RSSArchive for February, 2010

Islam, Political Islam and America

араб Insight

although the factors accounting for the deterioration of America’s reputationin the Arab and Muslim world after Sept. 11 are numerous, ЗША. positionvis-à-vis political Islam remains an important factor in reinforcing the negativeview of America. An important issue that has driven much of the anti-Americanismwe observe in the region today pertains to an evident contradiction between U.S.discourse on democratization and political reform on one hand, and its negativeresponse to the electoral gains made by groups like Hamas in the Palestinian Territoriesor the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. As a result of this discrepancy, manyobservers have proposed alternative ways for Washington to advance the cause ofdemocracy in the Arab world. One of the proposed ideas involves holding-off oncalling for immediate elections, and focusing instead on promoting other prerequisitesof political reform. Others suggested employing new strategies that wouldguarantee the defeat of political Islamists at ballot boxes.Undoubtedly, there is a soaring need for a better understanding of Islamistmovements in the region, given the fundamental differences among such groups.Moreover, many Islamist movements are experiencing a process of change thatwarrants a revision of the existing conventional wisdom about political Islam. Notonly that, but many of those groups remain unknown in Western, particularlyAmerican, discussions of Islamist movements. Таму, formulating a constructiveand effective American policy toward Islam in a broad sense, but more specificallytoward political Islam, will require a new and a more nuanced intellectualmapping of contemporary Islam and political Islam in the region.Given these various demands, the editorial team of Arab Insight took the initiativeto shed light on the topic of American policies toward both Islam and politicalIslam. The topic is presented in two sections:Section I presents several Arab responses to American policy toward Islamists.

Endless Emergency: справа Егіпта

Sadiq Reza

The Arab Republic of Egypt has been in a declared state of emergency since1981 and for all but three of the past fifty years. Emergency powers, militarycourts, and other “exceptional” powers are governed by longstanding statutes inEgypt and authorized by the constitution, and their use is a prominent featureof everyday rule there today. This essay presents Egypt as a case study in whatis essentially permanent governance by emergency rule and other exceptionalmeasures. It summarizes the history and framework of emergency rule inEgypt, discusses the apparent purposes and consequences of that rule, mentionsjudicial limitations on it, and notes the many targets of its exercise over theyears, particularly the government’s two most prominent and persistent groupsof opponents: Islamists and liberal political activists. It also explains how thecountry’s March 2007 constitutional amendments, much decried by humanrightsorganizations inside and outside Egypt, further entrench emergency rulethere. The thesis of the essay is that the existence and exercise of emergency powershave been far from exceptional in Egypt; instead they have been a vehiclefor the creation of the modern Egyptian state and a tool for the consolidationand maintenance of political power by the government.

Egypt’s Constitutional Test: Averting the March toward Islamic Fundamentalism

Хані Besada
Старшы навуковы супрацоўнік

After gaining overwhelming support in a March 2007 national

referendum, long-time Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak introduced

new constitutional amendments that effectively give more

power to the president and loosen controls on security forces.
Mubarak’s amendments constitute the latest move in a set of

orchestrated plans not only to entrench the stronghold of his own

National Democratic Party and pave the way for his son as his

successor but also to curb the power and ambition of his greatest

opposition – the Muslim Brotherhood. As he steps into his fifth

consecutive six-year term in office, Mubarak and his regime are

being met with harsh criticism as opposition groups, правы чалавека

advocates, and Western governments urge for meaningful democratic

reform in the country. But promoting democracy is a complex

issue in Egypt, and indeed in much of the Arab world.
Mubarak and other leaders face the Islamist Dilemma, where any

move toward a more democracy-friendly political system threatens

to empower Islamic militants and open the floodgates for nonsecular

political parties.

