Islamists are Coming
The Boston Marathon bombings do not appear to have changed the public’s view of Islam. In a notable poll, about 42 percent of Americans say Islam is more likely to encourage violence than other religions, while 46 percent say Islam does not. Opinions reflected in the new survey are similar to those found in others from the past decade. But in March 2002 ― just six months after the 9/11 attacks ― only a quarter of respondents said Islam was more likely to encourage violence.
Islam is now playing a more powerful role in Egyptian public life more than a year after Islamist parties dominated parliamentary elections. But Egypt is not following Iran’s path toward theocracy, according to a new paper by Nathan Brown, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Tunisia’s secular opposition may be a major contender in presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for late 2013, according to a new paper by Marina Ottaway, a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Call of Tunisia, an alliance of secular political groups is competing for supporters. In April 2013, it was “running almost even” with the Islamist Ennahda party in public opinion polls.
Responding to the Muslim Brotherhood, leading female activists are charging that Islam actually guarantees women wide-ranging rights–and that the largest Islamist movement in the Arab world merely wants to maintain male dominance. In March, the Brotherhood had warned that U.N. passage of a draft declaration on violence would lead to society’s “complete disintegration.” It said that the declaration contradicted Islamic principles by allowing women to have full sexual freedom and marry outside their faith while cancelling the need for a husband’s consent to “travel, work, or use of contraception.”
Nasser Weddady, the Muslim representative at the Boston Marathon memorial service, quoted from the Koran to condemn the violence. “Whoever kills a soul, it is as if he killed mankind entirely. And whoever saves a life, it is as if he has saved all of mankind,” he told attendants, who included President Obama and other government officials. He called the attacks “an assault on our fundamental values” of liberty and freedom.
The Arab uprisings have deepened ethnic and religious tensions between Sunnis and Shiites in the Middle East, according to a new report by The Brookings Institution. The rise of sectarianism is being drive by three main factors: •Sunni Islamist ascendancy in Tunisia and Egypt •The civil war in Syria, renewed conflict in Lebanon, and unrest in Bahrain •Popular perceptions of outside intervention have created a “virtual proxy war” with Iran, Syria and Hezbollah on one side and the United States, Saudi Arabia and Turkey on the other
Tunisia’s transition to democracy is seriously threatened by violence following the assassination of a prominent leftist politician in February, according to a new paper by David Ottaway. The killing of Chokri Belaid triggered a showdown between the moderate and fundamentalist wings of the Islamist Ennahda Party, which rules in coalition with two secular parties.
On April 11, G8 foreign ministers condemned attacks on residential areas in Syria and warned that chemical weapons use would “demand a serious international response.” Ministers from the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom also reaffirmed their support for the six Deauville Partnership transition countries ― Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen. The partnership, launched in May 2011, supports four areas key to successful political transitions: economic stabilization, job creation, good governance, and economic integration.
Fair pay, unemployment and rising living costs are top concerns of Arab youth, according to a new survey by Asada’a and Burson Marsteller. "Being paid a fair wage” is the top priority of 82 percent of respondents for the second year in a row. Owning a home, also for the second consecutive year, remains the second-highest priority of Arab youth.
Three-quarters of youth in 15 Arab countries think “our best days are ahead of us,” according to a new survey by Asada’a and Burson Marsteller. About 70 percent of respondents think the Arab world is “better off” since the uprisings began in December 2010, and 67 percent feel personally better off. Nearly half of youth say their government has become more transparent and representative.