RSSAlle Einträge Tagged With: "POLITISCHE"

Islam und die neue politische Landschaft

Die Back, Michael Keith, Azra Khan,
Kalbir Shukra and John Solomos

IN THE wake of the attack on the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001, and the Madrid and London bombings of 2004 und 2005, a literature that addresses the forms and modalities of religious expression – particularly Islamic religious expression – has flourished in the penumbral regions that link mainstream social science to social policy design, think tanks and journalism. Much of the work has attempted to define attitudes or predispositions of a Muslim population in a particular site of tension such as London or the UK (Barnes, 2006; Ethnos Consultancy, 2005; GFK, 2006; GLA, 2006; Populus, 2006), or critiqued particular forms of social policy intervention (Bright, 2006a; Mirza et al., 2007). Studies of Islamism and Jihadism have created a particular focus on the syncretic and complex links between Islamic religious faith and forms of social movement and political mobilization (Husain, 2007; Kepel, 2004, 2006; McRoy, 2006; Neville-Jones et al., 2006, 2007; Phillips, 2006; Roy, 2004, 2006). Conventionally, the analytical focus has spotlighted the culture of Islam, the belief systems of the faithful, and the historical and geographical trajectories of Muslim populations across the world in general and in ‘the West’ in particular (Abbas, 2005; Ansari, 2002; Eade and Garbin, 2002; Hussein, 2006; Modood, 2005; Ramadan, 1999, 2005). In this article the emphasis is different. We argue that studies of Islamic political participation need to be contextualized carefully without recourse to grand generalities about culture and faith. This is because both culture and faith are structured by and in turn structure the cultural, institutional and deliberative landscapes through which they are articulated. In the case of the British experience, the hidden traces of Christianity in the formation of the welfare state in the last century, the rapidly changing cartography of spaces of the political and the role of ‘faith organizations’ in the restructuring of welfare provision generate the material social context determining the opportunities and the outlines of new forms of political participation.

EGYPT’S MUSLIM BROTHERS: CONFRONTATION OR INTEGRATION?

Research

The Society of Muslim Brothers’ success in the November-December 2005 elections for the People’s Assembly sent shockwaves through Egypt’s political system. In response, the regime cracked down on the movement, harassed other potential rivals and reversed its fledging reform process. This is dangerously short-sighted. There is reason to be concerned about the Muslim Brothers’ political program, and they owe the people genuine clarifications about several of its aspects. But the ruling National Democratic
Party’s (NDP) refusal to loosen its grip risks exacerbating tensions at a time of both political uncertainty surrounding the presidential succession and serious socio-economic unrest. Though this likely will be a prolonged, gradual process, the regime should take preliminary steps to normalise the Muslim Brothers’ participation in political life. The Muslim Brothers, whose social activities have long been tolerated but whose role in formal politics is strictly limited, won an unprecedented 20 per cent of parliamentary seats in the 2005 Wahlen. They did so despite competing for only a third of available seats and notwithstanding considerable obstacles, including police repression and electoral fraud. This success confirmed their position as an extremely wellorganised and deeply rooted political force. At the same time, it underscored the weaknesses of both the legal opposition and ruling party. The regime might well have wagered that a modest increase in the Muslim Brothers’ parliamentary representation could be used to stoke fears of an Islamist takeover and thereby serve as a reason to stall reform. If so, the strategy is at heavy risk of backfiring.

In Search of Islamic Constitutionalism

Nadirsyah Hosen

While constitutionalism in the West is mostly identified with secular thought, Islamic constitutionalism, which incorporates some religious elements, has attracted growing interest in recent years. Zum Beispiel, the Bush administration’s response to the events of 9/11 radically transformed the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, and both countries are now rewriting their constitutions. As
Ann Elizabeth Mayer points out, Islamic constitutionalism is constitutionalism that is, in some form, based on Islamic principles, as opposed to the constitutionalism developed in countries that happen to be Muslim but which has not been informed by distinctively Islamic principles. Several Muslim scholars, among them Muhammad Asad3 and Abul A`la al-Maududi, have written on such aspects of constitutional issues as human rights and the separation of powers. Aber, in general their works fall into apologetics, as Chibli Mallat points out:
Whether for the classical age or for the contemporary Muslim world, scholarly research on public law must respect a set of axiomatic requirements.
First, the perusal of the tradition cannot be construed as a mere retrospective reading. By simply projecting present-day concepts backwards, it is all too easy to force the present into the past either in an apologetically contrived or haughtily dismissive manner. The approach is apologetic and contrived when Bills of Rights are read into, say, the Caliphate of `Umar, with the presupposition that the “just” qualities of `Umar included the complex and articulate precepts of constitutional balance one finds in modern texts

