The Growing Reach of Radical Islam
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES
Pagination or Media Count:
The United States faces complex challenges among those states which constitute the greater Middle East. From Morocco to Pakistan, much of the region is in the midst of an Islamic revival that reasserts religious values in contemporary politics. While Western scholars indicate that this does not necessarily portend a conflict between Islam and Christianity, many fear that it could magnify the rift between Western ideals of parliamentary democracy and the authoritarian tenets of traditional Islam. This involves sensitive issues such as the role of religion in politics and the impact of American policies in areas where religious causes often justify political violence. Compounding this challenge is the fact that Islamic revivalism does not find active political expression everywhere. When it does, however, the exclusive goal is not to topple governments, though in some cases it is an effective means of opposing regimes with little tolerance for political expression. Egypts long-established Islamic Brotherhood, for example, seeks participation in the electoral process as a legally constituted political party. Its strategy has been to provide health care and education in depressed areas of the country. More radical organizations, such as the Armed Islamic Group in Algeria and Jihad guerrilla group in Egypt, employ intimidation, subversion, and terrorism to achieve their political ends. While most states in the region are avowedly Islamic, only a handful of governments adhere to Islamic Sharia law. It would be a mistake for policymakers to perceive Islamic militancy as a monolithic trend. Revivalism and militancy are diverse, and what is required is a grasp of the politico-religious level in the greater Middle East, the nature of the threats to existing institutions, and possible courses of action for the United States and those European nations which are most directly concerned.
- Government and Political Science
- Humanities and History