May 29, 2023

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Political Islam is coming back to the fore in MENA

Political Islam is making a comeback. However, Morocco seems to be among the countries where support for such political power has declined. This is also the finding of public opinion polls from the 7th wave of the Arab Barometer.

In most countries surveyed by Arab barometers, citizens, young and old, show a clear preference for religion’s important role in politics. ” This is the first time since the 2011 Arab uprisings that support for political Islam has increased significantly“, the investigators note,” Even if these trends do not continue, if they do, political Islam could regain its prominence as a major political force in the region. From the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

According to the Arab Barometer, political Islam has not been widely supported in the MENA region after 2011 despite the Islamist movement’s electoral victory. In 2012-2014, a majority of the surveyed countries did not come out in favor of citizen ownership. A study of religion on government decisions. Only in Sudan (47%) and Yemen (48%) did more than four-in-ten citizens support such a role for religious leaders.

For the most part, this opinion remained unchanged by the end of the decade. In 2018-2019, only half of those surveyed in Sudan said they were in favor of allowing religious leaders to have a say in government decisions. Similarly between 2012 and 2014, support did not change by more than five points in six of the nine countries surveyed. ” The exceptions were Morocco, where support fell by nine points, and Lebanon and Iraq, which increased by 11 points and 10 points, respectively.“, says the barometer.

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He points out that Islamist parties play a much less prominent role in regional politics than in the years following the Arab uprisings. ” The Muslim Brotherhood is now banned in Egypt, Ennahda is suppressed in Tunisia and the PJD has lost legislative elections in Morocco.“, he recalled.

The Arab Barometer’s data strongly suggest the possibility of opening the way for greater appeal to political Islam. Since 2018-2019, support for the ideology of political Islam has been increasing. In 2021-2022, half or more of ten countries where citizens were surveyed agreed that the clergy should influence government decisions, including 77% in Mauritania, 62% in Sudan, 57% in Libya and 54% in Iraq.

Only in Tunisia (23%), Lebanon (22%) and Egypt (20%) do fewer than four in ten want religious leaders to play a role in government decision-making.

Moreover, these levels represent an increase from the levels seen in six of the nine countries included in both waves in 2018-2019. There is a slight increase in Libya (27 points), followed by Jordan (15 points), Morocco (14 points) and Sudan (10 points), Palestine (7 points) and Iraq (6 points).

Overall, these barometer results suggest that support for political Islam is increasing today. On the other hand, this does not mean that political Islam as an ideology will become the popular movement of the time. ” As secularism has increased over the past five years, this trend is likely to reverse in the future.“, experts point out.