Panel 7J

Political Islam: Modern Discourses

 9.00 – 11.00
Chair: Simon Stjernholm, University of Copenhagen

Transition in the Middle East: Between Illiberal Democracy and Conservative Secularism

Taner Dogan, City, University of London

With the collapse of the Soviet empire in the late 1980s, Eastern Europe was westernized, and what Francis Fukuyama called the liberal idea –the combination of the rule of law, liberal democracy, and market capitalism- emerged as the basis of a truly global order. Notions such as rationalism, secularism, individualism, and equality and empathy between humans were in the epicentre of the European countries. Moreover, the support of western states and companies accentuated liberalism as the dominant value system of the new global hegemony. When the Arab uprisings began in the Middle East in 2011, which was a “demand for social, political, and economic reform,” a new chapter has opened with regard to social and religious politics. As in the Soviet empire experience, it was a new opportunity for countries ruled by dictatorships to open its face towards the globalized world. This paper will discuss religious movements’ ideological transformation in the Middle East within the context of illiberal democracy, which is closely related to Post-Islamism. It will discuss how faith and freedom, and secular democratic state with a religious society are combined in Post-Islamism, and how Western discourse is dominating with power and knowledge.

Egyptian Muslim Brothers in Turkey: Re-Launch or Dissolution Ahead

Güliz Dinç, Ankara Yildirim Beyazit University and Ahmed Amin, Ankara Yildirim Beyazit University

The future of Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt following the 2013 military coup is being debated by scholars, whether suppression and exclusion from political and social spheres by the new regime will likely lead the movement towards radicalization or trigger ideological change towards post-Islamism similar to Nahda of Tunisia. This paper aims to contribute to these debates by exploring the role of the MB exiles in Turkey in light of the ideological and administrative disputes within the movement. Building on the seven interviews we already conducted in ?stanbul in October 2016, we will continue our fieldwork and interview former members of the Morsi government, students, media personalities, and activists affiliated with the Brotherhood. In addition to MB members, we will conduct elite interviews with researchers and activists living in Turkey or abroad (via e-interviews) for analytical outsiders perspectives. Our preliminary findings suggests that there is a deep fissure within the movement that cannot be simply regarded as a split between generations. So it is essential to analyze the differences between these groupings on the following points: a) strategies / tools for survival in Turkey; b) their views on their experience in power; c) ideological as well as strategic struggles within the Brotherhood; d) ties and relations with the state and other political actors in Egypt. Through this project, we aim to shed light on the recent past and the future of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood through empirical data that has not been tapped previously in a systematic manner.

Radical or Role Model: Reflections on a Swedish Muslim Preacher

Simon Stjernholm, University of Copenhagen

Muslim preachers using the Internet to distribute their messages are, in various European contexts, often framed as dangerous, influencing young Muslims towards violent or anti-liberal activism. But such fears are seldom informed by serious, sustained analysis of what young Muslim preachers actually say, how they say it, and how their message and style can be interpreted. This paper contributes to the study of contemporary Muslim oratory, assuming that a new generation of preachers –often educated in the Middle East – play vital roles in articulating Islam for young European Muslim audiences in manifold and complex ways. It relates to studies of ‘media preachers’ in Muslim societies, Islamic activism in Europe, and religious oratory more generally. The paper focuses on one particular – relatively young – Muslim preacher in Sweden, who has grown up in Sweden with immigrant parents and has been a public Islamic activist for years. The empirical data are a selection of his online media productions and in-depth interview material regarding his motivations, trajectories, and ideas. This particular preacher has been accused of being a ‘radical Salafi preacher’, but says he aims to be a ‘role model’ for young Muslims. The paper offers a nuanced discussion of this preacher’s message and role. Such an informed discussion is valuable in order to understand how this type of preacher, who transgresses established borders of belonging, contributes to shaping the future of Islam.

Is ” The Impossible State” of Hallaq Possible? Sanhuri’s Version of a Modern Islamic State

Hamad M.S Al-Adwani, University of Exeter

Any observer of the discourse on Islam and democracy would notice that the debate has developed dramatically after the distressing event of the Arab uprisings, in which it has transformed the discussion to a new phase where broader questions are raising like; does Islam adapt to the concept of a modern state, above all? Before figuring out whether it is compatible with democracy or not! In other words, how far do the failed attempts of some Islamist parties on compromising between the two and the emergence of ISIL and its project of reviving a traditional version ‘Caliphate’ support the claim of an ‘ impossible Islamic state ‘ in modern time?

Colonial Education and the Shaping of Islamism in Sudan, 1946-1956

Willow Berridge, Newcastle University

The Sudanese Islamists propagandized their ‘Civilizational Project’ of the 1990s as a cathartic break with the colonial past, which would rescue the country from economic and cultural subjection to the West. Yet it was also defined by limitations similar to that of the colonial ‘civilising mission’, being the brainchild of a narrow elite with a hubristic perception of its purpose as a modernizing vanguard that was not shared by the population at large. This paper, developing a chapter from my recent publication on the leading Islamist intellectual Hasan al-Turabi, will attempt to trace the origins of the Islamist worldview to the first generation of Sudanese Islamists’ educational upbringing within the schools that acted as the bastions of the British ‘civilizing mission’ in the country including Gordon Memorial College and Hantoub Secondary School. With the founding of the Islamic Liberation Movement at Gordon Memorial College in 1948, the Islamist pioneers passed through schools and university campuses during the last decade of the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium, during which colonial developmentalism reached its peak before the eventual independence of the country in 1956. In particular, this paper, drawing on Homi Bhabha’s notions of colonial and post-colonial ambivalence, will contend in particular that Islamists inherited the colonizers’ ambivalent attitude towards their own ‘civilising mission’, and in particular the fractured colonial mindset that veered alternately between championing ‘modernity’ and ‘tradition’.