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The Arab Tomorrow


October 6, 1981, was meant to be a day of celebration in Egypt. It marked the anniversary of Egypt’s grandest moment of victory in three Arab-Israeli conflicts, when the country’s underdog army thrust across the Suez Canal in the opening days ofthe 1973 Yom Kippur War and sent Israeli troops reeling in retreat. On a cool, cloudless morning, the Cairo stadium was packed with Egyptian families that had come to see the military strut its hardware.On the reviewing stand, President Anwar el-Sadat,the war’s architect, watched with satisfaction as men and machines paraded before him. I was nearby, a newly arrived foreign correspondent.Suddenly, en av arméns lastbilar stannade direkt framför granskningsläktaren precis när sex Mirage-jetplan vrålade ovanför i en akrobatisk föreställning, måla himlen med långa spår av rött, gul, lila,och grön rök. Sadat reste sig, uppenbarligen förbereder sig för att utbyta hälsningar med ännu en kontingent av egyptiska trupper. Han gjorde sig själv till ett perfekt mål för fyra islamistiska mördare som hoppade från lastbilen, stormade pallen, och fyllde sin kropp med kulor. När mördarna fortsatte under vad som verkade vara en evighet att spraya stativet med sin dödliga eld, Jag funderade ett ögonblick på om jag skulle slå i marken och riskera att bli trampad ihjäl av panikslagna åskådare eller stanna kvar och riskera att ta en lös kula. Instinkten sa åt mig att hålla mig på benen, och min känsla av journalistisk plikt fick mig att gå och ta reda på om Sadat levde eller var död.

Challenging Authoritarianism, Kolonialism, and Disunity: The Islamic Political Reform Movements of al-Afghani and Rida

Ahmed Ali Salem

The decline of the Muslim world preceded European colonization of most

Muslim lands in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first
quarter of the twentieth century. In particular, the Ottoman Empire’s
power and world status had been deteriorating since the seventeenth century.
But, more important for Muslim scholars, it had ceased to meet

some basic requirements of its position as the caliphate, the supreme and
sovereign political entity to which all Muslims should be loyal.
Därför, some of the empire’s Muslim scholars and intellectuals called
for political reform even before the European encroachment upon
Muslim lands. The reforms that they envisaged were not only Islamic, but
also Ottomanic – from within the Ottoman framework.

These reformers perceived the decline of the Muslim world in general,

and of the Ottoman Empire in particular, to be the result of an increasing

disregard for implementing the Shari`ah (Islamic law). However, since the

late eighteenth century, an increasing number of reformers, sometimes supported

by the Ottoman sultans, began to call for reforming the empire along

modern European lines. The empire’s failure to defend its lands and to

respond successfully to the West’s challenges only further fueled this call

for “modernizing” reform, which reached its peak in the Tanzimat movement

in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Other Muslim reformers called for a middle course. On the one hand,

they admitted that the caliphate should be modeled according to the Islamic

sources of guidance, especially the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad’s

teachings (Sunnah), and that the ummah’s (the world Muslim community)

unity is one of Islam’s political pillars. On the other hand, they realized the

need to rejuvenate the empire or replace it with a more viable one. Verkligen,

their creative ideas on future models included, but were not limited to, the

following: replacing the Turkish-led Ottoman Empire with an Arab-led

caliphate, building a federal or confederate Muslim caliphate, establishing

a commonwealth of Muslim or oriental nations, and strengthening solidarity

and cooperation among independent Muslim countries without creating

a fixed structure. These and similar ideas were later referred to as the

Muslim league model, which was an umbrella thesis for the various proposals

related to the future caliphate.

Two advocates of such reform were Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and

Muhammad `Abduh, both of whom played key roles in the modern

Islamic political reform movement.1 Their response to the dual challenge

facing the Muslim world in the late nineteenth century – European colonization

and Muslim decline – was balanced. Their ultimate goal was to

revive the ummah by observing the Islamic revelation and benefiting

from Europe’s achievements. However, they disagreed on certain aspects

and methods, as well as the immediate goals and strategies, of reform.

