RSSArchive for March, 2010

THE RISE OF “MUSLIM DEMOCRACY

vali Nasr

A specter is haunting the Muslim world. This particular specter is notthe malign and much-discussed spirit of fundamentalist extremism, nor yet the phantom hope known as liberal Islam. Instead, the specter that I have in mind is a third force, a hopeful if still somewhat ambiguoustrend that I call—in a conscious evocation of the political tradition associated with the Christian Democratic parties of Europe—“Muslim Democracy.”The emergence and unfolding of Muslim Democracy as a “fact on the ground” over the last fifteen years has been impressive. This is so even though all its exponents have thus far eschewed that label1 and even though the lion’s share of scholarly and political attention has gone to the question of how to promote religious reform within Islam as a prelude to democratization.2 Since the early 1990s, political openings in anumber of Muslim-majority countries—all, admittedly, outside the Arabworld—have seen Islamic-oriented (but non-Islamist) parties vying successfullyfor votes in Bangladesh, Indonèsia, Malàisia, Pakistan (beforeits 1999 military coup), and Turkey.Unlike Islamists, with their visions of rule by shari‘a (La llei islàmica) oreven a restored caliphate, Muslim Democrats view political life with apragmatic eye. They reject or at least discount the classic Islamist claim that Islam commands the pursuit of a shari‘a state, and their main goaltends to be the more mundane one of crafting viable electoral platform sand stable governing coalitions to serve individual and collective interests—Islamic as well as secular—within a democratic arena whosebounds they respect, win or lose. Islamists view democracy not as something deeply legitimate, but at best as a tool or tactic that may be useful in gaining the power to build an Islamic state.

It’s the Policy, Stupid

John L. Esposito

US foreign policy and political Islam today are deeply intertwined. Every US president since Jimmy Carter has had to deal with political Islam; none has been so challenged as George W. arbust. Policymakers, particularly since 9/11, have demonstrated an inability and/or unwillingness to distinguish between radical and moderate Islamists. They have largely treated political Islam as a global threat similar to the way that Communism was perceived. malgrat això, even in the case of Communism, foreign policymakers eventually moved from an ill-informed, broad-brush, and paranoid approach personified by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s to more nuanced, pragmatic, and reasonable policies that led to the establishment of relations with China in the 1970s, even as tensions remained between the United States and the Soviet Union.

As Islamist parties continue to rise in prominence across the globe, it is necessary that policymakers learn to make distinctions and adopt differentiated policy approaches. This requires a deeper understanding of what motivates and informs Islamist parties and the support they receive, including the ways in which some US policies feed the more radical and extreme Islamist movements while weakening the appeal of the moderate organizations to Muslim populations. It also requires the political will to adopt approaches of engagement and dialogue. This is especially important where the roots of political Islam go deeper than simple anti-Americanism and where political Islam is manifested in non-violent and democratic ways. The stunning electoral victories of HAMAS in Palestine and the Shi’a in Iraq, the Muslim Brotherhood’s emergence as the leading parliamentary opposition in Egypt, and Israel’s war against HAMAS and Hizbollah go to the heart of issues of democracy, terrorisme, and peace in the Middle East.

Global terrorism has also become the excuse for many Muslim autocratic rulers and Western policymakers to backslide or retreat from democratization. They warn that the promotion of a democratic process runs the risk of furthering Islamist inroads into centers of power and is counterproductive to Western interests, encouraging a more virulent anti-Westernism and increased instability. Thus, for example, despite HAMAS’ victory in free and democratic elections, the United States and Europe failed to give the party full recognition and support.

In relations between the West and the Muslim world, phrases like a clash of civilizations or a clash of cultures recur as does the charge that Islam is incompatible with democracy or that it is a particularly militant religion. But is the primary issue religion and culture or is it politics? Is the primary cause of radicalism and anti-Westernism, especially anti-Americanism, extremist theology or simply the policies of many Muslim and Western governments?


