Domestic, Regional, and International Trends in Islamism (2013-2015)

Download program and abstracts of the conference

Venue: CERI/Sciences Po 56, rue Jacob 75006 Paris
Dates: 29 and 30 October 2015

Mandatory registration: nathalie.tenenbaum@sciencespo.fr

Papers and debates will be in English and Arabic (with translation)


Over the last years, politics in the Middle East and North Africa have been shaped by impressive reversals of fortune. Month after month, journalists and analysts have all at some point depicted liberals, Islamists, soldiers, women, jihadis, and youth as the great winners of the “Arab spring”, before being later considered as likely losers. The root causes of the Muslim Brotherhood’s inability, since the fall of Muhammad Mursi in Egypt, during the second “round” of the Arab Spring, to cash in on the political capital originally accumulated thanks to their leading role in the opposition to authoritarian regimes and subsequently during post-revolutionary elections, still calls for substantial research. In parallel, the emergence of the so-called Islamic State has been a game changer, introducing new dynamics that need to be made explicit and analysed by academics.

Far from meaning the end of political Islam, the Brothers’ setback is having lasting effects on the Islamist field. The object of this conference, organised by the WAFAW program in partnership with CERI/Sciences Po, IREMAM, IFPO, and Oslo University, is to look into the resilience of the Muslim Brotherhood despite its apparent marginalization and meanwhile how Salafi and Jihadi groups have too been affected by the developments that occurred after the Egyptian military coup of July 2013 and the establishment of the Islamic State in June 2014.

The objects of the conference are multiple: to complete the study of the mechanisms generating “disillusionment with the Brothers”, and to better gauge the phenomenon’s importance. We aim to understand what has become of the “survivors” of the Muslim Brotherhood’s and of those Islamists who distanced themselves from the Brothers, often criticizing the concessions made by the latter while in power.

The downfall of the Muslim Brothers since the Egyptian military coup is a far cry from having seriously damaged Sunni Islamism as a whole. It is no doubt possible that certain disillusioned Brothers may have called into question the “Islamist” dimension of their political commitment. It is however well established that a part of the “disillusioned”, whose numbers have yet to be quantified, have become even more radically “re-islamised” as of then. The path to radicalization and violence which they tend to follow leads them to walk in the footsteps of their “Jihadi” predecessors towards a rupture with the doctrinal accommodations which has enabled the Brothers to produce a pattern of “Islamic” recognition of democratic process.

Over and beyond the deliberately depoliticized Salafi fringe, the importance of the concessions made by the Brothers in view of the necessities of being in office, when compared with their paltry gains, may well favour a significant shift in mobilizable resources playing into the hands of their direct historical challengers, i.e. of the Salafi, and/or further still afield, in terms of oppositional resources, of the jihadis themselves whether from the al-Qaeda generation or the one pledging allegiance to the Islamic State.

The conference is structured around a set of issues. The five successive panels will focus on 1) exploring the effects of political marginalization and repression of Islamists on their relationship to violence, 2) investigating the level of resilience of Muslim Brotherhood networks after 2013 in Egypt and beyond, 3) understanding the way Iraqi and Syrian dynamics have restructured jihadi movements, 4) studying the effects of the emergence of the Islamic State on intra-jihadi rivalries, 5) examining the reconfigurations of the broad Islamist field.

Conference academic organizing committee: Laurent Bonnefoy, François Burgat, Stéphane Lacroix and Bjorn Olav Utvik.

Conference Program

Thursday 29th of October, 2015

9:30-9:45 Opening address by Alain Dieckhoff, director of the Centre de recherches internationales (CERI/Sciences Po)

9:45-10:30 Keynote address by François Burgat (WAFAW, IREMAM)

From Ghannouchi to al-Baghdadi: The ubiquitous diversity of the Islamic lexicon

10:30-13:15 Panel 1: Linking political exclusion to violence?