While al-Afghani called and struggled mainly for political reform,

`Abduh, once one of his close disciples, developed his own ideas, which

emphasized education and undermined politics.

Organizational Continuity in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

Tess Lee Eisenhart

As Egypt’s oldest and most prominent opposition movement, the Society of

Muslim Brothers, al-ikhwan al-muslimeen, has long posed a challenge to successive secular
regimes by offering a comprehensive vision of an Islamic state and extensive social
welfare services. Since its founding in 1928, the Brotherhood (bror) has thrived in a
parallel religious and social services sector, generally avoiding direct confrontation with
ruling regimes.1 More recently over the past two decades, dock, the Brotherhood has
dabbled with partisanship in the formal political realm. This experiment culminated in
the election of the eighty-eight Brothers to the People’s Assembly in 2005—the largest
oppositional bloc in modern Egyptian history—and the subsequent arrests of nearly
1,000 Brothers.2 The electoral advance into mainstream politics provides ample fodder
for scholars to test theories and make predictions about the future of the Egyptian
regimen: will it fall to the Islamist opposition or remain a beacon of secularism in the
Arab world?
This thesis shies away from making such broad speculations. Instead, it explores

the extent to which the Muslim Brotherhood has adapted as an organization in the past

sekularism, hermeneutics, and Empire: The Politics of Islamic Reformation

Saba Mahmood

Since the events of September 11, 2001, against the

backdrop of two decades of the ascendance of global religious politics, urgent
calls for the reinstatement of secularism have reached a crescendo that cannot
be ignored. The most obvious target of these strident calls is Islam, särskilt
those practices and discourses within Islam that are suspected of fostering fundamentalism
and militancy. It has become de rigueur for leftists and liberals alike
to link the fate of democracy in the Muslim world with the institutionalization

of secularism — both as a political doctrine and as a political ethic. This coupling
is now broadly echoed within the discourse emanating from the U.S. State
Department, particularly in its programmatic efforts to reshape and transform
“Islam from within.” In this essay, I will examine both the particular conception
of secularism that underlies the current consensus that Islam needs to be
reformed — that its secularization is a necessary step in bringing “democracy” to
the Muslim world — and the strategic means by which this programmatic vision is
being instituted today. Insomuch as secularism is a historically shifting category
with a variegated genealogy, my aim is not to secure an authoritative definition of
secularism or to trace its historical transformation within the United States or the
muslimska världen. My goal here is more limited: I want to sketch out the particular
understanding of secularism underlying contemporary American discourses on
Islam, an understanding that is deeply shaped by U.S. security and foreign policy
concerns in the Muslim world.

Hizbollah’s Political Manifesto 2009

Following World War II, the United States became the centre of polarization and hegemony in the world; as such a project witnessed tremendous development on the levels of domination and subjugation that is unprecedented in history, making use and taking advantage of the multifaceted achievements on the several levels of knowledge, culture, technology, economy as well as the military level- that are supported by an economic-political system that only views the world as markets that have to abide by the American view.
The most dangerous aspect in the western hegemony-the American one precisely- is that they consider themselves as owners of the world and therefore, this expandin strategy along with the economic-capitalist project has become awestern expanding strategythat turned to be an international scheme of limitless greed. Savage capitalism forces- embodied mainly in international monopoly networks o fcompanies that cross the nations and continents, networks of various international establishments especially the financial ones backed by superior military force have led to more contradictions and conflicts of which not less important are the conflicts of identities, cultures, civilizations, in addition to the conflicts of poverty and wealth. These savage capitalism forces have turned into mechanisms of sowing dissension and destroying identities as well as imposing the most dangerous type of cultural,
national, economic as well as social theft .

