Islamists and the Left Working Together in Muslim-majority Countries
by Daniel Pipes
The Iranian revolution of 1978-79 influenced relations between Islamists and the Left in two ways:
Of course, these patterns do not always hold, but so far there has been so systemic break. Here are signs of rapprochement of Islamists and Leftists in the Muslim world:
Abdelilah Benkirane, secretary-general of the PJD announced that "L'alliance avec les socialistes de l'USFP est même souhaitée par tout le monde au sein du PJD" ("Everyone within the PJD hopes for an alliance with the socialists of the USFP"). Lahcen Daoudi, another PJD leader, added that the two parties have found "plusieurs points communs qui peuvent constituer une base pour l'élaboration d'une plate-forme de travail" ("a number of commonalities that can provide a base to build a common platform").
These amicable feelings are not undisputed, however: Driss Lachgar, a member of the Political Bureau of the USFP, noted that the USFP is in the government and PJD is not, therefore:
Egypt: Mustafa Naggar, 29, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Mohammed Sherif, 23, a self-styled revolutionary socialist are finding common ground, according to Daniel Williams in "Rivals Unite to Challenge Mubarak." The two
Both young men reject Islamic rule in Egypt. Naggar: "Better to have a civil state with Islamic references." Sherif: "We have to recognize that Egypt is majority Muslim and increasingly religious." They also agree on a model that could work, the AK Party in Turkey. Revolutionary socialist Sherif allows that "It has been successful in Turkey and would be even more successful in Egypt. The party respects the religion of the people but also responds with laws that the people want."
Williams finds that the two men "typify a younger group of Egyptians who challenge the notion that secular democrats and Islamic activists are locked in an immutable struggle." Hala Mustafa, editor of Democracy Review, observes that their coming together "is a real development, potentially a new generation that is neither just liberal or Islamist." (April 15, 2009)
Turkey: Susanne Güsten in "Pious Turks Push for Labor Justice" tells how some Islamists are losing patience with the AKP's "capitalism with ablutions."
The article quotes Murat Somer, a political scientist and expert on political Islam at Koç University in Istanbul: "The A.K.P. was born of the marriage between moderate Islam and global capitalism. The younger generation of some Islamists has a different take on social justice. They focus more on economics and a class-based understanding. There is a basis for this movement. It did not come out of nowhere."
Güsten sees this change resulting from the huge increase in wealth since the AKP reached power almost a decade ago, with the gross domestic product going from €244 billion in 2002 to €551 billion in 2010. "The economic upswing and social realignment," she writes, "have caused a new chasm to open within the pious masses that carried the A.K.P. to power against the secularist elites in the military, bureaucracy and judiciary a decade ago." (May 9, 2012)
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