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Islam and the West


John J. DeGioia

The remarkable feeling of proximity between people and nations is the unmistakable reality of our globalized world. Encounters with other peoples’ ways oflife, current affairs, politics, welfare and faithsare more frequent than ever. We are not onlyable to see other cultures more clearly, butalso to see our differences more sharply. The information intensity of modern life has madethis diversity of nations part of our every dayconsciousness and has led to the centrality ofculture in discerning our individual and collectiveviews of the world.Our challenges have also become global.The destinies of nations have become deeply interconnected. No matter where in the world we live, we are touched by the successes and failures of today’s global order. Yet our responses to global problems remain vastly different, not only as a result of rivalry and competing interests,but largely because our cultural difference is the lens through which we see these global challenges.Cultural diversity is not necessarily a source of clashes and conflict. In fact, the proximity and cross-cultural encounters very often bring about creative change – a change that is made possible by well-organized social collaboration.Collaboration across borders is growing primarily in the area of business and economic activity. Collaborative networks for innovation,production and distribution are emerging as the single most powerful shaper of the global economy.

why are there no arab democracies ?

Larry Diamond

During democratization’s “third wave,” democracy ceased being a mostly Western phenomenon and “went global.” When the third wave began in 1974, the world had only about 40 democracies, and only a few of them lay outside the West. By the time the Journal of Democracy began publishing in 1990, there were 76 electoral democracies (accounting for slightly less than half the world’s independent states). By 1995, that number had shot up to 117—three in every five states. By then, a critical mass of democracies existed in every major world region save one—the Middle East.1 Moreover, every one of the world’s major cultural realms had become host to a significant democratic presence, albeit again with a single exception—the Arab world.2 Fifteen years later, this exception still stands.
The continuing absence of even a single democratic regime in the Arab world is a striking anomaly—the principal exception to the globalization of democracy. Why is there no Arab democracy? Indeed, why is it the case that among the sixteen independent Arab states of the Middle East and coastal North Africa, Lebanon is the only one to have ever been a democracy?
The most common assumption about the Arab democracy deficit is that it must have something to do with religion or culture. After all, the one thing that all Arab countries share is that they are Arab.


Anthony Bubalo
Greg Fealy
Whit Mason

The fear of Islamists coming to power through elections has long been an obstacle to democratisation in authoritarian states of the Muslim world. Islamists have been, and continue to be, the best organised and most credible opposition movements in many of these countries.

They are also commonly, if not always correctly, assumed to be in the best position to capitalise on any democratic opening of their political systems. At the same time, the commitment of Islamists to democracy is often questioned. Indeed, when it comes to democracy, Islamism’s intellectual heritage and historical record (in terms of the few examples of Islamist-led states, such as Sudan and Iran) have not been reassuring. The apparent strength of Islamist movements, combined with suspicions about Islamism’s democratic compatibility, has been used by authoritarian governments as an argument to defl ect both domestic and international calls for political reform and democratisation.

Domestically, secular liberals have preferred to settle for nominally secular dictatorships over potentially religious ones. Internationally, Western governments have preferred friendly autocrats to democratically elected, but potentially hostile, Islamist-led governments.

The goal of this paper is to re-examine some of the assumptions about the risks of democratisation in authoritarian countries of the Muslim world (and not just in the Middle East) where strong Islamist movements or parties exist.

Interview with Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim

Daniel Benaim

In the weeks leading up to Egypt’s Presidential election, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim. Dr. Ibrahim is
perhaps Egypt’s best-known dissident intellectual and the Founder and Chairman of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies in Cairo, where I was a Summer Fellow in 2005. In June 2000, Dr. Ibrahim and two dozen of his associates were arrested and jailed on charges ranging from defrauding the European Union to disseminating information harmful to Egypt’s interests. After a
three-year ordeal during which Dr. Ibrahim (62years old at the time) was sentenced to seven years of hard laborall charges against him were dismissed by Egypt’s highest court and he was released from prison in 2003. Sitting in his office in a beautiful Islamic villa in Cairo’s Mokattam Heights, Dr. Ibrahim reflected on the prospects for democratization in Egypt and on his unique role in
Egyptian politics.
People have said that one of the major problems with the United States’ Middle East policy is a failure to predict and account for
change. Are the US and Western governments ready to deal with the possibility of religious
parties taking major roles across the region?
Religious parties have already taken control in Turkey, and I don’t see any reason why they cannot do it here. We are telling policymakers to be ready. I am telling everybody to get ready, because if we don’t open the process to religious
parties, then we will be beholden to the autocrats.
And if the autocrats continue, they will be the greatest help to the theocrats, who are their mirror image.