Islamic Political Culture, Demokrati, and Human Rights

Daniel E. Pris

It has been argued that Islam facilitates authoritarianism, contradicts the

values of Western societies, and significantly affects important political outcomes

in Muslim nations. Consequently, scholars, commentators, and government

tjänstemän pekar ofta på "islamisk fundamentalism" som nästa

ideologiskt hot mot liberala demokratier. This view, dock, baseras i första hand

om analys av texter, Islamic political theory, och ad hoc-studier

enskilda länder, som inte tar hänsyn till andra faktorer. Det är mitt påstående

att islams texter och traditioner, som andra religioner,

kan användas för att stödja en mängd olika politiska system och politik. Land

specifika och beskrivande studier hjälper oss inte att hitta mönster som hjälper

vi förklarar de olika relationerna mellan islam och politik över hela världen

länder i den muslimska världen. Därmed, ett nytt tillvägagångssätt för att studera

koppling mellan islam och politik efterfrågas.
jag föreslår, genom en rigorös utvärdering av relationen mellan islam,

demokrati, och mänskliga rättigheter på gränsöverskridande nivå, det för mycket

betoning läggs på islams makt som politisk kraft. jag först

använda jämförande fallstudier, som fokuserar på faktorer relaterade till samspelet

mellan islamiska grupper och regimer, economic influences, ethnic cleavages,

and societal development, att förklara variansen i påverkan av

Islam om politik i åtta nationer.

Islamic Political Culture, Demokrati, and Human Rights

Daniel E. Pris

It has been argued that Islam facilitates authoritarianism, contradicts the

values of Western societies, and significantly affects important political outcomes
in Muslim nations. Consequently, scholars, commentators, and government
tjänstemän pekar ofta på "islamisk fundamentalism" som nästa
ideologiskt hot mot liberala demokratier. This view, dock, baseras i första hand
om analys av texter, Islamic political theory, och ad hoc-studier
enskilda länder, som inte tar hänsyn till andra faktorer. Det är mitt påstående
att islams texter och traditioner, som andra religioner,
kan användas för att stödja en mängd olika politiska system och politik. Land
specifika och beskrivande studier hjälper oss inte att hitta mönster som hjälper
vi förklarar de olika relationerna mellan islam och politik över hela världen
länder i den muslimska världen. Därmed, ett nytt tillvägagångssätt för att studera
koppling mellan islam och politik efterfrågas.
jag föreslår, genom en rigorös utvärdering av relationen mellan islam,
demokrati, och mänskliga rättigheter på gränsöverskridande nivå, det för mycket
betoning läggs på islams makt som politisk kraft. jag först
använda jämförande fallstudier, som fokuserar på faktorer relaterade till samspelet
mellan islamiska grupper och regimer, economic influences, ethnic cleavages,

and societal development, att förklara variansen i påverkan av

Islam om politik i åtta nationer.

Islamistiska oppositionspartier och potentialen för EU-engagemang

Toby Archer

Heidi Huuhtanen

I ljuset av den ökande betydelsen av islamistiska rörelser i den muslimska världen och

hur radikaliseringen har påverkat globala händelser sedan sekelskiftet, Det

är viktigt för EU att utvärdera sin politik gentemot aktörer inom vad som kan vara löst

kallad den "islamiska världen". Det är särskilt viktigt att fråga sig om och hur man ska engagera sig

med de olika islamistiska grupperna.

Detta är fortfarande kontroversiellt även inom EU. Vissa känner att islam värdesätter det

ligga bakom islamistiska partier är helt enkelt oförenliga med västerländska ideal om demokrati och

mänskliga rättigheter, medan andra ser engagemang som en realistisk nödvändighet på grund av den växande

domestic importance of Islamist parties and their increasing involvement in international

affairs. Another perspective is that democratisation in the Muslim world would increase

European security. The validity of these and other arguments over whether and how the

EU should engage can only be tested by studying the different Islamist movements and

their political circumstances, country by country.

