Muslims in Global Politics: Identities, Interests, and Human Rights

Muslims in Global Politics: Identities, Interests, and Human Rights

Muslims in Global Politics: Identities, Interests, and Human Rights

Muslims in Global Politics: Identities, Interests, and Human Rights


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. As Islam spreads throughout the world, Muslims living in their traditional homelands and in the Western world are grappling with shifting identities. 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.


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. My earlier research involved aspects of continuity and change, modernity and tradition, the emergence of civil society, and the discourse surrounding secular versus Islamic movements. In my subsequent research, I became interested in the impacts of globalization on Muslims’ attempt to accommodate shifting identities and their search for new interests and sources of power while raising dissenting voices against their inept and abusive governments. Not surprisingly, resistance to both national governments and external powers in the Muslim world has found deep resonance with human rights campaigns. My personal curiosity about and deep commitment to the study of human rights and democratization in the Muslim world are both emotional and rational.

As globalization permeates different societies, the debate intensifies over how to develop self-assertion, recognition, and new meanings in life. Integral to the definition of culture in a globalizing world is the desire for recognition and determining how to coexist with those of different cultures. Arguably, recognition rather than self-assertion constitutes the culture’s most hopeful posture. The quest for authenticity in the pursuit of solutions to socioeconomic, political, and cultural problems (in this volume, most often referred to as cultural politics) has become inseparable from power politics. Muslims’ cultures, identities, and interests are dynamic and evolving. Reform-minded Islamists have proven capable of creating hybrids potent enough to challenge existing regimes.

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