Sending Mixed Signals
|Wednesday, February 8,2006 00:00|
|By Vivian Salama, the Daily Star|
Have violent uprisings undermined the political gains of Islamists in the region?
Elections in nearly a dozen countries over the past year have ended in considerable gains for Islamic movements in the region. In
“Islamists around the world are succeeding now for a simple reason – we respect religion, we respect our relationships, and we respect the human race,” explains Mahdi Akef, Supreme Guide for the Muslim Brotherhood. “There were no elections before. Once there were elections, Islamists were greatly successful, and they will continue to gain success everyday.”
“What we are witnessing now is thanks to the American war on terror,” says Diaa El-Rashwan, a political scientist with
Much of the success of Islamic movements worldwide can be attributed to their organization and ability to evolve with the ever changing demands of voters. In the cases of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, election campaigns were strategic and aggressive - both groups making a point to stress their political agenda over any social agenda that might result with the official implementation of shar’ia law. Leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, for example, instructed their followers to refrain from touting the Quran at political demonstrations so not to send mixed messages.
Regardless of their image tweaking, the message is clear. Islam is by far the fastest growing religion in the world - with some 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide. The Muslim Brotherhood alone boasts a presence in 70 countries, and dozens of Islamic organizations spawned off of it.
“Westerners are just paying more attention to it due to recent events,” notes Bradley Class, a professor of Comparative Religion at the
Popular as they may be, the faith is embattled in recent years following a number of terrorist attacks and violent uprisings around the world – all which have been linked in some way to Islam. Then last week, the cartoon printed first in
Muslim leaders are concerned now that the recent political successes of Islamic movements in the region will be undermined by the violent images of those groups protesting the publication of the offensive cartoons. They add that Islam, which in its purest form promotes peaceful submission to God, has failed to find a unified voice to represent the ideologies of the religion, leaving the actions of an irresponsible minority take over as the global voice of Islam.
“I think violence in
“You see it in