The Egyptian blogosphere: home of a new feminism

Лаура Питель

Has there been a time in your life when you experienced, felt or even heard about a story at the heart of which lay the oppression of a woman because she, a female, lives in a male society?1These were the first words of an email sent in 2006 to Egypt‟s female bloggers, calling upon them to speak out about the problems faced by women in their society. The authors of the invitation were a group of five female Egyptian bloggers who, weeks earlier, had begun We are all Laila – a blogging initiative set-up in order to shed light on the frustrations of being a woman in a patriarchal society. On 9th September, over 70 bloggers contributed to We are all Laila day, successfully creating a storm both in the world of blogging and beyond.The group formed at a time of enormous growth in Egypt‟s online sphere. The popularity of blogs – websites usually run by an individual, made public for anyone to read – took off in the three years up to 2007: pre-2005 there were around 40 Egyptian blogs,2 by 2005 there were about 400,3 and by September 2006 that number is estimated to have been 1800.4 This parallels the growth in the global blogosphere5 which was home to 70 million blogs by April 2007.

Палітычнае адраджэнне ісламу: справа Егіпта

Назих N. M. Аюби

Блізкі Усход быў калыскай трох вялікіх монатэістычных рэлігій у свеце,і па гэты дзень яны працягваюць адыгрываць вельмі важную ролю ў сваіх справах. Апошнія падзеі ў Іране, Саўдаўская Аравія, і Афганістан, і ў Лівіі і Пакістане, а таксама менш шырока разрэкламаваныя падзеі ў Турцыі, Сірыя, Егіпет і заліў, стымулявалі і аднаўлялі цікавасць людзей да разумення ролі рэлігіі і рэлігійнага адраджэння на Блізкім Усходзе. Тут трэба адзначыць, што я кажу пра рэлігійнае адраджэнне, не толькі ісламскага адраджэння, бо ў дадатак да ісламскіх рухаў мы маем блок Лікуда(з важным рэлігійным складнікам) пры ўладзе ў Ізраілі ўпершыню за тры дзесяцігоддзі існавання гэтай дзяржавы, у той час як у Ліване і Егіпце мы можам назіраць за хрысціянскімі адраджэнскімі рухамі, якія нельга лічыць цалкам супрацьдзеяннямі., гэта так званае ісламскае адраджэнне, якое прыцягнула ўвагу людзей на Захадзе, збольшага дзякуючы палітычным і міжнародным меркаванням.

the 500 most influential muslims

Джон Эспазіта

Ібрагім Калін

The publication you have in your hands is the first of what we hope will be anannual series that provides a window into the movers and shakers of the Muslimworld. We have strived to highlight people who are influential as Muslims, thatis, people whose influence is derived from their practice of Islam or from the factthat they are Muslim. We think that this gives valuable insight into the differentways that Muslims impact the world, and also shows the diversity of how peopleare living as Muslims today.Influence is a tricky concept. Its meaning derives from the Latin word influensmeaning to flow-in, pointing to an old astrological idea that unseen forces (like themoon) affect humanity. The figures on this list have the ability to affect humanitytoo. In a variety of different ways each person on this list has influence over thelives of a large number of people on the earth. The 50 most influential figuresare profiled. Their influence comes from a variety of sources; however they areunified by the fact that they each affect huge swathes of humanity.We have then broken up the 500 leaders into 15 categories—Scholarly, Political,Administrative, Lineage, Preachers, жанчыны, Youth, Philanthropy, Development,Science and Technology, Arts and Culture, сродкі масавай інфармацыі, Radicals, International IslamicNetworks, and Issues of the Day—to help you understand the different kinds ofways Islam and Muslims impact the world today.Two composite lists show how influence works in different ways: InternationalIslamic Networks shows people who are at the head of important transnationalnetworks of Muslims, and Issues of the Day highlights individuals whoseimportance is due to current issues affecting humanity.