Islamische Politische Kultur, Demokratie, und Menschenrechte

Daniel E. Preis

It has been argued that Islam facilitates authoritarianism, contradicts the

values of Western societies, and significantly affects important political outcomes

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

officials frequently point to ‘‘Islamic fundamentalism’’ as the next

ideological threat to liberal democracies. This view, however, is based primarily

on the analysis of texts, Islamic political theory, and ad hoc studies

of individual countries, which do not consider other factors. It is my contention

that the texts and traditions of Islam, like those of other religions,

can be used to support a variety of political systems and policies. Country

specific and descriptive studies do not help us to find patterns that will help

us explain the varying relationships between Islam and politics across the

countries of the Muslim world. Hence, a new approach to the study of the

connection between Islam and politics is called for.
I suggest, through rigorous evaluation of the relationship between Islam,

democracy, and human rights at the cross-national level, that too much

emphasis is being placed on the power of Islam as a political force. I first

use comparative case studies, which focus on factors relating to the interplay

between Islamic groups and regimes, economic influences, ethnic cleavages,

and societal development, to explain the variance in the influence of

Islam on politics across eight nations.

Hamas und politische Reformen im Nahen Osten

David Mepham

Die Lektion der palästinensischen Wahlen ist, dass die internationale Gemeinschaft sollte sich ernster und anspruchsvoller über politische Reformen im Nahen Osten, , sagt David Mepham des Instituts für 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, und, 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, theQuartet” (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. In 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.

Die politische Entwicklung der Muslimbruderschaft in Ägypten

Stephen Bennett

"Allah ist unser Ziel. Der Prophet ist unser Führer. Koran ist unser Gesetz. Jihad ist unser Weg. Dying in dem Wege Allahs ist unsere größte Hoffnung. "

Seit seinen Anfängen in Ägypten die Muslimbruderschaft hat viel Kontroverse erstellt, wie einige behaupten, dass die Organisation Gewalt plädiert im Namen des Islam. Laut Dr.. Mamoun Fandy der James A. Baker III Institute of Public Policy, "Dschihadismus und die Aktivierung der Blick auf die Welt des Haus des Islam und das Haus des Krieges sind die Ideen, die aus den Schriften entstanden und die Lehren der Muslim-Bruderschaft " (Livesy, 2005). Der primäre Beweise für diese Behauptung ist bemerkenswert, Mitglied der Bruderschaft, Sayeed Qutb, Wer ist mit der Entwicklung des revisionistischen und umstrittene Auslegung von gutgeschrieben Jihad vorausgesetzt, dass religiöse Rechtfertigungen für Gewalt von Organisationen Ableger der Bruderschaft, wie engagiert al-Jihad, al-Takfir wa al-Hijra, Hamas, und al-Qaida.

Doch das ist noch eine strittige Position, denn trotz der ideologischen Elternteil diese gewalttätigen Organisationen, der Muslimbruderschaft selbst hat immer eine offizielle Haltung gegen Gewalt und gepflegt hat statt islamischen zivilen und sozialen Handelns an der Basis gefördert Ebene. Innerhalb der ersten zwanzig Jahren ihres Bestehens hat die Muslimbruderschaft gewonnenen Status als der einflussreichste aller wichtigen Gruppen im Nahen Osten durch seine populäre Aktivismus. Auch aus Ägypten in anderen Nationen verteilt in der gesamten Region und diente als Katalysator für viele der erfolgreichen beliebten Befreiungsbewegungen gegen westlichen Kolonialismus im Nahen Osten.

