Relgions, Politics, and Social Order in the Middle East

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Unformatted text preview: 148 Religion and Global Order from the time when the Catholic pope became the voice of the voiceless in a struggle for human freedom. A simple appeal for no divorce, no contraception and no abortion is a long way from the vastly more visionary presentation of the Christian challenge to an ‘ atheist Communist society. It would be a tragedy if the hopes for Eastern Europe turned to ashes, and if the dream of a renewed e buried in nostalgia for a past and very different 7 Religion and the political and ° in the Middle East 306ml order society were to b civilization. Christianity in Eastern Europe may be being offered I SIMON MURDEN one brief window of opportunity for significant revival. If this chance is not taken new processes of secularization and political division may well destroy the dream of a new beginning. Notes Introduction East Germany and the Baltic States is indebted edited with V. Arzenukhin,' g f 3 ki, Gottfried ”= My discussion of Poland, to contributions prepared for my book co— Religion and Change in Eastern Europe, by Anton Pospieszals Kretzschmar and Marite Sapiets respectively. The . . . . . greatAn/IltirdlehEast 18 fhe historlc birthplace of the world’s three 0 elstic re igions and Judai C ' ' ' have long had a d . I I , sm, hristianity and Islam efinitive influence on ' I I I the construct f ' ~ Identities, the nature of ' ' Ion o SOClal _ politics and the battle—1' ' ' the region ISIam ha mes of conflict in _ . s been the most im or ' ' ' I tant reli 10 fl — ence. The expansron of A ' " ' p g us m u rab c1v1112ation in th hem d ‘ . e seventh centur L fthl ed an era of Islamic empires that lasted until the abolitioii o F e Ottoman Caliphate in 1924. ‘or ' ' _ states 21:11am two centuries, the dominant issue for the Muslim soc1eties of the Middle E t has b h ' European and Am I as een t e rise of erican hegemony in the ‘ ' and I mternanonal s stem tV‘lerrfilghmodel of tfirogress that the West brought Duriiig the century, e Middle East w i . ’ i as overtaken b d ‘ tion..Pioneered 1n Eur ' y me ermza— 0pc, modernization comb‘ ' ' an I ' ' med an industrial _ d technological revolution w1th a philosophical, political and 1 Owen Chadwick, The Christian Church in the Cold W/ar (Harmonds- _ worth, Penguin, 1992), 207. 2 Owen Chadwick, A History of Christianity (London, Nicolson, 1995), 258. 3 Pope John Paul II, Crossing Cape, 1994), 132. _ 4Michael Bourdeaux, The Role of Religion in the Fall of Soviet Communism (London, Centre for Policy Studies, 1992). 5Anton Pospieszalski, ‘The Catholic Church in Poland 1945—89’, in Paul Badham and V. Arzenukhin, Religion and Change in Eastern Europe (Basingstoke, Macmillan, 2000). i 6 GeorgeWeigel, The Final Revolution (Oxford, 0 Weidenfeld & ’ - the Threshold of Hope (London, Jonathan xford University Press, ‘ 1992), 149. ' 7173esmond O’ Grady, The Turned Card (Leominster, Gracewing, 1995):, ' ‘i figfiirrigmtion' one Of the mOSt important manifesmtions 0f . , m was secularism‘ the exclus' ' ' . ' L . i . . 1011 of reli 10 ' 2&7: liggjlumn’ 135. .Ergamzations from posnions of political and sociagl aiiihlgrtitaz‘s Trhd 1 I, I . uropean model of mode ' y. 6 Moscow, 21—23 November ‘ rnity produced the secular territorial State, and the relocation ‘ ' . _ of ultimate oliti ' ' ‘ dwme to the human“ p cal legitimacy from the , M . . am :Oieit231zation has had an enormous impact on Middle East— East can bles, but as the twenty—first century dawns, the Middle aSSOCiat de seen to be confounding a number of the expectations I, 6 With the process of modernization. The power of ‘ ‘0 Conference on Religion and Culture, _ 1991, Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences. My - paper was published as ‘The relationship between faith and reason’, Faith and Freedom (April 1992), 3—7. ‘1 Bourdeaux, Role of Religion, 21. ‘2 ‘The right to believe’, Keston Newsletter (October—December 1996). 150 Religion and Global Order religion to shape beliefs and behaviour has not been swept away de of secularism. Religious doctrines and organizations continue to play a major role in constructing social and political identities, and in creating boundaries of belonging and exclusion.T0day, the stability of Middle Eastern politics and society is inextricably linked to religion. by some irresistible ti Religion and the political and social order in the Middle East 151 uplift. their minority Islamic sect in the face of the tradit‘ l Sunni establishment. The emerging state system in the East also met the ‘solidarity group’ in the form of Zionist Je e The founders of the Israeli state were nationalists and socialirf: ‘ but they were inextricably rooted in Jewish culture, and the whole Z. . . . . ionist prOJCCt was justified by reference to an ancient religious claim to the Land of Israel. Religion and the state system in the Middle East The crisis of modernization in the Middle East The final demise of the Ottoman empire in the First World War put an end to the reality of an Islamic government ruling over a multi—ethnic union of Muslim peoples. Britain and France went on to'preside over the construction of a new system of territorial states in the Middle East that included the creation of Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Jordan. The new state system was the setting for a ' future that pointed away from religion, and towards nationalism L and secularism. Turkish, Iranian and Arab nationalisms became the dominant political ideas for