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Iraq and the Future of Political Islam

James Piscatori

Sixty-five years ago one of the greatest scholars of modern Islam asked the simple question, “whither Islam?”, where was the Islamic world going? It was a time of intense turmoil in both the Western and Muslim worlds – the demise of imperialism and crystallisation of a new state system outside Europe; the creation and testing of the neo- Wilsonian world order in the League of Nations; the emergence of European Fascism. Sir Hamilton Gibb recognised that Muslim societies, unable to avoid such world trends, were also faced with the equally inescapable penetration of nationalism, secularism, and Westernisation. While he prudently warned against making predictions – hazards for all of us interested in Middle Eastern and Islamic politics – he felt sure of two things:
(ένα) the Islamic world would move between the ideal of solidarity and the realities of division;
(b) the key to the future lay in leadership, or who speaks authoritatively for Islam.
Today Gibb’s prognostications may well have renewed relevance as we face a deepening crisis over Iraq, the unfolding of an expansive and controversial war on terror, and the continuing Palestinian problem. In this lecture I would like to look at the factors that may affect the course of Muslim politics in the present period and near-term future. Although the points I will raise are likely to have broader relevance, I will draw mainly on the case of the Arab world.
Assumptions about Political Islam There is no lack of predictions when it comes to a politicised Islam or Islamism. ‘Islamism’ is best understood as a sense that something has gone wrong with contemporary Muslim societies and that the solution must lie in a range of political action. Often used interchangeably with ‘fundamentalism’, Islamism is better equated with ‘political Islam’. Several commentators have proclaimed its demise and the advent of the post-Islamist era. They argue that the repressive apparatus of the state has proven more durable than the Islamic opposition and that the ideological incoherence of the Islamists has made them unsuitable to modern political competition. The events of September 11th seemed to contradict this prediction, yet, unshaken, they have argued that such spectacular, virtually anarchic acts only prove the bankruptcy of Islamist ideas and suggest that the radicals have abandoned any real hope of seizing power.

Conflicts over Mosques in Europe

Stefano Allievi

As the reader will immediately see, the present study is the only one in the series not to have a general point of reference. Instead of addressing a broad issue such as places of worship, it focuses right from the outset on a single issue: the question of mosques, which is identified as a separate issue with its own specific characteristics.
This approach faithfully reflects the current state of affairs, as we will demonstrate in the pages below. Although forms of discrimination on the basis of religion are not completely absent – in particular, cases of discrimination towards certain minority religions or religious beliefs, some of which have even come before the European courts – in no country and in no other case has the opening of places of worship taken on such a high profile in the public imagination as the question of mosques and Islamic places of worship. With the passage of time, the question of mosques has led to more and more frequent disputes, debates, conflicts and posturing, even in countries where such conflicts were previously unknown and mosques were already present. This simple fact already puts us on a road that we might define as ‘exceptionalism’ with reference to Islam: a tendency to see Islam and Muslims as an exceptional case rather than a standard one; a case that does not sit comfortably with others relating to religious pluralism, και
which therefore requires special bodies, actions and specifically targeted reactions, unlike those used for other groups and religious minorities, και (as in the present study) specific research. 8 Conflicts over mosques in Europe An example of this exceptionalism is seen in the forms of representation of Islam in various European countries, which vary from case to case but differ, in particular, with respect to the recognized practices of relations between states and religious denominations in general. The most symbolic case is the creation in various countries, such as France, Ισπανία, Belgium and Italy, of collective bodies of Islamic representation, with forms that often contradict the principles of non‑interference in the internal affairs of religious communities proclaimed and enshrined for other denominations and religious minorities. Forms of exceptionalism from a legal, political and social perspective are, ωστόσο, present in many other fields, following a pervasive trend which affects countries with the widest range of state structures and which appears to be in a phase of further growth.
This situation, together with the increasingly evident emergence into the public arena of the dynamics of a conflict involving Islam (a kind of conflict in which the construction of mosques is the most frequent and widespread cause of disagreement), led to a desire to analyse recent cases of conflict, including clashes in countries that are regarded as peripheral within the European Union (EU) ή
that lie beyond its borders. For this reason, we have chosen, contrary to the usual practice, to pay closest attention to the least studied and analysed countries, for which scientific literature is least abundant. Setting off on this supposition, we believe that meaningful data for the interpretation of broader dynamics may emerge from an extensive analysis of the frequency and pervasiveness of these conflicts, which are also affecting countries with a long history of immigration and are more generally affecting the relationship between Islam and Europe.For this reason we conducted a set of empirical investigations across seven European countries that are among the least studied and least known in this respect. We selected three Mediterranean countries which in certain respects vary greatly from one another: two countries in similar situations, where there is new immigration from Muslim countries and the memory of ancient historical domination (Spain and Italy); and one in which there is new immigration
from Muslim countries along with a significant historical Islamic presence (the memory of Turkish Ottoman domination) that poses a number of problems (Greece). Also chosen were two countries which have a very significant historical Islamic presence but which also face a number of new problems (Austria and Bosnia‑Herzegovina); the Nordic country with the largest Islamic presence (Sweden); and a central European country which has a long history of immigration and a particular institutional nature (Βέλγιο). The last of these is also notable for its markedly local management of conflicts, which from a methodological perspective makes it an interesting control group.

