Islamists are likely to be “more market-oriented” and entrepreneurial in the future, according to a new report by the U.S. National Intelligence Council. “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds” explores what the world could look like in the coming decades. The report predicts that Islam and other religions will play a larger role in global politics. But in the Middle East, “political pragmatism could trump ideology helped by a growing civil society that will begin to produce a new cadre of pragmatic, entrepreneurial and social leaders.” If pragmatists fail to improve the economy, hardline Islamists could gain popularity by offering a non-Western model, the report says.
Arab social media users are more likely to express their opinions on politics, community issues and religion than others in Europe, Latin America, the United States and Asia, according to a new survey by Pew. In Egypt and Tunisia, more than 60 percent of surveyed users share their political and religious views online. Less than 40 percent of European and U.S. users share their political and religious views.
Egypt’s Facebook sheikhs reflect the growing diversity within Islam. The new tech-savvy sheikhs range from rock-star street preachers to Salafi populists. Even the old clerics are finding they have to be hip to keep their flocks. Their television shows, broadcast on popular satellite stations, compete for viewers—generating new rivalries over who controls the Muslim message.
Women played frontline roles in the Arab uprisings, but have since faced growing political hurdles during the transitions. Nine female activists from Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Libya outlined the specific challenges to women’s participation at a meeting sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in October 2012. They also offered strategies for empowering women.
Women from across the Middle East – from Egypt to Bahrain, Lebanon to Iraq—responded to the following question: Is there another Muslim-majority country that you look to as a model? Why?
Egypt’s Constituent Assembly passed a draft constitution on November 30. President Mohamed Morsi then announced a national referendum will be held on December 15. “I renew my call for opening a serious national dialogue over the concerns of the nation, with all honesty and impartiality, to end the transitional period as soon as possible, in a way that guarantees the newly-born democracy,” Morsi told the Constituent Assembly.
Over 80 percent of respondents in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia hold their governments responsible for helping the poor, according to the results of a new poll by Gallup. But respondents provided differing reviews of their respective governments’ social assistance programs.
On October 31, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood announced, "We cannot in any way compromise in demanding to apply Sharia." Article 2 of the constitution already cites the "principles" of Sharia as the main source of legislation. But it does not define those principles. In a statement, the Muslim Brotherhood defined them as commandments mentioned in the Koran and instructions derived from the traditions of the Prophet Mohamed. The organization specified that only principles accepted by mainstream Sunni scholars should apply.
On September 30, Turkey’s Justice and Development Party held its annual convention. Delegates reelected Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to his final term as party leader. The Washington Institute's new report draws on the convention results and examines changes in the moderate Islamist party's leadership.
Islamic television is increasingly popular and prevalent across the Middle East one year after Islamists began winning democratic elections. Even secular satellite channels are now broadcasting more religious content—and in better prime time slots. The satellite sheikhs vary widely, however. Indeed, the battle over defining Islam in a new political era is now being waged on television screens.