Neo Islamism and the Quest for Islamisation: Case Studies from Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco

Mr. Tarek Chamkhi

Neo-Islamism is distinguished by an ethical and theological emphasis on Islam that combines social conservatism with political moderation. Neo-Islamists are united in the view that Sharia is not an immediate reform priority; however, there are divisions over whether this is a tactical pause towards ultimate pursuit of Shariatisation, whether it should be diluted if introduced at some future point, or whether it should never be introduced.
The big electoral victories and thereafter the ruling of at least three Middle Eastern and North African countries, which are Turkey (from 2002 to date), Morocco and Tunisia (Post Arab Spring), and other attempts to grab power briefly in Egypt (2012-2013) and other post Arab Spring countries, trigger questions about the neo-Islamist’s doctrine, motivation, true colours in terms of their democratic commitments, liberalism, Islamism ideology and constant evolution.
My paper focus is on the neo-Islamists’ goal of power, use of liberal democracy, power sharing and de-secularisation or adaptation of liberal concepts and their latest actions towards sharia law, shariatisation and the Islamic state.
That’s trigger questions such as: What role does gradualism plays in moderating the neo Islamists? Can the neo-Islamists’ concessions (such as the temporary abandonment or marginalisation of shariatisation or denying the Islamic label) become over time an authentic doctrinal change? Do the neo-Islamists respond to their regime’s repression and exclusion by more moderation and flexibility (unlike salafi jihadis) more than by participation in elections and within pluralism and inclusion? What role does state-repression play in the evolution of neo Islamism? Does repression force moderation while democracy and inclusion enable Islamisation? Is the neo-Islamist use of neo-liberal economic systems (by the neo-Islamists ruling parties in Turkey, Tunisia and Morocco) a conscious ideological choice, or simply due to the lack of an Islamic economic blueprint?
The questions above lead to the central hypothesis: the Neo-Islamism moderates better through exclusion and achieves Islamisation better through inclusion.
By utilising the qualitative content analysis, of four cases of the neo Islamists parties in Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, we will be set up for straight answers to the above questions.