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  • Author: Aisha Ahmad
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In recent years, jihadists across the world have transformed their gendered violence, shocking the world by breaking from prior taboos and even celebrating abuses that they had previously prohibited. This behavior is surprising because jihadists represent a class of insurgents that are deeply bound by rules and norms. For jihadists, deviating from established Islamist doctrines is no easy feat. What then explains these sudden transformations in the rules and norms governing jihadist violence? An inductive investigation of contemporary jihadist violence in Pakistan and Nigeria reveals a new theory of jihadist normative evolution. Data from these cases show that dramatic changes in jihadist violence occur when an external trigger creates an expanded political space for jihadist entrepreneurs to do away with normative constraints on socially prohibited types of violence. As these jihadist leaders capitalize on the triggers, they are able to encourage a re-socialization process within their ranks, resulting in the erosion of previously held taboos, the adoption of proscribed behaviors, and the emergence of toxic new norms.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Gender Issues, Islam, Terrorism, Women, Gender Based Violence
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Middle East, West Asia
  • Author: Emile Dirks
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: The repression of Xinjiang’s Uighur population by the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to horrify world opinion. Along with interning an estimated one million people in a network of re-education camps, the Chinese state has built extensive systems of daily surveillance directed at the region’s Muslims (China Brief, March 14, 2017; China Brief, November 5, 2018). Police inspections of local homes, blacklists of suspect Muslims, and biometric data collection are widespread. Previous research has illustrated how such policies have their roots in earlier (and ongoing) repression campaigns against Falun Gong and other religious groups (China Brief, February 1). However, evidence now suggests that these systems of social surveillance and repression also originated in programs directed at wider groups of Chinese citizens, identified as “key individuals” (重点人员, zhongdian renyuan). Systems of “key population management” (重点人口管理, zhongdian renkou guanli) possess many of the features associated with Xinjiang’s security state: profiling, extensive personal and biometric data collection, and location-based tracking.
  • Topic: Islam, Science and Technology, Prisons/Penal Systems, Surveillance
  • Political Geography: China, Xinjiang
  • Author: Roie Yellinek
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: State-directed repression and harassment directed against Muslims in China has drawn broad international condemnation throughout the Western world. However, what has been the reaction from the Islamic world itself? Although reactions among major states have varied (as discussed below), the reaction throughout the Islamic world has largely been one of deafening silence—and when voices are raised, they have been faint.
  • Topic: International Relations, Islam, Prisons/Penal Systems, State Violence, Surveillance
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Xinjiang
  • Author: Pauline Le Roux
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: The Sahel has experienced the most rapid increase in militant Islamist group activity of any region in Africa in recent years. Violent events involving extremist groups in the region have doubled every year since 2015. In 2019, there have been more than 700 such violent episodes (see Figure 1). Fatalities linked to these events have increased from 225 to 2,000 during the same period. This surge in violence has uprooted more than 900,000 people, including 500,000 in Burkina Faso in 2019 alone. Three groups, the Macina Liberation Front (FLM),1 the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS),2 and Ansaroul Islam,3 are responsible for roughly two-thirds of the extremist violence in the central Sahel.4 Their attacks are largely concentrated in central Mali, northern and eastern Burkina Faso, and western Niger (see Figure 2). Multiple security and development responses have been deployed to address this crisis. While some progress has been realized, the continued escalation of extremist violence underscores that more needs to be done.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Regional Cooperation, Violent Extremism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Mali, Sahel, Niger, Burkina Faso
  • Author: Maryam Azam
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: South Asian Studies
  • Institution: Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab
  • Abstract: The rise of sectarian groups in Pakistan has sprouted many internal challenges for the state as well as for the society. The issue of sectarianism is directly linked with the security and harmony of Pakistani society as it has culminated into a grave internal security challenge causing violence and loss of human life. The institutionalization of these groups and their role in the political landscape of Pakistan reflects their complicated nature, objectives and the overall discourse on which these groups are built. Despite the fact that government in various time periods have banned these sectarian militant groups but they were able to operate in shadows or under the banner of different names and roles. This piece of research aims to explicate their multidimensional roles and their capacity to operate and affect the security paradox as well as society as a whole
