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Islam and Politics week 5 notes

by: Katie Blackmer

Islam and Politics week 5 notes GOVT 345 001

Marketplace > George Mason University > Goverment > GOVT 345 001 > Islam and Politics week 5 notes
Katie Blackmer
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These notes are from week five's lecture.
Islam and Politics
Heba El-Shazli
Class Notes
islam, Politics, islaminpolitics
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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Katie Blackmer on Saturday October 1, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to GOVT 345 001 at George Mason University taught by Heba El-Shazli in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 6 views. For similar materials see Islam and Politics in Goverment at George Mason University.

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Date Created: 10/01/16
Islam in the System ~Case Studies: Turkey’s AKP; Morocco’s PJD; and Jordan’s MB~ three-part typology of Islamist movements  The first category— comprises the relatively small but important group of radical, ideologically driven movements that we can call takfiri(non believers), for their readiness to label other Muslims heretics, apostates, and therefore justifiable targets of violence. Such groups include al-Qaeda, ISIS, along with its affiliates and allies in Algeria, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere. Very small but getting a lot of attention.  The second category includes “local” or “nationalist” militant Islamist movements such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, or the Shia militias of Iraq. Such movements combine Islamist ideology with local political demands; unlike the takfiris, they seek and benefit from the vocal support of a given local community. On a mission, using their faith as their bailor. Use violence and extremist to push their ideas.  In the strong states that one more often finds in the Middle East, however, the forces of political Islam are a different breed from Hamas and Hezbollah. This third and largest category of Islamist movements—the category most relevant to discussions of democratic change in the Arab world and elsewhere—comprises groups that eschew violence (at least locally) and aspire to a political role in their respective countries, without voicing any revolutionary goals. Do not push using violence.  An Islamist group’s attitude toward violence, however, does not fully indicate how likely or unlikely it is to be able to play a constructive role in a democratic political system. We should also examine three other things. The first is the movement’s attitude toward minorities—especially non-Muslims—and women. What is their policies towards women, and minorities?  A second focus of attention in determining a movement’s relative moderation is its attitude toward political pluralism. Left wing and right wing, political spectrum is broad, do they participate in different points of view?  A third attitudinal question relevant to Islamic movements is whether they believe that religious authority should have a veto on the democratic process.  Gauging these three attitudes can help to tell us how positively or negatively Islamist (and other) political movements will be likely to function in a democracy. But how we do the actual gauging? How do we recognize moderation? Particularly with this idea hanging over our heads, one vote, one man, one time. o Public rhetoric will not tell us much. Many Islamist groups combine full praise of democracy with other words (or deeds) that contradict basic democratic principles such as equality under the law. The next best approach may be to assess how internally democratic a given movement is, while also considering the degree of overall political freedom found in society at large. Second, no reliable evaluation of Islamist groups’ moderation is possible when political freedom is missing. Without the pressure of open competition to make them explain where they stand on crucial issues, Islamists can sit back and act as general vehicles for discontent. – allow for freedom of speech? Freedom of expression. Does the citizen have the right to determine how we live? In the final analysis, an Islamist movement’s commitment to the democratic process cannot be tested until there is a meaningful democratic political process in which it can choose to engage. Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP)  Unique in the Muslim world by virtue of being a party whose foes charge it with pursuing an Islamist agenda, yet whose commitment to democracy can be assessed through its performance in government. It’s a party that pursues Islamic values, at the same time there is a commitment to democracy. Turkey’s entrance into European Union.  In the Muslim world at large, Islamist parties are perennially confined to opposition status, causing observers to wonder about the “real agenda” that they would pursue should they ever reach power.  The AKP, by contrast, has been its country’s democratically elected ruling party since 2002. So far, it has overseen three free and fair elections, which should put to rest at least the commonly heard worry that “Islamists” will tolerate “one person, one vote” one time only. Turkey: religion, secular nationalism, and the rise of “Muslim democracy” • Complex relationship between Islamist parties in Turkey and the Kemalist establishment • Turkish Islamist parties have contested elections and served in coalition governments, 1960s and 1970s • The Turkish military has not hesitated to intervene directly in politics, four times Emergence of a new kind of “pietistic politics” in Turkey: • The Naqshbandiyya—a relatively orthodox tariqa known for its emphasis on piety and discipline • The Nurcu Movement—a Sufi-oriented movement with a significant repository of upwardly mobile social capital • The Gülen Movement—A Nurcu-related group that emphasizes an “Islamic ethic of education”, focuses on schools, believe in education as a path to prosperity and religious piety • Emergence in the late 1960s of the Islamist Milli Gorus Movement • First Islamist political party, the National Order Party/NSP, founded in 1970 • NSP’s successor, the Refah Party, emphasized the idea of Turkey’s integration into the world economy • Islamists benefit from the so-called “Turkish–Islamic Synthesis” in the 1980s • In the 1990s, growing popular religiosity and • economic turmoil advanced Refah’s electoral • fortunes • After Refah entered a coalition government, tensions began to emerge between a conservative faction led by Erbakan and a “reformist” bloc • Military compelled the coalition government to resign in 1997 • Constitutional Court forced the Refah Party to disband, but it re-emerged within weeks, still under Erbakan’s leadership, as the Virtue Party In 2001, Virtue’s reformist bloc broke ranks to form the Justice and Development Party (AKP)  Decision to form a new political party was prompted by:  Concern over Erbakan’s authoritarian management style  Desire to pursue a mainstream national development agenda, as opposed to the lightning-rod issues that had brought its predecessors into disrepute  The AKP won a