Democratisation is a central theme of the EU’s common foreign policy actions, as laid

out in Article 11 of the Treaty on European Union. Many of the states considered in this

report are not democratic, or not fully democratic. In most of these countries, Islamist

parties and movements constitute a significant opposition to the prevailing regimes, och

in some they form the largest opposition bloc. European democracies have long had to

ta itu med styrande regimer som är auktoritära, men det är ett nytt fenomen att trycka på

för demokratiska reformer i stater där de mest sannolika förmånstagarna kan ha, från

EU:s synvinkel, olika och ibland problematiska synsätt på demokrati och dess

relaterade värden, såsom minoriteter och kvinnors rättigheter och rättsstatsprincipen. Dessa avgifter är

ofta mot islamistiska rörelser, så det är viktigt för europeiska beslutsfattare att göra det

ha en korrekt bild av potentiella partners politik och filosofi.

Erfarenheter från olika länder tenderar att tyda på att desto mer frihet islamistiska

fester är tillåtna, desto mer moderata är de i sina handlingar och idéer. I många

islamistiska partier och grupper har sedan länge flyttat från sitt ursprungliga syfte

of establishing an Islamic state governed by Islamic law, and have come to accept basic

democratic principles of electoral competition for power, the existence of other political

competitors, and political pluralism.

Political Islam in the Middle East

är Knudsen

This report provides an introduction to selected aspects of the phenomenon commonly

referred to as “political Islam”. The report gives special emphasis to the Middle East, in

particular the Levantine countries, and outlines two aspects of the Islamist movement that may

be considered polar opposites: democracy and political violence. In the third section the report

reviews some of the main theories used to explain the Islamic resurgence in the Middle East

(Figure 1). In brief, the report shows that Islam need not be incompatible with democracy and

that there is a tendency to neglect the fact that many Middle Eastern countries have been

engaged in a brutal suppression of Islamist movements, causing them, some argue, to take up

arms against the state, and more rarely, foreign countries. The use of political violence is

widespread in the Middle East, but is neither illogical nor irrational. In many cases even

Islamist groups known for their use of violence have been transformed into peaceful political

parties successfully contesting municipal and national elections. Nonetheless, the Islamist

revival in the Middle East remains in part unexplained despite a number of theories seeking to

account for its growth and popular appeal. In general, most theories hold that Islamism is a

reaction to relative deprivation, especially social inequality and political oppression. Alternative

theories seek the answer to the Islamist revival within the confines of religion itself and the

powerful, evocative potential of religious symbolism.

The conclusion argues in favour of moving beyond the “gloom and doom” approach that

portrays Islamism as an illegitimate political expression and a potential threat to the West (“Old

Islamism”), and of a more nuanced understanding of the current democratisation of the Islamist

movement that is now taking place throughout the Middle East (“New Islamism”). This

importance of understanding the ideological roots of the “New Islamism” is foregrounded

along with the need for thorough first-hand knowledge of Islamist movements and their

adherents. As social movements, its is argued that more emphasis needs to be placed on

understanding the ways in which they have been capable of harnessing the aspirations not only

of the poorer sections of society but also of the middle class.

Islamist Parties : why they can’t be democratic

Bassam Tibi

Noting Islamism’s growing appeal and strength on the ground, many

Western scholars and officials have been grasping for some way to take

an inclusionary approach toward it. In keeping with this desire, det har

become fashionable contemptuously to dismiss the idea of insisting on

clear and rigorous distinctions as “academic.” When it comes to Islam

and democracy, this deplorable fashion has been fraught with unfortunate


Intelligent discussion of Islamism, demokrati, and Islam requires

clear and accurate definitions. Without them, analysis will collapse into

confusion and policy making will suffer. My own view, formed after

thirty years of study and reflection regarding the matter, is that Islam and

democracy are indeed compatible, provided that certain necessary religious

reforms are made. The propensity to deliver on such reforms is what

I see as lacking in political Islam. My own avowed interest—as an Arab-

Muslim prodemocracy theorist and practitioner—is to promote the establishment

of secular democracy within the ambit of Islamic civilization.