Ισλαμικός Πολιτικός Πολιτισμός, Δημοκρατία, και Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων

Daniel E. Τιμή

Έχει υποστηριχθεί ότι το Ισλάμ διευκολύνει τον αυταρχισμό, έρχεται σε αντίθεση με το

αξίες των δυτικών κοινωνιών, και επηρεάζει σημαντικά σημαντικά πολιτικά αποτελέσματα

στα μουσουλμανικά έθνη. συνεπώς, μελετητές, σχολιαστές, και κυβέρνηση

Οι αξιωματούχοι συχνά επισημαίνουν τον «ισλαμικό φονταμενταλισμό» ως τον επόμενο

ιδεολογική απειλή για τις φιλελεύθερες δημοκρατίες. Αυτή η άποψη, ωστόσο, βασίζεται πρωτίστως

για την ανάλυση των κειμένων, Ισλαμική πολιτική θεωρία, και ad hoc μελέτες

επιμέρους χωρών, που δεν λαμβάνουν υπόψη άλλους παράγοντες. Είναι ο ισχυρισμός μου

ότι τα κείμενα και οι παραδόσεις του Ισλάμ, όπως αυτές των άλλων θρησκειών,

μπορεί να χρησιμοποιηθεί για την υποστήριξη ποικίλων πολιτικών συστημάτων και πολιτικών. Χώρα

συγκεκριμένες και περιγραφικές μελέτες δεν μας βοηθούν να βρούμε μοτίβα που θα βοηθήσουν

εξηγούμε τις διαφορετικές σχέσεις μεταξύ του Ισλάμ και της πολιτικής

χώρες του μουσουλμανικού κόσμου. Ως εκ τούτου, μια νέα προσέγγιση στη μελέτη του

απαιτείται σύνδεση του Ισλάμ με την πολιτική.
Προτείνω, μέσω αυστηρής αξιολόγησης της σχέσης μεταξύ του Ισλάμ,

Δημοκρατία, και τα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα σε διακρατικό επίπεδο, αυτό πάρα πολύ

δίνεται έμφαση στη δύναμη του Ισλάμ ως πολιτικής δύναμης. εγώ πρώτος

χρησιμοποιήστε συγκριτικές περιπτωσιολογικές μελέτες, που εστιάζουν σε παράγοντες που σχετίζονται με την αλληλεπίδραση

μεταξύ ισλαμικών ομάδων και καθεστώτων, οικονομικές επιρροές, εθνοτικές διασπάσεις,

και την κοινωνική ανάπτυξη, να εξηγήσει τη διακύμανση στην επιρροή του

Το Ισλάμ για την πολιτική σε οκτώ έθνη.

