Congrès Mondial des Études sur le Moyen-Orient et l'Afrique du Nord

Barcelone du 19 au 24 Juillet 2010


Debates on Islam: Conflict and Democracy (435) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description:
Chair: Rafael Bustos (Dr., Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Observatorio Electoral del TEIM and Observatorio OPEX de la Fundación Alternativas de Madrid, Spain)

Paper Presenter: Maysam Behravesh/ Mohammad Reza Kiani (Doctoral Student, University of Tehran/ Member of Young Research Club of Islamic Azad University Science and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran) “Security Crisis in the Middle East and Beyond:Islamic Context, Islamist Resistance and the Call for an International Multiculturalism”
Propounding his theory of the ''clash of civilisations'' in his 1993 Foreign Affairs article, Samuel Huntington examines the major source of civilisational conflict as primarily ''cultural'' rather than ''ideological'' divisions or economic differences; the factors which, in his view, give rise to the ''bloody borders'' between Islamic and non-Islamic civilisations. The present paper sets, in the light of the Clash theory, to explore the negative repercussions which the established attempts at Westernisation in the Middle East have entailed, arguing that the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, the continuing Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 2008 Mumbay attacks, and the resurgence of terrorism in Pakistan - which are all responsible for the growing global security crisis - have their original roots, inter alia, in the continued attempt at the democratisation of the Islamic states there. An often-ignored fact of significance is that a ripe and appropriate ground/context to cultivate such noble humanist values as democracy, liberty, individuality and religious pluralism in the region is still lacking. Moreover, Muslims’ collective historical memory as well as experience of the West’s colonialist practices in the wider region in the past two hundred years has caused, and continues to act as a force behind, a deep-seated sense of suspicion both towards the states representing those values, and even worse towards the values themselves, culminating in what forms the building block of all Islamic movements: resistance. In the contemporary era, however, resistance has come to take on, as the systematic ideological behaviour of extremist groups show, a rather new and more comprehensive meaning, incorporating not only defence against the foreign? Western in this case - cultural and military invasion on the home front, but also, and more critically, attack against the foreign (inter/trans) national interests on the foreign front itself. This is exactly the point where the critical issue of European security alike is raised (7/7 London attacks, for example), and should be addressed, the paper argues, in the due course. It is really striking to know that none of the Muslim extremist groups who commit acts of terror view themselves as ‘terrorists’ but as ‘defenders of the faith’ and of Islamic culture/values which they believe is/are seriously under threat. Drawing subsequently on the critical ideas of such theorists and thinkers as Bikhou Parekh, Charles Taylor, Iris Marion Young, and supporting them with the universalist thoughts of Andrew Linklater, we will carry on arguing that a promising solution to the security as well as peace crisis on both home fronts ‘the Middle East’ and foreign fronts. Europe and the US - lies in the notion of a multiculturalist rather than 'Western' universalism, best achieved by an 'inclusionary' policy of cultural accommodation and ideological conciliation which not only tolerates 'cultural diversity' and ideological difference, but also cherishes them. The claim that is emphatically made is that the 'alliance of civilisations' requires, first and foremost, an international multiculturalism.

Paper Presenter: Susanne Olsson (Senior lecturer, Södertörn University, Sweden) “Localised and universalised Islams: Where is 'the abode of Islam'?”
The paper discusses contemporary interpretations of Islam in relation to aspects of localism and universalism. I intend to show how local interpretations of Islam at the same time ought to be regarded as localised in a transnational and global setting and how 'universal' interpretations of Islam in fact are local expressions. My paper intends to show how Islam is transformed depending on the locality of the interpreter. To illustrate that I will show how the locality has implications for the juridical and theological reinterpretations of Islam, which also affect the view regarding where a Muslim can live geographically, i.e. ideally speaking. A main question is often how those living 'away from home', here in the sense of living outside 'the abode of Islam', manage to adapt to their 'diasporic' local/national setting and how religious traditions are changed in these processes. How do people manage multiple identities living in multi-cultural environments and often secularised surroundings, such as the case is in many European nation-states? In such settings, it is interesting to note how the discussions regarding 'continuity' and 'change' with traditions appear and how they are formulated. Some people claim continuity with a specific tradition and others reject it. Following this, there are some aspects that are recurring within reinterpretations of Islam regarding views on identity and community and how one views religion and culture for example. Hence, my paper asks the question of how aspects such as localisation and universalisation can be understood related to contemporary interpretations of Islam. The second question regards how contemporary interpreters of Islam have reformulated the 'classical' view of 'the abode of Islam', which were dominated by Muslims and where the Islamic law (shariah) ruled (ideally). Reinterpretations of Islam, I argue, are answers of accommodation to specific local settings.