Muslim Civil Society in Urban Public Spaces: Globalization, Discursive Shifts, and Social Movements

Paul M. Lubeck
Bryana Britts
Cities are processes, not products. The three Islamic elements that set in motion the processes that give rise to Islamic cities were: a distinction between the members of the Umma and the outsiders, which led to juridical and spatial distinction by neighborhoods; the segregation of the sexes which gave rise to a particular solution to the question of spatial organization; and a legal system which, rather than imposing general regulations over land uses of various types in various places, left to the litigation of the neighbors the detailed adjudication of mutual rights over space and use. (Janet Abu Lughod 1987: 173)
Framing: Muslim Movements in Urban Situations We live in an intellectual moment when the complexity of the global Islamic
revival renders it difficult to generalize about Muslim institutions, social movements, and discursive practices. While diversity and locality remain paramount features of Muslim cities, globalization has inadvertently nurtured transnational Muslim networks from the homeland of Islam and extended them into the web of interconnected world cities. Quite opportunistically, urban-based
Muslim networks and insurrectionist movements now thrive in the interstitial spaces created by the new global communication and transportation infrastructures. What, then, are the long-term patterns for Muslims in cities? Since the last millennium, as Janet Abu-Lughod reminds us, “the Islamic cityhas been the primary site for: defining power relations between ruler and subject, specifying the rights and identities of spatial communities, and regulating urban social relations between genders. Today’s Muslim city remains the epicenter of a burgeoning public sphere in which informed publics debate highly contested Islamic discourses regarding social justice,



A little less than three months after presidential elections returned Hosni Mubarak to power (see ESISC note of 12.9.05) parliamentary elections ended in unprecedented violence.
The breath of democracy both Egyptians and the international community had hoped to feel hardly lasted any time. The regime of President Mubarak, who saw is power seriously eroded by the extraordinary advance of the Muslim Brotherhood, had no hesitation in turning to those totalitarian methods Egypt has sadly become used to in order to crush opposition: closing polling stations,
mass arrests, intimidation and demonstrations which left at least 12 people dead and hundreds injured.
But the elections, in spite of an extremely feeble turnout of 25%, are undoubtedly a turning point in the country’s fortunes. The result for the Muslim Brotherhood –which becomes the leading opposition party and gains six times as many seats as before, with 88 seats out of a total of 444, or one Islamist out of every five deputies – is a sign of a profound change in the national political
But the success of the Islamists is more a result of the accumulation of opposition votes than any ideological rallying by the people to radical Islam – although the rise in power of the Brotherhood is a cause for worry.


Mona El-Ghobashy

Jihane al-Halafawi’s small apartment above a barbershop in Alexandria is exceedingly

orderly, a cool oasis on a sweltering summer afternoon. Plant leaves brush up against
curtains undulating with the breeze from the nearby Mediterranean. As she walks into
the living room with a tray full of cakes and tea, al-Halafawi is the picture of a kindly
Egyptian mother, a genuine smile gracing her youthful face. But when this fifty-yearold
mother of six and grandmother announced her candidacy for Egypt’s parliamentary
elections in fall 2000, the state geared up amassive security force outside polling stations;
leftists shrugged her off as a “front” for her husband; and state feminists dedicated to the
electoral empowerment of women were silent.When Halafawi outperformed her rulingparty
rival in the first round, despite rigging, the Interior Ministry promptly stepped in
and canceled the results on the pretext of respecting an earlier court ruling postponing
the elections.
Alexandria’s al-Raml district went without parliamentary representation for two years

s al-Halafawi and her legal team battled the state in the courts. Finally, in June 2002,
a Supreme Administrative Court ruling compelled the Interior Ministry to hold the
by-elections.On election day, security forces blockaded roads leading to polling stations,
arrested al-Halafawi’s legal team and 101 of her supporters, roughed up journalists, and
stepped aside as public-sector workers bused in from outside the district voted for her

rival. Unusually, the six o’clock news was interrupted that evening to announce the
sweeping victory of the two ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) candidates in the
Raml by-elections.1
Al-Halafawi’s experience is one dramatic piece of a larger story, the story of the

group of which she is a part: the Society of Muslim Brothers (Jamaat al-Ikhwan al-
Muslimun).2 Over the past quarter-century, the Society of Muslim Brothers (Ikhwan)
has morphed from a highly secretive, hierarchical, antidemocratic organization led by
anointed elders into a modern, multivocal political association steered by educated,

savvy professionals not unlike activists of the same age in rival Egyptian political
parties. Seventy-seven years ago, the Muslim Brothers were founded in the provincial
city of Ismailiyya by the charismatic disciplinarian and shrewd organizer Hasan al-
Banna (1906–49).

