by Hakim Khatib
Using religious frameworks in political contestation and mobilisation processes has become more eminent in recent decades spiralling an intricate debate on the conceptualisation and implementation of such references in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region The contradiction, it is argued, mainly lies in the compromising nature of politics and the relatively dogmatic nature of religion. Accentuated by inaccurate media coverage and primordial analytical frameworks, it has become tempting to see religion as responsible for conflicts and underachievement in the MENA region.
In the conventional sense, Islamic movements are often held responsible for incorporating religion in political processes. However, this is not always true as the nondemocratic states in the MENA region and elsewhere in the Muslim majority world had constantly attempted to control ideological power – Islamic religion and its organizations in this case – before Islamic movements even came to exist in the form we know today. The power struggle among political, yet conflicting actors over ideological power emerges from ideology’s distinctive form of social organization to legitimatize specific forms of authority and to solve contradictions in society.
by Hakim Khatib
The role of social groups in making historical events succeed takes shape according to two important factors: Their ability to change and the kind of their contribution to the development of that change in a way or another. The role of social groups especially emerges at times of revolutions and their subsequent changes on the political, socioeconomic and even intellectual levels. The most active and capable group to achieve change is the group of youth and students. In the revolutionary movements in Latin America, for instance, students prominently contributed to the fall down of long-lasting totalitarian dictatorships such in Chile, Brazil and Argentina. In the Arab uprisings in 2010-2011, students‘ roles varied from one country to another based on three axes of context, networks and contentious practices. This article expands on the role of Egyptian student movement in thriving for change despite the intensified restrictions by the state and how it continued its protest under repressive circumstances as a political actor.
von Alexander Sami Lang
The bloody rebellion in Syria has aroused hostilities between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, a religious conflict that dates back to the first Muslim civil war and the Battle of Siffin in 657 AD which took place on the banks of the Euphrates river, in what is now Ar-Raqqah, Syria. Today we see how the conflict is again spreading from Syria to the rest of the Middle East in places like Tripoli in Libanon, Falludscha in Iraq and Sad’ah in Yemen. But how did it come to this?
Sherief Gaber is a researcher in issues related to the right to the city and socially just cities and a member of the Mosireen Independent Media Collective in Cairo. Mosireen documented the protests during the ‚Egyptian revolution‘.
At a conference in Berlin you said the internet’s influence on the protests and revolution in Egypt was overrated. How would you describe its impact and why do you think others exaggerate it?
There’s a great many people out there who want to believe that the internet and social media tools caused the revolution, I think because it allows one to paint a picture that’s familiar, accessible and unthreatening to audiences without context or understanding of Egypt or similar social struggles elsewhere. I think that because people were writing about or posting updates regarding the ongoing events during the 18 days in 2011 using Facebook, twitter, and the like, it allowed journalists an easy way to project understanding of events, and sympathetic, largely middle class protagonists to be seen as the centre of those events.