Mobilizing Islam: Religion, Activism, and Political Change in Egypt

Mobilizing Islam: Religion, Activism, and Political Change in Egypt

Mobilizing Islam: Religion, Activism, and Political Change in Egypt

Mobilizing Islam: Religion, Activism, and Political Change in Egypt

Synopsis

Mobilizing Islam explores how and why Islamic groups succeeded in galvanizing educated youth into politics under the shadow of Egypt's authoritarian state, offering important and surprising answers to a series of pressing questions. Under what conditions does mobilization by opposition groups become possible in authoritarian settings? Why did Islamist groups have more success attracting recruits and overcoming governmental restraints than their secular rivals? And finally, how can Islamist mobilization contribute to broader and more enduring forms of political change throughout the Muslim world? Moving beyond the simplistic accounts of "Islamic fundamentalism" offered by much of the Western media, Mobilizing Islam offers a balanced and persuasive explanation of the Islamic movement's dramatic growth in the world's largest Arab state.

Excerpt

The events of September 11, 2001, pierced the American consciousness like an arrow through the heart. The terrorist attacks of that day in New York and Washington, D.C. culminated in the mass murder of thousands of innocent civilians, leaving the survivors to a world indelibly changed. The millions who bore witness to the devastation, whether in person or through televised broadcasts shown again and again, were drawn together in a collective state of outrage and grief. As Americans mourned for the victims and their families, many also responded with a desire to understand the mind-set of the young men who perpetrated the attacks, as well as to learn more about the religious tradition they invoked—however perversely—to justify them. The awakening of this nationwide pursuit of knowledge—evidenced by the dramatic surge of interest in Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, Islam, and the Middle East—is one of the most admirable aspects of the American response to the acts of terror and, to the extent that insight yields power, a step toward preventing their recurrence.

As Americans educate themselves about this little-known region and culture, they are discovering that many people in the Arab world harbor deep grievances against the West in general and the United States in particular. Such grievances are in part a response to American policy in the Middle East, which is widely perceived as systematically biased against Arab and Muslim interests. Anti-Western sentiment also has surfaced as a defensive reaction to the global spread of Western values and ways of life, a trend that some Muslims see as a threat to their own religion and culture. Finally, at a time when dissatisfaction with several aspects of their own societies runs . . .

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