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Between Religion and Politics

Between Religion and Politics

Nathan J. Brown
Amr Hamzawy
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 213
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  • Book Info
    Between Religion and Politics
    Book Description:

    In recent decades, Islamist political movements in many Arab countries have strategically invested in a political process that was stacked heavily against them. And, to the surprise of many, they have actually succeeded by gaining more seats in parliaments and demonstrating their position as the only opposition movements with a popular base.Between Religion and Politicsis a broad, cross-national study of Islamist parties in Arab parliamentary elections. The book focuses on those movements that have cast themselves, at least in part, as electorally oriented political parties. It probes the environment in which the movements operate, the checkered relationship between Islamists and national rulers, the Islamists' political platforms, and efforts to build alliances with other opposition groups. By examining the debates within the Islamists movements, Between Religion and Politics is able to assess the party leaders' evaluations of their political experiences and their prospects for future participation.

    Contents include

    • The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood: Islamist Participation in a Closing Political Environment

    • Jordan and Its Islamic Movement: The Limits of Inclusion?

    • Party for Justice and Development in Morocco: Participation and Its Discontents

    • Pushing toward Party Politics? Kuwait's Islamic Constitutional Movement

    • Between Government and Opposition: The Case of the Yemeni Congregation for Reform

    • Hamas: Battling to Blend Religion, Politics, Resistance, and Governance

    eISBN: 978-0-87003-297-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. v-vi)
    Jessica T. Mathews

    Over the past decade, Islamists have been thrust by events and by their own efforts into the center of the political stage in a number of Arab countries. The parties and movements that Nathan J. Brown and Amr Hamzawy consider in this volume are not ones that form small cells for violent actions. Rather, they are large, diverse organizations that seek (among other things) to participate in the established political process.

    The various parties and movements considered here—in Egypt, Morocco, Yemen, Jordan, Palestine, and Kuwait—are hardly new. Most go back decades. But in recent years, all have taken...

  4. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. CHAPTER 1 Islamists in Arab Parliaments
    (pp. 1-8)

    In the last two decades of the twentieth century, Islamist political movements in many Arab countries made a strategic investment in a political process that was stacked against them. They did so in a series of ways, but the most prominent by far was their participation in parliamentary elections. By the first decade of the twenty-first century, their investments appeared to pay off. A series of impressive electoral gains—in Jordan, they have formed the largest opposition bloc; in Kuwait, they have participated both in the cabinet and in opposition coalitions that forced a major electoral reform and sought to...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood: Islamist Participation in a Closing Political Environment
    (pp. 9-46)

    In January 2010, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood selected Muhammad Badi‘ as its eighth general guide. While Egypt’s leading Islamist movement has sometimes hotly debated the selection of leaders in the past, this time the choice took place under an unprecedented domestic and international spotlight. Muhammad Badi‘ was virtually unknown outside the group. And that itself was a signal about the Brotherhood’s future course: there would likely be far more focus on internal organization and less on political work; the movement was positioning itself to focus more on quiet social and educational projects than noisy political struggles. The new direction was...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Jordan and Its Islamic Movement: The Limits of Inclusion?
    (pp. 47-78)

    In the Arab world, Jordan has the longest history of an Islamic movement competing regularly, legally, and openly in elections. Members of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood have even joined the government. And although the relationship between rulers and Islamists in Jordan has often been tense, both sides have tried to avoid provoking the other into outright confrontation. In that sense, Jordan’s rulers have worked to test the proposition that inclusion breeds moderation—or, more modestly, that limited inclusion coupled with periodic warnings will discourage extremism. For their part, Islamist leaders have worked to test the proposition that it is better...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Party for Justice and Development in Morocco: Participation and Its Discontents
    (pp. 79-104)

    In Morocco, the Islamist Party for Justice and Development (PJD) has adopted peaceful participation in politics as its only strategic option. In Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine, Islamist movements have dual identities, as both political actors and militarized resistance movements. In Egypt and Jordan, ongoing confrontations between the ruling establishments and the Muslim Brotherhood have precluded stable Islamist participation in politics, but in Morocco, the PJD participates openly, and is gradually introducing more openness.

    The PJD and similar “participation-comes-first” Islamist movements in Algeria, Kuwait, and Bahrain resolve to respect and play by the rules of the political game, and to seek...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Pushing Toward Party Politics? Kuwait’s Islamic Constitutional Movement
    (pp. 105-134)

    Kuwait’s Islamic Constitutional Movement, founded in the aftermath of the Gulf War in 1991, is a relatively new political actor in Kuwait. Yet by the standards of Arab Islamist movements, Hadas (the movement’s Arabic acronym) is one of the region’s most experienced groups in parliamentary and electoral politics. The party can even claim real electoral and programmatic successes, having been integrated as a regular and accepted political force in Kuwait, and operating well within the boundaries of the country’s established political process. Hadas has also experimented with a range of political stances, at times entering the government and at others...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Between Government and Opposition: The Case of the Yemeni Congregation for Reform
    (pp. 135-160)

    Within the spectrum of Islamist parties and movements that participate in legal politics in the Arab world, the Yemeni Congregation for Reform (Islah) represents a unique case. Unlike most such movements, when Islah first entered Yemen’s political scene in 1990, it was an ally of the ruling General People’s Congress (GPC), but it turned against the GPC and became the leading opposition party by the end of the decade. Islah also lacks an ideologically motivated membership and a clear ideological or political narrative. The group is primarily composed of traditionalist and tribal groups that share only a loose commitment to...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Hamas: Battling to Blend Religion, Politics, Resistance, and Governance
    (pp. 161-180)

    The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement—known by its Arabic acronym, Hamas—traces its origin to two sister movements, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, and its ties with both organizations remain deep. But it has operated in a very different political environment—and a radically changing one as well, in which Hamas has had to shift from a movement that is largely underground to one that governs. Its response to that environment—as well as its efforts to change it in the most radical ways—makes its experience extremely unusual and interesting to students of Islamist movements,...

  12. CHAPTER 8 Conclusion
    (pp. 181-188)

    Arab parliaments are a frustrating arena for political activity, and Islamist movements are now discovering precisely why. They must decide whether the fruits of parliamentary participation outweigh the frustrations. The movements examined in this book are poised to continue their parliamentary activities, but they are doing so with more realistic expectations of the limitations in this strategy.

    Islamist movement leaders and their extensive grassroots bases have been disappointed in the return on their investment in political participation. While they have many successes to claim, their involvement has failed in three regards:

    They had hoped to break through barriers of restricted...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 189-206)
  14. Index
    (pp. 207-212)
  15. Contributors
    (pp. 213-214)
  16. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
    (pp. 215-216)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 217-217)