Hamas and political reform in the middle east

David Mepham

The lesson of Palestine’s election is that the international community should become more serious and sophisticated about political reform in the middle east, says David Mepham of the Institute for Public Policy Research.
Hamas’s stunning victory in the 25 January elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council raises three critical questions for international policymakers:
• why did it happen – that an organisation labelled asterroristby the Israelis, the European Union and the United States manages to win the support of a majority of Palestinian voters?
• how should the international community now respond?
• where does Hamas’s victory leave the cause of political reform and democratisation in the middle east?
The rise of Hamas
Much of the immediate international commentary on the election result has focused on the failings of Fatah during the decade in which the movement held power in the Palestinian Authority (PA) – including the rampant corruption of senior Fatah officials and the lack of meaningful democracy within the PA. There was also a sizeable positive vote for Hamas. The organisation is seen by many Palestinians as untainted by corruption, i, unlike the PA, it has a good track record of providing health, education and other services.
The other part of the explanation for the Hamas victory – less discussed in the international media – has been the failure of thepeace processand the radicalising and impoverishing effects of the Israeli occupation. Under the premiership of Ariel Sharon since 2001, Israel has all but destroyed the infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority. Israel has also continued its policy of illegal settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, and it is in the process of building aseparation barrier”.
Israel is not building the barrier on its pre-1967 occupation border (which it would be allowed to do under international law). Rather it plans to build 80% of the barrier inside Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory. This involves incorporating the main Israeli settlement blocs, as well as taking over Palestinian agricultural lands and water resources. This restricts Palestinian freedom of movement, and makes it much harder for Palestinians to access their schools, health facilities and jobs.
These policies are oppressive and humiliating; they also have disastrous economic consequences. The United Nations estimates that poverty levels have more than trebled in the last five years, that 60% of Palestinians are now living in poverty, and that unemployment is around 30%. These conditions have provided very fertile soil for the radicalisation of Palestinian opinion and for the rise of Hamas.
The short-term challenge
Hamas’s electoral victory presents the international community with a real conundrum.
On the one hand, la “Quartet” (the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations) is right to say that full-scale peace negotiations with Hamas will require significant movement on Hamas’s part. Hamas does not recognise the state of Israel. It also supports violence, including attacks on Israeli civilians, as part of its strategy for Palestinian national liberation. Anyone expecting an immediate and formal shift in Hamas policy on these issues is likely to be disappointed.
But intelligent international diplomacy can still make a difference. While they are reluctant to formally proclaim it, there is evidence that some senior Hamas leaders accept the reality of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. Moreover, on the question of violence Hamas has largely maintained a unilateral truce (tahdi’a) for the past year. Extending this truce, and working for a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire, should be the immediate focus of international diplomacy towards Hamas, if necessary through third-party intermediaries.
The other critical international objective should be to avoid the collapse of the Palestinian Authority. Fatah’s mismanagement and the disastrous consequences of Israeli occupation and closures have left the PA in a desperate state and entirely dependent on donor funding to stay afloat. a 2005, the EU provided £338 million, while the US contributed £225 million. Cutting that assistance overnight would plunge tens of thousands of Palestinians into acute poverty, triggering social implosion and anarchy. But donors are rightly worried about transferring resources to a government dominated by Hamas.
One possibility would be to press for a government of Palestinian technocrats, without senior Hamas figures in key ministerial positions, and to rely on Mahmoud Abbas, the directly elected Palestinian president, as the main interlocutor for the international community. Something along these lines appears to command support amongst the Quartet. If the immediate economic situation can be stabilised, then there is at least a possibility of encouraging Hamas to move in a political direction through a policy of gradual, conditional engagement. Pressure on Israel to live up to its obligations under international law, for example by ending illegal settlement activity, would also help: persuading a sceptical Palestinian public that the world does care about their plight and is committed to a two-state solution.
The regional prospect
While Hamas’s victory has focused attention on the immediate crisis in the Palestinian territories, it raises wider questions about the process of political reform and democratisation in the broader middle east, a process advocated so publicly by the Bush administration. It is ironic, to say the least, that Hamas – a group with which the United States refuses to deal – should be the beneficiary of a free and fair election encouraged by US policy. Some will draw from this the conclusion that democratic reform in the middle east is a hopelessly misguided enterprise and one that should be abandoned forthwith. Smallcconservatives, on all sides of the political spectrum, will feel vindicated in highlighting the risks of rapid political change and in pointing out the virtues of stability.
It is true that political change carries risks, including the risk that radical Islamists like Hamas will be the major beneficiaries of political liberalisation. While this is a reasonable concern, those who highlight it tend to overlook the diversity of political Islamists in the region, the special circumstances that account for the rise of Hamas, and the extent to which some Islamists have moderated their positions in recent years. Unlike Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Islamic Action Front in Jordan and the Justice & Development Party in Morocco all reject violence and have committed themselves to pluralistic politics.
Nor do the critics suggest a better alternative for addressing the phenomenon of political Islamism across the region than the attempted engagement of Islamists in the political process. Repression of Islamists and their systematic exclusion from political institutions has been a recipe for instability and extremism, not moderation.
There is obviously a strong critique to be made of the Bush administration’s attempts to promote political change in the middle east, not least the multiple failings of its policy in Iraq. More broadly, the US lacks credibility in the region as a force for democracy and human rights because of its largely uncritical support for Israel, and its military, diplomatic and often financial backing for many of the more authoritarian regimes in the region. Even when it is particularly outspoken on the need for greater democracy, for example in its recent dealings with President Mubarak of Egypt, the administration’s anti-terrorism agenda consistently trumps its political reform objectives.
But exposing the folly and ineffectiveness of US policy is one thing; ditching the commitment to political reform in the middle east is quite another. The international community needs to strengthen not weaken its commitment to accountable government and human rights in the region. In thinking about political change in the middle east – where the concept of a democratic culture is often very weak – international actors need to give as much emphasis toconstitutionalismas to elections, important though elections are. In this context, constitutionalism means a balance of powers, including checks on the executive, a fair and independent legal process, a free press and media, and the protection of the rights of minorities.
It is important too for international actors to be realistic about what can be achieved in particular countries and over particular timescales. In some cases, support for political reform might involve pushing hard now for genuinely free elections. In other cases, a higher short-term priority for political reform might be encouraging an enlarged space in which opposition groups or civil society can function, greater freedom for the press, support for educational reforms and cultural exchanges, and promoting more inclusive economic development.
It is also vital to think more imaginatively about creating incentives for political reform in the middle east. There is a particular role for the European Union here. The experience of political change in other parts of the world suggests that countries can be persuaded to undertake very significant political and economic reforms if this is part of a process that yields real benefits to the ruling elite and the wider society. The way in which the prospect of EU membership has been used to bring about far-reaching change in eastern and central Europe is a good example of this. The process of Turkey’s accession to the EU can be seen in a similar vein.
A critical question is whether such a process might be used more broadly to stimulate political reform across the middle east, through initiatives like the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). The ENP will provide participating middle-eastern states with a stake in EU institutions, in particular the single market, providing a powerful incentive for reform. It also allows for the EU to reward countries that make faster progress against agreed benchmarks for political reform.
There are no simple answers to the current problems besetting the middle east. But the lesson to be drawn from the Hamas result is emphatically not that the international community should give up on the cause of political reform in the region. Rather it should become more serious and sophisticated about helping to support it.