Europe’s Engagement with Moderate Islamists

Kristina Kausch

Direct engagement1 with Islamist political movements has typically been a no-go for European governments. In recent years, however, the limits of the European Union’s (EU) stability-oriented approach towards cooperation with authoritarian rulers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to defend EU strategic interests in the region have become increasingly obvious. Incumbent MENA rulers’ attempts to portray the European choice of interlocutors in the region as either stabilising governments or de-stabilising Islamists are increasingly perceived as short-sighted and contradictory. Recent debates suggest that the search for viable alternative policy approaches is leading to a shift in European policy makers’ attitude towards moderate2 Islamist actors.
There is no shortage of incentives to redirect the course of EU policies in the region. Preventing the
radicalisation of Islamist movements in the region is an integral part of the EU’s counter-terrorism strategy. It
has become common wisdom that substantial political reform will only happen through effective pressure from
within. Non-violent, non-revolutionary Islamist parties that aspire to take power by means of a democratic
process have therefore often been portrayed as potential reform actors that carry the hopes of a volatile region
for genuine democratic development and long-term stability



Today, virtually every government wants to be seen as a democracy, but many resist allowing the basic human rights that would make democracy meaningful because that might jeopardize their grasp on power. Instead, governments use a variety of subterfuges to manage or undermine the electoral process. Their task is facilitated by the lack of a broadly accepted definition of ‘democracy’ akin to the detailed rules of international human rights law. But much of the problem lies in the fact that, because of commercial or strategic interests, the world’s established democracies often close their eyes to electoral manipulation, making it easier for sham democrats to pass themselves off as the real thing. That acquiescence undermines the efforts to promote human rights because it can be more difficult for human rights organizations to stigmatize a government for its human rights violations when that government can hold itself up as an accepted ‘democracy.’ The challenge facing the human rights movement is to highlight the ploys used by dictatorial regimes to feign democratic rule and to build pressure on the established democracies to refuse to admit these pretenders into the club of democracies on the cheap. Keywords: civil society, democracy promotion, dictatorship, elections,
electoral manipulation, political violence Rarely has democracy been so acclaimed yet so breached, so promoted yet so disrespected, so important yet so disappointing. Democracy has become the key to legitimacy. Few governments want to be seen as undemocratic. Yet the credentials of the claimants have not kept pace with democracy’s
growing popularity. These days, even overt dictators aspire to the status conferred by the democracy label. Determined not to let mere facts stand in their way, these rulers have mastered the art of democratic rhetoric which bears
little relationship to their practice of governing.
This growing tendency poses an enormous challenge to the human rights movement. Human rights groups can hardly oppose the promotion of democracy, but they must be wary that the embrace of democracy not become a subterfuge for avoiding the more demanding standards of international human rights law. Human rights groups must especially insist that their natural governmental allies – the established democracies – not allow competing interests and short-sighted strategies to stand in the way of their
embrace of a richer, more meaningful concept of democracy.



With President Hosni Mubarak’s surprise announcement to amend the constitution and to hold the first direct, multi-candidate presidential elections in September of this year, it appeared that the Egyptian government had made political reform a priority
and was committed to opening the door to greater political competition. The presidential election initially held symbolic significance and the promise of setting the stage for further reform and greater citizen participation. However, whether this symbolic step toward expanded democratic participation can be characterized as the start of a genuine democratic transition leading to a sustained system of democracy
remains in doubt. The 2005 parliamentary election process suggests otherwise.
The three rounds of parliamentary elections in November and December 2005 appear to have been deeply flawed and will be most remembered for escalating tension over each successive round and outright violence resulting in 12 deaths. Overt intimidation cast a menacing shadow over the second and third phases of elections in particular, and low voter turnout—as with the presidential election—was a notable feature that underscored continued citizen apathy in the political process. Vote buying
was also rampant. Yet despite this, it must be noted that open campaigning for opposition candidates was permitted and that some important procedural changes were made as a result of complaints emerging from the presidential election. Overall, the parliamentary elections seem to indicate that government policies have left the secular opposition extremely weak. Although Egypt does provide for political party engagement—a positive attribute in a region where political parties are not always allowed—the lack of genuine political competition is a pervasive problem that constitutes a major impediment to sustained democratic change.
The most notable features that shaped the electoral environment for parliamentary elections were the fracture and competition between official National Democratic Party-endorsed candidates and those not selected who ran as independents; the inevitable weakness of the secular opposition parties as a result of emergency laws that limited development; and the ability of the Muslim Brotherhood to campaign
freely and demonstrate its strength on the ground despite its status as an illegal
The new parliament, comprised of a majority of NDP members, the near absence of opposition party members, and a solid minority bloc of independents affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood will present a new challenge for the regime and leave democratic reformers uncertain as to their future.