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Religion, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence, Violent Extremism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, Punjab
  • Author: Usman Bashir, Iram Khalid
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: South Asian Studies
  • Institution: Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab
  • Abstract: This study is focused on the impact of religion on the electoral pattern of the people of Punjab. Religion as a determinant of voting behavior is best expressed in the votes secured by the religious parties. Thus, religious parties vote in Pakistan and Punjab is studied to build an argument. Religion has a strong impact on human life. It influences each act and attitude of the individual especially in developing countries. In Pakistan; religion has a solid affect in shaping the political attitudes and beliefs of the individuals. It is one of the key elements of politics.2018 general elections saw a sudden rise in the vote bank of religious political parties. It witnessed a 2.17 % increase in the religious vote country wide and 1.32% increase in Punjab. Tahreek Labbaik Pakistan appeared on the scene as a radical Sunni Islamic party, it mobilized the barelvi vote bank to great effect. And it emerged as the third largest party of Punjab, in terms of votes polled. 2018 general elections also witnessed the rise of Milli Muslim League which was a political wing of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, who were previously rejecting the parliamentary form of government and were critical of voting in elections. The increase in the influence of the various spiritual gaddi nasheen in the electoral politics of Punjab was also a prominent factor during the 11th general election.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics, Religion, Elections
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, Punjab
  • Author: Benjamin Tua
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: American Diplomacy
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Efforts to portray Muslims and their faith as threatening diminish our society by stigmatizing a significant American minority. They also can facilitate costly foreign policy blunders such as the 2017 Executive Order banning entry into the US of visitors from several Middle Eastern majority-Muslim countries, an order purportedly based on terrorist activity, technical hurdles to properly document these countries’ travelers, and poor coordination with US officials. Two recent books, “Mohammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires” and “What the Qur’an Meant: And Why it Matters,” take on the task of broadening Americans’ still unacceptably low understanding of Islam. The authors – Juan Cole, a professor of history at the University of Michigan, and Garry Wills, a Pulitzer Prize winning lay scholar of American Catholicism – approach their subject in distinctly different manners. Yet, their message and conclusions are remarkably similar – namely, that ignorance of and distortions of Islam and what the Quran says both alienate vast numbers of Muslims and have led to foreign policy missteps. The books complement each other nicely.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Peace Studies, Religion, Judaism, Islamophobia, Xenophobia
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Ukraine, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Soviet Union, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Haviland Smith
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: American Diplomacy
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: It is clear that there are powerful people both in the United States and in Iran who would like to force a real confrontation between our two countries. What is completely unclear is whether or not those hawks on both sides want a modified Cold War type confrontation, built perhaps on cyber warfare, or an all-out military confrontation. What this situation, with all its incredibly profound dangers and possible disastrous outcomes, has done is once again prompt the question, “what is the United States doing in the Middle East and what precisely are our goals there?”
  • Topic: Cold War, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Minorities, Ethnicity
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Matt Schrader
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: China has a serious and worsening Islamophobia problem. While relations between China’s Muslim minorities and its Han majority have been fraught since 2009’s deadly inter-ethnic riots in the far western city of Urumqi, recent years have seen the normalization of online hate speech directed at Muslims. The rise of Islamophobia inside China is a product both of government action, and of the government’s failure to act. Commentary on the recent death of a prominent Muslim leader in the western province of Qinghai highlights the extent to which the situation has deteriorated, and suggests the ways in which China’s warped online discourse could blunt its efforts to build influence and win friends in countries across the Muslim world.
  • Topic: Demographics, Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Geopolitics, Islamophobia
  • Political Geography: China, Gulf Nations
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: A time-lapse review of violent episodes involving militant Islamist groups in African since 2010 provides insights into the evolution of these actors over the course of this decade.
  • Topic: Islam, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Africa