new state—based elites that tended to believe that Islamic culture was at the root of backwardness and decline.The model of a nationalist élite aspiring to essentially Western forms of culture and organization emerged in the Turkey of Mustafa Kemal, in the Iran of Reza Pahlavi and in the Arab world. Arab nationalism was never quite so hostile to Islam as Turkish or Iranian nationalisms, but Gamal Abdul Nasser’s regime in Egypt after 1952, and the Ba’ath party regimes in Syria and Iraq represented solidly nationalist and socialist experiments in modernization. Modernity and sec Middle Eastern countries, disappeared. In the less deve Islamic—centred culture remaine Saudi Kingdom in the 19203 was supporte Notw1thstanding the undercurrents of religion and solidari groups,-the idea of modernity represented the political mairti}: stream in many Middle Eastern countries. By the late 19608 however, the whole process of modernization was in crisis d Middle Eastern societies were on the verge of a major sea cli an in attitudes. The shattering Arab defeat in the Six Da Waring: 1967 acted as a catalyst for the deeper crisis. Many Ailabs Ihod responded to pan—Arab nationalism, but the repeated failure :f 11351631212131) t:tages that propagated it meant that its prestige faded e aca e o secular ideolo ies wa ' . Robert Springborg observed, a ‘mosaic’ of msdr:sd:::l;8iri31iiii:n:i religious, ethnic and linguistic identities.l Above all Islagm hed remained a key component in the identity of many Middle Easterners, and the most widely acCepted reference point f political and social legitimacy. The waning of Arab nationali or opened the way for one of the great phenomena of the twe 'Sirh1 century: the Islamic revival of the 19703. mm The crisis of modernization in the Middle East was rooted ' the strains of the development process, and in the failure 111f I secular states to develop stable forms of political legitimac Tl: Middle Eastern state was bureaucratic and ineffective andystat 6 led development projects did not live up to expectaiions. EC: ularism penetrated the politics of key _ but the influence of religion far from loped parts of the Arab world, (1 powerful.The expansion of the d by a puritanical Islam, and the Islamic state that was formed enforced a rigorous interpretation of Islamic sharia law. Meanwhile, even in the more modern parts of the Middle East, politics was closely associated with sectarian divisions between religious and cultural solidarity groups. In Iraq, Sunni Arab clans ruled over the majority Shia Arab and Sunni Kurdish pop nationalism and socialism. Similarly, fell under the control of Alawite army officers, in Syria, the Ba’athist state who proceeded to ulations under the cover of Arab. nomic progress failed to keep pace with the demands of ex 10 ’ rates of population growth, with rural to urban migratiolrni SW: With the growing expectations of the new urban population, 21‘:1 far too many Middle Easterners, modernization meant an urb or experience of poverty, underemployment, poor housin a: serVices, and few prospects. With the traditional forms ofg c321— munity and Civility disappearing in the process of urbaniz t' soc1al alienation was one of the major features of city life a Ion, 152 Religion and Global Order The secular state responded slowly to the development crisis, and the economic reform that was introduced often worsened the underlying tensions. The launching of the infitah (opening) by the regime of Anwar Sadat in Egypt in the 1970s was an experience shared in many Middle Eastern countries. The idea of the market and of engaging with international capitalism was embraced, but reform was very patchy and the benefits did not extend deep enough into society. The state and business élite that emerged from the Vinfitah aspired to Western values and lifestyles that were far removed from the lives of most ordinary people. As the secular elite essentially abandoned the masses, a vacuum of leadership and common interest opened up into which Islamic values and organizations moved. Where the state failed, Islam provided. Benevolent Islamic organizations offered welfare hand— outs, health care and education to Muslims in their local com— munities. The young, especially the recently urbanized and educated lower middle classes, turned to Islam, and became the leaders of a broader frustration amongst the urban poor. Islam offered dignity and hope in the midst of the Middle Eastern city, Where there had seemed to be none. The growing role of Islam as an opposition ,to the modernizing state was reinforced by the coercive practices of the state. The secular opposition to most Middle Eastern governments was often effectively repressed, but those opposing the state could find some shelter in Islamic language, communities and institu— tions. The mosque, and especially the tens of thousands of small religious meeting places that exist in Middle Eastern countries, became a political platform that few secular states could com- pletely control. Islam gradually emerged as the principal opposi- tion, and pressed its case for a return to ‘authentic’ Islamic values and to a more just society. The doctrines of the Islamic revival The Islamic revival after the 19703 manifested itself in numerous ways. Many Muslims reaffirmed their relationship with Islamic culture. More men went to mosque, more women covered them- selves with the hijab, and religious celebrations were more fully observed. Islamic resurgence also took place in the realm of ideas, although the intellectual substance of the Islamic revival ‘ traditionalist