Егіпет: Background and U.S. Relations

Джэрэмі M. дыез

In the last year, Egyptian foreign policy, particularly its relationship with the United States, hasbenefitted substantially from both a change in U.S. policy and from events on the ground. TheObama Administration, as evident in the President’s June 2009 speech in Cairo, has elevatedEgypt’s importance to U.S. foreign policy in the region, as U.S. policymakers work to revive theArab-Israeli peace process. In choosing Cairo as a venue for the President’s signature address tothe Muslim world, Egyptians feel that the United States has shown their country respectcommensurate with its perceived stature in the Arab world.At the same time, continuing tensions with Iran and Hamas have bolstered Egypt’s position as amoderating force in the region and demonstrated the country’s diplomatic utility to U.S. foreignpolicy. Based on its own interests, Egypt has opposed Iranian meddling in the Levant and in Gazaand has recently expanded military cooperation with Israel in order to demonstrate resolve againstfurther Iranian provocations, such as arming Hamas or allowing Hezbollah to operate on Egyptiansoil. Акрамя таго, Israel’s Operation Cast Lead (снежні 2008 to January 2009) highlighted theneed to moderate Hamas’s behavior, attain Palestinian unity, and reach a long-term Israel-Hamascease-fire/prisoner exchange, goals which Egypt has been working toward, albeit with limitedsuccess so far.Indications of an improved bilateral relationship have been clearly evident. Over the last sixmonths, there has been a flurry of diplomatic exchanges, culminating in President Obama’s June2009 visit to Egypt and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s trip to Washington in August 2009,his first visit to the United States in over five years. Following President Obama’s June visit, thetwo governments held their annual strategic dialogue. Several months earlier, the United Statespledged to expand trade and investment in Egypt.Despite the appearance of a more positive atmosphere, inherent tensions and contradictions inU.S.-Egyptian relations remain. For U.S. policymakers and Members of Congress, the question ofhow to simultaneously maintain the U.S.-Egyptian strategic relationship born out of the CampDavid Accords and the 1979 peace treaty while promoting human rights and democracy in Egyptis a major challenge with no clear path. As Egyptian opposition figures have grown more vocal inrecent years over issues such as leadership succession, corruption, and economic inequality, andthe regime has subsequently grown more repressive in its response to increased calls for reform,activists have demanded that the United States pressure Egypt to create more breathing space fordissent. The Egyptian government has resisted any U.S. attempts to interfere in its domesticpolitics and has responded harshly to overt U.S. calls for political reform. At the same time, as theIsraeli-Palestinian situation has further deteriorated, Egypt’s role as a mediator has provedinvaluable to U.S. foreign policy in the region. Egypt has secured cease-fire agreements andmediated negotiations with Hamas over prisoner releases, cease-fire arrangements, and otherissues. Since Hamas is a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and calls forIsrael’s destruction, neither Israel nor the United States government directly negotiates with itsofficials, using Egypt instead as a go-between. With the Obama Administration committed topursuing Middle East peace, there is concern that U.S. officials may give a higher priority toEgypt’s regional role at the expense of human rights and democratic reforms.

Дэмакратызацыя і Ісламскія Палітыкі:

Йокота Такаюкі�

The aim of this article is to explore the often contradictory correlation between democratizationand Islamic politics in Egypt, focusing on a new Islamic political party, the Wasat Party (Ḥizbal-Wasaṭ).Theoretically, democratization and Islamic politics are not incompatible if Islamic politicalorganizations can and do operate within a legal and democratic framework. On the other hand,this requires democratic tolerance by governments for Islamic politics, as long as they continueto act within a legal framework. In the Middle East, Аднак, Islamic political parties are oftensuspected of having undemocratic agendas, and governments have often used this suspicion as ajustification to curb democratization. This is also the case with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood(Jam‘īya al-Ikhwān al-Muslimīn) under the Ḥusnī Mubārak regime. Although the Brotherhood is amainstream Islamic movement in Egypt, operating publicly and enjoying considerable popularity,successive governments have never changed its illegal status for more than half a century. Someof the Brotherhood members decided to form the Wasat Party as its legal political organ in order tobreak this stalemate.There have been some studies on the Wasat Party. Stacher [2002] analyzes the “Platformof the Egyptian Wasat Party” [Ḥizb al-Wasaṭ al-Miṣrī 1998] and explains the basic principlesof the Wasat Party as follows: дэмакратыя, sharī‘a (Islamic law), rights of women, and Muslim-Christian relations. Baker [2003] regards the Wasat Party as one of the new Islamist groups thathave appeared in contemporary Egypt, and analyzes its ideology accordingly. Wickham [2004]discusses the moderation of Islamic movements in Egypt and the attempt to form the WasatParty from the perspective of comparative politics. Norton [2005] examines the ideology andactivities of the Wasat Party in connection with the Brotherhood’s political activities. As theseearlier studies are mainly concerned with the Wasat Party during the 1990s and the early 2000s,I will examine the ideology and activities of the Wasat Party till the rise of the democratizationmovement in Egypt in around 2005. I will do so on the basis of the Wasat Party’s documents, suchas the “Platform of the New Wasat Party” [Ḥizb al-Wasaṭ al-Jadīd 2004]1), and my interviews withits members.