Paper presenter: Aini Linjakumpu (Lecturer, University of Lapland, Finland), “Extreme Muslim politics: narratives of emotional histories”
Over the last years, transnational and global forms of Muslim politics have characterized international politics. Muslim terrorism, the so-called caricature crisis and other examples have shown that political dimensions of Islam have a powerful appearance in the transnational public sphere. Different manifestations of politicized Islam have been objects of an intense research. However, in the field of political science and international politics, research has followed in many times rather conventional lines. Therefore, it is essential to try to widen the scope of analysis of the Muslim politics. The idea behind this contribution is that the logic of political actions does not follow mere rational reasoning. The focus is on the meaning of emotions as part of politics and political actions. This contribution holds that political activity is motivated and empowered by collectively expressed emotions. The meaning of emotions in political theory has been a rather marginal issue. ‘Real’ politics is understood as rational and goal-orientated activity, in which emotions appear as a troublemaker or a problem to be solved. However, the hypothesis of the contribution is that emotions are increasingly important part of political discourses and practices. The purpose is not to exoticize Muslims or politics conducted by Muslims, but to argue that emotions are currently evenly relevant in both non-Muslim and Muslim political contexts. The empirical focus of the contribution is autobiographies of persons who have belonged to extremist or activist Muslim groups. Autobiographies are ‘personal testimonies’ or narratives in which way individuals perceive his/her location especially in a transnational socio-political context. Even though autobiographies are personal conducts, they reveal important understanding of politics and political action in general as well. Through emotional narratives, it will be analysed empirically which have been motivations to join and belong to extreme organizations; how ideological basis have been formulated and what have been reasons to leave an organization. In this context, it will be pondered how e.g. anger, hate, frustration and hope can be linked to the logic and motivations of political actions. In this way, politics of emotions forms a general framework for understanding protest or oppositional politics and as logic of constructing political coalitions. Islamic history and traditions as well as the socio-political situation of the Muslim world provide a rich basis for various emotional responses.

Paper presenter: Amira Mostafa (Executive Director, Arab World Center for Democratic Development, UNIHRD, Jordan), “Islam and the democratic movement in the Middle East”
There is no doubt that the religious movements in the Middle East that have a broad impact not only in the limited geographical area - Middle East - but over the whole world. That is why the Islamic movements in Muslim countries and the Middle East in particular have a significant effect on the movement of development positive or negative on the progress of democratic development in the region as they affect social peace and international levels. Hence we see the importance of this study and the situation taken by these movements that were both institutional (government parties civil society union) or movements of separate works by peaceful means or use of violence and counter-violence in the communities to which it belongs, as we review the export of these ideas and actions abroad.

Paper presenter: Juan Antonio Macías Amoretti and Juan Marsá Fuentes (Lecturer and Research Fellows, Universidad de Granada, Spain), "What does 'islah' mean today? The use of reformist concepts in the Maghreb"
The call for a democratic reform in the Arab World is a constant voice everywhere today. Nevertheless, in order to understand the real meaning of this ‘reform’ within the Arab political mind, it is necessary to tinge the diverse connotations -religious, political, economic, cultural and social- of the ‘islah’ as a main concept in contemporary Arab political thought, and as a keyword in the political practice implemented by political actors, secondary elites and power-ruling elites. The Maghreb (mainly Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco) is today one of the most significant scenarios within the Arab World, in which it can be observed how the use of this concept has became a common place in authoritarian contexts. And it is also the ideal scenario to realize how, in political practice, its concrete meaning has been shaped by self-proclaimed reformist actors. Wide-trend political parties -from islamists to traditional conservative and/or official parties-, ideological-related organizations and even a new generation of emergent businessmen in the Maghreb do use the ‘islah’ and other related concepts, such as ‘democratization’, 'development', ‘modernization’, as an ideological tool to legitimate their position. While power-ruling elites do the same to keep their legitimacy face to the West as the one and only source of any hypothetic democratic reform in their countries. The Egyptian sociologist al-Sayed Yasin states that it is difficult to understand the real meaning of ‘islah’ among Arab thinkers and politicians, as they do not know exactly what to reform and what kind of reform put into practice. In the Maghreb, reformist salafi concepts helped to draw a new model for the new independent states that were born in 1956 and 1962. Nowadays, the Maghreb is living an ideological impasse, in which it can be proved that an excessive discursive use of ‘islah’ and other old and new reformist concepts has managed to empty them of their original meaning, being its use a mere resource of historical and ideological legitimacy.

Paper presenter: Mukhatr Umar Bunza (Senior Leturer History-Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Nigeria), "The Middle East and New Trends of Islamic Da’wa and Orientation in Contemporary Nigeria"
Considering the global nature of Islam, the influence of one section or region on another, in the Muslim world would not have been of any serious concern. However, the indelible impact of the Middle Eastern scholarship, ideologies, proliferation of the region’s based literature, institutions, and forms of Islamic revivalism have been of historical significance for exploration and documentation in the modern day religious awakening in Nigeria.
It is therefore, under this light that, this paper would examine the role the above issues in consideration of the move among Muslims in Nigeria, especially the youths, in anti-sufi movements, disengagements from the traditional madhahabism, (strict observance of the popular Maliki School of Thought), to authoritarian hadithism, (observance of hadith provisions in juristic requirements). Similarly, the salafiya and Izala movements, which are essentially championed by graduates of institutions like the International Islamic University, Medina, Saudi Arabia. On the hand, the Iranian shi’ite Islamic ideodology led by Shaykh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky was introduced for the first time in Nigeria (a traditionally Maliki and Sunni country).
Thus, the paper aims to address problems such as, to what extent has the Middle Eastern scholars, literature, institutions; ideologies have been shaping the religious activities in Nigeria? Moreover, the study explores how has the influence of the Middle East on contemporary Islam in Nigeria contributed to the radicalization and globalization of the Islamic activities in the country. These and similar questions would be addressed by the paper.