and fundament - amentalists share the vision ” _ ground tend to part company. The tra , to the use of Islam as an in ‘ logues than Islamic scholars, was by no means monolithic modern world in diverse ways, complex one, with particular different perspectives. Yet, Islamic opinions can be broadly categ the traditionalist, fundamentalist, The pragmatist’s position is . Islam was interpreted for the and the debate within Islam is a thinkers and groups synthesizing u l ’ orized into four positions: modernist and pragmatist.2 that held by the non—practising the secular regimes of the modern ' _ d state ow notably in Iraq, Syrla, Egypt and Algeria, but the attractionpof ti: Er‘irrallziionahsm and socialism that underpins their rule has waned fimtioeven thIey are ilrlicreaslngly prone to clothe their language and ns in s am g arb Saddam H ' I . ussexn may now use Islamic latnguage, but time Iraq1 state is still far from Islamic The modem is s aso soug t to adapt Isla . _ I m to the modern w Id referrlng to Marxism and ' ' ' or J Often soc1alism but Within ' [Slami _ . , . a more genumely 0b.ectic world .v1ew than the pragmatists. The modernist’s or) ve 1s to'm'corporate essentially Western notions of demo— maZy, econognic )USthC and human rights into Islam Whilst the o ernists ave had an influen ' I . CC on Mlddle Eastern ' ' ' I I polltics Sit:ny in till: folrm of All Shariau and Abolhassan Bani—Sadr iri ranian evo ution, they have b ' I . i I een perlpheral to the Islamic rev1val. Muslim soc1et1es have been resistant to modernist Islamic doctrine _ s, and some modern' - have fared very badly indeed. Modernists IStS borders on heresy. The ' ' dominant streams 1n the Islamic revival were the alist ones. Traditionalists and fund— of a society ruled b ' . ‘ y an Islamic state that rigorously enforces sharza law, but beyond this common ditionalists are immersed in of Islam and Islamic juris— er adaptation. The heart of gy and members of the ruling and so many traditionalists are hostile strument of political mobilization. On damentalists are more political the classical and medieval heritage prudence, and largely oppose furth traditionalism is the established cler elite in the Arab kingdoms, the other hand, most fun 'd I 1 eo— and are interested in what Islam can 154 Religion and Global Order powers and beliefs, and that only a return to the basic texts of Islam can rescue Muslims from their decline in the world. The struggles to purify Muslim societies from within and to combat the forces of corruption from the outside involve.tak1ng on a contemporary political agenda. In fact, fundamentalists are often - hostile to the established Islamic clergy, whom they condemn for their political passivity, and are prepared for doctrinal innovations that make the idea of rebellion against exrstmg states more thinkable. ' . Islam has a long history of puritanical rev1vals. The twentieth century has witnessed many such revivals. From the emergence of the Saudi state in the early part of this century to the rlse of the Taliban in Afghanistan in the 19905, localized Islamlc rev1vals have played an important role in many parts of the Mlddle East. The Islamic revival that took shape in the 19705, though, was unusual in that its influence was so widespread across the Muslim world, and because it has lasted for so long. The Islamic revival was also unusual because it was not the product of 'a struggle within a tribal or traditional society, but was generated in the modern urban setting. Modern political Islam can trace its roots back to Hasan al— - r . Banna and the development of the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan‘ al—Muslimin) in Egypt from the end of the 19205. Al—Banna proposed the re—Islamization of Muslim societies as a prelude to I an Islamic state, and established the Muslim Brotherhood to set about this task. Much of the time, the Muslim Brotherhood provided social welfare to Muslims in their communities, but it also turned to politics and even to violence to achieve ltS objectives. Indeed, Muslim Brothers have been involved in Vlolent , agitation against every Egyptian regime since the 19305. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt represented a model that spread to many Middle Eastern countries, and with it came organized political resistance to the secular state. The fundamentalist revival was subsequently shaped by the status of a number of prominent Islamic thinkers, the most important of which were Sayyid Qubt (d. 1966) in Egypt, Abu a1: Ala al—Mawdudi (d. 1977) in Pakistan and Ruhollah Khomeini (d. 1989) in Iran. The militant Islam that such figures promoted in the 19605 and 19703 was no longer prepared to wait for the re- Islamization of society, and spoke of an Islamic struggle in the ‘ Religion and the political and social order in the Middle East 155 language of revolution, martyrdom and jihad. The moral corruption and tyrannical government of the modern world — for Qubt, a new age of ignorance (jahiliyya) — had to be overcome. The enemies of Islam — secular Muslims, Islamic modernists, and the West and Israel — were identified, and the struggle engaged. The mission of the new Islamists was political: the forging of a revolution by a vanguard élite, the seizure of the state and the creation of a new Islamic order. The ultimate destination was even more radical, for Islam is a universal religion, and such fundamentalists made claims to sovereignty that superseded the legitimacy of national and state boundaries. The unification of the Muslim people, the umma, was the ultimate