Neo-Islamism: The Underway Transformation of Political Islam

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Wed 24 May / May 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

Yesterday, we discussed the fundamental transformations underway among political Islamist movements throughout the Arab World.

The conference on ‘the Future of Political Islam in a Troubled Territory’, held by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Amman, yesterday, addressed political Islamist models in each of Tunisia, Morocco, degree in other cases; such as Hamas, Jordan and Lebanon.

The generality of the Islamist reformulation across the Arab World is characterised by underway transformations to civil, professional, party politicisation.

The shift from ideological dogmatism is evident also in recent Islamist theorisation.

More and more Islamist parties are severing ties with the mother Muslim Brotherhood.

This wave of transmutations may be encouraging democratic transformation and the dismantling a variety of issues associated political Islamism. However, it raises more profound problems.

Chief of these issues is the question of identity.

Now that many Islamist parties have abandoned their slogans and dreams of a Utopian Islamic State, once integral to the Islamist rhetoric, all in favour of pluralism and democracy, what sets the new-born party apart from other secular ones?!

Will they retain an Islamic, conservative background, for example, like every other conservative political party, to prioritise public ethics and safeguard culture, like democratic Christian parties in the West?

Assuming this is indeed a fundamental shift in the tone, identity, and characteristic rhetoric of Islamist parties like that of the Justice and Development Party in Turkey, what will their competitive edge be?

Will their political advantage be transparency and cleaner, wiser governance?

Back to Tunisia and Morocco. The previous years did not bear any real change in the economic and service reality of either one of those two countries, despite the Islamists arrival in office.

Could it be that the current economic and financial crisis has culminated to much that the attainment of attainable change has become farfetched?!

If the Islamists forfeit their popular instruments, comprised mainly in the nature of their slogans and the Utopian values they represent, how will they aggregate their populace?

Notably, they will not be able to constitute any dramatic redirections in the overall course and situation. Especially since they will also bound to the programmes of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB)?

Looking at the Turkish Justice and Development Party’s model, those have succeeded in building a conservative secular module, of some sorts.

However, this was after the party reformulated their narrative and priorities, constituting a full on transformation into a civil, political party.

The fact remains that the Turkish model did in fact carry out an exceptionally effective performance.

In such a short period of time, the Justice and Development Party dramatically uplifted the economic strains on Turkey, enhanced the public sector operation and service, and effectively countered corruption.

In the Moroccan and Tunisian cases though, the Islamists have not achieved any economic and service achievements.

They now face stormy challenges in Tunisia and Morocco, which threaten their very political existence.

Notably, this may be due, as we mentioned yesterday, to the fact that they were never really in charge.

They were more a governing partner to the standing deep state institution, which retained its strength in all of the government’s bodies and departments.

Meanwhile, in fear of the Egyptian scenario recurring in Tunisia and Morocco, parties there decided to play along, settle for the formalities of government, as opposed to being overthrown by the military.

Even though the Islamists in Tunisia and Morocco succeeded in avoiding direct confrontation with the components in power, such concessions could easily backfire.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.