American Democracy Promotion in the Changing Middle East: From Bush to Obama

Edited research books
Shahram Akbarzadeh, Benjamin MacQueen ,James Piscatori, and Amin Saikal (eds)
Akbarzadeh, Shahram, Benjamin MacQueen, James Piscatori, and Amin Saikal, eds. American democracy promotion in the changing Middle East: from Bush to Obama. Routledge, 2012.
Publication year: 2013

The recent “Arab spring”, with its popular uprisings in many Arab countries, has exposed the ambiguity at the heart of American promotion of democracy in the Middle East. The US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were packaged as democracy promotion, as heralding the beginning of a new phase in the politics of the Middle East when democracy would replace authoritarian regimes. Many of these authoritarian regimes, however, were sustained by US support. The recent popular uprisings threaten to bring democracy without promotion by the US, and threaten to overthrow regimes previously supported by the US and important for US strategy in the region – hence an initial hesitant response by the US to some of the uprisings. This book explores the contradictions in American democracy promotion in the Middle East. It discusses the principles underlying US democracy promotion, and the debates surrounding US policy formation, and examines the application of US democracy promotion in specific cases. It concludes by assessing the likely future patterns of US engagement with democratic reform in the Middle East.

The Vicious Cycle of Stereotyping: Muslims in Europe and Australia

Scholarly book chapters
Mario Peucker and Shahram Akbarzadeh
Shahram Akbarzadeh and Mario Peucker: ‘The Vicious Cycle of Stereotyping: Muslims in Europe and Australia’, in Fethi Mansouri and Vince Marotta (eds), Muslims in the West and the Challenges of Belonging (Melbourne: MUP, 2012). pp. 171-197
Publication year: 2012

Routledge Handbook of Political Islam

Scholarly book chapters
Shahram Akbarzadeh
Shahram Akbarzadeh: ‘The Paradox of Political Islam’, in Shahram Akbarzadeh (ed), Routledge Handbook of Political Islam (London: Routledge, 2012). pp. 1-10
Publication year: 2012

The Routledge Handbook of Political Islam provides a multidisciplinary overview of the phenomenon of political Islam, one of the key political movements of our time. Drawing on the expertise from some of the top scholars in the world it examines the main issues surrounding political Islam across the world, from aspects of Muslim integration in the West to questions of political legitimacy in the Muslim world.

Bringing together an international team of renowned and respected experts on the topic, the chapters in the book present a critical account of:

  • Theoretical foundations of political Islam
  • Historical background
  • Geographical spread of Islamist movements
  • Political strategies adopted by Islamist groups
  • Terrorism
  • Attitudes towards democracy
  • Relations between Muslims and the West in the international sphere
  • Challenges of integration
  • Gender relations.

Presenting readers with the diversity of views on political Islam in a nuanced and dispassionate manner, this handbook is an essential addition to the existing literature on Islam and politics. It will be of interest across a wide range of disciplines, including political science, Islamic studies, sociology and history.

Routledge Handbook of Political Islam

Scholarly book chapters
Shahram Akbarzadeh, Rebecca Barlow
Shahram Akbarzadeh and Rebecca Barlow: ‘The Institutionalisation of political Islam in Iran’, in Shahram Akbarzadeh (ed), Routledge Handbook of Political Islam (London: Routledge, 2012). pp. 142-153
Publication year: 2012

The establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1980 brought Islamism out of the shadows and into the corridors of power. This was an unprecedented development. Political Islam had emerged as the antithesis of the status quo, an alternative to secular policies and creeping Westernisation. In Iran, what started out as a revolutionary ideology was transformed into official ideology for the new regime. Islamism came full circle. Seemingly overnight, it was transformed from a battle cry for revolution into the pillar of a new system of government. Political Islam in today’s Iran is a status quo ideology that protects the vested interests of many in the clerical establishment, as well as those who have identified with, and benefited from, this transformation. This chapter explores the institutionalisation of political Islam in Iran.