dream. Militant Islamists, then, were not only an opposition to the ruling regimes of the state system, but also to the existing system of states itself. The crescendo of Islamic revivalism The political and social stability of many Middle Eastern countries was shaken by the Islamic revival in the 19705 and 19805. The triumphant moment of the Islamic revival was the Iranian Revolution in 1978—9. The rebellion against the Pahlavi monarchy arose from the tensions and conflicts generated by modernization. The values of the secular élite and the centralized character of capitalist development ran into the interests of the traditional merchant class and the Shia clergy. The Shah’s authoritarian regime was overthrown by a populist coalition that included Islamic traditionalists, Islamic modernists, Marxists and liberals, but it was the radical Shia clergy, led by Grand Ayatollah Ruhullah Khomeini, that emerged as the most dynamic force. In the following years, the real Iranian Revolution was played out. In a struggle for power, 1979—83, the militant clergy moved to system— atically destroy their partners in the rebellion against the Shah in order to consolidate their religious vision of politics and society. The real Iranian Revolution, then, was the Islamic project led by Ayatollah Khomeini. The Revolution established an Islamic state by unifying political and religious authority in the form of the velayez—e faqih (the rule of the Islamic jurist) and other institutions that ensured the political power of the Shia clergy. Khomeini himself was to be the faqih, a constitutional position that possessed enormous powers over the workings of the Islamic 156 Religion and Global Order state. The Revolution also embodied a View of Islam’s purpose in the world that shared much with other Third World populisms.3 Dismantling exploitative capitalism, achieving social equality, and resisting the penetration of Western cultural and economic imperialism were embodied in the mission. The Iranian Revolution had significant implications for inter— national security. Few revolutionaries had much respect for existing national boundaries. In fact, the Revolution was ideo— logically hostile to the conservative Arab monarchies, but also disdained the secular nationalism of the Arab states that had considered themselves radical and progressive. The export of the Revolution was pursued by clerics from within the new Islamic state, but also by those acting in a freelance capacity through personal and religious networks that extended across the Middle East. The impact of the Revolution was most pronounced amongst the other Shia communities of the region. The Gulf States faced serious Shia agitation, particularly in Bahrain and Kuwait. In Iraq, a violent conflict between the Baathist regime and Shia militants eventually helped set Saddam Hussein on a path to a full—scale invasion of Iran in September 1980. In Lebanon, the emergence of the Shia militancy of Amal and Hizbullah, especially after the Israeli invasion in 1982, changed the balance of the Lebanese political system, and went on to give Israel the most serious military set—back in its history. Shia militants from Lebanon were also behind a wave of international terrorism in Europe and the Middle East directed at Israel, the United States and the Gulf States. The wider resonance of the Iranian Revolution, though, was limited. The bloody power struggle in Iran between 1979 and 1983 and the outbreak of the Iran—Iranar did much to diminish its appeal in the Arab world. The basic divisions between Persian and Arab, and between Sunni and Shia sects within Islam, were another limitation: the more so because Sunni fundamentalists were committed to returning to the basic texts of Islam and to eliminating all deviations, including Shi’ism. With many Sunni fundamentalists actually hostile to the Iranian Revolution, the significance of what had happened in Iran was that of an example. The mobilization of Islamic faith on a massive scale had overthrown the Shah’s regime and its powerful army; what had been thought impossible had been achieved. Religion and the political and social order in the Middle East 157 I The direct appeal of the Iranian Revolution may have been limited, but as an example it did energize Islamic militants and so generated a real sensc of crisis in the Middle East of the 19803 The Islamic dissidence that broke out was not a part of some transnational Islamic revolution, but a crescendo of violent oppos1tion shook established Arab regimes.The violent seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca by a messianic group led by Juhayman al—Utaiba in 1979, the assassination of the Egyptian preSident, Anwar Sadat in 1981, the uprising of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Syrian city of Hama in 1982, and the start of an Algerian civil war between the old secular regime and the Front Islamique du Salut (FIS) were but the most extreme manifestations of Sunni activism. Even in the most developed and-secularized Middle Eastern societies, such as Turkey and Tunisia, a militant Islam established itself on the political stage. The politics of managing Islamic militancy has been an experi— ence shared by most Middle Eastern states. Whilst Islamic militants tend to agree over objectives — an Islamic state ruled by sharia law -— many differ over means, and this has shaped the way that the states have dealt with the Islamic challenge.The situation was perhaps most stark in Egypt where the Muslim Brotherhood was reluctant to engage in an all—out war against the