Chair: Loulouwa Al-Rachid (WAFAW, CERI/Sciences Po)

  • Sari Hanafi (WAFAW, American University of Beirut)
    Transnational movement of Islamic reform: New configurations
  • Bjorn Olav Utvik (Oslo University)
    Myths of Ikhwan disaster: Anatomy of the 2011-1013 power struggle in Egypt
  • Amal-Fatiha Abbassi (IREMAM, PhD candidate at Sciences Po Aix)
    The Muslim Brotherhood and political disengagement. The consequences of an authoritarian situation

11:45-12:00 Coffee break

  • Monica Marks (WAFAW, PhD candidate at Oxford University)
    Survivalist club or dynamic movement? Generational politics in Ennahda today
  • Joas Wagemakers (Utrecht University)
    With or without the others: Consolidating divisions within the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood (2013-2015)
  • Amel Boubekeur (SWP, Berlin)
    Algerian Islamists and Salafis after the Arab Spring: Eroding or reloading the regime?

14:30-16:45 Panel 2: A Resilient Muslim Brotherhood?

Chair: Stéphane Lacroix (WAFAW, CERI/Sciences Po)

  • Rory McCarthy (PhD candidate at Oxford University)
    When Islamists lose an election
  • Marc Lynch (George Washington University)
    Evolving transnational networks and media strategies of the Muslim Brotherhood
  • Marie Vannetzel (WAFAW, CURAPP)
    #R4bia: The dynamics of the pro-Mursi mobilizations in Turkey
  • Dilek Yankaya (WAFAW, IREMAM)
    A “transnational Islamic business network”? Rethinking the connections between Turkish, Egyptian and Tunisian “Islamic businessmen” after the Arab Springs

16:45-17:00 Coffee break

17:00-17:45 Open discussion on contemporary Muslim Brotherhood dynamics

Friday 30th of October, 2015

9:30-11:30 Panel 3: The Iraqi/Syrian matrix of violence

Chair: Bjorn Olav Utvik (Oslo University)

  • Loulouwa Al-Rachid (WAFAW, CERI/Sciences Po)
    The Disarray of Iraqi Sunnis
  • Truls Tonnesen (FFI Oslo)
    The Iraqi origins of the “Islamic State”
  • Yahya Michot (Hartford Seminary)
    Ibn Taymiyya in ‘Dabiq’
  • Thomas Pierret (Edinburgh University)
    Farewell to the vanguard: Syria’s Ahrar al-Sham Islamic movement and wartime de-radicalisation
  • Tine Gade (Oslo University)
    Sunnism in Lebanon after the Syrian war

11:30-11:45 Coffee break

11:45-13:30 Panel 4: Al-Qaeda vs. the Islamic State

Chair: François Burgat (WAFAW, IREMAM)

  • Hasan Abu Hanieh (Independent researcher)
    New Jihadism: From harassment to empowerment (In Arabic)
  • Brynjar Lia (Oslo University)
    The jihadi movement and rebel governance: A reassertion of a patriarchal order?
  • Stéphane Lacroix (WAFAW, CERI/Sciences Po)
    Saudi Arabia, the Brothers and the others: the ambiguities of a complex relationship
  • Abdulsalam al-Rubaidi (Al-Baidha University)
    Ansar al-Sharia in South Yemen: configuration, expansion and discourse (In Arabic)
  • Ismail Alexandrani (Independent researcher)
    Sinai with and without the Brothers: did it matter?

14:30-16:45 Panel 5: Muslim Brothers and their Islamist competitors

Chair: Sari Hanafi (WAFAW, American University of Beirut)

  • Muhammad Abu Rumman (Jordanian University)
    Dilemmas in Salafi dynamics in the wake of the Arab democratic revolutions (In Arabic)
  • Stéphane Lacroix (WAFAW, CERI/Sciences Po)
    Being Salafi under Sisi: Examining the post-coup strategy of the al-Nour party
  • Ahmed Zaghlul (CEDEJ, Cairo)
    The nationalization of the religious sphere in Egypt (In Arabic)
  • Myriam Benraad (IREMAM)
    Iraqi Muslim Brothers: Between the Islamic State and a hard place
  • Nicolas Dot-Pouillard (WAFAW, IFPO)
    Hizbullah and Muslims Brothers: A political rupture or a contract renegotiation?
  • Laurent Bonnefoy (WAFAW, CERI/Sciences Po)
    Islahis, Salafis, Huthis: reconfigurations of the Islamist field in war torn Yemen

16:45-17:00 Coffee break

17:00-18:00 Concluding remarks and discussion with François Burgat (WAFAW, IREMAM) and Bernard Rougier (Paris III University).