Explain the rise of Islamism in the Middle East: is it a cultural backlash against the homogenising forces of Globalisation? Is this a matter of reconstructing political/cultural identity in the context of Globalization? Can it be directed into a more accommodative mode of intercultural relations rather than a violent or antagonistic one?
« Our duty as Muslim Brothers is towork for the reform of selves, of hearts and souls by joining them to God to the all-high; then to organize our society to be feet for the virtuous community which commands the good and forbids evil-doing, then from the community will arise the good state » are Hassan al-Banna’s words, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, the early 1920s first Islamic movement which took roots in Egypt (SamiZubaida 2009, p.48). Not only this political claim is still relevant today but it is an increasing phenomenon too, especially in the Middle East. In this manner, the following lines are an attempt to explain the rise of Islamism in this part of the world in the context of Globalisation and also more precisely in a context marked by an important American involvement in the area. A clear definition ofIslamism needs to be set here in order to avoid any mixture with Islam as a religion which would be a wrongful association. All the sources of this essay agree to define it as an Islam Fundamentalism, in other words « a set of ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system; that modern Islam must return to their roots of their religion and unite politically ». It isconsequently a political extension of the religion, an anti-secularist point of view, in other words bringing religion into the field of politics. The first argument will demonstrate that culture is actually little involved in the causes of Islamism rise in the Middle East , but that it rather finds its source in political issues in a context of homogenizing forces of globalisation. The secondargument stressed is that this rise is aimed to a political and cultural identity reconstruction but also appeared as an auto-defensive reaction. Finally this work will highlight the complexity of this issue partly because of the difficulty to state a position about the future of this situation opposing the West and the Middle East. There are optimistic arguments that it could be directed into amore accommodative mode of intercultural relations rather than an antagonistic one, at the same time that some arguments unfavourable to this outcome do exist.
As stated before, the question here is to determine if the rise of Islamism is a cultural backlash and if it is a matter of reconstructing identity. The key explanations of this phenomenon are actually mainly contained in the politicalhistory of the region. To begin with, there is no doubt that as any part of the world, the Middle East has not been spared by the successive waves of Globalisation. In parallel to Globalisation, Western Imperialism was developed and especially American Imperialism. Indeed, the United States early understood the high potential of this area and consequently the importance to control it due to its richnatural resources, namely oil. This desire took shape shortly after the First World War, that it is no wonder why the Muslim Brotherhood may have appeared at that same time (Amin Saikal 2003). The starting point of a long series of imperialist attempts over the area is the alliance in 1933 between the US and the Saudi Arabia, a theocratic and autocratic state which is the oldest Islamic nation.Here Islamism does not seem to be problematic. Each side finds its interest, Saudi Arabia’s regime is protected from regional threat by the US and in compensation, the US was given the go-ahead to control their oil and at the same time the opportunity to pursue their imperialist approach of the region (Amin Saikal 2003). Then comes their involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in which...
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