The institutionalisation of Islamism following the 1979 popular revolution was not without difficulties. The major impediment to political Islam in Iran was the fact that it gained prominence on the back of a mass movement thirsty for political, social and economic trans­ parency and accountability. Engrained in the 1979 revolution was a desire to establish a new democratic system where the political leadership was answerable to the people and represented their national interests. The idea of a republic was appealing to the masses that protested against the corruption of the Pahlavi monarchy. Popular sovereignty was at the heart of the republic model. However, rule by the people did not sit easily with the Islamists and had to be demarcated within the limits set, as they claimed, by God. Tension between the popular and the divine models of government was evident from the very first day of the new regime. This tension is entwined in the Iranian constitution which maintains divine caveats to popular sovereignty and is even carried into the official name of the state: the Islamic Republic. The surge of popular resentment against the political establishment following the contested 2009 presidential elections was a reminder that the above tension remained unresolved. Street protests challenging the Supreme Leader and his role at the top of the state hierarchy have raised pertinent questions about the capacity of political Islam as a status quo ideology and what it means for civil rights. This chapter presents an account of political Islam in power and traces its implications for civil rights, with a special focus on women’s rights in Iran.

 

The Arab Revolutions in Context: Civil Society and Democracy in a Changing Middle East

Edited research books
Benjamin Isakhan, Fethi Mansouri and Shahram Akbarzadeh (eds)
Isakhan, Benjamin, Fethi Mansouri, and Shahram Akbarzadeh. ISS 12 The Arab Revolutions in Context: Civil Society and Democracy in a Changing Middle East. Vol. 12. Melbourne Univ. Publishing, 2012.
Publication year: 2012

From late 2010 a series of dramatic and unprecedented events swept across the Middle East and North Africa, toppling several autocratic regimes that had held power for decades and ushering in a new climate of dissent and democratisation. The Arab Revolutions in Context seizes a unique opportunity to reflect on these seismic events, their causes and consequences, and the core issues facing the region as it moves forward. This volume is more than a collection of detailed thematic essays.
It situates the Arab Revolutions within their broader contextual backgrounds—showing that a unique set of historical events, as well as local, regional and global dynamics, has converged to provide the catalyst that triggered the recent revolts-and also within a new conceptual framework. The argument here is that the Arab Revolutions pose a very specific challenge to conventional wisdom concerning democracy and democratisation in the Middle East. The Arab Revolutions in Context is the first volume of its kind to address the Arab Revolutions and the varying analyses, debates and discussions that they have stimulated.

Routledge Handbook of Political Islam

Edited research books
Shahram Akbarzadeh
Akbarzadeh, Shahram, ed. Routledge handbook of political Islam. Routledge, 2012.
Publication year: 2012

The Routledge Handbook of Political Islam provides a multidisciplinary overview of the phenomenon of political Islam, one of the key political movements of our time. Drawing on the expertise from some of the top scholars in the world it examines the main issues surrounding political Islam across the world, from aspects of Muslim integration in the West to questions of political legitimacy in the Muslim world.

Bringing together an international team of renowned and respected experts on the topic, the chapters in the book present a critical account of:

  • Theoretical foundations of political Islam
  • Historical background
  • Geographical spread of Islamist movements
  • Political strategies adopted by Islamist groups
  • Terrorism
  • Attitudes towards democracy
  • Relations between Muslims and the West in the international sphere
  • Challenges of integration
  • Gender relations.

Presenting readers with the diversity of views on political Islam in a nuanced and dispassionate manner, this handbook is an essential addition to the existing literature on Islam and politics. It will be of interest across a wide range of disciplines, including political science, Islamic studies, sociology and history.

Islamism Reaches Central Asia

Scholarly book chapters
Shahram Akbarzadeh
Shahram Akbarzadeh: ‘Islamism Reaches Central Asia’, in Shahram Akbarzadeh (ed), Routledge Handbook of Political Islam (London: Routledge, 2012). pp. 119-128
Publication year: 2012

The Routledge Handbook of Political Islam provides a multidisciplinary overview of the phenomenon of political Islam, one of the key political movements of our time. Drawing on the expertise from some of the top scholars in the world it examines the main issues surrounding political Islam across the world, from aspects of Muslim integration in the West to questions of political legitimacy in the Muslim world.

Bringing together an international team of renowned and respected experts on the topic, the chapters in the book present a critical account of:

  • Theoretical foundations of political Islam
  • Historical background
  • Geographical spread of Islamist movements
  • Political strategies adopted by Islamist groups
  • Terrorism
  • Attitudes towards democracy
  • Relations between Muslims and the West in the international sphere
  • Challenges of integration
  • Gender relations.

Presenting readers with the diversity of views on political Islam in a nuanced and dispassionate manner, this handbook is an essential addition to the existing literature on Islam and politics. It will be of interest across a wide range of disciplines, including political science, Islamic studies, sociology and history.