Während es die meisten seiner Grundprinzipien von seinen Anfängen beibehalten, Die Muslimbruderschaft hat einen dramatischen Wandel in einigen wichtigen Aspekten seiner politischen Ideologie gemacht. Ehemals von vielen als eine terroristische Organisation verurteilt, ab Ende der Muslimbruderschaft wurde von den meisten aktuellen Stipendiaten des Nahen Ostens als politisch "moderate beschriftet worden", "Politisch zentristische", und "akkommodistischen" zur politischen und staatlichen Strukturen in Ägypten (Abed-Kotob, 1995, p. 321-322). Sana Abed-Kotob sagt uns auch, dass der derzeitige islamistische Oppositionsgruppen, die heute existieren: "Je mehr" radikalen "oder militante dieser Gruppen bestehen auf revolutionäre Veränderung, die auf die Massen und politischen System , der Erwägung, dass ... die neue Muslimbruderschaft in Ägypten, Aufruf zur schrittweisen Veränderung, die innerhalb des politischen Systems unternommen werden und mit der Eintragung der muslimischen Massen "

Die Muslimbruderschaft in Belgien

Steve Merley,
Senior Analyst


Die Global Muslimbruderschaft hat in Europa präsent seit 1960 wenn SaidRamadan, der Enkel von 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. For example, 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. A 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 years. 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,in this context, they try to insert within the representative bodies, individualsinfluenced by their ideology.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Success in the Legislative Elections in Egypt 2005

Obwohl Antar


In the context of an unprecedented opening of the political system in Egypt in 2004/2005, die Muslimbruderschaft (MB) scored an impressive success in the 2005 legislative elections that showed that the mainstream non-violent Islamist movement, despite the legal ban of the movement itself and of its political activities, is the only influential and organised political opposition in the face of the veteran National Democratic Party (NDP).Reasons for the Muslim Brotherhood’s electoral success in 2005The first set of reasons for the MB’s success is related to the changes that occurred in the political context. Above all, the first presidential elections that took place in September 2005 had a direct impact on the legislative elections in November the same year: By opening up competition for the post of the president, the election signalled the unprecedented impasse of the regime seeking to patch up its legitimacy. Außerdem, civic protest movements had emerged that rejected the political system much more fundamentally and called for comprehensive reform. The most important of these has been the dynamic protest movement called the Egyptian Movement for Change, Kifaya. Aber, as a second set of factors, the regime itself can also be considered a factor in the MB’s rising influence: The NDP and government officials have relied heavily on religious arguments; they have oppressed secular or liberal opponents; they have nourished obscurantist religious trends in Al-Azhar and among religious groups; and they have let the MB take charge of welfare services in order to save on the state budget. Also, the regime has allowed Islamist activists to enter trade unions, while reserving the leadership positions for the NDP. There is a third set of reasons for the MB’s success which is related to the movement’s long term strategy to build a societal base: The MB’s strategic approach has been to invest in welfare services so as to build a large power base among the population that they are able to mobilize politically. And indeed, not only have many MB candidates gained credibility and respect through their daily contacts with the people, the movement has been investing in the social sphere for more than 30 years. In a society in which 40 percent of the population lives under the poverty line and the political participation rate is only 25 percent, providing services in all vital sectors – education, health, and employment – has proved to be the fastest and most successful way to gain supporters. Fourth, using the religious sphere as a place for political mobilisation has been a successful strategy of the MB. Those affiliated with the MB, members and sympathizers, often saw it as a religious duty to vote for a candidate of the movement. Despite the doubts the slogan “Islam is the solution” raised among many, the MB continued to use it because it wanted to focus on religion as the determining factor for the vote, and because it had gained the trust of the people as being the movement representing Islamic identity. On top of this, the movement was able to make use of the unprecedented coincidence of growing internal and external pressures on the regime, by starting open and direct political activity in the name of the movement. The MB has also understood the importance of rallying with other opposition forces, and it has sought coordination with these forces for creating more pressure on the regime. Related to this is another important factor for the MB’s success: its organisational capacity.Has the MB changed its agenda and priorities?While the MB has opted to participate peacefully in the political process in Egypt, it remains unclear as to whether it represents a genuine democratic force or if it will use the democratic opening to pursue an authoritarian agenda. Still, participation in the political system has already transformed the movement. During the 2005 election campaign the concepts of “democracy” and “political participation” found their way into the MB’s rhetoric and, most importantly, into its political strategies of creating grassroot networks for popular support. The experience of elaborating a political programme for the legislative elections pushed the movement to publicly clarify its positions on concepts such as party pluralism – something that had previously been refused in some trends of Islamic thought as “al-tahazzub” (partisanship) with the argument that Islam calls for unity of the nation rather than its fragmentation. The MB can be considered to be part of Egypt’s reform forces, but that is primarily so because it agrees with other political reformers on the tools for bringing about reforms: rule of law, good governance and free elections. The MB’s activities in Parliament have so far demonstrated their devotion to serving their voters and retaining credibility. They have been more efficient in dealing with public needs, in revealing corruption cases and in rapidly interacting with victims of injustice than other deputies. As has been discussed above, political change in Egypt until now has not meant a significant move toward democracy. First, this has reflected on the MB’s organisation, strategy and agenda. The “mutual fear reflex” as an outcome of the relationship between the illegal MB and the regime has required the movement to adopt a strategy of secrecy which prevents them from being transparent for security reasons. Also, maintaining ambiguous positions is a defence mechanism used by both Islamist and non-Islamist opposition forces in Egypt.