In order to help clear away the confusion that all too often surrounds

this topic, I will lay out several basic points to bear in mind. The first is

that, so far, Western practices vis-`a-vis political Islam have been faulty

because they have lacked the underpinning of a well-founded assessment.

Unless blind luck intervenes, no policy can be better than the assessment

upon which it is based. Proper assessment is the beginning of

all practical wisdom.




Political Islam is the single most active political force in the Middle East today. Its future is intimately tied to that of the region. If the United States and the European Union are committed to supporting political reform in the region, they will need to devise concrete, coherent strategies for engaging Islamist groups. Yet, USA. has generally been unwilling to open a dialogue with these movements. Liknande, EU engagement with Islamists has been the exception, not the rule. Where low-level contacts exist, they mainly serve information-gathering purposes, not strategic objectives. The U.S. and EU have a number of programs that address economic and political development in the region – among them the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the Union for the Mediterranean, and the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) – yet they have little to say about how the challenge of Islamist political opposition fits within broader regional objectives. US. and EU democracy assistance and programming are directed almost entirely to either authoritarian governments themselves or secular civil society groups with minimal support in their own societies.
The time is ripe for a reassessment of current policies. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Att stödja demokrati i Mellanöstern har fått en större betydelse för västerländska beslutsfattare, som ser ett samband mellan brist på demokrati och politiskt våld. Större uppmärksamhet har ägnats åt att förstå variationerna inom politisk islam. Den nya amerikanska administrationen är mer öppen för att bredda kommunikationen med den muslimska världen. Under tiden, den stora majoriteten av mainstream islamistiska organisationer – inklusive Muslimska brödraskapet i Egypten, Jordans islamiska aktionsfront (IAF), Marockos parti för rättvisa och utveckling (PJD), den islamiska konstitutionella rörelsen i Kuwait, och Yemeni Islah Party – har alltmer gjort stöd för politiska reformer och demokrati till en central komponent i sina politiska plattformar. För övrigt, många har signalerat ett starkt intresse för att inleda en dialog med U.S. och EU:s regeringar.
Framtiden för förbindelserna mellan västerländska nationer och Mellanöstern kan till stor del bestämmas av i vilken grad de tidigare engagerar ickevåldsliga islamistiska partier i en bred dialog om gemensamma intressen och mål. Det har nyligen skett en ökning av studier om engagemang med islamister, men få tar tydligt upp vad det kan innebära i praktiken. Som Zoe Nautre, gäststipendiat vid German Council on Foreign Relations, sätter det, "EU funderar på engagemang men vet inte riktigt hur."1 I hopp om att förtydliga diskussionen, vi skiljer mellan tre nivåer av ”engagemang,” var och en med olika medel och mål: lågnivåkontakter, strategisk dialog, och partnerskap.


