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  • Author: Laura Guazzone
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: After winning the 2011 elections, the Ennahda Islamist Party was the majority partner in successive coalition governments, whose poor performance - namely in the economic and security fields - disappointed the people's high post-revolutionary expectations. Opponents accused Ennahda of incompetence, greed for power and double talk. Many of the Ennahda-led governments' failures were due to factors beyond their control, but some did indeed depend on Ennahda's own political weaknesses. Nevertheless, Ennahda contributed positively to the overall development of Tunisia's political transition thanks to its moderation and pragmatism and its contribution remains paramount for the democratic consolidation of Tunisia and other political Islamic actors.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Government, Islam
  • Political Geography: Tunisia
  • Author: Emmanuel Karagiannis
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Western Muslims have joined jihadi groups in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Somalia and Syria to defend Islam from its perceived enemies. Transnational Islamist networks have played a pivotal role in bringing them to conflict zones by fulfilling three functions: radicalisation through mosques, radical preachers, and the Internet; recruitment which can be conducted either physically or digitally; and identity formation that provides the radicalised recruits with a larger cause to fight for as members of an imagined global community. Transnational Islamist networks are multifunctional entities on the rise.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia
  • Author: Robert D. Springborg
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Turkish model deemed most relevant to 2011-12 post-Mubarak Egypt was the Islamist-led transformation of the polity and economy that occurred following the rise to power of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the 2002 general election. As it transpired, this version of the Turkish model lasted but one year before another took its place. That model was the political project of the Turkish military that seized power in September 1980. This thirty-one year old Turkish model of a constitutionally empowered executive body, controlled by the military appears to have trumped the contemporary, Islamist one in Egypt. But the Turkish military coup of 1980 unwittingly and unintentionally laid the groundwork for the transition that ultimately swept it from power and its leaders into jail. The pertinent question then is will Egypt's civilian political and economic actors be similarly and sufficiently astute to exploit the opportunities they inevitably will have even under military rule? Egyptian political forces will inevitably mount serious challenges as they did in Turkey. In Egypt, however, the domestic and regional political and economic contexts are so different from those in Turkey that the outcome of the struggle for power between civilians and the military are likely to deviate substantially from this Turkish model.
  • Topic: Economics, Islam
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Egypt
  • Author: Timo Behr
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The rise of political Islam in the EU's southern neighbourhood represents a political as well as conceptual challenge to the EU as a foreign policy actor. In the past, the EU reacted to this challenge based on its essentialist perception of political Islam and its overarching interest in regional stability and security. However, the growing salience of 'contingencist' interpretations of political Islam and the resolution of the EU's democratisation-stabilisation dilemma in the wake of the Arab Spring have recently provided an opportunity for greater engagement and cooperation. This has enabled a switch in EU policies from a strategy of containment to a strategy of engagement. Despite this, problems remain as the EU continues to expect Islamist actors to adjust to its own discursive framework and as intra-European divisions revive as a result of the renewal of secular-religious divisions in the neighbourhood. This will complicate EU attempts to build a new partnership with Islamist democracies and will fuel old stereotypes and animosities.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam
  • Political Geography: Europe, Arabia
  • Author: Jonathan Laurence, Gabriel Goodliffe
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Nicolas Sarkozy's presidency presented a mixed record on the issues of Muslim immigration and integration. On the one hand, his administration took novel and constructive steps to advance the integration of Muslim immigrants into French society, notably through the granting of unprecedented official recognition and institutional representation to Islam in the country. On the other, by placing the immigration issue at the centre of his 2012 re-election strategy, he overshadowed and undermined the effectiveness of these integrative policies. Given the country's worsening economic outlook and rising unemployment, immigration is therefore likely to remain as salient and difficult an issue under the new Hollande administration as it was under Sarkozy's.
  • Topic: Economics, Islam
  • Author: Karim Mezran
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Muslims in Italy are now a consistent, although not new, phenomenon in the social and political panorama of the country. Like other communities, they are in search of an agreement with the state that would allow them to live and prosper within a legal framework that guarantees rights and duties. Unfortunately, attempts at achieving such an agreement have come up against a wall of prejudice and fear from the Italian population, as well as a lack of courage and foresight on the part of Italian state institutions. The problems and difficulties associated with the struggle of Italian Muslims in reaching an intesa are outlined and analytically presented along with a discussion of how integration may lead to the type of pluralism and tolerance enshrined in the Italian constitution.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Italy
  • Author: Saskia van Genugten
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: With the elections of 2012, the main party driving the Islam debate in the Netherlands was sidelined. The new government of Liberals and Social Democrats is trying to re-bury the contentious issue, not least because Islam-related questions have had a confusing effect on their parties. Nonetheless, with societal concerns lingering, the topic is likely to reappear. In the Netherlands, the wariness towards (Islamic) immigration is not rooted in fears of ethnic or religious competition. Instead, it tends to receive serious political attention only when cloaked as a defence of secularist and liberal values. As such, curbing Islamic practices is presented as a way to protect a (self-promoted) image of the Netherlands as a non-judgemental and tolerant place. The paradox remains that that self-image was traditionally meant to include minorities, not to exclude them.