Egypt in the 21st Century

Bruce Rutherford

Egypt: a brief history!
• “As Egypt goes, so go the Arabs”
• Intellectual & cultural center of Arab world
• Birth place of modern Arab na8onalism
• Largest Arab popula8on (80+ million)
• Largest army in Arab world
• Second largest economy in Arab world
• Advantageous geographical loca8on ( Suez Canal,
Nile, Mediterranean, etc.)
• Educa8onal, poli8cal, cultural, etc. influence over
the Arab world

• 1952 dissa8sfied Army Officers overthrew King Farouk

(Bri8sh Installed & supported)

• Gamal Abdel Nasser (President 1956‐1970)

– Charisma8c leader

– Champion of Arab na8onalism & Arab Socialism

– Suppressed all poli8cal opposi8ons (including the Muslim


– Kept a 8ght control on the economy and poli8cal life

(na8onalized most private businesses)

– 1967 war with Israel

– Economy went from bad to worse under Nasser

– Now, Nasser is a cult figure through the Arab world &


Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan

The Islamic movement in Jordan came to international attention in thewake of the April 1989 disturbances and the subsequent November 1989 parliamentary elections. These developments highlighted the movement’s political clout and raised the spectre in the West of an Iranian-style Islamic revolution in Jordan, fuelled by radical Islamic movements such as those of Egypt and the Maghrib. While various political trends competed for influence during the months prior to the elections, the Muslim Brotherhood had a clear advantage; its infrastructure in the mosques, the Qur’anicschools and the universities gave it a ready-made political base. The leftistand pro-regime groups, on the other hand, had to create de facto politicalparties—still legally banned—and to build their organizational base almostex nihilo, or to transform a clandestine infrastructure into an overt politicalone. There should have been very little surprise, therefore, when the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist candidates won a windfall of 32 of the 80seats in Parliament.Politicization of Islam is not new in Jordan.1 Since the foundation of the Emirate of Trans jordan by ‘Abdallah, Islam has served as one of the building blocks of regime legitimacy and of nation-building. The genealogy of the Hashemite family as scions of the Prophet’s tribe was an important source of legitimacy for its rule in Syria, Iraq and Jordan, as it had been inthe Hijaz. The ideology of the “Great Arab Revolt” was no less Islamic than it was Arab, and the control of Jerusalem after 1948 was interpretedby the regime as an Islamic responsibility and not only an Arab one.2King ‘Abdallah and his grandson Hussein, took care to present themselvesas believing Muslims, appearing at rituals and prayers, performing the pilgrimage to Mecca and embellishing their speeches with Islamic motifs.3The status of Islam in the Kingdom was also formalized in the Jordanian constitution (1952) by stipulating that Islam is the religion of the kingdom and that the king must be a Muslim and of Muslim parents. Islamic law(Shari‘a) is defined in the constitution as one of the pillars of legislation in the kingdom, while family law is in the exclusive hands of the Shari‘a courts.


Georg-Sebastian Holzer

Since the attacks of 9/11 Somalia has become the subject of renewed attention from the United States and Europe. As thearchetype of a failed state, the threat it poses has been equated to that which the US faced in Afghanistan and is seen as a fertile groundfor radical Islamic groups, in particular al-Qaeda. However Islam in Somalia has a distinct nature. An examination of its history leads to an understanding of the complex relationship between religion and Somaliclan-based society. A closer investigation of two of the most importantIslamist groups, al-Itihaad and the Council of Islamic Courts, will helpto comprehend this relationship within the context of contemporary Somalia. Finally, this article analyses the role of Islam in Somalia’s new economy by focusing on the example of the remittance and telecommunication company al-Barakaat that was linked to al-Qaeda by the US afterthe 9/11 terrorist attacks.THE DISTINCT NATURE OF ISLAM IN SOMALIA The history of Islam at the Horn of Africa stretches back 1400years. The faith reached the Horn of Africa from the Arabian Peninsula through trade and migration, mainly from Yemen and Oman.1By 1400AD, a large-scale conversion to Islam was taking place in Somalia, first spread by the Dir clan family, but followed by the restof the nation.2 In Somalia today, almost 100% of the population are Sunni Muslim, generally adhering to a Shafi’i version of the religion.As I.M. Lewis has pointed out, this was closely linked to thegenealogical myths of Somali clan identity and is characterized by the veneration of saints as well as ancestors of various Somali clans.Apolitical Sufism has traditionally dominated this faith.