Мусульманскае братэрства "

Барбара Яго правасхадзіцельства. Zollner

The Muslim Brotherhood is one of the most infl uential Islamist organisations inthe world today. Based in Egypt, its network includes branches in many countriesof the Near and Middle East. Although the organisation has been linked to politicalviolence in the past, it now proposes a politically moderate ideology.This book provides an in-depth analysis of the Muslim Brotherhood duringthe years of al-Hudaybi’s leadership, and how he sought to steer the organisationaway from the radical wing, inspired by Sayyid Qutb, into the more moderateIslamist organisation it is today. It is his legacy which eventually fostered thedevelopment of non-violent political ideas.During the years of persecution, 1954 to 1971, radical and moderate Islamistideas emerged within the Brotherhood’s midst. Sayyid Qutb’s ideas inspired aradical wing evolved which subsequently fed into radical Islamist networks aswe know them today. Усё ж, it was during the same period that al-Hudaybi and hisfollowers proposed a moderate political interpretation, which was adopted by theBrotherhood and which forms its ideological basis today.


Hesham Al-Awadi
On the extraordinary morning of 11 Верасень 2001, I happened to be in the London office of the Muslim
Brothers conducting interviews for this study. The faces of everyone in the office reflected the shocking scene of aeroplanes crashing into the towers of the World Trade Centre in New York.
Although the identity of the perpetrators was initially unclear, there were early fears that radical Islamists from Al-Qa‘eda might be involved. The Brothers in the office were clearly uncomfortable about the potential implications. If Islamists were indeed involved, such an event would certainly heighten the fears of the Americans, and of the West at large, against Islam and Muslims, and would give more credibility to Huntington’s notion of the “clash of civilisations”.
In the midst of these legitimate Western fears, the significantly visible line of differentiation between moderate and radical Islamists would become blurred or irrelevant. Not only would this register as a seriously mistaken attitude on the part of the United States and the West towards the sophisticated Islamist phenomenon, but it would encourage authoritarian Arab regimes to quell all Islamists indiscriminately, on the basis of would-be conventional wisdom that
“all Islamists are potentially dangerous”.
Egypt’s President Mohammad Hosni Mubarak was among the Arab leaders who had already launched coercive campaigns against Islamists, both moderates and radicals, since the early and mid- 1990s. His campaign reached its peak in 1995, when 95 civilian Islamists who were members of the Muslim Brotherhood, were put
on trial in military courts, charged with belonging to an illegal organisation and conspiring to overthrow the government.

Towards Understanding Islam

Саід Мавдуди


Every religion of the world has been named either after its founder or after the community ornation in which it was born. For instance, Christianity takes its name from its prophet JesusChrist; Buddhism from its founder, Gautama Buddha; Zoroastrianism from its founderZoroaster-, and Judaism, the religion of the Jews, from the name of the tribe Judah (of thecountry of Judea) where it originated. The same is true of all other religions except Islam, whichenjoys the unique distinction of having no such association with any particular person or peopleor country. Nor is it the product of any human mind. It is a universal religion and itsobjective is to create and cultivate in man the quality and attitude of Islam.Islam, in fact, is an attributive title. Anyone who possesses this attribute, whatever race,community, country or group he belongs to, is a Muslim. According to the Qur’an (the HolyBook of the Muslims), among every people and in all ages there have been good and righteouspeople who possessed this attributeand all of them were and are Muslims.IslamWhat Does it Mean?Islam is an Arabic word and connotes submission, surrender and obedience. As a religion,Islam stands for complete submission and obedience to Allah.1Everyone can see that we live in an orderly universe, where everything is assigned a place in agrand scheme. The moon, the stars and all the heavenly bodies are knit together in amagnificent system. They follow unalterable laws and make not even the slightest deviation fromtheir ordained courses. Дакладна, everything in the world, from the minute whirling electron tothe mighty nebulae, invariably follows its own laws. Matter, energy and lifeall obey their lawsand grow and change and live and die in accordance with those laws. Even in the human worldthe laws of nature are paramount. Man’s birth, growth and life are all regulated by a set ofbiological laws. He derives sustenance from nature in accordance with an unalterable law. Allthe organs of his body, from the smallest tissues to the heart and the brain, are governedby the laws prescribed for them. In short, ours is a law-governed universe and everything in it isfollowing the course that has been ordained for it.

