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Islamism in the Middle East: The new face of nationalism

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  1. Introduction
  2. Islamism, unitary doctrine and transnational conflicts with the weight of history
    1. Islam gives a false impression of unity
    2. Islamism does not accommodate these divisions
  3. Nationalism in the Middle East was built partly as a revolution against religion
    1. The willingness of young states
    2. Islam as the foundation of societies of the Middle East
  4. The failure of nationalism and a reaction against the West
    1. Contemporary Islamism is the bitter fruit of failure of nationalism
    2. The anti-Western ideology
  5. Judging Islamism
    1. Islamic regimes, when in power, are contested
    2. Choosing confrontation
  6. Conclusion

Islamism and nationalism are apparently contradictory terms. One suggests the existence of solidarity is based on religion and faith. In case of Islam it is the "community of believers," the "ummah" which refers to another part of the nation state. This is a recent concept which presupposes the existence of a state as a modern regulator, which is indifferent to communalism. Thus the terms are not necessarily contradictory.

[...] It is a secular institution par excellence which is also the guarantor of the constitution as in the case of Nasser's Egypt. It is a huge success as it combines modernity and its symbols and places them below the religious tradition by not hesitating to compete with states deemed religious in their own countries such as Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The Baath Party in Syria and Iraq used the same logic that drove the willingness for Reform in Iran. In Saudi Arabia, the rapid modernization of the country was forced by a collaboration of the monks who were compelled to accept the presence on their territory of Western frameworks and capital. [...]


[...] III - Islamism is built on the failure of nationalism and a reaction against the West a. Contemporary Islamism is the bitter fruit of failure of nationalism Nationalism had built its success on the promise of better days did not come as much for political reasons (corruption), as for economic (growth rate sufficient to escape poverty), and demographic (birth rate exceeds the rate of significant growth) ones. Today, there is a need to create 6 million jobs per year for 15 years, in order to ensure employment for the youth. [...]

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