Τα Ισλαμικά Κόμματα της Αντιπολίτευσης και το Δυναμικό για δέσμευση της ΕΕ

Toby Archer

Heidi Huuhtanen

Υπό το πρίσμα της αυξανόμενης σημασίας των ισλαμιστικών κινημάτων στον μουσουλμανικό κόσμο και

τον τρόπο που η ριζοσπαστικοποίηση έχει επηρεάσει τα παγκόσμια γεγονότα από τις αρχές του αιώνα, το

Είναι σημαντικό για την ΕΕ να αξιολογήσει τις πολιτικές της έναντι των παραγόντων που μπορεί να είναι χαλαρά

αποκαλείται «ισλαμικός κόσμος». Είναι ιδιαίτερα σημαντικό να ρωτήσετε εάν και πώς να συμμετάσχετε

με τις διάφορες ισλαμιστικές ομάδες.

Αυτό παραμένει αμφιλεγόμενο ακόμη και εντός της ΕΕ. Μερικοί πιστεύουν ότι το Ισλαμικό εκτιμά αυτό

που βρίσκονται πίσω από τα ισλαμιστικά κόμματα είναι απλώς ασυμβίβαστα με τα δυτικά ιδανικά της δημοκρατίας και

ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα, ενώ άλλοι βλέπουν τη δέσμευση ως ρεαλιστική αναγκαιότητα λόγω της αυξανόμενης

εγχώρια σημασία των ισλαμιστικών κομμάτων και η αυξανόμενη εμπλοκή τους στη διεθνή

υποθέσεων. Μια άλλη προοπτική είναι ότι ο εκδημοκρατισμός στον μουσουλμανικό κόσμο θα αυξηθεί

ευρωπαϊκή ασφάλεια. Η εγκυρότητα αυτών και άλλων επιχειρημάτων σχετικά με το αν και πώς το

Η ΕΕ πρέπει να δεσμευτεί μπορεί να δοκιμαστεί μόνο με τη μελέτη των διαφορετικών ισλαμιστικών κινημάτων και

τις πολιτικές τους συνθήκες, χώρα ανά χώρα.

Ο εκδημοκρατισμός αποτελεί κεντρικό θέμα των δράσεων κοινής εξωτερικής πολιτικής της ΕΕ, όπως στρώθηκε

στο άρθρο 11 της Συνθήκης για την Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση. Πολλά από τα κράτη που εξετάζονται σε αυτό

έκθεση δεν είναι δημοκρατική, ή όχι πλήρως δημοκρατικά. Στις περισσότερες από αυτές τις χώρες, Ισλαμιστής

κόμματα και κινήματα αποτελούν σημαντική αντίθεση στα κυρίαρχα καθεστώτα, και

σε ορισμένες αποτελούν το μεγαλύτερο αντιπολιτευτικό μπλοκ. Οι ευρωπαϊκές δημοκρατίες έπρεπε εδώ και καιρό

να αντιμετωπίσει κυβερνητικά καθεστώτα που είναι αυταρχικά, αλλά είναι νέο φαινόμενο να πατάς

για δημοκρατική μεταρρύθμιση σε κράτη όπου θα μπορούσαν να έχουν οι πιο πιθανοί δικαιούχοι, από το

άποψη της ΕΕ, διαφορετικές και μερικές φορές προβληματικές προσεγγίσεις της δημοκρατίας και της

σχετικές αξίες, όπως τα δικαιώματα των μειονοτήτων και των γυναικών και το κράτος δικαίου. Αυτές οι χρεώσεις είναι

συχνά στράφηκε ενάντια στα ισλαμιστικά κινήματα, Επομένως, είναι σημαντικό για τους ευρωπαίους φορείς χάραξης πολιτικής

έχουν ακριβή εικόνα των πολιτικών και των φιλοσοφιών των πιθανών εταίρων.