Constitutionalism in Islamic Countries: Between Upheaval and Continuity

Scholarly book chapters
Shahram Akbarzadeh
Shahram Akbarzadeh: ‘The Limits of Islam in Post-Soviet Central Asia’, in Rainer Grote and Tilmann Röder (eds): Constitutionalism in Islamic
Publication year: 2011

This chapter examines the limited role of Islam in shaping the public space of post-Soviet Central Asia. It documents Soviet instruments of administrative control on Islam in Central Asia and then examines the behavior of the incumbent regimes which inherited this Soviet legacy. It shows that despite strong expectations of Central Asia’s transition from authoritarian rule to democracy following the Soviet collapse, the incumbent elite managed to thwart that process and return to the familiar modes of centralized authoritarian rule. The chapter concludes by exploring the prospects of Islam’s political role in Central Asia.

America’s Challenges in the Greater Middle East

Scholarly book chapters
Shahram Akbarzadeh
Shahram Akbarzadeh: ‘Obama in the Middle East: Failure to Bring Change’, in Shahram Akbarzadeh (ed), America’s Challenges in the Greater Middle East (NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2-11). pp. 1-10
Publication year: 2011

President Barack Obama inherited an unenviable legacy from his predecessor in the greater Middle East. At the time of his inauguration, U.S. troops were involved in two theaters of war. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had started well and allowed the United States to gain quick victories against incumbent regimes. Securing these victories, however, had proven elusive. In Afghanistan, the Taliban had managed to put up resistance, seriously curtailing the authority of the central government beyond major centers of population. The Taliban also established camps across the border, using Pakistani territory to train fighters and launch attacks against U.S. troops and those of its allies. In Iraq, a pro-Saddam insurgency soon developed into an Islamist/Al Qaeda campaign of terror, aimed at punishing the United States and instigating a sectarian war between Sunni and Shia Iraqis.

Muslims, Multiculturalism and the Question of the Silent Majority

Refereed Journal articles
Shahram Akbarzadeh, Joshua Roose
Shahram Akbarzadeh Joshua Roose: ‘Muslims, Multiculturalism and the Question of the Silent Majority’, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Vol. 31, No. 3 (2011). pp.309-325.
Publication year: 2011

Cultural diversity is the norm in Australia and the United Kingdom. Both states celebrate multiculturalism. But some populist politicians, commentators, and quasi-academics have recently portrayed Western Muslims as a “fifth column”, organized and intent on destroying the fabric of Western culture from within. Interestingly, extremist Muslim groups in the West make similar claims about the relationship between Islam and the West. In recent years, however, Western-born “moderate” Muslim intellectuals and moderates have emerged into the public sphere to challenge essentialist depictions of Islam and the Islamist textual interpretations. They claim an important social space for the Western practice of Islam. Whilst a burgeoning level of academic scrutiny is being focused upon moderate Muslims, this article notes the absence of academic literature about a large part of the Muslim population whose public life is not necessarily guided by their religion but more by their culture and ethnicity, i.e. the “cultural Muslims”. This group is unrepresented in the public debate on Islam and often ignored yet could constitute the majority of Western Muslims. This article concludes by posing significant questions about this group and the implications of political discourse upon their future trajectory.

America’s Challenges in the Greater Middle East

Scholarly book chapters
Shahram Akbarzadeh
Shahram Akbarzadeh: ‘Iran: From Engagement to Containment’, in Shahram Akbarzadeh (ed), America’s Challenges in the Greater Middle East (NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011). pp. 161-176
Publication year: 2011

President Barack Obama faces a tough challenge to his efforts to steer away from the policies of his predecessor in Iran. Obama’s diplomatic charm offensive in the Muslim world, and more specifically in relation to Iran, was hoped to breathe new life into the tortured relationship between the United States and Iran. This was a marked departure from the past. Regime change was out. Direct engagement was in. Obama refrained from repeating his predecessor’s threats against Iran, instead trying to find a way to influence the behavior of the ruling regime. In a clear effort to draw lessons from past mistakes, the Obama administration moved to address the emotive issues of respect and parity between the United States and Iran and endeavored to chart a path of noninterference. Despite this significant change in the U.S. position, little progress has been made in affecting the behavior of the Islamic regime. Iran continues to defy the international community with its nuclear program, insists on antagonizing Israel, supports Hizbullah, and dismisses international efforts to bring peace to the protracted Palestinian-Israeli dispute. In short, Iran revels in its pariah status. As a result, pressure has been mounting on President Obama to reconsider his policy of engagement and revert back to the pattern of punishment.

