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Social psychology, religion and inter-group relations: Hamas leaders' media talk about their vision for the future

By Chris McVittie, Andy McKinlay and Rahul Sambaraju


This paper focuses on the relationship between Islam and the secular aspects of society which differentiate Islamic societies from other states. Bound up with this question is the issue of the extent to which Islamists challenge proposals that religion should be 'set aside' when people act as citizens by arguing that Islam embraces the whole of life. Using discourse analysis we examine extracts from media interviews with leaders of the Islamist Hamas movement about Islam and its application within the Gaza strip. The interviewees construct religion as being congruent with existing social practices within Gaza. This allows interviewees to make three claims: that the introduction of Islam will make no difference to existing society, that Islam will be tolerant of existing social practices, and that potentially criticisable political acts should be viewed in civic rather than religious terms. By so doing, the interviewees display sensitivity to potential distinctions between religious and civic practices and attend to inferences that might arise in respect of inter-group relations. Constructions of religion and of civic society can thus be viewed as participants' rather than analysts' concerns and should be examined for their functions within both distal and local contexts. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Year: 2011
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