The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights Rising on Women’s Bodies

REPORT

Throughout the last century, women’s right to vote has remained impaired during parliamentary elections. Women were denied the right to vote during the revolution era, although they actively participated in the struggle and were among the martyrs. a més, women’s participation was barely acknowledged during the codification of political rights during the revolution. In other words, women’s political participation was rare and for the most part they were absent from the political arena.

Women didn’t obtain their right to vote until after the Revolution through the constitutional amendments of 1956. malgrat això, this change remained minimal since the amendments did not include concerted efforts to increase women’s participation in the electoral process at all levels.

During the decolonization and civic movements, women’s participation was always necessary and considered as an important factor. Women were asked to participate in the struggle for independence and they showed a strong spirit of self-sacrifice. Many were among the victims in the struggle for liberation, but once the goal was achieved, they had to face an extremely harsh situation in their fight to secure the political rights of their people and family, due to the unemployment that followed. So the victory did not translate into anything for women and they became overshadowed by other issues. Today’s political marginalization of women comes from the original institutions which failed to include them in the decision making processes and severely restricted their representation.

Women’s representation in the legislature has ranged from 0.5% per 2.4% since women were first granted their political rights in the 1956 constitution which allowed them seats in the parliament until the last legislative elections in the year 2000. The only exception was during the first half of the 1980s, when female representation rose to the unprecedented level of 9% in the 1979 council election, due to Law 21 (1979) that reserved a minimum of 30 seats for women.

Although Law 21 was later abolished by Law 188 (1986), female representation remained high because of the use of a party list system. When resolution 201 (1990) was passed, the party lists were abolished and replaced by individual elections, restricting women’s access to the parliament by forcing them to directly compete with their male counterparts.

The parliamentary elections of 2005 seemed very different; they happened in the midst of national political reforms that gave hope for a revitalization of Egyptian political life and fair elections. One feature was the participation of 21 political parties. And for the first time the religious factions revealed their true colors through representative of Brotherhood Muslim Party.

Another feature of these elections is that the civil and human rights organizations insisted on monitoring of the elections. This had been granted ten years earlier during the struggles that stemmed from the 1995 eleccions

Another familiar aspect that was recorded during these elections was the use of transparent ballot boxes, finger ink, judicial supervision, use of identity cards for voting and neglecting statements made by witnesses. This widespread optimism that the elections generated was short-lived and many insist upon calling the next parliamentary elections the ‘future elections.’

Nonetheless, this fostered optimistic reactions among women, particularly when the media repeatedly approached the issue of their involvement in the process. In turn, it led to a law proposal, guarantying an additional 26 seats for women (one per governorate) in the parliament. This bill was submitted to the Ministry of Justice for review. Although this proposal does not tally women’s votes, which reached 40%, it fails to representatively express what this number stands for on the population percentage. This number may, at least, correspond to the minimal level of women’s participation without the endorsement of the law.

a més, the National Democratic Party pledged to nominate 26 women and support their political participation, emphasized their role during the presidential elections and promoted the women’s movement and the National Council for Women.