Claiming the Center: Political Islam in Transition

John L. Esposito

In the 1990s political Islam, what some call “Islamic fundamentalism,” remains a major presence in government and in oppositional politics from North Africa to Southeast Asia. Political Islam in power and in politics has raised many issues and questions: “Is Islam antithetical to modernization?,” “Are Islam and democracy incompatible?,” “What are the implications of an Islamic government for pluralism, minority and women’s rights,” “How representative are Islamists,” “Are there Islamic moderates?,” “Should the West fear a transnational Islamic threat or clash of civilizations?” Contemporary Islamic Revivalism The landscape of the Muslim world today reveals the emergence of new Islamic republics (Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan), the proliferation of Islamic movements that function as major political and social actors within existing systems, and the confrontational politics of radical violent extremists._ In contrast to the 1980s when political Islam was simply equated with revolutionary Iran or clandestine groups with names like Islamic jihad or the Army of God, the Muslim world in the 1990s is one in which Islamists have participated in the electoral process and are visible as prime ministers, cabinet officers, speakers of national assemblies, parliamentarians, and mayors in countries as diverse as Egypt, Sudan, Turkey, Iran, Lebanon, Kuwait, Yemen, Jordan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Israel/Palestine. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, political Islam continues to be a major force for order and disorder in global politics, one that participates in the political process but also in acts of terrorism, a challenge to the Muslim world and to the West. Understanding the nature of political Islam today, and in particular the issues and questions that have emerged from the experience of the recent past, remains critical for governments, policymakers, and students of international politics alike.

Islam and Democracy

Dalia Mogahed

Islam in politics has been asserted in many countries in the Muslim world through democratic elections. Islamist parties have gained varying degreesof political power in Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, and the occupied Palestinian territories, and have widespread influence in Morocco and Jordan. Now, more than ever, Western governments, alarmed by this outcome, have raised the perennial question: Is Islam compatible with democracy?A recent in-depth Gallup survey in 10 predominantly Muslim countries,representing more than 80% of the global Muslim population, shows that whenasked what they admire most about the West, Muslims frequently mention political freedom, liberty, fair judicial systems, and freedom of speech. When asked to critique their own societies, extremism and inadequate adherence to Islamic teachings were their top grievances.However, while Muslims say they admire freedom and an open political system,Gallup surveys suggest that they do not believe they must choose between Islam and democracy, but rather, that the two can co-exist inside one functional government.

Egyptian Politics 2006

Sarah Ben Néfissa

The year 2006 in Egyptian politics was preceded by aperiod of an unprecedentedly broad-based movement for democracy, political and institutional reforms, the first‘pluralist’ presidential elections, which confirmed Hosni Mubarak in his post and finally, legislative elections, withthe significant entry of the Muslim Brotherhood into thePeople’s Assembly, which won 88 out of a total of 444seats. The year 2006 itself, on the other hand, was characterised by an ebb of democratic activism, the regime’s return to authoritarian methods and above all,the consolidation of the ‘hereditary political succession’scenario, with Gamal Mubarak succeeding his father. Inany case, the regional situation, inparticularwith the victory of Hamas in Palestine, the war waged by Hezbollah against the Israeli military forces in Lebanon and the rise of Iran as a possible future regional power,contributed significantly to diminishing international and particularly US pressure for democratisation of the Egyptian regime. The latter thus consolidated its continuity. Egypt 2006 was likewise the stage for important social movements, as if the changeof political climate in 2005 had had delayed effects onother spheres, in this case, the social and labourmilieus.The democratic movement instigated and developed among the ranks of the political and intellectual elitesubsided in 2006 due to a series of factors: thedisillusionment generated by the poor political and institutional results of 2005; the demobilisation of part of the actors; the repressive stance taken against them;and finally, increasing internal division. This was preciselythe case with the EgyptianMovement forChange, better known by its slogan, ‘Kifaya,’ or ‘Enough,’ which wassingular because it united all branches of politicalopposition in the country, including the Islamist political tendency.