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Islamist terrorism and the Middle East democratic deficit: political exclusion, repression and the causes of extremism

By Katerina Dalacoura

Abstract

The terrorist attacks of September 11 created a consensus among Western, and in particular US, policy makers that authoritarianism in the Middle East undermined Western interests by contributing to the emergence of Islamist terrorism. This study demonstrates, however, that there is no evidence that a necessary causal relationship exists between the democratic deficit in the Middle East and Islamist terrorism. The analysis explores the three main types of Islamist terrorism: the transnational terrorism of al Qaeda; the Islamist terrorism associated with national liberation movements, such as Hamas and Hizbullah; and Islamist terrorism in the context of domestic insurgencies, such as the Egyptian Gamaa Islamiya and the Algerian Armed Islamic Group. The case studies show that the political exclusion and repression of the Islamist movements in question contributed to the adoption of terrorist methods in some cases, but not in others. The account also explores the obverse question, whether political participation leads to the emergence of a moderate Islamism that eschews terrorist tactics. The Turkish Justice and Development Party, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the Tunisian Nahda and the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood/Islamic Action Front are studied in this context. The evidence, again, is mixed: the non-violent nature of some movements is clearly a product of their being included in the political process – but in other cases repression had the same outcome

Topics: JZ International relations, JQ Political institutions Asia
Year: 2006
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lse.ac.uk:3254
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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