Download this publication

This report provides an overview of the political Islam in the Middle East, with a special emphasis on the Islamic resurgence in the Levant (Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria). Following an introduction to the ideological roots of present-day Islamist movements, the report examines the prospects for popular democracy amidst widespread political violence. In brief, the report shows that Islam need not be incompatible with democracy and that there is a tendency to neglect the fact that many Middle Eastern countries have been engaged in a brutal suppression of Islamist movements, causing them to take up arms against the state. In the third section the report reviews some of the theories used to explain the Islamic revival and discusses their empirical significance. The conclusion argues in favour of moving beyond the "gloom and doom" approach that portrays Islamism as an illegitimate political expression and a potential threat to the West ("Old Islamism"). Instead, there is an urgent need for a more nuanced understanding of the current democratisation of the Islamist movements that is now taking place throughout the Middle East ("New Islamism").

Recent CMI publications: