L-R: Kiely, Boghjalian, La Civita, Movsesian
For those who are interested, the Hudson Institute has posted the audio from last week’s panel (above), “Genocide and Crimes against Humanity.” I was one of the presenters, along with Sarkis Boghjalian (Aid to the Church in Need) and Michael La Civita (Catholic Near East Welfare Association). Fr. Benedict Kiely moderated. The audio link is available here (first link).
UPDATE: Video is now available at the Hudson website.
Western observers often group all Islamist parties together. But the groups often compete with one another there are subtle differences among them; it’s important to keep those differences in mind in analyzing Islamist politics. We’re a little late getting to this, but it December, the Hudson Institute published a monograph by Samuel Tadros, Islamist vs. Islamist:The Theologico-Political Questions, that analyzes the situation in Egypt. Here’s the publisher’s description:
This monograph is the second part of a two-year study on Egyptian Islamism funded by the Smith Richardson Foundation. The study is divided into two parts. The first maps the various currents, groups, and individuals that form the complex Egyptian Islamist scene. The second examines the internal dynamics of Islamism in terms of the interrelationship between its various constituent currents and their disagreements on key theological political questions. The study aims to fill two significant gaps in our knowledge of the Egyptian Islamist scene.
I’m honored to be speaking in New York today at an event sponsored by the Hudson Institute, “The Islamic State’s Religious Cleansing and the Urgency of a Strategic Response.” I’ll be discussing the Armenian Genocide on a panel titled “Genocide and Crimes against Humanity: The Islamic State’s Impact on Vulnerable Religious Minority Communities.” Other speakers include Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Walter Russell Mead, and Kirsten Powers.
Details about the program are here. CLR Forum readers, please stop by and say hello!
This June, Routledge Press will release “Islamism and Globalisation in Jordan: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Quest for Hegemony” by Daniel Atzori. The publisher’s description follows:
This book explores the activities of the local Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan. It examines how the Brotherhood, working to establish an alternative social, political and moral order through a network of Islamic institutions, made a huge contribution to the transformation of Jordanian society. It reveals, however, that the Brotherhood’s involvement in the economic realm, in Islamic financial activities, led it to engage with the neo-liberal approach to the economy, with the result that the Islamic social institutions created by the Brotherhood, such as charities, lost their importance in favour of profit-oriented activities owned by leading Islamist individuals. The book thereby demonstrates the “hybridisation” of Islamism, and argues that Islamism is not an abstract set of beliefs, but rather a collection of historically constructed practices. The book also illustrates how globalisation is profoundly influencing culture and society in the Arab world, though modified by the adoption of an Islamic framework.
In May, Columbia University Press will release “Global Alert: The Rationality of Modern Islamist Terrorism and the Challenge to the Liberal Democratic World” by Boaz Ganor (Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy, and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya). The publisher’s description follows:
Global Alert describes the motivations that lead to modern Islamist terrorism and the different stages in the execution of a terrorist attack. Challenging the certainty that liberal democratic values offer an antidote to radicalism, the book exposes the exploitation of democratic institutions by terrorists to further their goals and confronts the difficulty democracies face in fighting terrorism, especially when international humanitarian law does not account for nonstate actors in armed conflict. Global Alert especially focuses on the “hybrid terrorist organization” model, which calls for a new international doctrine to neutralize its threat.
In March, Cambridge University Press released “Limits of Islamism: Jamaat-e-Islami in Contemporary India and Bangladesh” by Maidul Islam (Presidency University, Kolkata). The publisher’s description follows:
This book focuses on Islamism as a political ideology by taking up the case study of Jamaat-e-Islami in contemporary India and Bangladesh. The book will address how, in a contemporary globalized world, Islamism constructs an antagonistic frontier and how it mobilizes people behind its political project. The book also deals with the Islamist critique of neoliberal economic policies and ‘western cultural globalization’. The book examines the dynamics from the formation of Islamist politics for the struggle for hegemony to failure to become a hegemonic force in Bangladesh. The contradiction between Islamic universalism/Islamist populism, on one hand, and a politics of Muslim particularism in India, on the other, is revealed in this study. Finally, this book traces the contemporary crisis of Islamist populism in providing an alternative to neoliberalism.
The Hudson Institute will host a discussion, “Boko Haram, the Islamic State’s West African Franchise,” in Washington, D.C. on March 23, 2015. The panel will feature Nina Shea (Hudson Institute), Bukky Shonibare (Adopt-A-Camp, Nigeria), and Emmanuel Ogebe (Washington Working Group on Nigeria).
