The decline of political Islam’s legitimacy

Philosophy and Social Criticism 40 (4-5):381-390 (2014)

The ‘rise’ and ‘decline’ refer to the rationale behind Islamic attractiveness and its rejection. What I intend to write is a narrative based on theoretical intuitions and empirical facts very different from Olivier Roy’s thesis on the ‘failure’ of political Islam and Asef Bayat’s post-Islamism. My theoretical intuition is that political Islam has for years at best taken advantage of a long-term series of failures. First, there is the failure of modernization, of secularity and of national ideology. Islamist movements transformed this kind of ‘negative legitimacy’ into an electoral success. This is the case with En-Nahdha in Tunisia. Second, however, this electoral legitimacy was rapidly eroded. Third, post-Islamist expectations were not met: political Islam with its radicalism was not cut off and did not digest jihadism and terrorism. It is still worked out by a double-handed attempt: a neo-authoritarian politics and a religious anti-liberal zeal. Now, this project is failing, not because political Islam entered into a ‘post-Islamist’ area but thanks to a strong and heroic resistance of secular civil society.
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DOI 10.1177/0191453714527286
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