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Political Islam and the prospects of democracy in the arab world: the case of Egipt


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Matić, Davorka and Bilandžić, Mirko. (2010). Political Islam and the prospects of democracy in the arab world: the case of Egipt. Polemos : časopis za interdisciplinarna istraživanja rata i mira, XIII(26). pp. 33-57. ISSN 1331-5595

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Recent events throughout the Arab world once again placed the Middle Eastern region in the center of media attention and world politics. The collapse of the regime of Hosni Mubarak was widely welcomed but it has also generated some doubts regarding the final outcome of the incipient political changes and of the Egyptian society’s democratic potentials. In Egypt, as well as in other Arab autocracies, the democratic opposition is institutionally weak and fragmented while the Islamic movement has proved itself to be well organized and firmly embedded in the key institutions of the civil society. Thus, is it not legitimate to ask whether we can realistically expect that the emerging political processes will lead towards the democratic transformation of the Arab world or if, conversely, they will result in new type of authoritarian political system replacing the old one? This article maintains that broadly defined Islamist movements represent important socio-political forces that will, in the forthcoming years, influence the direction and character of future Middle Eastern politics. Following an analysis of the phenomenon of Islamic revival and of the different forms of the political articulation of Islam, the authors’ pay particularly attention to Egypt’s Islamist movement. Egypt is taken as the template for analysis for two reasons: First, because it is home to Muslim Brotherhood (MB), the organization which played the most critical role in the development of contemporary Islamist politics, and second, because the authors believe that the future of the whole region heavily depends upon the outcome of the Egypt’s political transition. Therefore, this article deals with issues such as the socio-historical roots and evolution of the Islamist movement in Egypt, organizational structure of the MB and the character of its activism, and with the controversies surrounding MB’s true political goals and ambitions. Although there are reasons to doubt whether most of the MB’s activists and leaders are genuinely pro-democratic, the authors still believe that accepting MB as an equal player in the political arena represents the only true path toward democratization of Egypt and a safeguard against its political radicalization.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: democratization; Arab autocracies; political Islam; fundamentalism; Islamic revival; Islamist movement; Islamic activism; Egypt; Muslim Brotherhood
Subjects: Sociology
Departments: Department of Sociology
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2016 10:50
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2016 10:50

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