  • Topic: Government, Islam
  • Political Geography: Netherlands
  • Author: Catherine Fieschi, Nick Johnson
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: This piece examines the relationship of Muslim communities to the UK mainstream between 2005 and 2010. Using the dual backdrop of the country's embedded multiculturalism policy and its counter-terrorism strategy implemented through the Prevent agenda, the authors brush a picture of a tense yet ultimately resilient relationship. While Prevent was often accused of leading to a securitisation of community policy, it is arguable that tensions have led to increased visibility and leadership capacity from the Muslim community, and a recognition of their role and diversity on behalf of the public and the government.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Islam
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom
  • Author: Erik Jones
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Populists argue that Islamic immigrants are fundamentally different from Europeans. As evidence, they point to notions of religious and cultural identity. Such arguments have popular resonance. As more mainstream politicians pick up on these themes, they begin to take on an air of common sense. Nevertheless, they are mistaken. Europe has a long track record of reconciling competing identities. This has happened by focusing on patterns of interaction (solidarity) rather than obvious indicators of distinctiveness. Using the examples of the Netherlands and Turkey, this article illustrates the wide spectrum of European approaches to the challenge of getting different groups to share the same geographic space.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Netherlands
  • Author: Dario Cristiani, Riccardo Fabiani
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The structural problems characterising Mali interlocked with the dynamics of crisis triggered by the war in Libya in 2011, causing the collapse of one of the few African democracies. The Tuareg rebellion of 2012, the coup d'état and the Islamist takeover of Northern Mali were the three key phases of this crisis, which pushed France - the former colonial patron - to intervene military. After analysing the major local actors involved in the crisis, the article critically analyses the engagement of the EU in the crisis.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Africa, France, Mali
  • Author: Sebastiano Sali
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Review of: Islamism, democracy and liberalism in Turkey: the case of the AKP, by William Hale and Ergun Özbudun, Routledge, 2010
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Author: Ronald Bruce St John
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: In landmark elections, Libyans went to the polls for the first time in 60 years to elect a General National Congress which will form an interim government, oversee the writing of a constitution, and supervise polls for an elected government based on the new constitution. Taking place only nine months after the successful conclusion of the 17 February Revolution, the elections were widely hailed as an extraordinary achievement. The election results were a surprise to many observers as Libyan voters largely supported moderate parties and candidates, reversing a regional trend in support of Islamists.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Libya
  • Author: Yahia H. Zoubir
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: In the late 1980s, prospects for Maghreb integration were high; the process of integration reflected the aspirations of Maghreb states and societies. However, analysis shows that the process was merely a response to internal and external events of that period, namely, economic difficulties, 'fortress Europe', and the rise of radical Islamism. Following the Arab Spring, incessant calls for unity have re-emerged. Once again, these calls for unity, after a long period of tense relations, especially between Algeria and Morocco, have resulted from internal and external constraints. The threats to the incumbent regimes and/or the insecurity prevailing domestically and at the borders have compelled the Maghreb states to seek greater cooperation to overcome the hardships with which they are faced.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Europe, Algeria, Spain
  • Author: Silvia Colombo
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Review of: The Muslim Brotherhood : the burden of tradition, by Alison Pargeter, Saqi, 2010; The Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's succession crisis : the politics of liberalisation and reform in the Middle East, by Mohammed Zahid, Tauris Academic Studies, 2010; I Fratelli musulmani nel mondo contemporaneo, edited by Massimo Campanini and Karim Mezran, UTET libreria, 2010
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Nathalie Tocci, Nona Mikhelidze
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Since the late 1980s, research on political Islam has been much in vogue in Europe and the US. This phenomenon is typically viewed as an expression of religion rather than of politics. Precisely because of the assumed "religious" underpinnings of political Islam, most Western attempts to engage with Islamists often remain trapped in an attempt to test their "democratic credentials". By focussing on what Islamists think about democracy, many studies have ignored the political, social and economic contexts in which Islamists operate. Accounting for the political underpinning of Islamist movements can both help understand their political evolution and open up fruitful avenues for comparative analysis. For this reason, attention is turned to Europe to seek best practices of external engagement with domestic opposition movements in authoritarian contexts, such as Western engagement with opposition actors in Franco's Spain, Kuchma's Ukraine and Shevardnadze's Georgia.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Georgia
  • Author: Amel Boubekeur
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: When European Muslim citizens are involved in social conflicts or when they contest the place that is given them in Europe, these political claims are often seen as radical and inspired by external influences. If an attempt is made to understand what part the influences of the so-called Muslim "countries of origin" play in the way Muslims contest European models of society and integration, it turns out that the roots of radicalisation are often purely European. The idea that it is the Islamic and communitarian nature of the European Muslim way of life which is at the base of their failing integration has to be challenged. Indeed, the initiatives of religious actors have failed to channel the radicalisation of European Muslims' political demands. The role of the religious variable is of much less importance in political radicalisation than the lack of an institutional response to the demands for greater social and economic integration.
  • Topic: Economics, Islam
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Andrea Coppi, Andrea Spreafico
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Muslim community in Italy does not benefit from official recognition, which could, among other things, provide it with access to state funding. Nor does its fragmented nature favour a process of aggregation leading to the formation of a single representative body delegated to dialogue with the institutions. The government initiative establishing the Council of Italian Islam (Consulta) sought to encourage an original course in this direction, but it seems that the body is unlikely to solve the problem. The solutions adopted in various European countries and the proposals put forward by experts suggest that legal recognition cannot sidestep the question of representation and therefore calls for a process of cultural mediation.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy
  • Author: George Joffé
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Europe' reactions to its recently-constituted Muslim communities reflect its implicit self-image of cultural homogeneity, despite a long tradition of endless cultural adaption. This, in turn, is a facet of the persistance of an Orientalist vision which stimulates its opposed mirror-image, Occidentalism or Orientalism-in-reverse, as those communities react with a sense of profound alienation. The two interact to generate the cultural and political confrontation that typifies inter-communal relations today, constructing a new inter-communal socio-political boundary that could harden into a permanent divide of mutual hostility. It is this, far more than globalised salafi-jihadism, that explains the political extremism confronting European states today.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Europe