secular state and instead concentrated on increasing its influence in national politics and civil society. The Muslim Brotherhood’s moderation over means stands in contrast to more radical groups, notably al— Jihad and al—Jamaat al-Islamiyya, committed to a violent war against the Egyptian state and other infidels. Keeping the mainstream Muslim Brotherhood away from the smaller more radical groups has been the key dynamic of political management for the state. Differing combinations of re-Islamization, political reform and common have been the means by which Middle Eastern states have managed Islamic militancy. In Egypt, political reform and coercion has inhibited the formation of alliances between the Muslim Brotherhood and extremist secret societies. In Saudi Arabia, the state met the challenge of the Iranian Revolution and the Juhayman revolt by reinforcing its attachment to a state— centred fundamentalist Islam. In Jordan, mainstream Islamists were brought into a reformed political system to diffuse much of the threat. In Algeria, the mishandling of political reform 158 Religion and Global Order culminated in the intervention of the military to. prevent the Front Islamique du Salut winning national elections in December 1991, and so brought mainstream and extremist . Islamists together against the old regime to produce a terrible c1v11 war. L The faltering march of Islamic activism The Islamic revival has dominated the political agenda in the Middle East since the 19705, and represents the prinCipal political challenge to many Middle Eastern. governments. That said, despite the real force behind the Islamic reVival, it has left the system of territorial states unchanged and has failed.to actually overthrow an established government Since the. Iranian Revolution. Islamic revolutionaries have been confined Within the borders of the state, and have substantially met their match at that level. I l . What happened in Iran is perhaps indicative of what is likely'to happen to Islamists even when in power. Faced With the realities of managing a state and society, the revolutionary clergy prof duced its pragmatists in the mid—19805, led by I-Iashemi Rafsanjani, that were mindful of the interests of the Iranian state. For the Islamic Republic’s pragmatists, the overriding priority was not the export of some universal revolution, but fighting a conventional war against Iraq and finding ways of dealing With Iran’s serious social and economic problems. The election of a liberal cleric, Mohammed Khatami, as Iranian preSIdent in May 1997 emphasized the trend. Islam continues to be a defining influence in Iran, but Iranians are increasingly concerned With domestic issues, such as the role of foreign capital, the place of ’women and the value of democracy. In sum, the Iranian Revalu- tion has taken on the form and language of a territorial nation- state. Militant fundamentalism as an opposition also seemed to be changing by the 19903. Grand dreams of revolution and of seiz— ing the state were fading, and were being replaced by more fragmented and localized social struggles: what OllVlEI'.RO3; calls the drift from Political Islamism to Neo-fundamentalism. The political Islamism of the 19705 and 19805 was promoted by. a self—proclaimed vanguard that did not reject modernization in its entirety, but rather the secularism and Westernization assoc1ated Religion and the political and social order in the Middle Eds: 159 with it. Political Islamism, though, was a mixture of the traditional and the modern, and as the 19803 went on, it was the rediscovery of the traditional that was coming to preoccupy many Islamic militants.What emerged was a form of militancy that held a highly conservative vision for society, but one that was less political. Nee—fundamentalism is less interested in the state and in political revolution, and more concerned with puritanical , preaching aimed at re—Islamizing society as a prelude to the organic re—emergence of Islamic rule. The drift to Neo-fundamentalism in the 1980s was supported by an international network that combined Saudi money, Arab Muslim Brotherhoods, radical Pakistani and Afghan groups, a variety of Islamic educational, financial and social organizations, and an international brigade of militarized activists, many of ‘ whom had participated in the anti—Soviet jihad in Afghanistan. Veterans from the war in Afghanistan returned home to preach a brand of puritanical Islam in Arab countries, notably in Algeria and Egypt. Afghanistan veterans also brought new violence to the struggle. Recreating the ‘authenticity’ of the Prophet Muhammad’s ideal Islamic society was the concern of the Neo—fundamentalist, even down to adopting more traditional styles of dress.5 Women had no place in the public arena. The austere ‘authenticity’ imagined by Neo—fundamentalists was one that they sought to carve out within existing society, and they were prepared to wage violent struggles within local communities to do it. Such violence could sometimes look pointless, but was rationalized in terms of the _ righteousness of purifying society. The violence of Jamaat—i Islamiyya in southern Egypt and much of the savagery in the Algerian civil war had little to do with seizing state power: it was more about what Islamic activists were prepared to do for God in their personal jihad, and about local social struggles, right down to who runs village life. Nee-fundamentalist violence proved difficult for the state to control. Tinkering with political and legal reform in an effort to appease militant Neo—fundamentalists is irrelevant, whilst re— pressive measures have not been easy to apply because of the Neo—fundamentalist’s social situation. The Neo—fundamentalist tends to be, as Olivier Roy observed, a ‘vagabond’ intellectual operating on the fringes of society, and often not particularly well 160 Religion and Global Order . . . . . 