The political parties committed themselves, during a meeting held last year by the ECWR along with the Arab Alliance for Women, to promote women’s participation by appointing a representative proportional to the number of women on the lists. They also vowed to work with the women representatives that represent 25% of the El Tagamoa’a party list Master Hussein AbdEl Razek to ensure safe electoral processes shortly before the election, at a conference held by the National Council for Women.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

William Thomasson

Is Islam a religion of violence? Is the widely applied stereotype that all Muslims are violently opposed to “infidel” Western cultures accurate? Today’s world is confronted with two opposing faces of Islam; one being a peaceful, adaptive, modernized Islam, and the other strictly fundamentalist and against all things un-Islamic or that may corrupt Islamic culture. Both specimens, though seemingly opposed, mingle and inter-relate, and are the roots of the confusion over modern Islam’s true identity. Islam’s vastness makes it difficult to analyze, but one can focus on a particular Islamic region and learn much about Islam as a whole. Indeed, one may do this with Egypt, particularly the relationship between the Fundamentalist society known as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian government and population. The two opposing faces of Islam are presented in Egypt in a manageable portion, offering a smaller model of the general multi-national struggle of today’s Islam. In an effort to exemplify the role of Islamic Fundamentalists, and their relationship with Islamic society as a whole in the current debate over what Islam is, this essay will offer a history of the Society of Muslim Brothers, a description of how the organization originated, functioned, and was organized, and a summary of the Brother’s activities and influences on Egyptian culture. Certainly, by doing so, one may gain a deeper understanding of how Islamic Fundamentalists interpret Islam


Trial of the Holy Land Foundation begins

Abdus Sattar Ghazali

juliol 24, 2007 – The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development went on trial today in Dallas, Texas as the federal agents were raiding two other Muslim charities in Dearborn, Michigan. The Holy Land was being tried on suspicion of aiding terrorism by helping the Palestinian militant group Hamas while the two Michigan charitiesthe Goodwill Charitable Organization and Al-Mabarrat Charitable Organization were suspected of having ties to extremist groups in Lebanon. Just like the Holy Land, assets of the two Michigan charities have been frozen.

The Holy Land, founded in 1989 was one of the largest Muslim charities in the nation before it was shut down under executive orders in December 2001. It was one of six Muslim major charities in the country that have been shut in recent years as the Muslim charities were scrutinized and persecuted as part of a broader backlash against Muslims after the 9/11 attacks. Other five shut down charities are: Global Relief Foundation, Benevolence International Foundation, Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, Islamic American Relief Agency and Kind Hearts USA.

Under a provision of the U.S.A. Patriot Act, the government has largely unchecked power to designate any group as a terrorist organization. When that happens, a group’s property may be seized and its assets frozen. The charity is unable to see the government’s evidence and thus understand the basis for the charges. And it has only a limited right of appeal. So, the government can target a charity, obtain indictments against its leaders, and then delay a trial indefinitely.

The Bush administration froze the Holy Land Foundation’s assets charging it with funneling money to Hamas, an allegation strongly refuted by the Holy Land officials. According to its mission statement, the Foundation is a humanitarian organization that works to findsolutions to human suffering,” primarily focusing on providing urgent nutritional and medical care to the destitute and displaced Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Palestina, and Lebanon.

The government says Hamassupport organization in the United States, known as thePalestinian Committee,” organized theOccupied Land Fundin 1988. The name was later changed to the Holy Land Foundation. First based in California, the foundation moved to Richardson, Texas in 1992.

The defendants named in a 42-count indictment in 2004 are Holy Land Foundation, which federal authorities raided and shut down in December 2001; Shukri Abu Baker, the charity’s president; Ghassan Elashi, its chairman; Abdulrahman Odeh; Mohammad El-Mezain; and Mufid Abdulqader. Two other men named in the indictment remain fugitives.

This is the third trial involving Ghassan Elashi brothers. The court, because of the complexities of the investigation, decided to break the proceedings into three trials, with the one beginning today being the most expansive and the one directly related to the Holy Land Foundation. In summer 2004, five brothers who ran Infocom were convicted of selling computers to countries that support terrorism. A l'abril 2005, three of the brothers were convicted of conspiracy, money laundering anddealing in the property of a terrorist.

