Beyond the Headlines: Changing Perceptions of Islamic Movements. (Perspectives)

By Esposito, John | Harvard International Review, Summer 2003 | Go to article overview

Beyond the Headlines: Changing Perceptions of Islamic Movements. (Perspectives)


Esposito, John, Harvard International Review


Despite the failures political Islam has confronted when governing Afghanistan, Sudan, Pakistan, and Iran, Islamic movements in the 21st century continue to be a significant force in mainstream Muslim politics, from Morocco to Indonesia. The September 11 attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington, DC; suicide bombers' slaughter of noncombatants in Israel and Palestine; bombings in Bali, Indonesia; and the arrests of suspected terrorist cells in Europe and the United States reinforce fears of radical Islamic movements. Muslim rulers in Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, and the Central Asian Republics, as well as the governments of Israel, India, China, and the Philippines, have exploited the danger of Islamic radicalism and global terrorism to deflect from the failures of their governments. They focus on the Islamist threat to divert criticism from their indiscriminate suppression of opposition movements, both mainstream and extremist, as well as to attract US and European aid.

A War on Terrorism?

After September 11, 2001, US President George Bush and many other policy makers emphasized that the United States was waging a war against global terrorism, not against Islam. However, in the Muslim world, a contrasting viewpoint prevails. The US international and domestic prosecution of its broad-based war against terrorism, and the rhetoric that has accompanied it, have made commonplace the belief in the Muslim world that the war is indeed against Islam and Muslims.

Several factors have reinforced this perception, contributing significantly to a widespread anti-US sentiment that cuts across Muslim societies as well as countries in Europe and elsewhere. The United States is increasingly seen as an "imperial" state whose overwhelming military and political power is used unilaterally, disproportionately, and indiscriminately in a war not just against global terrorism and religious extremists but also against Islam itself. The broadening of the US-led military campaign beyond Afghanistan, its "axis of evil" policy, the war against Saddam Hussein and Iraq, and the failure of the Bush administration to establish parity in rhetoric and policies in the conflicts between Palestine and Israel, India and Pakistan, and Russia and Chechnya fuels anti-US sentiment in the Islamic mainstream as well as hatred of the United States among militant extremists. Across the political spectrum there are those who believe that a clash of civilizations is on the horizon, fostered by the United St ates as well as by Al Qaeda and other extremists. Osama bin Laden grows in popularity among many of the younger generation as a cultural hero. In countries and societies whose leaders and elites are often seen as authoritarian and corrupt, bin Laden is a "Robin Hood," willing to forgo a life of privilege to live simply and wage ajihad against injustice, whether that injustice takes the form of Soviet occupation of Afghanistan or US hegemony in the Muslim world.

The Other Face

While the events of September 11 and the period following have reinforced the threat of the dark side of political Islam, with its extremists and their theologies of hate, forces of democratization and the diversity of Islamic movements remain important in electoral politics. Elections in late 2001 in Pakistan, Turkey, Bahrain, and Morocco reinforced the continued saliency of Islam in Muslim politics in the 21st century. Islamic candidates and Muslim parties increased their influence threefold in Morocco and tenfold in Pakistan. In Turkey, the AK (Justice and Development Party) came to power, and in Bahrain, Islamic candidates won 19 of 40 parliamentary seats.

These examples of Islamic candidates and movements urging a turn toward ballots not bullets are not new. If much of the 1980s was dominated by fears of Iran's export of revolutionary Islam, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Islamically oriented candidates were elected as mayors and parliamentarians in countries as diverse as Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Kuwait, Bahrain, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Beyond the Headlines: Changing Perceptions of Islamic Movements. (Perspectives)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.