6 integrated into any Islamic organization or institution. "lll‘hus, whilst Islamic militancy was becoming a liess fobherentcfhafnigle ' ted a low— eve ut en emi - to the state it often represen _ . stability including political and soc1al Violence. In some péaceg} 5 I e \ ' the Islamic challenge is capa p notably Algeria and Egypt, I but \ ' ' ' of the state and soc1ety, seriously threatening the security ‘ I most Middle Eastern states have adapted to thf 1Islamic 112331;: ' ' triumphant s amic rev and for the time being another ' . seems unlikely, much less any transnational 18121ng 'iépillieaigl.::i: ' ' lates through 1 e as influence of Islam still perco I H I ’ societies, but largely through the actiVities of Muslim groups national politics, legal reform, professmnal assoc1ations a welfare provision. Religion and international security in the contemporary Nliddle East ' ' ' l conflict in the Middle e flash omts of internationa Many 0f th p surgence, or are prone to be East have been related to religious re interpreted in religious ways. The end of the cold war produced all sorts of conflicts involving Islam. The Gulf War ti): 1921,83: L rooted in the raison d’état ofb the 13331] riglglsiizzr: ofeIIqu led to troo sin Saudi Ara ia an e e I . Elixir anti—Western sentiment in the-Muslim WCrlthois?:rl:l:l;_ Arabia, the Gulf War weakened its influence in t e I itated world’s network of Muslim Brotherhoods, but also preciltnion in the emergence of an urban and educated Islamic OppOSl Saudi Arabia itself that has caused political and social agitation, ' 7 as well as some Violence. Usama Bin Laden — a millionaire businessman — was perhaps the best—known example of the new Saudi militant, eerritgially ' ' fuge in Sudan and in the a i an s leaVing the kingdom to find re b I n ' ks on the US em ass1es l f h nistan. The huge bomb attac I iii; and Tanzania in August 1998 that killed 240 people, mostly local Africans, were linked to Bin Laden. The US had ‘ ' terrorist enemies, and et amon st its Islamic ‘ . . found a mg g 'tes assoc1ated With Bin ' i ' 'les at s1 3 onded by firing Cruise miSSi . 1Ifagen in Afghanistan and Sudan. A tit—for—tat war between the USA and the ‘Bin Laden militants’ seemed a real possibility. Laden certainly became a symbolic figure for both Sides, Wit ,y ,y‘ Religion and the political and social order in the Middle East I 61 other wealthy Saudis reported to be helping to finance his anti- Western jihad.8 The pressure on Muslim states to do something about the predicament that many Muslims seemed to be facing in the post- cold war world represented a continuing challenge to their legitimacy. Conflicts in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Bosnia, Sudan, Chechnya, Indonesia, Kosovo and parts of Central Asia progressively reinforced the sense of crisis, and strengthened the idea that Islamic peoples were beset with enemies. The belief that ‘ Islam was locked in a great civilizational struggle with the West — not to say with other religious opponents, Hindus as well as Jews — found a significant audience in the Muslim world. The rise of religious militancy in the Israel—Palestinian conflict had particularly significant implications for the stability of the Middle East. The secular and nationalist mainstream of both Israeli and Palestinian societies were challenged by growing religiousness in society at large and by religious militants. Within ' Israel, the capture of the West Bank and Gaza in the Six Day War of 1967 focused a religious Zionism that saw reclaiming Eretz Israel (Land of Israel) as an act of redemption that legitimized the entire project of founding the state of Israel. A number of belligerent settler groups, notably Gush Emunim (Bloc of the ‘ - Faithful), assumed an influence in the Israeli political system, but also introduced unofficial violence to settlement activity. When the Labor party lost power to the Likud Bloc in 1977, and Labor’s governing alliance with the religious Zionists of the National Religious party dissolved, the gap between secular and religious forces in Israel widened.9 By the 1980s, those Israelis that identified themselves as secular and modern were increas- ingly running into both the belligerent political agenda of _ religious Zionist—settlers and the conservative social agenda of newly assertive ultra-orthodox Jews. The merging of the two streams of religious Zionism and of the ultra—orthodox was a particularly dangerous development in Israeli politics, and one that Shmuel Sandler argues eventually culminated in the assass— ination of the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin.10 Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, especially after the outbreak of the Palestinian’s intifadah rebel— lion from late 1987, contributed to the development of the Islamic resistance of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Islamic resistance 162 Religion and Global Order reinfused the Israel—Palestinian conflict with new militancy and violence, and challenged the efforts of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) leadership to adopt a more flexible political strategy. When the Israel—PLO peace process did emerge in the 1990s, religious—inspired violence dogged the development of the