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  • Author: Aaron Rock-Singer
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Religion was a pillar of pre-modern political identity in the Middle East, arising out of Muslims’ understanding of Islam’s foundational moment and state institutions that developed with the spread of Islamic Empire. Beginning at the turn of the 19th century, European colonial powers and indigenous reformers questioned the centrality of religious identity; instead, it was to be the nation that defined the political community. Since then, the nationalist project has permeated 20th century ideological conflicts in the region, equally shaping the claims of secularists and Islamists. Today, advocates of religious change refer back to early Islamic history as they seek to place religious over national identity, yet they, like their competitors, are unmistakably shaped by the secular nationalist project.
  • Topic: Islam, Nationalism, Post Colonialism, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Lev Weitz
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The majority of the Middle East’s population today is Muslim, as it has been for centuries. However, as the place of origin of a range of world religions – including Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and many lesser-known faiths – it remains a region of remarkable religious diversity. This article considers the place of religious minorities in the modern Middle East from three angles: their distinctive religious and communal identities, their place in the major transformations of the region’s political landscape from the nineteenth century to the post-World War I era, and the challenges of contemporary political conditions.
  • Topic: Demographics, Islam, Religion, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: IEMed/EuroMeSCo
  • Abstract: On the occasion of the Annual Summit of the Strategic Studies Network (Bangkok, 23-25 February 2014), several EuroMeSCo researchers participated in the kick off meeting of the Working Group “The Arab Spring in Comparative Perspective”. This group, lead by the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) will involve over 20 EuroMeSCo researchers, who will work throughout the year with the aim of publishing a joint volume on comparative perspectives of the transitions in the Arab world. The Working Group is structured around two main blocks: “Internal changes in transition processes: What priorities?” and “External actors and regional integration”. It consists of a total of 6 working packages, each of them lead by two EuroMeSCo researchers. The topics to be explored are: State building processes and reforms, security sector reform, the role of religion in transitional processes, socio-economic reforms, the role of the European Union in supporting democratic transitions in the Southern Mediterranean and regional integration.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Politics, Religion, Economies
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: IEMed/EuroMeSCo
  • Abstract: The workshop "Democracies in the Making: Egypt at the Center of Arab Transitions" focused on the analysis of the current phase of the democractic transition in Egypt, dominated by a high level of polarisation. It was organised by EuroMeSco, the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) and the Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies (ACPSS), with the support of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID). This was the last of a series of four workshops organised in the framework of a programme to strengthen the capacities of think tanks and research institutes in Mediterranean countries, mainly in light of the current democratisation processes and regional transformations.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Politics, Religion, Elections
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries, Egypt
  • Author: Robert Springborg
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The social, political and economic power of moderate Middle East and North African Islamist movements has been growing for a generation or so. The question of how to deal with Islamists who reject violence, embrace democracy and outperform their competitors at the polls has therefore become a central concern not only of incumbent Middle East elites, but also of interested foreign actors such as the EU and US. Robert Springborg sees the need for the EU to clarify its policies towards the MENA region and Muslim democrats within it. The present lack of EU policies on engaging with moderate Islamists leads them to be at best curious about the EU and at worse to be suspicious of it. Engagement might itself help to contribute to policy formation in this important area, and serve as a vehicle to disseminate information about relevant EU policies.
  • Topic: Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries, North Africa
  • Author: Amr Hamzawy, Dina Bishara
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The 2006 Lebanon war has had a profound effect on Islamist movements that have chosen to compete as legal parties in the political systems of their countries, testing their relationship with the ruling regimes as well as their respect for pluralism and tolerance.
  • Topic: International Relations, Islam, Religion, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries, Lebanon
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown, Amr Hamzawy, Marina S. Ottaway
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: In today's Arab world, Islamists have assumed the role once played by national liberation movements and leftist parties. They are the mass movements of the twenty-first century. They are well embedded in the social fabric, understand the importance of good organization, and are thus able to mobilize considerable constituencies. Their ideology prescribes a simple solution to the persistent crises of contemporary Arab societies—a return to the fundamentals, or true spirit, of Islam. Indeed, “Islam is the solution” has been the longtime slogan of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. Like all successful movements, Islamists have been able to distill a long, complex philosophical tradition into simple slogans that have quickly supplanted the Pan-Arabism and socialism that dominated the region until the 1970s. As a result, in most countries Islamists represent the only viable opposition forces to existing undemocratic regimes.
  • Topic: Government, Human Rights, Islam, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Instead of healing the growing divisions between Iraq's three principal communities -- Shiites, Kurds and Sunni Arabs -- a rushed constitutional process has deepened rifts and hardened feelings. Without a strong U.S.-led initiative to assuage Sunni Arab concerns, the constitution is likely to fuel rather than dampen the insurgency, encourage ethnic and sectarian violence, and hasten the country's violent break-up.
  • Topic: Government, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries, Kurdistan
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israeli authorities on September 27 announced the arrest of an Israeli-Arab Hamas activist who played central militant, political, and financing roles for the group in coordination with what Israeli authorities described as a “Hamas command in Saudi Arabia.” The arrest is just the latest evidence that support for Hamas in particular and Islamic extremism in general continues to emanate from within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
  • Topic: Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Minda Lee Arrow
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Among the challenges facing the Israeli government in the weeks before the Gaza disengagement commences are relocating evacuated settlers and determining the future of settlement assets. This Peace Watch will examine the former issue; a future Peace Watch will address the latter.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza, Arab Countries