Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in 2001, Islamism is perceived as the major international threat of our time. The subject is broadly under studies, in universities as well as in the media, which often provide a biased vision of the phenomenon. Islamism can be defined by the use of the sacred texts of Islam for political purposes, and the will to “change the very basics of the social fabric” to ‘Islamise' society. The spectrum of means of the different organisations is wide, from social activism to terrorist violence, but all Islamist groups share that particular aim. Going back to the religion has always been seen as a cure in times of crisis. Even if major texts of Islamic radicalism have been written in the early 40s and early 60s, they started to make sense for a lot of people in the early 70s, when the economic crisis occurred in the region of Middle East and North Africa. The end of the post colonial dream and the growing disillusion and anger were the basis of the Islamism popularity. It has been reinforced by external factors and the perception of the ‘neo-imperial' West as a threat.
[...] Furthermore, they were deprived of the security their local community offered, and many of them lost their references. Islamists groups provide them with basic needs, following a line of social activism preached by the Muslim Brotherhood. They also welcomed them in their community, creating new social links. The Mosque becomes a second house. This is important as well, because, in authoritarian regimes, the Mosque is the only place where free speeches are allowed. Even if the State has “officials” religious preachers, nobody could prevent little Mosques in poor suburbs to listen to a radical preacher. [...]
[...] It created a generation of well educated people, but in a very weak social and economical position, because they arrived on the market in the same time as the economic crisis. This “lost generation”, as Rachid Al- Ghannouchi, leader of Tunisia's Islamic Tendency Movement says, has been an easy target for all groups of Islamists. Their great expectations of the post independence time have been disappointed, when they realised that inequalities between a few ruling elite and the major party of a poor population remained. [...]
[...] The fabric of Islamism has to be found in this anger, especially the one of the well educated but poor young people. The failure of the post-colonial State is one of the major reasons for the resurgence of Islamism. The economic crisis of the 70s has revealed huge inequalities between a growing poor population and the rich elite, who could not provide citizens living anymore. From the 50s, masses of people immigrated to the cities, in order to find a job. [...]
[...] This is particularly important in countries with oil resources, where the majority of the population don't benefit from the income it generates, and feel excluded from the globalisation. This phenomenon increased the resentment against Western powers and their creeping neo-colonialism. For Islamists, neo colonialism is not only about economy, but also about values. Even if they accept modernity, they refuse the values of individualism and hypocrisy of the Western societies, as it was depicting by Sayyid Qotb. Islamism uses a vision of the Ummah as a victim, of occupation, social misery, and object of contempt for the West. [...]
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