Nathan J. Brun, Amr Hamzawy,

Marina Ottaway

During the last decade, Islamist movements have established themselves as major political players in the Middle East. Together with the governments, Islamist movements, moderate as well as radical, will determine how the politics of the region unfold in the foreseeable future. Th ey have shown the ability not only to craft messages with widespread popular appeal but also, and most importantly, to create organizations with genuine social bases and develop coherent political strategies. Other parties,
by and large, have failed on all accounts.
Th e public in the West and, särskilt, the United States, has only become aware of the importance of Islamist movements after dramatic events, som revolutionen i Iran och mordet på president Anwar al-Sadat i Egypten. Uppmärksamheten har varit mycket större sedan terrorattackerna i september 11, 2001. Som ett resultat, Islamistiska rörelser anses allmänt vara farliga och fientliga. Även om en sådan karaktärisering är korrekt när det gäller organisationer i den radikala änden av det islamistiska spektrumet, som är farliga på grund av deras villighet att ta till urskillningslöst våld för att nå sina mål, det är inte en korrekt beskrivning av de många grupper som har avstått från eller undvikit våld. Eftersom terroristorganisationer utgör en omedelbar
hot, dock, beslutsfattare i alla länder har ägnat de våldsamma organisationerna oproportionerlig uppmärksamhet.
Det är de vanliga islamistiska organisationerna, inte de radikala, that will have the greatest impact on the future political evolution of the Middle East. Th e radicals’ grandiose goals of re-establishing a caliphate uniting the entire Arab world, or even of imposing on individual Arab countries laws and social customs inspired by a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam are simply too far removed from today’s reality to be realized. Th is does not mean that terrorist groups are not dangerous—they could cause great loss of life even in the pursuit of impossible goals—but that they are unlikely to change the face of the Middle East. Mainstream Islamist organizations are generally a diff erent matter. Th ey already have had a powerful impact on social customs in many countries, halting and reversing secularist trends and changing the way many Arabs dress and behave. And their immediate political goal, to become a powerful force by participating in the normal politics of their country, is not an impossible one. It is already being realized in countries such as Morocco, Jordanien, and even Egypt, which still bans all Islamist political organizations but now has eighty-eight Muslim Brothers in the Parliament. Politik, not violence, is what gives mainstream Islamists their infl uence.

Political Islam and European Foreign Policy




Since 2001 and the international events that ensued the nature of the relationship between the West and political Islam has become a definingissue for foreign policy. In recent years a considerable amount of research and analysis has been undertaken on the issue of political Islam. This has helped to correct some of the simplistic and alarmist assumptions previously held in the West about the nature of Islamist values and intentions. Parallel to this, the European Union (USA) has developed a number of policy initiatives primarily the European Neighbourhood Policy(ENP) that in principle commit to dialogue and deeper engagement all(non-violent) political actors and civil society organisations within Arab countries. Yet many analysts and policy-makers now complain of a certain a trophy in both conceptual debate and policy development. It has been established that political Islam is a changing landscape, deeply affected bya range of circumstances, but debate often seems to have stuck on the simplistic question of ‘are Islamists democratic?’ Many independent analysts have nevertheless advocated engagement with Islamists, but theactual rapprochement between Western governments and Islamist organisations remains limited .


youssef H. Aboul-Enein
Sherifa Zuhur

The United States no doubt will be involved in the Middle East for many decades. To be sure, settling the Israeli–Palestinian dispute or alleviating poverty could help to stem the tides of Islamic radicalism and anti-American sentiment. But on an ideological level, we must confront a specific interpretation of Islamic law, history,and scripture that is a danger to both the United States and its allies. To win that ideological war, we must understand the sources of both Islamic radicalism and liberalism. We need to comprehend more thoroughly the ways in which militants misinterpret and pervert Islamic scripture. Al-Qaeda has produced its own group of spokespersons who attempt to provide religious legitimacy to the nihilism they preach. Many frequently quote from the Quran and hadith (the Prophet Muhammad’s sayings and deeds) in a biased manner to draw justification for their cause. Lieutenant Commander Youssef Aboul-Enein and Dr. Sherifa Zuhur delve into the Quran and hadith to articulate a means by which Islamic militancy can be countered ideologically, drawing many of their insights from these and other classical Islamic texts. In so doing, they expose contradictions and alternative approaches in the core principles that groups like al-Qaeda espouse. The authors have found that proper use of Islamic scripture actually discredits the tactics of al-Qaeda and other jihadist organizations. This monograph provides a basis for encouraging our Muslim allies to challenge the theology supported by Islamic militants. Seeds of doubt planted in the minds of suicide bombers might dissuade them from carrying out their missions. The Strategic Studies Institute is pleased to offer this study of Islamic rulings on warfare to the national defense community as an effort to contribute to the ongoing debate over how to defeat Islamic militancy.