Middle East Democracy Promotion Is Not a One-way Street

Марына Ottaway

U.S. administration is under pressure to revive democracy promotion efforts in the Middle East,but momentum toward political reform has stalled in most of the region. Opposition parties are at lowebb, and governments are more firmly in control than ever. While new forms of activism, such as laborprotests and a growing volume of blogging critical of government and opposition parties have becomewidespread, they have yet to prove effective as means of influencing leaders to change long-standingpolicies.The last time a U.S. administration faced such unfavorable circumstances in advancing political reformswas over 30 years ago, when the Helsinki process was launched during the Cold War. That experiencetaught us that the United States needs to give reluctant interlocutors something they want if itexpects them to engage on issues they would rather not address. If Washington wants Arab countriesto discuss the universal democratic principles that should underpin their political systems, it needs to beprepared to discuss the universal principles that should underpin its own Middle East policies.


James Toth

For years, religious violence and terrorism in Middle Eastern countries such as Egypthave splashed across the headlines and surged across the screen, announcing yet anotherround of senseless death and destruction. While Arabists and Islamicists attemptto pick their way carefully through the ideological and intellectual minefields to makesense of what is happening, the wider public generally disregards their insights andinstead sticks to what it knows best: deeply ingrained prejudices and biases. егіпцянін,араб, Muslim—all are painted in a very unfavorable light. Even in Egypt, manybystanders show the same sorry prejudices. In the end, people simply blame the brutalityon inexplicable backward religious ideas and then move on.Yet comprehending terrorism and violence in places such as Egypt by recourse toan unnuanced religious fundamentalism is generally acknowledged not only to begthe question of why these events actually happen, but also to lead to misunderstandingsand misperceptions, and perhaps even to exacerbating existing tensions.1 Mostscholars agree that such seemingly “irrational” social behavior instead needs to beplaced in its appropriate context to be properly understood, and hence made rational.Analyzing these actions, then, involves situating this violence and destruction in theireconomic, political, and ideological milieu as these have developed historically, forthis so-called Islamic terrorism does not merely arise, ex nihilo, out of a timeless void.What follows, then, is one case study of one portion of the Islamic movement as itemerged principally in southern Egypt and as it was revealed through anthropologicalfieldwork conducted in one of this region’s major cities. This account takes a completelydifferent direction from that of stigmatizing this movement as a sordid collectionof terrorist organizations hell bent on the senseless destruction of Egypt and itsIslamic civilization.2 Because this view is somewhat at odds with the perceptions oflocal spectators, Egyptians in Cairo, and non–Egyptians inside and outside the country,I go to some length not only to discuss the movement itself but also to shed lighton why it might have received such negative publicity.


Vickie Langohr

As Islamist movements have gained strength across the Muslim world, their commitmentto democratic means of achieving and exercising power has been repeatedlyanalyzed. The question of whether resort to violence to achieve its goals is inherentin the Islamist project (that what some Islamists understand as a divine mandate toimplement sharia ultimately sanctions the use of force against dissenters) or contingent(that the violent exclusion of Islamists from the political arena has driven themto arms, best expressed by Franc¸ois Burgat’s contention that any Western politicalparty could be turned into the Armed Islamic Group in weeks if it were subjected tothe same repression Islamists had endured1) looms large in this debate. Where Islamistmovements have not had the opportunity to participate in elections for political office,analysts willing to give these movements the benefit of the democratic doubt arguethat their peaceful participation in the student body and syndicate elections that theyhave been allowed to contest proves their intention to respect the results of nationallevelelections.2 They also point to these groups’ repeated public commitment to playby the rules of the electoral game.3 The fact that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egyptand Jordan and members of the Islah Party in Yemen have successfully competed innot one but a series of parliamentary elections and evinced a tendency to wage theirbattles through parliament and the courts rather than by force suggests to many thatthe question of whether Islamists can ever be democrats has already been settled inthe affirmative.Analysts who are more skeptical of the possibility of a democratic Islamism generallyadvance one of two arguments. The first is procedural: that although some Islamistshave seemingly opted to effect change through the ballot box, they have chosenthis method only because they do not yet have the power to use more forceful ones.In a manner of speaking, this line of thinking accuses Islamists competing in parliamentarypolitics of engaging in political taqiyya, of parroting the rhetoric that democratswant to hear until they obtain sufficient power to abort the democratic politicalprocess and institute a policy of “one-man, one-vote, one-time.”