Boko Haram swore fealty to the Islamic State earlier this month. The Nigerian Islamist terrorist organization, infamous for the abduction of 276 Chibok schoolgirls last April, has a long record of violent atrocities. Recently, it has increased attacks on marketplaces and public spaces, indiscriminately murdering moderate Muslims and Christians alike. How will this new affiliation impact the operations and reach of Boko Haram?
To assess the humanitarian situation in Nigeria and the global security implications of an alliance between two of the world’s deadliest terror groups, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom Director Nina Shea will host a discussion with Bukky Shonibare and Emmanuel Ogebe. Bukky Shonibare is a strategic team member of the #BringBackOurGirls Campaign and the coordinator of Adopt-A-Camp, a program that assists internally displaced persons in Nigeria. She will provide her firsthand account of conditions on the ground. Emmanuel Ogebe, a human rights lawyer from Nigeria, will evaluate the broad impact of the new alliance between Boko Haram and the Islamic State.
Details of the event can be found here.
ISIS released its first video of mass beheadings last Saturday.
The victims of this murder were 21 Christian Egyptian men who ISIS marched onto a beach in Libya and then beheaded en masse. A CBS senior news analyst commented “They are targeting the people of the cross,” the Copts, which is an ancient Christian communion located mostly in Egypt. This isn’t much of an analytical leap, considering that ISIS named the video “A Message to the Nation of the Cross.”
France and Egypt have called for a meeting of the United Nations Security Council to deal with the “spiraling crisis of ISIS.” Meanwhile, Italy has closed its embassy in Lybia and also appealed to the United Nations as it attempts to deal with a huge influx of refugees who are fleeing Libya.
“This risk is imminent, we cannot wait any longer. Italy has national defense needs and cannot have a caliphate ruling across the shores from us,” Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti told Il Messaggero newspaper. She added that the risks of Jihadists entering Italy along with the refugees “could not be ruled out.”
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, said, “We have told Europe and the international community that we have to stop sleeping. The problems cannot all be left to us because we are the first, the closest.”
Egypt’s government has responded to the video with bombings of ISIS locations inside Lybia. Egypt has also asked for American assistance in this war.
At an academic conference a couple of years ago, a prominent scholar with impeccably elite credentials scoffed when I referred to the worldwide persecution of Christians. “Next you’ll be telling us about the persecution of the one-billion-plus Chinese,” he said. I’m sure his opinion hasn’t changed.
In February, Routledge Press will release “Al Qaeda’s Global Crisis: The Islamic State, Takfir and the Genocide of Muslims” by V.G. Julie Rajan (Rutgers University). The publisher’s description follows:
This book focuses on the crises facing Al Qaeda and how the mass killing of Muslims is challenging its credibility as a leader among Islamist jihadist organizations.
The book argues that these crises are directly related to Al Qaeda’s affiliation with the extreme violence employed against Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the decade since 9/11. Al Qaeda’s public and private responses to this violence differ greatly. While in public Al Qaeda has justified those attacks declaring that, for the establishment of a state of ‘true believers’, they are a necessary evil, in private Al Qaeda has been advising its local affiliates to refrain from killing Muslims. To better understand the crises facing Al Qaeda, the book explores the development of Central Al Qaeda’s complex relationship with radical (mis)appropriations and manifestations of takfir, which allows one Muslim to declare another an unbeliever, and its unique relationship with each of its affiliates in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The author then goes on to consider how the prominence of takfir is contributing to the deteriorating security in those countries and how this is affecting Al Qaeda’s credibility as an Islamist terror organization. The book concludes by considering the long-term viability of Al Qaeda and how its demise could allow the rise of the even more radical, violent Islamic State and the implications this has for the future security of the Middle East, North Africa and Central/South Asia.
This book will be of much interest to students of political violence and terrorism, Islamism, global security and IR.
This month, Palgrave Macmillan releases “Hezbollah, Islamist Politics, and International Society,” by Filippo Dionigi (Middle East Centre of the London School of Economics and Political Science). The publisher’s description follows:
How do the norms of the liberal international order influence the activity of Islamist movements? This book assesses the extent to which Islamist groups, which have traditionally attempted to shield their communities from ‘external’ moral conceptions, have been influenced by the principles that regulate international society. Through an analysis of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Filippo Dionigi concludes that international norms are significant factors changing Islamist politics. We are still far from an accomplished resolve of the tension between Islamist communitarianism and liberal normative views, but a precarious equilibrium may emerge whereby Islamists are persuaded to rethink the idea of an allegedly ‘authentic’ Islamic morality as opposed to the legitimacy of international norms.