Political Islam in the Middle East
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This report provides an overview of the political Islam inthe Middle East, with a special emphasis on the Islamicresurgence in the Levant (Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon,Palestine and Syria). Following an introduction to theideological roots of present-day Islamist movements, thereport examines the prospects for popular democracyamidst widespread political violence. In brief, the reportshows that Islam need not be incompatible with democracyand that there is a tendency to neglect the fact that manyMiddle Eastern countries have been engaged in a brutalsuppression of Islamist movements, causing them to take uparms against the state. In the third section the reportreviews some of the theories used to explain the Islamicrevival and discusses their empirical significance. Theconclusion argues in favour of moving beyond the “gloomand doom” approach that portrays Islamism as anillegitimate political expression and a potential threat tothe West (“Old Islamism”). Instead, there is an urgent needfor a more nuanced understanding of the currentdemocratisation of the Islamist movements that is nowtaking place throughout the Middle East (“NewIslamism”).
PublisherChr. Michelsen Institute
R 2003: 3