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Authoritarian Persistence And Barriers To Democracy In The Muslim Middle East: Beyond Cultural Essentialism

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the origin of political Islam and its various interpretations as result of exogenous and indigenous developments. Islam as political ideology emerged in response to the expansion of Europe and the decline of the Islamic empires in the nineteenth century. The consequence of a fragmented society was an amalgamation of social and political powers within the embrace of political elites. The chapter discusses various manifestations of modern Islamic political ideology. The global resurgence of a fundamentalist variant of political Islam is a response to unsuccessful attempts by secular-authoritarian regimes of Muslim countries to modernize politics and society, spur socio-economic development, and create democracy. The chapter analyzes the question of 'Islam', authoritarian persistence and the lack of democracy in the Middle East. The key to understanding democratic transition lies in the nature of state/society-relations rather than the nature of society's norms, values or religions, as argued by cultural essentialists.

Keywords: authoritarian persistence; democratic transition; Islamic political ideology; Muslim Middle East; political elites

10.1163/ej.9789004188921.i-408.58
/content/books/10.1163/ej.9789004188921.i-408.58
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