Algeria: Prospects for an Islamic or a Secular State

Kada Akacem

What are the prospects for an Islamic state in Algeria nowadays? Before wecan answer that question, we must first understand the political, economic,and social developments that have recently taken place in Algeria. !ese eventswill shed some light on the decline of the Islamist movements.Soon after independence, Algeria adopted an inward-oriented “socialist”system. Its economic development model depended on revenues fromhydrocarbons, mainly oil. Additionally, the public sector dominated the economicactivities through the State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) that were supposed tocatalyze the economic and social development of the country. !e governmentwas the main supplier of subsidized food, utilities, housing, education, andjobs. In this first phase of the socialist experience, the government successfullyfaced “the problems of development,” and it could deliver the just-mentionedgoods and services as long as oil prices and oil revenues were high enough.1 !egovernment, however, failed to face “the development of problems” during thesecond phase of its socialist experience. A huge decrease in the price of oil inthe mid-1980s, from around $40 to around $6 a barrel in few weeks, left thegovernment unable to provide better living standards for a population that haddoubled in size since independence. Since oil revenues were, and still are, themost important source of foreign currency for the country, the drastic decreasein crude oil prices had several consequences. First, it led to a severe foreign debtcrisis. Second, there was a dramatic reduction in the volume of imports—inparticular, food products. !ird, the government’s budgetary resources werereduced by about 50%. Finally, there was a severe economic recession that ledto social protests that led, in turn, to “bread rioting.”

Egypt: Secularism, Sharia, and the Prospects for an Inclusive Democracy

Manar Shorbagy

The relationship between religion and politics is at the top of the politicalagenda in Egypt, and, as I shall argue, it has important implications for thepolitical rights of Egyptian women and minorities. However, the issue is not asimple secular/religious divide. It is, rather, the problem of how to define thenature and characteristics of a civil, democratic state that is neither a theocracynor an Islamically “naked” public space. !e Islamist/secularist dichotomy is afalse one; it has little or no relevance to actual political processes and possibilitiesin Egypt, where a middle ground is both theoretically and practically conceivable.Such a middle ground, however, must be deliberately sought and found byEgyptians, so that a national consensus on the relationship between religion andpolitics can emerge.For a brief time, such a consensus seemed possible. Hopes were highbetween 2005 and early 2007. But those possibilities collapsed in 2007. !ispaper examines the reasons for this collapse. Reasons, I will argue, that lie incorrectable political failures of actors across the board, rather than any inherentimpossibility of creating an inclusive democracy in a Muslim society.Understanding Egypt’s Current Predicament2005 was an unusual political year in Egypt. Many taboos were broken in streetprotests and by the independent press. Domestic political pressure to begindemocratic reform was mounting to unprecedented levels. Moreover, in theirconfrontation with the regime, many political forces shrewdly took advantage ofthe U.S.’s democracy rhetoric without buying into the Bush agenda or allowing92 SECULARISM, WOMEN & THE STATE: THE MEDITERRANEAN WORLD IN THE 21ST CENTURYthemselves to be exploited by the Bush administration.One of 2005’s most promising developments was the publicacknowledgement, for the first time, that a generation of young activists andintellectuals had succeeded, over more than a decade, in acting across ideologicallines. !e Egyptian Movement for Change, also known as Kefaya,1 was onemanifestation of these efforts and an important illustration of the possibilitiesof this new politics.