Policing Islamist Social Movements Many Term Paper

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The post-colonial state in Egypt was shaped by nationalism and nationbuilding, regionalism (pan-Arabism and pan-Islamism), contestations over legitimacy and interest-based and populist corporatism (Ayubi, 1991). More recently the focus shifted to discussions about civil society and democratization (Al-Sayyid, 1993; S. Ibrahim, 1995; S. Ibrahim (ed.), 1993; Norton (ed.), 1995; Zaki, 1995). In these works special attention has been given to Islamist organizations and their role in Egypt's 'civil society' associations (Kepel, 1985; Marty & Appleby (eds.), 1991; Stowasser (ed.), 1987; Zaki, 1995; Zubaida, 1992). Zaki, for example, contrasts the general weakness and political ineffectiveness that he attributes to the overwhelming majority of associations to the overall strength of Islamic associations (Al-Ali 2000:53)."

Feminist politics is somewhat subversive then, working through and against the state in a very candid way, but in a way that self-polices (54). That is to say in a way that remains respectful of Islamic law, which is very much a religious law of appearances, and so long as women abide by those public laws, there is really very little contention in Egyptian society between women and the Islamic law that governs them.

Contradictions, as Kandiyoti argues, emerge in nationalist projects which simultaneously reflect portrayals of women as 'victims of social backwardness, icons of modernity or privileged bearers of cultural authenticity' (1991: 431). In other words, tensions between civic forms of nationalism (which describe women as modern citizens who share rights and responsibilities in the process of nation-building) and cultural forms of nationalism (which depict women as the symbols and safeguards of 'uncontaminated' culture) characterize post-colonial state formations. Nationalism under Nasser, for example, included women as modern actors in the general scheme of redistribution, modernization and national development. The state under Nasser did not, however, challenge existing gender relations within the family, nor did it allow independent women's organizations to articulate their own agendas (54)."

That women are, in many ways, perceived as having responsibilities to the state by way of the performance on behalf of the state that often times involves the need to educate themselves to that level of performance, has allowed a feminist expression to exist and grow within the state that, so far, is compatible with the state's religious leadership and beliefs. Egypt policies its feminist movement not by suppressing the role of women, but by providing for it within the state, and even enlarging the role of women, but in conformity with its Islamic laws and traditions.

Palestinian Women

The Palestinian women's movement is even more unique than that of the Egyptian women, and far less restricted than Iranian. The Palestinian woman has been elevated to the role of freedom fighter, solider, terrorist in the Palestinian struggle for statehood. The Palestinian narrative, like the Egyptian narrative, is unique in that woman have been delegated leadership roles, and though it is perhaps out of necessity, it nonetheless exists in a way that empowers the female Palestinian politico (Kawar 1996).

In the Palestinian community, the Palestinian woman most widely recognized and respected is Intissar al-Wazir, who for years headed the PLO's social welfare institution, the Families of the Martyrs foundation. Al-Wazir goes by the respectful title Um Jihad, as it is common in the Arab culture to title parents um (mother of) and abu (father of), followed by the name of their eldest son. In the Palestinian National Movement, these names were also used as nom de guerre, especially by those in Fateh (in Arabic, an acronym for the Palestinian Liberation Movement), the PLO's dominant faction (Kawar ix)."

The Palestinian movement gave women the opportunity to mobilize themselves. The Palestinian woman's movement is a new narrative, a modern narrative, and one that is not influenced by other than the struggle for a people's autonomy and statehood. This narrative, once the Palestinian movement as a whole has survived into Statehood and stabilized into a nation-state that has a relationship with its citizenship and with its neighbors that is very different than what exists today; will probably at some point have to deal with policing the women's movement which will predictably become a product of the struggle that is ongoing in Palestine today.

The thirty-four women included the top-ranking women in each of the PLO's major factions, both in the diaspora and in the Occupied Territories. The number of factions in the Palestinian movement has always been in flux, but there are five that have had enduring women's groups: Fateh; the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (now split into the Democratic Front and the Palestinian Democratic Union Party); the Palestine Communist Party (now the Palestine People's Party), and the Arab Liberation Front, which is affiliated with the Iraqi Ba'ath Party. The women's organization of the Arab Liberation Front was strong, mainly in Iraq where there is a small Palestinian community but, in recent years there has been an increase in its activities in the Occupied Territories. The strength of the Palestine Communist Party, which only joined the PLO in 1987, is in the Occupied Territories (xii)."

If this very description of the perseverance of the Palestinian woman is not in and of itself enough to serve as the basis, the foundation, for a policing action by the state in some not so distant future; then it will defy the existing narrative that arises out of the Islamic tradition and culture.

Stateless Islamic Terrorists

Of the social phenomenon arising out of the historic narrative, moving into the modern narrative, and evolving into a living narrative is Islamic fundamental terrorism. This movement has grown into a world-wide one, and does not appear it will dissipate or even grow smaller any time soon. Islamic terrorism is a movement that has targeted not just non-Islamic nations, but includes Islamic nations that follow a course of Islam that stands in opposition to the course of fundamentalism. We see terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and anywhere that the fundamentalists perceive Islam has gone astray of their fundamental interpretation and application of Islamic law. What we have in the present time is a stateless terrorist organization policing the world based on its own interpretation of the historic narrative in Islam.

THE PROJECT of MULTIPLE MODERNITIES presents a challenge to the monocivilizational narratives of "Western modernity." It attempts to reintroduce some of the pluralistic features of Western modernity that were repressed, marginalized, or simply forgotten on the side paths of modernity's historical and intellectual trajectory. It also attempts to open up readings of the modernization of other civilizations and cultures. Modernity, as it is currently reappropriated, rejected, distorted, or simply reshaped and produced in a plurality of contexts other than the Western one, becomes both a historical and an intellectual challenge to established norms of analysis. Decentralizing the West and reflecting on modernity from its edge, from a non-Western perspective -- and an Islamic one at that-can spell out the limits of modernity, generate new conceptualizations, and raise questions concerning modernity (Gole 2000:91)."

The response of nation-states to the new conceptualizations created by Islamic fundamentalism has ranged from forming units to detect and destroy the fundamentalist groups that operate within any given country, including non-Islamic nations like the UK, or America. Of course, America's response has been to militarily take the fundamentalists, accepting their 2001 attack against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as an act of war, and going to war against an enemy that may never go away, or be beaten down.

The process of distancing from Islamic traditions, participation in modern society, and the individuation of Islamist actors may engender a dilution of the movement within democratic and market structures, consequently putting an end to the alternative claims of the Islamist project. On the other hand, the affirmation of Islamic difference and purity and the maintenance of boundaries may lead to the rejection of modernity and the establishment of autocratic regimes (91)."


This brief study has attempted to examine the narrative in policing Islamic movements in the modern world today. We see that in many of the nations, the colonial period of those nations have played a significant role in the contemporary post-independence state. Unfortunately, as is the case of Algeria, the contemporary state has become mired in its colonial narrative and unable to advance forward towards the freedoms of independence that it fought to win. Policing these conditions in Algeria has manifested itself in a multiple of ways, some mimicking the colonial state and all resulting in a continuation of the violence that has seized the state since its independence.

The influence of westernization on Islamic women in Iran was one that so outraged the Islamic clerics who succeeded the Shah of Iran that the ruling clerics embarked upon a policing of that influence that has taken the state back to the medieval period of its history. While the Egypt's own unique historical and Islamic narratives have been…[continue]

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