The Political Evolution of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

Stephen Bennett

“Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”

Since its early days in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood has created much controversy, as some argue that the organization advocates violence in the name of Islam. Segons el Dr.. Mamoun Fandy of the James A. Baker III Institute of Public Policy, jihadism and the activation of the views of the world of the house of Islam and the house of war are the ideas that emerged from the writings and the teachings of the Muslim Brotherhood” (Livesy, 2005). The primary evidence for this argument is notable member of the Brotherhood, Sayeed Qutb, who is credited with developing the revisionist and controversial interpretation of jihad that provided religious justifications for violence committed by offshoot organizations of the Brotherhood like al-jihad, al-Takfir wa al-Hijra, Hamas, i al-Qaeda.

Yet that is still a debatable position, because despite being the ideological parent of these violent organizations, the Muslim Brotherhood itself has always maintained an official stance against violence and instead has promoted Islamic civil and social action at the grassroots level. Within the first twenty years of its existence the Muslim Brotherhood gained status as the most influential of all major groups in the Middle East through its popular activism. It also spread from Egypt into other nations throughout the region and served as the catalyst for many of the successful popular liberation movements against Western colonialism in the Middle East.

While it has retained most of its founding principles from its inception, the Muslim Brotherhood has made a dramatic transformation in some crucial aspects of its political ideology. Formerly denounced by many as a terrorist organization, as of late the Muslim Brotherhood has been labeled by most current scholars of the Middle East as politically “moderate”, “politically centrist”, and “accommodationist” to Egypt’s political and governmental structures (Abed-Kotob, 1995, p. 321-322). Sana Abed-Kotob also tells us that of the current Islamist opposition groups that exist today “the more ‘radical’ or militant of these groups insist upon revolutionary change that is to be imposed on the masses and political system, whereas… the new Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, call for gradual change that is to be undertaken from within the political system and with the enlistment of the Muslim masses”

MUSLIM INSTITUTIONS AND POLITICAL MOBILIZATION

SARA SILVESTRI

In Europe, and most of the Western world, Muslim presence in the publicsphere is a recent phenomenon that characterised the last decade of the 20thcentury and has deeply marked the beginning of the 21st. This visiblepresence, which amounts to something between 15 i 20 millionindividuals, can best be analysed if dissected into a number of components.The first part of this chapter illustrates where, when and why organisedMuslim voices and institutions have emerged in Europe, and which actorshave been involved. The second part is more schematic and analytical, inthat it seeks to identify from these dynamics the process through whichMuslims become political actors and how they relate to other, often incompeting political forces and priorities. It does so by observing theobjectives and the variety of strategies that Muslims have adopted in orderto articulate their concerns vis-à-vis different contexts and interlocutors.The conclusions offer an initial evaluation of the impact and of theconsequences of Muslim mobilisation and institution-formation forEuropean society and policy-making.

The Syrian Opposition

Joshua Landis

Joe Pace


For decades, nosaltres. policy toward Syria has been single-mindedly focused on Syria’s president, Hafiz al-Asad, de 1970 per 2000, followed by his son Bashar. Because they perceived the Syrian opposition to be too weak and anti-American, nosaltres. officials preferred to work with the Asad regime. Washington thus had no relations with the Syrian opposition until its invasion of Iraq in 2003. Even then, the Bush administration reached out only to Washington-based opponents of the Syrian regime. They were looking for a Syrian counterpart to Ahmad Chalabi, the pro-U.S. Iraqi opposition leader who helped build the case for invading Iraq.
Washington was not interested in engaging Islamists, whom it considered the only opposition with a demonstrated popular base in Syria. As for the secular opposition in Syria, nosaltres. embassy officials in Damascus considered them to “have a weak back bench,” without a popular constituency or connection to Syrian youth.2 Moreover, contact between opposition members and embassy officials could be dangerous for opponents of the regime and leave them open to accusations of treason. For these reasons, the difficult terrain of opposition figures within Syria remained terra incognita.