Der Tod des politischen Islam

Jon B. Alterman

Die Nachrufe politischen Islam geschrieben werden begonnen. Nach Jahren der scheinbar unstoppablegrowth, Islamische Parteien haben zu straucheln begonnen. In Morocco, the Justice and DevelopmentParty (or PJD) did far worse than expected in last September’s elections, and Jordan’sIslamic Action Front lost more than half its seats in last month’s polling. The eagerly awaitedmanifesto of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, a draft of which appeared last September,showed neither strength nor boldness. Instead, it suggested the group was beset by intellectualcontradictions and consumed by infighting.It is too early to declare the death of political Islam, as it was premature to proclaim therebirth of liberalism in the Arab world in 2003-04, but its prospects seem notably dimmerthan they did even a year ago.To some, the fall from grace was inevitable; political Islam has collapsed under its owncontradictions, they say. They argue that, in objective terms, political Islam was never morethan smoke and mirrors. Religion is about faith and truth, and politics are about compromiseand accommodation. Seen this way, political Islam was never a holy enterprise, butmerely an effort to boost the political prospects of one side in a political debate. Backed byreligious authority and legitimacy, opposition to Islamists’ will ceased to be merely political—it became heresy—and the Islamists benefited.These skeptics see political Islam as having been a useful way to protect political movements,cow political foes, and rally support. As a governing strategy, however, they arguethat political Islam has not produced any successes. In two areas where it recently rose topower, the Palestinian Authority and Iraq, governance has been anemic. In Iran, where themullahs have been in power for almost three decades, clerics struggle for respect and thecountry hemorrhages money to Dubai and other overseas markets with more predictablerules and more positive returns. The most avowedly religious state in the Middle East, SaudiArabia, has notably less intellectual freedom than many of its neighbors, and the guardiansof orthodoxy there carefully circumscribe religious thought. As the French scholar of Islam,Olivier Roy, memorably observed more than a decade ago, the melding of religion and politics did not sanctify politics, it politicizedreligion.But while Islam has not provided a coherent theory of governance, let alone a universally accepted approach to the problems ofhumanity, the salience of religion continues to grow among many Muslims.That salience goes far beyond issues of dress, which have become more conservative for both women and men in recent years, andbeyond language, which invokes God’s name far more than was the case a decade ago. It also goes beyond the daily practice ofIslam—from prayer to charity to fasting—all of which are on the upswing.What has changed is something even more fundamental than physical appearance or ritual practice, and that is this: A growingnumber of Muslims start from the proposition that Islam is relevant to all aspects of their daily lives, and not merely the province oftheology or personal belief.Some see this as a return to traditionalism in the Middle East, when varying measures of superstition and spirituality governed dailylife. More accurately, though, what we are seeing is the rise of “neo-traditionalism,” in which symbols and slogans of the past areenlisted in the pursuit of hastening entry into the future. Islamic finance—which is to say, finance that relies on shares and returnsrather than interest—is booming, and sleek bank branches contain separate entrances for men and women. Slick young televangelistsrely on the tropes of sanctifying the everyday and seeking forgiveness, drawing tens of thousands to their meetings and televisionaudiences in the millions. Music videos—viewable on YouTube—implore young viewers to embrace faith and turn away froma meaningless secular life.Many in the West see secularism and relativism as concrete signs of modernity. In the Middle East, many see them as symbols ofa bankrupt secular nationalist past that failed to deliver justice or development, freedom or progress. The suffering of secularism ismeaningless, but the discipline of Islam is filled with signficance.It is for this reason that it is premature to declare the death of political Islam. Islam, increasingly, cannot be contained. It is spreadingto all aspects of life, and it is robust among some of the most dynamic forces in the Middle East. It enjoys state subsidies to be sure,but states have little to do with the creativity occurring in the religious field.The danger is that this Islamization of public life will cast aside what little tolerance is left in the Middle East, after centuries asa—fundamentally Islamic—multicultural entrepôt. It is hard to imagine how Islamizing societies can flourish if they do not embraceinnovation and creativity, diversity and difference. “Islamic” is not a self-evident concept, as my friend Mustapha Kamal Pasha onceobserved, but it cannot be a source of strength in modern societies if it is tied to ossified and parochial notions of its nature.Dealing with difference is fundamentally a political task, and it is here that political Islam will face its true test. The formal structuresof government in the Middle East have proven durable, and they are unlikely to crumble under a wave of Islamic activism. For politicalIslam to succeed, it needs to find a way to unite diverse coalitions of varying faiths and degrees of faith, not merely speak to itsbase. It has not yet found a way to do so, but that is not to say that it cannot.

