Tag Archives: Muslim Brothers

Al-Azhar and the Egyptian Revolution

al-azhar red

This article is available in Portuguese here. A PDF version of the English article can be downloaded here.

“Religious discourse is the greatest battle and challenge facing the Egyptian people. There is a need for a new vision and a modern, comprehensive understanding of the religion of Islam—rather than relying on a discourse that has not changed for 800 years.”

General El-Sisi’s speech, Armed Forces’ Department of Moral Affairs – January 2014

 

How has al-Azhar, often referred to as the highest reference in Sunni Islam, navigated the recent Egyptian upheavals?

The institution, both a Mosque and a University, could have cloistered itself away from the course of History, waiting for the dust to settle. Instead, it found itself at the very center of events, both as an actor taking sides and position, and as the object of opposing national and constitutional projects for Egypt[1].

Such a central and active role in a highly volatile environment, where today’s victors are tomorrow’s fools, has not been without contradictions and conflicts within and around the institution. This may ultimately come at a high price for the already weakened authority and legitimacy of al-Azhar in Egypt and beyond.

The following article intends to shed some light on al-Azhar’s role in contemporary Egypt (I), rectifying certain misconceptions about its status in Islam, before analyzing its positioning during the Nile Revolution (II) and since the restoration of the military rule (III). Continue reading

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Shiite Foreign Fighters in Syria: Facts, Narratives and Regional Impact

shia militiamen with basharSince spring 2013, a number of convergent signs indicate that a significant number of seasoned Shiite fighters from Iraq are crossing the borders into Syria to fight alongside the regime. This latest development comes in the context of mounting pressure on the capacity of the Syrian army (1), and limitations to the involvement of the Lebanese Hezbollah in Syria.

This article aims to shed light on this recent phenomenon, the corresponding realities on the ground as well as the religious and historical narratives underpinning it. It concludes by touching on the potential impacts of such a development and its significance for the future of the region. Continue reading

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Muslim Brothers in Power: a Cultural Clash

Egypt-Muslim-Brotherhood

Are Muslim Brothers in Egypt failing because they are Islamists? Are Islamists incompatible with democracy?  Is it the very essence of Islam that explains the Brothers’ inability to design a sound economic policy?

History and sociology are of critical importance when it comes to better understanding the difficult political transition in Egypt. Religion is only one part of the story, and maybe not the main one. Continue reading

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International Symposium on relations between the Middle East and South America (Lebanon, Kaslik, 29th-30th November 2012).

We are really excited to participate in the upcoming event co-organized by two of our key partners, the RIMAAL research network and the Kaslik University Center for the Study of South America (CECAL) on a topic dear to our hearts:  the rapprochement between the Middle East and South America (detailed program and participants here).

The symposium will bring together international experts and academics to discuss the critical assessment of 10 years of South-South convergence. A multidisciplinary panel of 20 speakers will gather for two days from 10 different countries representing recognized institutions, including the Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil), DePaul University (Chicago), Science Po (Paris), Universidad de Cordoba (Argentina), the IHEAL (Paris), the UDEM (Mexico) and the University of Jordan. Continue reading

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Impressions from Egypt

 

Eager to get a local view on the complex and bumpy Egyptian transition process, we went to Cairo early October to meet with Egyptian researchers, academics, activists as well as foreign diplomats and journalists. Here are a few  impressions and food for thought. Continue reading

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