High noon in Egypt

Devika Parashar

F. Andy Messing


The parallels between President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and the deposed shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi of Iran, are attention-getting. a 1979, prior to the notorious Islamic Revolution, which was instigated and controlled by radical Muslim cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the shah wielded personal and authoritarian power in a manner comparable to the dictators of the time: Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua, and earlier, Fulgencio Batista in Cuba. These rulers brandished their power with little restraint, unencumbered by the rule of law and basically insensitive to the needs of their populace. Unfortunately, Hosni Mubarak alarmingly resembles these former dictators in social, political, economic and security issues. He is inadvertently pushing his country towards an Islamic revolution. As an earlier example, the shah of Iran slowly strangled his country by reigning with a heavy-hand through his unfettered security force. He narrowed the sociopolitical base of his government and distorted the economy by monopolistic actions. This modus operandi reflects Mr. Mubarak’s current regime, whose survival depends on his ability to reverse these trends. Accordingly, Mr. Mubarak uses hisCentral Security Force,” that now consists of more than half of his entire military, to impose a measure of censorship on the mass media and ban most forms of political organization, activities and literary expression. Like the shah, he has established control over physical action, selectively executing opposition, imprisoning and exiling thousands of people who oppose his policies. Recently, the leading English language newspaper Al-Ahram Weekly reported an upsurge in deaths due to police brutality. Another Arab news source reported the barring of human-rights groups from attending secret military trials. Economically, Mr. Mubarak monopolistically privatizes the highly regulated Egyptian economy, fostering creation of an exclusive industrial bourgeoisie. He invites only pro-Mubarak businesses to work within his development schemes. Like the shah, he has alienated large sections of the public and private sectors, thus suppressing any real economic growth. Politically, Mr. Mubarak cracks down on civil participation, essentially repressing political opposition; while his lack of government transparency practically guarantees rife corruption throughout the 4 million strong bureaucracy. Equally important, is the lack of government response to crises. Al-Ahram Weekly reported 20 train crashes between 1995 and August 2006. In each case, the government formed an ineffectual and disorganized crisis-management council that failed to correct
the problem. As the government failed to meet the needs of its people, the Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwan) filled a void by establishing social services, such as health clinics and youth programs, to effectively respond to various situations. The first and best-known example of this was their mobilization after the 1992 earthquake struck Southern Cairo. The Muslim Brotherhood provided disaster relief then, and continues to do so, thereby enhancing its traction. Additionally, the Muslim Brotherhood has nonviolently taken control of 15 percent of major professional associations that form the greater part of Egypt’s middle class. In the most recent parliamentary election in 2005, the Muslim Brotherhood presented the largest threat to Mr. Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, securing an unprecedented 34 out of 454 seats. They demonstrated their ability to draw support despite government opposition. Mr. Mubarak unwittingly nurtured the regrowth of the essentially Fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood by alienating segments of the Egyptian populace and eliminating soft-line opposition (such as the secular Wafd and al-Ghad parties). He must seek more innovative methods to remain in power. Per exemple, Chile managed to open the economy and encourage free enterprise under Augusto Pinochet, even though his government was considered authoritarian. Mr. Mubarak must tap into the tremendous energy of the Egyptian people by increasing the pace of capitalization and democratization, thereby improving their standard of living. If he succeeds, Mr. Mubarak could eventually create a legacy for himself as an Arab leader who effectively modernized and democratized thiskeystonenation. In doing so, he would secure major assets such as the Suez Canal, Egypt’s oil production and tourism, for not only his country but for the global economy, while providing a positive example for the entire Muslim world. a més, nosaltres. ability to deal with Egypt will be enhanced, and our aid to that country will become completely justified. But if Mr. Mubarak fails, his regime will fall to the same type of radical elements that claimed the shah’s government in 1979, creating compounded turmoil for Egypt and the world. Devika Parashar spent eight months in Egypt into 2007 and is a research assistant at the National Defense Council Foundation. F. Andy Messing, a retired Special Forces officer, is NDCF’s executive director and met with a Muslim Brotherhood Representative in Cairo in 1994. He has been to 27 conflict areas worldwide.


Parting the Veil

shadi hamid

America’s post-September 11 project to promote democracy in the Middle East has proven a spectacular failure. avui,Arab autocrats are as emboldened as ever. Egipte, Jordània, Tunísia, and others are backsliding on reform. Opposition forces are being crushed. Three of the most democratic polities in the region, Líban, Iraq, and the Palestinian territories,are being torn apart by violence and sectarian conflict.Not long ago, it seemed an entirely different outcome was in the offing. Asrecently as late 2005, observers were hailing the “Arab spring,” an “autumn forautocrats,” and other seasonal formulations. They had cause for such optimism.On January 31, 2005, the world stood in collective awe as Iraqis braved terroristthreats to cast their ballots for the first time. That February, Egyptian PresidentHosni Mubarak announced multi-candidate presidential elections, another first.And that same month, after former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri wasshadi hamid is director of research at the Project on Middle East Democracyand an associate of the Truman National Security Project.Parting the Veil Now is no time to give up supporting democracy in the Muslim world.But to do so, the United States must embrace Islamist moderates.shadi hamiddemocracyjournal.org 39killed, Lebanon erupted in grief and then anger as nearly one million Lebanesetook to the streets of their war-torn capital, demanding self-determination. Notlong afterward, 50,000 Bahrainis—one-eighth of the country’s population—ralliedfor constitutional reform. The opposition was finally coming alive.But when the Arab spring really did come, the American response provide dample evidence that while Arabs were ready for democracy, the United States most certainly was not. Looking back, the failure of the Bush Administration’s efforts should not have been so surprising. Since the early 1990s, nosaltres. policymakershave had two dueling and ultimately incompatible objectives in the Middle East: promoting Arab democracy on one hand, and curbing the power and appealof Islamist groups on the other. In his second inaugural address, President George W. Bush declared that in supporting Arab democracy, our “vital interests and our deepest beliefs” were now one. The reality was more complicated.When Islamist groups throughout the region began making impressive gains at the ballot box, particularly in Egypt and in the Palestinian territories, the Bush Administration stumbled. With Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza high on the agendaand a deteriorating situation in Iraq, American priorities began to shift. Friendly dictators once again became an invaluable resource for an administration that found itself increasingly embattled both at home and abroad.The reason for this divergence in policy revolves around a critical question:What should the United States do when Islamists come to power through free elections? In a region where Islamist parties represent the only viable oppositionto secular dictatorships, this is the crux of the matter. In the MiddleEastern context, the question of democracy and the question of political Islamare inseparable. Without a well-defined policy of engagement toward politicalIslam, the United States will fall victim to the same pitfalls of the past. In many ways, it already has.

