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The Islamic Movement And Its Assumed Political And Cultural Position

Ibrahim Gharaybe

How can the wider Islamic movement go back to its original political and cultural position that is to contribute to development and reform instead of being a political and security burden? And how can it get out of the cycle of accusations, violence, hostility and isolation into being a major component of the Umma's (nation) political scene and a movement capable of interacting with others while working for the development and resurgence of the Umma? The Islamic movement at the beginning till mid last century was in harmony with the general goals of society, mainly national liberation and foreign resistance. It indeed was involved in the movements of liberation and reform.

This Islamic movement's disposition towards reform started to change during the second half of the twentieth century, as it began to oppose the political system and the governments which led to unprecedented clashes and to many Arab government's attempts to eradicate the Islamic movement politically and physically. On the other hand, the Islamic movement sought to destabilize the political security of these regimes and thus started operating outside the political framework and the "legal legitimacy." So this movement transformed into a threat to the stability of society and an obstacle to its development and prosperity in addition to being a security problem.

It has been proven that the Umma's individuals, communities and institutions live in a state lacking completely in understanding, dialogue and communication. In fact, when they get the chance of debate and dialogue, their differences seem limited and manageable. Perhaps the Islamic movement and its moderate leaders are capable of taking the initiative and solve the crisis with the West and with Arab governments and secular groups, that is through a clear and detailed declaration of their political and intellectual positions regarding democracy, pluralism, citizenship, women, public freedoms and political life.

The near future indicates the popularity of the Islamic disposition amongst the region's societies and peoples to an extent that asserts the Islamic nature of administration and governance in the Arab and Islamic worlds. Perhaps this is a speculation of the United States, which has been involved in serious dialogue and cooperation with some Islamic movements like in Sudan, Turkey, Iraq and Afghanistan. Even Hamas has recently declared that it supports dialogue with America. The rise of fundamentalist movements and political reform in the Arab world are Washington's two main concerns. Its previous strategy to protect its interests led to the absence of democracy and the rise of violence and fundamentalism. If there were to be cooperation between moderate Islamic movements, who have a big chance of winning democratic elections, and the Americans, the former would be faced with a threatening situation. For these movements might weaken or disintegrate in the benefit of fundamentalist groups. The solution would either be a continuation of despotism, tension and struggle or taking the path of political reform.

The problem is that the Americans deal with the Islamic movements according to their interests and policies, while the Islamists do not have a clear point of view concerning that. Many times they present a public rhetoric that is hostile and fundamentalist while in fact taking a very moderate position from governments and the West. The Islamic movements are incapable of mobilizing their supporters in favor of their practical convictions, yet they realize that they cannot continue with this game of tragic romanticism. For at the end they find themselves an isolated elite, committed to interests that do not correspond to the expectations of the public they represent.

Source: Al-Hayat, english.daralhayat.com

Transatlantic Gaps:
European perceptions, America's 'greater Middle East'
The Daily Star, March 4, 2004, Perthes addresses the European view on American's Greater Middle East plan. He concludes that although European policy-makers also wish to bridge transatlantic gaps, and that they will not say 'no' to the American initiative, "they will certainly try to leave their mark on any common transatlantic plan that will emerge from it."

Prior to security partnerships and economic cooperation:
Let the West Make Peace With Islam First
Arab News, March 2, 2004, "People in the Middle East see things differently from what the West envisions for them," Dr. Al-Oraifi explains. Providing a Middle Eastern perspective on recent history in the region, she urges that the West to first "make peace with Islam" before seeking security partnerships and proposing economic cooperation.

Common Ground News Service February 20, 2004
CGNews promotes constructive perspectives and dialogue about current Middle East issues.

From the Common Ground News Service
hagalil.com 22-03-2004



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