, the PJD and MSP are working to strengthen it. Their commitment to democracy has grown, not diminished, over the past decade.