Muslims in Global Politics
Identities, Interests, and Human Rights
Publication Year: 2009
As Islam spreads throughout the world, Muslims living in their traditional homelands and in the Western world are grappling with shifting identities. These questions of identity are an integral part of national and international politics. In Egypt Islamists clash with secularists over religious and national identity, while in Turkey secularist ruling elites have chosen to accommodate Islamists in the name of democracy and reconciliation. In all cases, understanding the dynamics of identity-based politics is critical to the future of Muslims and their neighbors across the globe.
In Muslims in Global Politics, Mahmood Monshipouri examines the role identity plays in political conflicts in six Muslim nations—Egypt, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Iran, and Indonesia—as well as in Muslim diaspora communities in Europe and North America. In each instance, he describes how conservatives, neofundamentalists, reformists, and secularists construct identity in different ways and how these identities play out in the political arena. With globalization, the demand for human rights continues to grow in the Muslim world, and struggles over modernity, authenticity, legitimacy, and rationality become increasingly important.
Muslims in Global Politics deepens our understanding of how modern ideas and norms interact with the traditions of the Islamic world and, in turn, shows how human rights advocates can provide an alternative to militant Islamist movements.
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
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Preface: Muslims’ Struggles for Identities, Interests, and Human Rights
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The concerns that led to this book were both academic and personal. My academic interests and involvement in trying to understand the ways in which human rights can be enhanced in the Muslim world date back to the 1980s, when a wave of Islamic revivalism throughout the Muslim world resulted in a profound transformation in perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors of many Muslims, living in both the homeland and the diaspora.
1. Muslims’ Quest for Identities, Interests, and Human Rights
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The interplay between market forces, transnational flows, and social relations is a complex and evolving process that is fraught with paradoxes. Nowhere are such complexities and contradictions more apparent today than in the construction of diverse and multiple identities in the imagination of people. Indeed, globalization has precipitated global solidarity on the one hand while facilitating fractionalizing, identity-based politics on the other.
2. International Human Rights Norms and Muslim Experiences
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Flaws in overly optimistic theories of globalization demonstrate that aside from its pure economic implications, globalization has generated profound social disruption and cultural resistance. The critics of globalization, who see it as a juggernaut of untrammeled capitalism, fear a world ruled by profit-seeking multinational and global corporations.
3. Gender, Identity, and Negotiating Rights
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Historically regarded as cultural transmitters and protectors of national values, Muslim women have become a new subject of debate. This impassioned debate on women’s roles in Islam is also seen by many as a source of moral and social disorder. Defying both conventional and patriarchal ideologies, Muslim women today have become a powerful voice for change.
4. Searching for a Modern Islamic Identity in Egypt
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Egypt is home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations. The vast majority of its people are Muslim, and Islam is the state religion. Although Egyptians’ identity has been shaped by their own distinct geography, history, and cultural traditions, the content of their identity is surely Arab- Islamic. Egypt also has the largest Christian population in the Middle Eastern and North African region.
5. Occupation, Sectarianism, and Identity Politics in Iraq
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Thirty-five years of political coercion by the Baath Party did little to diminish a wide split between the Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish populations. The Baath Party acted as an Arab nationalist movement whose pan- Arabism quashed cultural and political pluralism. Given the historical power disparities between these groups, the Shiites and Kurds continue to see themselves as different from the Sunnis.1
6. The Melding of the Old and New in the United Arab Emirates
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Known as the trading hub of the Persian Gulf and Middle Eastern region, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is managing to preserve the balance between forces of tradition and modernity. Externally, the country manifests the growing impact of rapid modernization and globalization. But at the same time, the tribal sheikhs continue to play an extremely important role in the country’s political system.
7. Secularism, Turkish Islam, and Identity
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Led by Mustafa Kemal Atat�rk in 1923, Turkey was the first secular state in the Muslim world that placed all educational institutions under government jurisdiction. By 1929, Turkish secular ruling elites, known as Kemalists, had succeeded in eliminating Islam from political and public life. A Swiss-based civil code supplanted Islamic legal codes.1 In recent times, however, this secularism from above, backed by the military, has increasingly come into conflict with the aspirations of practicing Turkish Muslims.
8. The Reemergence of Populism in Iranian Politics: Constructing New Identities
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The 1979 Islamic Revolution led, among other things, to a cultural transformation in which the Iranian masses demonstrated their wish to defend their religious and cultural identity. In the course of the revolution, many Iranians took the view that the shah’s Westernizing and modernizing programs posed a threat to Iran’s national and Islamic identity and widened class disparities. The resistance to the shah’s repressive regime indeed became a reaction to what threatened not only Iranians’ religious and cultural heritage but also their economic and personal security.
9. Negotiating Modernity and Tradition in Indonesia
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Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago and the fourth largest country in the world. It is also the world’s most populous Muslim country, a major producer of oil, and well endowed with natural resources. Its strategic location allows it to control a major waterway between the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. The security of these waterways is crucial to the passage of oil tankers and the international shipping trade. Indonesia is home to a blend of indigenous beliefs and a diverse array of cultures and civilizations as well as a variety of different ethnic and religious groups such as Hindus, Buddhists, Arabs, and Europeans. Indonesia’s political and cultural history has been equally influenced by Hindu-Buddhist ideas from India and by Islam.1
10. Construction of Muslims in Europe: The Politics of Immigration
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Immigration has become one of the most significant political issues facing Europe, and Muslims have become the most important ‘‘other’’ in European public discourse. To better understand why, it is especially important to put in context the processes leading to the postwar reconstruction of Europe. The dynamics of reconstruction and its economic integration in the postwar period have led not to the growth of genuine ‘‘multiculturalism’’ and a ‘‘model of tolerance’’ but to emerging identity clashes between Europeans and their Muslim immigrants.
Conclusion: Identities, Interests, and Human Rights
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Since the end of the Cold War, there has been an upsurge in identity and cultural politics. In much of the post–Cold War debate about culture, Islam has presented a particular challenge to some aspects of Western modernity.1 As Islam has come under closer scrutiny in the post-9/11 period, young Muslims have sought to learn more about their religion and strengthen their sense of identity.2
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Many individuals and offices have assisted in the research and writing of this book. Mr. Raouf Mashayekh and Mrs. Taraneh Larijani were generous with their time and ideas in Dubai, arranging several meetings and interviews for me in the United Arab Emirates. Professor Zehra Arat, of SUNY-Purchase, helped me enormously in my trip to Turkey by setting up several interviews and contacts with scholars in the field of international relations and several NGOs in Istanbul and Ankara.
Page Count: 344
Publication Year: 2009
Series Title: Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights