Political Islam and Europe

Linked with Robert Springborg – UK AU USA Egypt etc, with Geneva Centre for the DEMOCRATIC CONTROL OF ARMED FORCES DCAF, and with 4th General Conference of the ECPR.

Published on CEPS Centre for European Policy Studies, Working Document No. 264/April 2007, by Robert Springborg:

Views from the Arab Mediterranean States and Turkey

Abstract: 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. Robert Springborg sees the need for the EU to clarify its policies towards the MENA region and Muslim democrats within it. 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. Engagement might itself help to contribute to policy formation in this important area, and serve as a vehicle to disseminate information about relevant EU policies.

This working paper is based on contributions made to a conference on “Political Islam and the European Union” organised by CEPS and La Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior (FRIDE) and hosted by the Fundación Tres Culturas in Sevilla in November 2006. At this conference Arab and Turkish scholars presented papers on the ‘Muslim democrat’ political parties of the Arab Mediterranean states and Turkey. The papers were written in response to a
questionnaire on the following topics:
• Evolution of Islamist parties and their views on political reform issues;
• Their views of Europe as a democratic model and on EU foreign policy;
• Their views on areas of potential collaboration, and of difference with Europe.

All conference contributions are currently being prepared for publication in a single volume by CEPS and FRIDE. In the meantime we publish as working documents those chapters of the book that are now available. This first paper by Robert Springborg was specially commissioned to provide an overview.

CEPS Working Documents are intended to give an indication of work being conducted within CEPS research programmes and to stimulate reactions from other experts in the field. Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed are attributable only to the author in a personal capacity and not to any institution with which he is associated. ISBN-13: 978-92-9079-713-5

Available for free downloading from the CEPS website as a 22 pages pdf-text.
© Robert Springborg, 2007.

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