Saturday, July 4, 2009
Political Islam and Europe
Published: Tuesday 17 April 2007
Lack of EU engagement with democrats in the Middle East and North Africa could lead to distrust, argue twoCentre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) working documents.
In 'Political Islam and Europe – Views from the Arab Mediterranean states and Turkey' Robert Springborg argues that the social, political and economic power of moderate Middle East and North African Islamist movements has been growing for a generation or so.
The question of how to deal with Islamists who reject violence, embrace democracy and outperform their competitors at the polls has therefore become a central concern not only of incumbent Middle East elites, but also of interested foreign actors such as the EU and US.
Springborg urges the EU to clarify its policies towards the MENA region and its Muslim democrats, arguing that "the present lack of EU policies on engaging with moderate Islamists leads them to be at best curious about the EU and at worse to be suspicious of it".
In parallel, 'Political Islam in Turkey' authors Senem Aydin and Ruşen Çakir find that Turkey differs from the Arab states studied not only in enjoying an EU membership prospect, but also in the fact that a broadly Islamist-oriented party has been in office since 2002.
However, the growing mistrust towards Europe as a result of perceived discrimination and EU double standards is beginning to cloud positive perceptions within the party. Decreasing levels of support for EU membership in Turkish society and the fact that explicitly eurosceptic positions are coming now from both the left and right, suggest that the sustainability of the pro-European discourse could be difficult to maintain.