moviment Islàmic: Political Freedom & democràcia

Dr.Yusuf al-Qaradawi

It is the duty of the (islàmic) Movement in the coming phase tostand firm against totalitarian and dictatorial rule, political despotism and usurpation of people’s rights. The Movement should always stand by political freedom, as represented by true,not false, democracy. It should flatly declare it refusal of tyrantsand steer clear of all dictators, even if some tyrant appears to havegood intentions towards it for some gain and for a time that is usually short, as has been shown by experience.The Prophet (SAWS) said, “ When you see my Nation fall victim to fear and does not say to a wrong –doer, “You are wrong”, thenyou may lose hope in them.” So how about a regime that forces people to say to a conceited wrongdoer, “How just, how great you are. O our hero, our savior and our liberator!”The Quran denounces tyrants such as Numrudh, Pharaoh, Haman and others, but it also dispraises those who follow tyrants andobey their orders. This is why Allah dispraises the people of Noahby saying, “ But they follow (m en) whose wealth and childrengive them no increase but only loss.” [Surat Nuh; 21]Allah also says of Ad, people of Hud, “ And followed thecommand of every powerful, obstinate transgressor”. [Surat Hud:59]See also what the Quran says about the people of Pharaoh, “ Butthey followed the command of Pharaoh, and the command ofPharaoh was not rightly guided.[Surat Hud: 97] “Thus he made fools of his people, and they obeyed him: truly they were a people rebellious (against Allah). [Surat Az-Zukhruf: 54]A closer look at the history of the Muslim Nation and the IslamicMovement in modern times should show clearly that the Islamicidea, the Islamic Movement and the Islamic Awakening have never flourished or borne fruit unless in an atmosphere ofdemocracy and freedom, and have withered and become barren only at the times of oppression and tyranny that trod over the willof the peoples which clung to Islam. Such oppressive regimesimposed their secularism, socialism or communism on their peoples by force and coercion, using covert torture and publicexecutions, and employing those devilish tools that tore flesh,shed blood, crushed bone and destroyed the soul.We saw these practices in many Muslim countries, including Turkey, Egipte, Síria, Iraq, (the former) South Yemen, Somaliaand northern African States for varying periods of time, depending on the age or reign of the dictator in each country.On the other hand, we saw the Islamic Movement and the Islamic Awakening bear fruit and flourish at the times of freedom and democracy, and in the wake of the collapse of imperial regimes that ruled peoples with fear and oppression.Therefore, I would not imagine that the Islamic Movement could support anything other than political freedom and democracy.The tyrants allowed every voice to be raised, except the voice ofIslam, and let every trend express itself in the form of a politicalparty or body of some sort, except the Islamic current which is theonly trend that actually speaks for this Nation and expresses it screed, values, essence and very existence.

Resolving America’s Islamist Dilemma

Shadi Hamid

nosaltres. efforts to promote democracy in the Middle East have long been paralyzed by the “Islamist dilemma”: in theory, we want democracy, but, in practice, fear that Islamist parties will be the prime beneficiaries of any political opening. The most tragic manifestation of this was the Algerian debacle of 1991 i 1992, when the United States stood silently while the staunchly secular military canceled elections after an Islamist party won a parliamentary majority. More recently, the Bush administration backed away from its “freedom agenda” after Islamists did surprisingly well in elections throughout region, including in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinian territories.
But even our fear of Islamist parties—and the resulting refusal to engage with them—has itself been inconsistent, holding true for some countries but not others. The more that a country is seen as vital to American national security interests, the less willing the United States has been to accept Islamist groups having a prominent political role there. malgrat això, in countries seen as less strategically relevant, and where less is at stake, the United States has occasionally taken a more nuanced approach. But it is precisely where more is at stake that recognizing a role for nonviolent Islamists is most important, i, aquí, American policy continues to fall short.
Throughout the region, the United States has actively supported autocratic regimes and given the green light for campaigns of repression against groups such as the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest and most influential political movement in the region. Al març 2008, during what many observers consider to be the worst period of anti-Brotherhood repression since the 1960s, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice waived a $100 million congressionally mandated reduction of military aid to Egypt.