process. Competing claims to sacred sites, especially in Jerusalem ‘ and Hebron, produced serious outbreaks of killing. Two events proved particularly disastrous for the peace process: the assass— ination of Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish militant in early November 1995, and a series of Hamas and Islamic Jihad bus bombings in Israel in February and March 1996. The subsequent election of Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud Bloc to power in Israel went . i on to increase the influence of religiousZionists and conservative _ orthodox JeWs in the government of Israel. The forces of the ‘ Palestinian National Authority (PNA) clashed with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but the‘Netanyahu government’s contention that the PNA was not doing enough to control the Islamic opposition looked like stalling the peace process indefinitely. Yet, the election of a new Labour—led government under Ehud Barak in May 1999 seemed to prove the adaptability of some of ‘ the orthodox religious parties in Israel. The orthodox Sephardic religious party, SHAS, established a position as easily the third largest party, raising its share of the vote to over 13 per cent and its number of Knesset seats from ten to seventeen.“ SHAS had been a supporter of the Netanyahu government, but after ditching its leader, Aryeh Deri, recently convicted on bribery and r fraud charges, went on to enter into a broadly based coalition with the Barak government.12 The National Religious Party —— with five seats from 4.2 per cent of the vote — also swapped sides in order to take positions in Barak’s cabinet.13 The state of the Israel—Palestinian peace process continues to be one of the most serious threats to domestic and international stability in the Middle East. The Arab—Israeli conflict remains capable of firing intense religious and national feelings, and, of _ undermining the legitimacy of established Muslim regimes. Israeli settlement activity around Jerusalem has been a particul- arly explosive issue. The Arab states most associated with the West and most committed to the peace process — Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf States — had the most to lose from the absence of a just solution to the Arab~1sraeli conflict, let alone any Religion and the political and social order in the Middle East 163 catastrophic failure that rolled back the advances made by the Palestinians. The Barak government brought a commitment to press on With the peace process, and so promised to relieve some 13f the pressure that the conflict exerted on politics in the Middle ast. Religion in perspective The Islamic revival that followed the 19703 was one of the reat ideological and political phenomena of the twentieth cenffur Religion retains its power to define Middle Eastern politics and Islam Will be in the driving seat of political Oppositioii in important states such as Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia well into the next century. The deep social and economic problems embodied in the modernization process as well as the lack of political legitimacy, are far from being‘resiolved in man Middle Eastern societies. As long as so many young Middl: Easterners, especially young men, are condemned to a future ' With no resources, no voice and no hope, Islamic militancy will be t I an ideological and organizational refuge for the disaffected. The _ I selfishness and indifference of established secular élites, and the represswe force of American and European hegemony in the international system are the ' ' H self—eVident enemies ' militants. Of Iglamlc Religion is central to the understanding of Middle Eastern politics, but, as Fred Halliday has argued, it is important to avoid , a myopic View on Islam when thinking about the region, because otherfactors are at play.14 Indeed, the radical alternative that the Islamic proiect of the 19703 and 19803 represented has faded' the Iranian Revolution has adapted to the territorial nation—state .and political Islamism is changing into Nee—fundamentalism {What , Halliday highlighted was the power of great social and economic structures to influence the behaviour of both individuals and states. .For all the claims that ‘Islam is the solution’, religious faith aone is unable to really address the social and economic crisis that gave rise to the Islamic revival in the first place. Religious Ephef cannot solve the urban crisis in the Middle East, or address e myriad defiCienCies — low productivity, weak currencies, over— regu ation — that prevent Middle Eastern countries from par— ticipating more effectively in the global market—place. Nor can Warefirxrffa”‘m“if ’ “ ‘ 164 Religion and Global Order faith really alter the subordinate position in which Muslims find themselves in the international system. Navigating a path between historic faith and functioning successfully in the contemporary world is a difficult task, and one no better demonstrated than in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Islamic Republic has always embodied tensions between tradition and modernity, a feature that was emphasized by the landslide election of Mohammad Khatami in 1997. Khatami represented a more moderate Islam as well as a constituency, of the young, of the middle, class and of women, that wanted change. The ferment going on in Iranian politics witnessed dramatic outbursts, such as the explosion of student anger in Tehran and other major cities over six days in July 1999.15 Tired of restrictions on the freedom of the press — in particular, a court