- Political Islam StudiesReports
- July 22, 2008
- 12 minutes read
Political Islam in the Middle East and North Africa
Contact Email: [email protected]
To date, there has been very little formal dialogue with political Islamist groups in the Middle East and North Africa on the part of European and North American governments and limited thought given to an appropriate and productive form of engagement with them. There has been a tendency to treat political Islam as a monolithic and uniformly negative phenomenon rather than acknowledging the diversity of political Islamists. The existing policies of some European and North American governments towards the region are also serving to radicalize Islamist opinion, for example through the way in which the ‘war on terror’ is being pursued.
The purpose of this project is therefore to help develop some “rules of the game” for engaging with political Islamists on the part of European and North American governments, in a way that strengthens moderate elements and advances political reform, respect for human rights and regional peace and security. It also aims to deepen understanding of political Islam in its various manifestations, to counter common misperceptions, and, by so doing, to help generate more thoughtful, differentiated and constructive policy responses towards it.
Our approach in this research project has been to analyze the ‘mainstream’ political Islamist movements in three countries in the Middle East: the Party of Justice and Development (PJD) in Morocco, the Islamic Action Front (IAF) in Jordan and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and to map their existing policies on key issues. These include democracy and the rule of law, the role of religion in politics, human rights and gender issues, freedom of expression and censorship, attitudes to violence, and their positions on foreign policy. We will look at existing contact between European and North American governments and these groups, as well as how they are treated by their local governments. These case study reports, which drew on desk-based research and literature reviews, semi-structured interviews with key individuals in each party, and high-level seminars in the countries concerned, can be accessed below. A final report will be published later in 2008.
Brothers in Arms?
Engaging the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
This paper offers recommendations for western governments in regard to their specific relations with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
Reform in Jordan:
The role of political Islamists
Although use of the term ‘political Islam’ is now widespread among western media commentators and policymakers, there remains insufficient understanding of political Islamist parties and movements in the Middle East and North Africa on the part of European and North American governments. This report identifies four areas in which western policymakers could improve their current efforts to support reform processes in Jordan.
Reform in Morocco
The role of political Islamists
The paper focuses on Morocco and the Party of Justice and Development (PJD). The PJD is one of the strongest political Islamist movements in the Arab world, it has been represented in the Moroccan Parliament since 2002, and it will be a serious contender in Morocco’s forthcoming parliamentary elections in September 2007. Western policymakers therefore have a clear interest in better understanding its policy positions, viewed within the context of Morocco’s recent history and the current political situation, and the party’s own history and recent development, as well as its relationship with Morocco’s other Islamist movements.
Political Islam in the Middle East and North Africa: Implications for international policymakers
This high-level private seminar, organized in conjunction with the European Commission and held in Brussels, formed part of ippr”s project on Political Islam in the Middle East and North Africa. It brought together key Middle Eastern and European p…
06/02/2008 – 06/02/2008