The Alleged Opposition Emerges: Goals and Strategies of the Ikhawan Al-Muslimun vis a vis the State.

Ilham El hamoumi

In discussing the political and intellectual nature of governmentsthroughout the Middle East, it is vital to pay attention to notions of definedliberties of the individual within the state in the way to democracy. It isalso imperative to attempt to understand the Islamic resurgence we have seen instates like Egypt. Acknowledging that this phenomenon has emerged as a reactionof failed and corrupt laic governments is important in order to comprehend howgroups such as the Muslim Brotherhood emerge and enjoy great popularity. Inthis paper, I will discuss the causes for the emergence of the MuslimBrotherhood of Egypt and the reasons behind its popularity. I will also discussits positives aspects in trying to revitalize and change the political system inEgypt, in addition to drawing attention to the negative externalities of itsreligiously tainted power.The social discourse on the blatant state infringement on their populacein the Arab world in general and more specifically in the case of Egypt,invariably bifurcates into a confusion on the part of the people between Islamand the state because of their lack of knowledge about their own political andreligious history, and state oppression. Fatima Mernissi’s discussion about thelack of awareness and understanding of history in the Arab world is quitereflective of the ta’a (obedience) of the Muslim populations to their unjustrulers, which initially might seem a little incomprehensible for a westernaudience. Yet, how can one expect people to rise against an Imam or vote out apolitical leader when they have no understanding of their religious and/orpolitical histories? On what grounds will they do that? The concept of ta’a orobedience implies a banning of reflection, personal opinion (ra’y) andeventually ihdah (innovation, modernization).

Hasan Al-Banna

Guilain Denoelcx

Hasan al-Banna was the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood or Society of the Muslim Brothers, thelargest and most influential Sunni revivalist organization in the 20th century. Created in Egypt in1928, the Muslim Brotherhood became the first mass-based, overtly political movement to opposethe ascendancy of secular and Western ideas in the Middle East. The brotherhood saw in theseideas the root of the decay of Islamic societies in the modern world, and advocated a return toIslam as a solution to the ills that had befallen Muslim societies. Al-Banna’s leadership was criticalto the spectacular growth of the brotherhood during the 1930s and 1940s. By the early 1950s,branches had been established in Syria, Sudan, i Jordània. Soon, the movement’s influence would be felt inplaces as far away as the Gulf and non-Arab countries such as Iran, Pakistan, Indonèsia, and Malaysia. Drivingthis expansion was the appeal of the organizational model embodied in the original, Egypt-based section of thebrotherhood, and the success of al-Banna’s writings. Translated into several languages, these writings haveshaped two generations of Sunni religious activists across the Islamic world.

The Hamas Victory in the Palestinian Elections

Riaz Hassan

The parliamentary election triumph of Hamas surprised almost everybody, including the Hamas leadership, if the press reported correctly. The Bush Administration is blaming its intelligence services for failing to predict Hamas’ victory. Most observers forecast that Fatah would win theelections because of its political dominance in Palestinian affairs. Why, then, did most politicalobservers in the West get it so wrong? This political miscalculation will be the subject of much analysis and commentary in the coming months.A number of specific local issues delivered Hamas its historic electoral victory. Credit must goto the Palestinian people, who turned out to be astute voters. A significant number of Palestinians were simply unable to accept the corruption and cronyism that allegedly flourished under the Palestinian Authority led by Fatah. While most Palestinians remember well and admire the sacrifices made by Fatah leaders in the past, they were simply deterred by their in ability to institute political and economic reforms to better the lives of ordinary people. Hamashad a much better reading of the Palestinian political pulse. It was not difficult for Hamas to doso: Hamas delivers health, educational and social services to large numbers of Palestinians,making daily life bearable.Unlike Fatah, which had several candidates contesting the same constituency, resulting in asplitting of Fatah’s votes, Hamas ran an extremely disciplined political campaign. Hamas alsomade use of its female supporters, sending them door-to-door to canvass voters and to pollingstations to campaign for Hamas’ candidates. These election strategies obviously worked in Hamas’ favor. Hamas has also amassed political capital through its resistance and military campaigns against the Israeli occupation. It was these actions which led to Hamas’ being labelled and treated as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union andseveral other western countries. In a political environment in which ordinary Palestinians feelcompletely powerless, Hamas’ acts of resistance and tough rhetoric gave Palestinians a senseof empowerment that may well be the reason for its electoral victory over its opponents.