April 14, 2006

Islamists Take On Arab Reform

April's edition of the CEIP's Arab Reform Bulletin focuses on the role of Islamists in the Middle East (more about the ARB in this post). From Morocco to Jordan to Egypt, this collection of news summaries and articles focuses more specifically on how Islamic parties preform once they are in power.

It's interesting to note that much of the discussion in academic circles about reform in the Middle East is focused on Islamic parties and trends. Over the past few years, various parties with varying degrees of Islamic platforms have emerged as significant players in various Muslim majority countries, especially in the Arab world. While there is discussion about other independent parties that have attempted to emerge into the political scene through parliamentary or municipal elections, none have been as organized, galvanized, and popularized as Islamic parties.

One of the most important features of this month's bulletin is that it provides a better view of these unique parties which are often portrayed as a monolithic whole and painted with one brush. In reality, however, they work in different capacities, under different rules and regulations, and addresssing different needs for different populations. Islamists in Palestine are likely to focus on the needs of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories which are much different than those of Moroccans, for example. The portrayal of all Islamist parties as just a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood is false and inaccurate, and does not do justice to the diversity of these parties, their platforms, and their approaches.

This month's bulletin is a must read for anyone interested in the process of reform and democratization in the Arab world, and the impact that Islamic parties have had on these socio-political developments. An Arabic translation of the bulletin will appear on the CEIP's website within the next few days.

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