Οι εμπειρίες από διαφορετικές χώρες τείνουν να υποδηλώνουν ότι όσο περισσότερη ελευθερία είναι ισλαμιστές

επιτρέπονται τα πάρτι, τόσο πιο μετριοπαθείς είναι στις πράξεις και τις ιδέες τους. Σε ΠΟΛΛΟΥΣ

υποθέσεις ισλαμιστικά κόμματα και ομάδες έχουν εδώ και καιρό απομακρυνθεί από τον αρχικό τους στόχο

για την ίδρυση ενός ισλαμικού κράτους που θα διέπεται από τον ισλαμικό νόμο, και έχουν καταλήξει να δέχονται βασικά

δημοκρατικές αρχές του εκλογικού ανταγωνισμού για την εξουσία, η ύπαρξη άλλων πολιτικών

συναγωνιστές, και τον πολιτικό πλουραλισμό.



Issues relating to political Islam continue to present challenges to European foreign policies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). As EU policy has sought to come to terms with such challenges during the last decade or so political Islam itself has evolved. Experts point to the growing complexity and variety of trends within political Islam. Some Islamist organisations have strengthened their commitment to democratic norms and engaged fully in peaceable, mainstream national politics. Others remain wedded to violent means. And still others have drifted towards a more quietist form of Islam, disengaged from political activity. Political Islam in the MENA region presents no uniform trend to European policymakers. Analytical debate has grown around the concept of ‘radicalisation’. This in turn has spawned research on the factors driving ‘de-radicalisation’, and conversely, ‘re-radicalisation’. Much of the complexity derives from the widely held view that all three of these phenomena are occurring at the same time. Even the terms themselves are contested. It has often been pointed out that the moderate–radical dichotomy fails fully to capture the nuances of trends within political Islam. Some analysts also complain that talk of ‘radicalism’ is ideologically loaded. At the level of terminology, we understand radicalisation to be associated with extremism, but views differ over the centrality of its religious–fundamentalist versus political content, and over whether the willingness to resort to violence is implied or not.

Such differences are reflected in the views held by the Islamists themselves, as well as in the perceptions of outsiders.

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. Θάμνος. 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. Ωστόσο, 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, τρομοκρατία, 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. όπως η Χαμάς, για παράδειγμα, 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?


Joost Lagendijk

Jan Marinus Wiersma

“A ring of friends surrounding the Union [], from Morocco to Russia”.This is how, in late 2002, the then President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, described the key challenge facing Europe following the planned enlargement of 2004. The accession process had built up momentum, and the former communist countries of Central Europe had been stabilised and were transforming themselves into democracies. EU membership was not directly on the agenda for countries beyond the enlargement horizon, ωστόσο. How could Europe prevent new dividing lines forming at its borders? How could the European Union guarantee stability, security and peace along its perimeter? Those questions were perhaps most pertinent to the EU’s southern neighbours. Since 11 Σεπτέμβριος 2001, in particular, our relations with the Islamic world have been imbued with a sense of urgency. Political developments in our Islamic neighbour countries bordering the Mediterranean could have a tremendous impact on European security. Although the area is nearby, the political distance is great. Amid threatening language about a ‘clash of civilisations’, the EU quickly drew the conclusion that conciliation and cooperation, rather than confrontation, constituted the best strategy for dealing with its southern neighbours.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Belgium

Ο Steve Merley,
Senior Analyst

The Global Muslim Brotherhood has been present in Europe since 1960 when SaidRamadan, the grandson of Hassan Al-Banna, founded a mosque in Munich.1 Since that time,Brotherhood organizations have been established in almost all of the EU countries, as well asnon-EU countries such as Russia and Turkey. Despite operating under other names, some ofthe organizations in the larger countries are recognized as part of the global MuslimBrotherhood. Για παράδειγμα, the Union des Organizations Islamiques de France (UOIF) isgenerally regarded as part of the Muslim Brotherhood in France. The network is alsobecoming known in some of the smaller countries such as the Netherlands, where a recentNEFA Foundation report detailed the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in that country.2Neighboring Belgium has also become an important center for the Muslim Brotherhood inEurope. ΕΝΑ 2002 report by the Intelligence Committee of the Belgian Parliament explainedhow the Brotherhood operates in Belgium:“The State Security Service has been following the activities of the InternationalMuslim Brotherhood in Belgium since 1982. The International MuslimBrotherhood has had a clandestine structure for nearly 20 χρόνια. The identityof the members is secret; they operate in the greatest discretion. They seek tospread their ideology within the Islamic community of Belgium and they aimin particular at the young people of the second and third generation ofimmigrants. In Belgium as in other European countries, they try to take controlof the religious, social, and sports associations and establish themselves asprivileged interlocutors of the national authorities in order to manage Islamicaffairs. The Muslim Brotherhood assumes that the national authorities will bepressed more and more to select Muslim leaders for such management and,Στο πλαίσιο αυτό, they try to insert within the representative bodies, individualsinfluenced by their ideology.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Europe