Från rebellrörelse till politiskt parti

Alastair Crooke

Den åsikt som många i väst hade att omvandlingen från en väpnad motståndsrörelse till ett politiskt parti borde vara linjär, bör föregås av ett avstående från våld, bör underlättas av civilsamhället och förmedlas av moderata politiker har liten verklighet för fallet med den islamiska motståndsrörelsen (Hamas). Detta innebär inte att Hamas inte har varit föremål för en politisk omvandling: det har. But that transformation has been achieved in spite of Western efforts and not facilitated by those efforts. While remaining a resistance movement, Hamas has become the government of the Palestinian Authority and has modified its military posture. But this transformation has taken a different course from the one outlined in traditional conflict resolution models. Hamas and other Islamist groups continue to see themselves as resistance movements, but increasingly they see the prospect that their organizations may evolve into political currents that are focused on non-violent resistance.Standard conflict resolution models rely heavily on Western experience in conflict resolution and often ignore the differences of approach in the Islamic history of peace-making. Not surprisingly, the Hamas approach to political negotiation is different in style to that of the West. Also, as an Islamist movement that shares the wider optic of the impact of the West on their societies, Hamas has requirements of authenticity and legitimacy within its own constituency that bear on the importance attached to maintaining an armed capability. These factors, together with the overwhelming effect of long term conflict on a community’s psychology (an aspect that receives little attention in Western models that put preponderant weight on political analysis), suggests that the transformation process for Hamas has been very different from the transformation of arms movements in traditional analysis. För övrigt, det hårda landskapet i den israelisk-palestinska konflikten ger Hamas-upplevelsen dess speciella egenskaper. Hamas är mitt uppe i en viktig omvandling, utan de politiska strömningarna inom Israel, och inom regionen, göra resultatet av denna omvandling oförutsägbart. Mycket kommer att bero på den västerländska politikens gång (dess "Global War on Terror") och hur den politiken påverkar väckelse islamistiska grupper som Hamas, grupper som är engagerade i val, reformer och god förvaltning.

Arab Reform Bulletin

group of researchers

egypten: Regression in the Muslim Brotherhood’s Party Platform?

Amr hamzawy

The Muslim Brotherhood’s draft party platform sends mixed signals about the movement’s political views

and positions. Although it has already been widely circulated, the document does not yet have final
approval from the movement’s guidance bureau.
The platform’s detailed treatment of political, social, and economic issues marks a significant departure
from previously less developed positions, articulated inter alia in a 2004 reform initiative and the 2005
electoral platform for Brotherhood parliamentary candidates. This shift addresses one of the most
important criticisms of the Brotherhood, namely its championing of vague ideological and religious

slogans and inability to come up with specific policy prescriptions.
The document raises troubling questions, dock, regarding the identity of a future Brotherhood

political party as well as the group’s position on several political and social issues. Released in the
context of an ongoing stand-off between the Egyptian regime and the Brotherhood, it reveals significant
ambiguities and perhaps regression in the movement’s thinking.
First, the drafters chose not to address the future relationship between the party and the movement. I

doing so, they have deliberately ignored important ideas recently discussed within the movement,
especially among members of the parliamentary bloc. Inspired by the experiences of Islamist parties in
Marocko, Jordanien, and Yemen, these members advocate a functional separation between a party and
the movement, with the former focused mainly on political participation and the latter on religious
activism. In addition to its superficial treatment of the nature of the party and its internal organization, the
platform includes no clear statement on opening party membership to all Egyptians regardless of their
religion, one of the requirements for establishing a political party according to the Egyptian constitution.
Second, the draft Brotherhood platform identifies implementation of sharia as one of the party’s main

goals. Although this is consistent with the group’s interpretation of Article 2 of the Egyptian Constitution
(“Islam is the religion of the state, and Islamic law is the main source of legislation”), it departs from the
pragmatic spirit of various Brotherhood statements and initiatives since 2004 in which less emphasis
was given to the sharia issue. The return to a focus on sharia in the platform has led to positions
fundamentally at odds with the civil nature of the state and full citizenship rights regardless of religious