order banning the moderate newspaper Salam — and of the arbitrary interference and brutality of both official and unofficial religious enforcers, large numbers ’ of students became involved in some of the most serious civil disturbances in Iran since the revolution.16 The emotionsun- leashed were very deeply felt. Many young people in Iran wanted L more political and social freedom, whilst others were determined I to stop them having it. The conservative establishment organized a heavy—handed crackdown and the mass mobilization of ‘hard~ line’ supporters to put a stop to the demonstrations.Th.e Khatami government was certainly not helped by its own supporters, during the student protests, but no matter the outcome of par ticular battles, Iran’s future will hardly be unaffected bythe cultural preferences and economic imperatives of the globa,_ economy. The clash is not over. ‘ * . ' The same tensions between tradition and globalized moderni are likely to be played out in differing ways across the Ara Middle East. Most Muslims are not militants and the urge ‘t Jr? .12 '13 ‘28th Government of Israel’. Religion and the political and social order in the Middle East 165 Notes 1 James Bill and Robert S ' ' pringborg Pol t" ’ ' York, HarperCollins, 4th edn., 1994), 34.1 m m the Mzddle Ed” (New 2 Mir Zohair Husain Gl ' - . . 1995), 11. ) obal Islamic Politics (New York, HarperCollins, 3 ‘Fred Halliday, Islam and the My in the Middle East (London, _ 4 Olivier Roy, ‘26. 5 Ibid., 82. 6 Ibid., 95. 7 See R. Hrair Dekmejian, Arabia’, Middle East journal, - 5 Julian Borger, July 1999), 22. 9 ‘ . . . . iirgiel Sandclier, 1Religious Zionism and the state: political accom ion an re igious radicalism in Israel’ i _ . o , 11 Bruce Madd — Xi‘iitdzliengrlisfigldofifjraimljnbiréeds.), Religious Radicalism in the Greatlir on ran ass 199 ~ 1° Ibid.,149. ’ ’ 0,133 54. ” ‘Israeli elections May 1999’. Affairs Internet site. http://www. israel—m fa. goo. il?mfa/go. asp?MFAHOepu0 Arafat and Barak make peace pledge’, BBC News, 19 May 1999 http://news.bb . . k/ ' ' ' ' “m e to u hz/englzsh/world/mzddle_east/newszd_347000/347380. th of Confrontation: Religion and Politics I. B. Tauris, 1995), 73. The Failure of Political Islam (London, I. B. Tauris 1994) ‘The rise of political Islamism in Saudi ‘ i 48, No. 4 (Autumn 1994), 627—43. US fears Bin Laden plans new attacks’, Observer (ll Reported by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Press Office. Communicated by the Government , http://www pmo goo il/en l ' I . . . g ish/gpo/press—releases/ 07 07 99/ 07 07 I 99—4. Halliday. Islam and Myth of Confrontation, 12—16 and 195—8 htmz ‘Iran unrest “under control” ’, BBC News, 14 July 1999 hood/news. blw. co. uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_394000/3 94 026 global market. Finding a path for Islam in a global Setting'wil substantially define the future of Middle Eastern politics ‘ati society. - / m: Essays from Middle East ress, 1997). 166 Religion and Global Order John Esposito, The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality? (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1992). . i . Graham Fuller and Ian Lesser, A Sense of Siege: The Geopolitics of Islam and the West (Boulder, CO,Westview, 1995). Laura Guazzone (ed.), The Islamist Dilemma (Reading, MA, Ithaca : Press, 1995). I . t , Sohail H. Hashemi, ‘International soc1ety and its Islamic malcontents , Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, 20, No. 2 Winter/Spring, 1996), 1 3—29. _ Gema Munoz (ed.), Islam, Modernism and the {West (London, I. B. Tauris, 1999). ' ‘ Abdel Salam Sidahmed and Anoushiravan Ehteshami (eds), Islamic Fundamentalism (Boulder, CO,Westview, 1996). 8 Renaissance of political religion in the Third W?)er in the context of global change JEFF HAYNES The chapter offers a perspective on the relation between religion, politics, conflict and identity in the ‘Third World’,1 in the context of global change and the pursuit of global order. Using a range of cases from various parts of the Third World, it examines the complex ways in which religious values, beliefs and norms stimulate and affect political developments and vice versa; the social conditions which give rise to religious movements as well as how such movements are promoted and sustained over time, and the links between ‘political’ religion in the Third World and global order. The defining characteristic of the contemporary relationship of religion and politics in the Third World, it is argued, is the increasing dissatisfaction with established, hierarchical and insti— tutionalized religious bodies. Many contemporary religious movements seek to find God through personal searching rather than through the mediation of institutions.They also focus on the role of communities in generating positive change in members’ lives through the application of group effort. In this regard, religion’s interaction with political issues carries an important message of societal resurgence and regeneration, which may challenge the authority of political leaders and economic elites. The chapter is organized in four parts. The first provides an , overview of the relationship between religion and modernization. It surveys the contradictory effects of modernization on social values in different cultural and religious settings. Given the un— even impact of modernization in Third World countries, the 1 relationship between religion and politics has always been a close one. Political power is underpinned by religious beliefs and ...
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