Brigi Marshal t σας
Shumuliyyat al-islam (Islam as encompassing every aspect of life) is the first of twenty principles laid out by the
founder of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, Hassan al-Banna, to teach his followers the proper understanding
of Islam. Even though this principle, usually translated as the “comprehensive way of life,” still remains integral
to the teachings of the members of the Brotherhood, both in Egypt and in Europe, it is strangely enough
neither commented upon in scholarly references nor by the wider public. When the Federation of Islamic
Organizations in Europe (FIOE, representing the Muslim Brotherhood movement at the European level) presented the European Muslim Charter to the international press in January 2008, none pinpointed this “universal dimension” of their understanding of Islam despite the potential tensions or even incompatibilities, both political and
legal, that this concept might have on a discourse on integration and citizenship. What do the Muslim Brothers traditionally say about this concept and how do they justify their call for it? What are its constituents
and the scope of its application? Are there any significant modifications to the concept in attempting to contextualize it within a pluralist Europe?

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Conquest of Europe

Lorenzo Vidino

Since its founding in 1928, η Μουσουλμανική Αδελφότητα (Hizb al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun) has profoundly influenced the political life of the Middle East. Its motto is telling: “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.

While the Brotherhood’s radical ideas have shaped the beliefs of generations of Islamists, over the past two decades, it has lost some of its power and appeal in the Middle East, crushed by harsh repression from local regimes and snubbed by the younger generations of Islamists who often prefer more radical organizations.

But the Middle East is only one part of the Muslim world. Europe has become an incubator for Islamist thought and political development. Since the early 1960s, Muslim Brotherhood members and sympathizers have moved to Europe and slowly but steadily established a wide and well-organized network of mosques, charities, and Islamic organizations. Unlike the larger Islamic community, the Muslim Brotherhood’s ultimate goal may not be simplyto help Muslims be the best citizens they can be,” but rather to extend Islamic law throughout Europe and the United States.[2]

Four decades of teaching and cultivation have paid off. The student refugees who migrated from the Middle East forty years ago and their descendants now lead organizations that represent the local Muslim communities in their engagement with Europe’s political elite. Funded by generous contributors from the Persian Gulf, they preside over a centralized network that spans nearly every European country.

These organizations represent themselves as mainstream, even as they continue to embrace the Brotherhood’s radical views and maintain links to terrorists. With moderate rhetoric and well-spoken German, Ολλανδός, and French, they have gained acceptance among European governments and media alike. Politicians across the political spectrum rush to engage them whenever an issue involving Muslims arises or, more parochially, when they seek the vote of the burgeoning Muslim community.

Αλλά, speaking Arabic or Turkish before their fellows Muslims, they drop their facade and embrace radicalism. While their representatives speak about interfaith dialogue and integration on television, their mosques preach hate and warn worshippers about the evils of Western society. While they publicly condemn the murder of commuters in Madrid and school children in Russia, they continue to raise money for Hamas and other terrorist organizations. Europeans, eager to create a dialogue with their increasingly disaffected Muslim minority, overlook this duplicity. The case is particularly visible in Germany, which retains a place of key importance in Europe, not only because of its location at the heart of Europe, but also because it played host to the first major wave of Muslim Brotherhood immigrants and is host to the best-organized Brotherhood presence. The German government’s reaction is also instructive if only to show the dangers of accepting Muslim Brotherhood rhetoric at face value, without looking at the broader scope of its activities.