Democracy Protecting Itself from Itself?

Ebru Erdem

Studies on government in Muslim societies and in the Middle East in particular have mostly focused on authoritarianism. They sought to answer why authoritarianism is the most often observed regime type, and why it persists. Recent work has looked at the role of elections and elected bodies under authoritarianism, explaining why they exist and what purposes they serve (Blaydes 2008; Lust-Okar 2006). The goal of this paper is to shift the spotlight onto the judiciary, and to the political role of high courts in Muslim societies with different levels of authoritarianism.Judiciaries and the judicial processes in Muslim societies have not caught much scholarly attention. Much of the work in this area has revolved around Shari’a. Shari’a law, incorporation of the Shari’a into western style judicial systems and legal codes, conflicts between western and Shari’a inspired codes of family law, and especially the impact of the latter on women’s rights are some of the extensively studied topics concerning the judicial processes in these societies. On the other hand, work on judiciary as a political institution in the Muslim world is scarce, notable exceptions being Moustafa (2003) and Hirschl (2004). Judiciaries may take different institutional forms, be based on different legal traditions, or vary in the level of independence they enjoy, but they are still a political institutions.Why study the judiciary in the Muslim World? Is a focus on the judiciary meaningful given the dominance of the executives in countries with authoritarian regimes? The justification for a focus on the judiciary has different dimensions. From a rational choice-institutionalist perspective: if an institution exists, there must be a reason for it, and we think that investigating the raison d’être of the judiciaries will provide interesting insights about political processes and executive strategies. From an institutional-design perspective, the shape that an institution takes2is related to the strategies of the actors negotiating over that institution, and we would like to use the observed variance in judicial institutions and powers across countries and time periods to learn about different aspects of political bargains that scholars have studied in other political realms. From a democratic development perspective, the establishment of the checks and balances is central to a functioning and sustainable democracy, and we would argue that studying the judiciary is central to understanding the prospects towards establishment of rule of law and a credible commitment to democracy (Weingast 1997).