Egypt's Sisi affirms importance of constitutional courts in African development    Zamalek no-show, Cairo derby called off    Egypt's PM reviews latest developments on GERD ahead of Washington meeting    Egypt's defence minister heads to Pakistan    Egypt interested in exporting properties, targeting foreign clients, investors    Iran says 12 dead from coronavirus, rejects higher death toll    Egypt's Sisi discusses regional threats with heads of Arab intelligence services    Egypt parliament approves amendments to six laws on security and economic activities    Egypt's PM opens Gezira Club branch in 6 October city    SCEDC threatens to cut power supply to 25 factories for arrears    Cannes to commemorate Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love    MBG Development directs EGP 700m investment to Pukka New Capital    Egypt's Heliopolis Co. receives no offers for management rights    Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank Egypt 2019 net profit jumps 44%    Earthquake hits Turkey-Iran border kills nine, injures more than 100    Asian markets fell as new coronavirus cases jump outside China    'Racism has won,' says Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger    Fear of coronavirus pandemic grows but China eases curbs as new infections fall    Messi restores peace at Barcelona; Madrid in slump before City    Kuwait, Bahrain report coronavirus in people who visited Iran    Is Nefertiti's long-looked-for mysterious mummy buried next to Tutankhamun's?    Egyptian Irrigation Minister discusses accomplishments of country's mission in Uganda    Social Solidarity Ministry to restructure its activities in cooperation with private sector: El–Kabbaj    Al Ahly, Zamalek play 2nd Cairo Derby in less than 96 hours    Programme: Japanese Film Week kicks off at Cairo Opera House    Egyptian MP takes over presidency of Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean    Amr Fahmy former CAF general-secretary, dies battling cancer    Lebanese hospital uses healing power of music to fight cancer    Iran raises death toll from coronavirus to 8, infections to 43    Brexit team seeks to evade Irish Sea checks on goods    Italy coronavirus cases increase to more than 100    Mohamed Ramadan: Former aviation minister says pilot deserves ban    Mahraganat: controversy over barring Egyptian street popular music    COVID-19 toll reaches 2,360 deaths, 77,700 infections so far    South Sudan president reappoints rebel leader Machar in unity government    Madbouly joins high-level African judiciary meeting on terrorism    Egypt's Sisi stresses commitment to success of Ethiopian dam negotiations    Al-Sisi discusses enhancing commercial cooperation with Chile    Mashrabia Gallery participates in 1-54 African Contemporary Art Fair Marrakech 2020 ( 22-23 February)    Cairo court acquits Mubarak's sons of stock market manipulation    Soma Bay to host Golf Gourmet Week with 150 international golfers    Pompeo says Ethiopia-Egypt massive dam dispute could take months    Al Ahly play Zamalek for Egypt Super Cup in Abu Dhabi    Little Women on its way to become a classic    UEFA Champions League: defending champions Liverpool clash with Atletico Madrid    Chinese Grand Prix likely to be called off amid coronavirus concerns    Egypt's Golden Age actress, Nadia Lutfi, dies at 83    Egypt's President Sisi pardons some prisoners on 25 Jan. Revolution anniversary    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.





The struggle over ideological power in the Middle East
Published in Daily News Egypt on 19 - 10 - 2015

Using religious frameworks in political contestation and mobilisation has become more eminent in recent decades, spiralling an intricate debate on the conceptualisation and implementation of such references in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The contradiction, it is argued, mainly lies in the compromising nature of politics and the relatively dogmatic nature of religion. Boosted by inaccurate media coverage and primordial analytical frameworks, it has become tempting to see religion as responsible for conflicts and underachievement in the MENA region.
In the conventional sense, Islamic movements are often held responsible for implementing religion towards political ends. However, this is not always true as non-democratic states in the MENA region and elsewhere in the Muslim majority world had constantly attempted to control ideological power – Islamic religion and its organisations in this case – before Islamic movements even came to exist in the form we know today.
By the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, uprisings across the Arab world toppled long-lasting dictators starting from Tunisia's Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali to Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Libya's Muammar Al-Gaddafi and then Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh. These changes altered the political systems in these countries brining new overlapping, intertwined, and intersecting networks of relations, by which new political actors and temporal dynamics have emerged.
Islamic factions, Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood and their shades did not join the revolutionary momentum in Egypt from the very beginning, yet they played a major role after the 25 January Revolution, winning 351 seats from 498, around 70%, of the Egyptian parliament. The conservative Islamic Freedom and Justice Party owned 45.7% while the ultra conservative Salafi Al-Nour Party 23.6%, according to the Official Elections Portal of Egypt.
The Egyptian uprising was not per se a social revolution aiming at changing the social structures, but rather a political one aiming at deposing a 30-year rule of dictatorship. Yet there was a shift in power balance altering the ideological power relations with other power organisations. It pushed Islamic factions to the top of the political pyramid to appoint a president – Mohamed Morsi – at one time. It shifted back to elect a coup-installed regime under Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who accordingly called for an Islamic revolution and reformation of religious discourse at another time. How can one account for such dramatic divergences in trajectories within less than five years?
By acknowledging that political contestation and mobilisation processes in the state of Egypt, or any other state for that matter, cannot be reduced to only ideological dimensions. The increase of political instrumentalisation in politics owes not to the nature and features of the Islamic religion, but rather to the constant power struggle between the elites of the ruling blocs to practice dominance over ideological power networks and sources in order legitimatise, mobilise, persuade, contest, control, lure, coerce, and eliminate.
This power struggle within military, security, political, and religious institutions could pave the way for political instrumentalisation of Islam and trigger elimination and outbidding processes instead of democratic contestation. Elimination processes create new network-like formations on the periphery and interstitial to official power networks relying (as we see in Egypt) on religion's transcendence and socio-spatial extensive organisation.
Seizure of power or change of its distribution is more likely to trigger new forms of relations and perhaps networks, variable in their efficiency and capacity, following a division of labour between those who control security, the military, political institutions and those who control ideological networks. This division of labour necessitates new emergent social relations to satisfy these actors' needs. Precisely somewhere at the beginning of this process, a space for political instrumentalisation of Islam could occur to seize power.
Interstitial forms of extensive interactions, increasingly out of the official control emerge attracting more diffused masses of people, such as the Muslim Brotherhood's followers, to become part of these interstitial networks. Thus, power struggle to have a good grip on ideological power emerges from its distinctive form of social organisation to legitimatise specific forms of authority and to solve contradictions in society.
Ideology is a source of power exercised by an ideological network like other political, military and economic powers. However, ideological power can be more resilient if it is shared, divided, organised, reorganised and mobilised by other power networks. While ideological power enjoys a level of autonomy, which impels its networks to serve their own interests individually if possible, it can be stretched over other power organisations passing on a space for dangerously religious outbidding game and a cynical use of religion. That is why ideological power plays a decisive role in the power struggle in the Middle East. Thus, it is not the nature of the religion, but rather the usefulness of the ideological power for integrating, stabilising and mobilising social life.
Hakim Khatib is a political scientist and analyst works as a lecturer for politics and culture of the Middle East, intercultural communication and journalism at Fulda and Darmstadt Universities of Applied Sciences and Phillips University Marburg. Hakim is a PhD candidate in political science on political instrumentalisation of Islam in the Middle East and its implications on political development at the University of Duisburg-Essen and the editor-in-chief of the Mashreq Politics and Culture Journal (MPC Journal)


Clic here to read the story from its source.