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  • 2017ArdoviniPhD

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The 'failure' of Political Islam?: The Muslim Bortherhood's experience in government

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Published
Publication date2017
Number of pages312
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Thesis sponsors
  • ESRC
Award date18/10/2017
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

On 30th June 2012 Mohamed Morsi was elected as the first post-revolutionary Egyptian President, marking the first time in the country’s history that an Islamist organisation legitimately ascended to power. This event dramatically changed political calculations across the region, and came with significant implications for both the Muslim Brotherhood and for the wider understanding of Political Islams. However, the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule was short-lived, as Morsi was deposed by a coup d’etat on 3rd July 2013. Since then, many have taken his deposition as proof of the incompatibility of Islamism and democratic governance, building on Oliver Roy’s argument of The Failure of Political Islam.

This thesis explores the Muslim Brotherhood’s year in power to demonstrate that their removal is attributable to more than simply “undemocratic” choices and authoritarian tendencies, and analyses the sources of their political behaviour to highlight the importance of understanding Political Islam’s heterogeneous nature. This heterogeneity sets up a range of different ways in which groups engage with politics and state institutions – which is why the ideology cannot be reduced to a monolithic set of beliefs and practices. This understanding is key to the re-thinking of contemporary foreign policies towards the region, which are currently shaped by a homogenous view of Islamism and by its equation to extremism and violence.

This thesis employs primary sources and data obtained from interviews with Egyptian activists and Muslim Brotherhood members, which investigated their role throughout the 2011 uprisings and up to July 2013. It provides a genealogy of the Muslim Brotherhood’s evolution from a grassroots movement into an Islamist political party, and analyses the organisation’s understanding of Political Islam to assess the implications of its deposition for the perception of the ideology as a whole. Ultimately, this thesis argues that the Muslim Brotherhood’s removal does not equal the end of Political Islam, but rather underlines the need for an understanding of the doctrine that is case-specific and that recognises the heterogeneity of its practices and manifestations.