surprise landslide victory in 2002 parliamentary elections In the 2010s, after almost a decade in power, the AKP adopted a more assertive platform: • The introduction of optional classes on the Qur’an and life of the Prophet Muhammad as part of the national secondary school curriculum • Efforts to ban late-night alcohol sales in parts of the country • A proposal to make the uniform of Turkish Airlines flight attendants more conservative • Much more assertive • Some see in the AKP a new form of “Muslim democracy” • Others harbor fear that the AKP is full of “crypto-Islamists” • Hard to characterize the AKP’s agenda—with a few notable exceptions—as being highly Islamist in character • Under the AKP, Turkey can be seen to be entering a “post-Kemalist” era Jordan Islamism as loyal opposition in an emerging liberal autocracy? The case of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan presents us with yet another mode of Islamist participation in the political system. The Jordanian branch of the Brotherhood has for the greater part of its existence enjoyed a considerably more cooperative and mutually supportive relationship with the regime. Jordan political system is too close to monarch in Jordan. The Islamic Action Front (IAF) was established in 1992. The IAF was created as an umbrella Islamist party but it has always been dominated by the MB – roots going back to 1945. The IAF has exhibited a willingness to work within the system --- due to the long association between the Brotherhood and the Monarchy, particularly during the 1950s and 1960s when Jordanian and Palestinian leftist and militant groups threatened the regime. Before entering politics in 1989, the MB worked primarily at the social level, but in a framework that did not challenge the monarchy In 1989, King Hussein embarked on a program of political liberalization in light of: • Social unrest in the context of IMF-imposed austerity • Popular discontent about increasing corruption • Increasing popularity of the Brotherhood In 1989, Islamists did particularly well in Jordan’s parliamentary elections, with the “Islamist bloc” emerging as the single largest political faction Jordan: Islamism as loyal opposition in an emerging liberal autocracy? The MB’s direct involvement in politics strained relations with the regime, with conflicts arising arose over: • Islamist-led attempts to mandate gender segregation in schools • Islamist-led inquiry into the alleged corruption of an ex-prime minister • Regime efforts to mitigate Islamist influence via judicial and electoral systems • Islamist criticism of regime support for the 1991 Madrid peace process • The signing of a peace agreement between Jordan and Israel in 1995 • By the mid 1990s, the regime looked to curb the political influence of the MB • With leftists and secular nationalists sidelined, there was no longer any “common enemy” to unite the Islamists and the regime • The climate of relative political openness after 1989 had encouraged the MB to overreach in its criticism of the government • The regime was wary of the emergence of a younger, more adamantly pro-Palestinian, generation within the MB King Abdullah II’s accession in 1999 coincided with the outbreak of the second intifada • Abdullah postponed scheduled elections in 2001 and undertook redistricting that favored pro-regime candidates • The IAF contested parliamentary elections in 2003 and managed to take 17 seats but won only 6 seats in the subsequent 2007 elections IAF boycotted the subsequent parliamentary elections in 2010 and 2013 • The core dividing issue within the IAF has been not so much one of whether or not to participate, but rather how to think about political participation in relation to its ultimate goals • In 2016 – IAF (rebranded) participated in the • Parliamentary elections winning • 16 seats out of the 130 seats in the • lower house of Parliament. Jordan: understanding the evolution of Islamist strategy in Jordan Useful distinction between “cultural” and “political” Islamists “Cultural Islamists” composed primarily of East Bank Jordanians Have tended to be more reliably pro-Hashemite Understand Islamism as a political project primarily in relation to social issues such as education, gender segregation, and public virtue “Political” Islamists often of Palestinian background (West Bankers) More concerned with social justice issues and political imposition by external powers—the United States, Israel, the IMF—than with matters of cultural practice Morocco’s own Party of Justice and Development (PJD) has been legal since the mid-1990s and commands a significant bloc of seats in Parliament.  Morocco offers an interesting example because of its recent political liberalization and the presence of the PJD. In the mid-1990s, the Moroccan monarchy loosened restrictions on political life and legalized the PJD, which eschews the term “Islamist” but can nonetheless be defined as an Islamist party, since Islam avowedly forms its main ideological “reference.” In Morocco now, an authoritarian government engineers a process of electoral free choice that has no direct consequences for policy making. The legal opposition, including the PJD, can take part in running the state—if the monarchy permits. Duality between political party and monarch. The future of Islamist participation: issues and challenges  The ability of Islamists to build social capital in civil society has been crucial to their success  Until 2011, Islamists often represented the only political alternative to unpopular and authoritarian regimes  Academic scholarship offers analytical frameworks that help us to think about some of the structural factors that bear on Islamist political participation  The “inclusion–moderation thesis” (Schwedler 2006)  The concept of “Islamist auto-reform” (Wickham 2006) because of repression, not going to become more extreme The Arab Uprisings and the future of Islamist political strategy  Short periods of Islamism in government in Tunisia and Egypt do not allow us to definitively answer the concerns of those who see instrumentalism, or the specter of radicalism, in Islamist political participation  Islamist “incumbents,” such as the MB, have lost their monopoly on the claim to be the sole articulators of a social and political project premised on Islam, they are not the only ones, there are others speaking on the matter  Will seasoned Islamist oppositionists be able to reinvent themselves as problem-solvers and purveyors of effective governance?  If Islamists come to believe that they will not be permitted to retain power even after “playing by the rules,” might they reconsider altogether the strategic value of formal political participation? “Intelligent discussion of Islamism, democracy, 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 innecessary 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 (scope) of Islamic civilization.” Bassam Tibi who was born and raised in Damascus, teaches international relations at the University of Goettingen and is the visiting A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University. His latest book is Political Islam, World Politics and Europe (2008).


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