Democracy Promotion versus Engagement with Iran

Refereed Journal articles
Shahram Akbarzadeh
Shahram Akbarzadeh: ‘Democracy Promotion versus Engagement with Iran,’ Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 41, No. 3 (2011). pp.471-483.
Publication year: 2011

US President Barack Obama has tried two very distinct policy options in dealing with Iran. The engagement policy was designed to make a break with the past experience and re-start US-Iran relations on a positive footing. This approach was consistent with the advice offered to the new administration by Iran analysts and leaders of non-governmental organisations. The implication of the engagement policy, however, was sidelining the US commitment to democracy and human rights in Iran. This policy could offer little to the budding reform movement in 2009. The alternative policy of containment was not beneficial to the reform movement either. The policy shift at the end of 2009 was a response to Iran’s failure to comply with the requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The containment policy, manifested in the fourth round of UN-imposed sanctions on Iran, has led to a further entrenching of the hard-liners in the regime and intolerance of internal dissent.

America’s Challenges in the Greater Middle East

Scholarly book chapters
Shahram Akbarzadeh, Luca Anceschi
Shahram Akbarzadeh and Luca Anceschi: ‘Central Asia: Pragmatism in Action’, in Shahram Akbarzadeh (ed), America’s Challenges in the Greater Middle East (NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011). pp. 217-236
Publication year: 2011

The Obama administration has inherited a difficult case in Central Asia. Once shunned by successive U.S. administrations for its poor record on human rights and its geostrategic position that was assumed to be peripheral to U.S. interests, Central Asia was thrust on the U.S. foreign policy radar in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Security concerns, followed closely by establishing access routes to the region’s fossil fuels, have dominated the minds of policy makers ever since. In between these concerns has been the nagging question of political reform, something the Central Asian leadership has been disinclined to adopt. The Bush administration tried to find a balance between competing objectives in relation to Central Asia. Generally emphasizing the security aspect of the relationship, the Bush administration peppered its public statements on Central Asia with the occasional reference to the normative concepts of good governance and rule of law. The latter may have been mere window dressing, but such reference was a reminder of an inherent tension between pragmatism and idealism in the foreign policy of the United States. This chapter traces the ebbs and flows of these competing goals and examines the responses formulated by the Obama administration. It is argued that the Obama administration has continued to regard security and access to fossil fuels as Washington’s primary objectives while pushing concerns with normative aspects of foreign policy further to the background.

America's Challenges in the Greater Middle East

Edited research books
Shahram Akbarzadeh (ed)
Akbarzadeh, Shahram, ed. America's challenges in the greater Middle East: the Obama Administration's policies. Springer, 2011.
Publication year: 2011

Barack Obama has faced many challenges in reversing U.S. policy on the Middle East. This book highlights points of resistance to Obama’s efforts regarding U.S. foreign policy and what lessons may be learned from this experience for the remainder of his presidency and his potential second term in office.

The Challenge of being Muslim

Scholarly book chapters
Shahram Akbarzadeh
Shahram Akbarzadeh: ‘The Challenge of being Muslim’, in Shahram Akbarzadeh (ed), Challenging Identities: Muslim Women in Australia (Melbourne: MUP, 2010). pp. 1-8
Publication year: 2010

Muslim women in Australia are at the forefront of a culture war, and not necessarily by choice. As visible representatives of Islam, veiled women face discrimination and abuse, and carry the stigma of a culture frequently deemed unacceptable and inferior. Despite these adverse conditions, Muslim women have demonstrated a remarkable resilience by maintaining their presence in the public domain and by continuing to make a positive contribution to Australia. The experiences of Muslim women in Australia cannot be typecast as a sisterhood of oppressed females. Challenging Identities questions the assumption of incompatible ‘Australian values’ and ‘Islamic values’, and provides valuable first-person accounts from the lives of Muslim women in Australia.

Living Islam in Australia

Scholarly book chapters
Shahram Akbarzadeh
Shahram Akbarzadeh: ‘Living Islam in Australia’ in Australia and the Arab World (Abu Dhabi: Emirati Centre for Strategic Studies and Research, 2010). pp. 117-132.
Publication year: 2010

Australia’s contribution to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and its subsequent withdrawal in 2009 have made Arab-Australian relations a controversial and complex issue. They are further complicated as each side seeks not only to secure and maintain strategic and diplomatic relations, but also the perennially important trade and energy relations. This book explores and analyses this relationship using a number of approaches, looking at Australia’s diplomatic and economic ties with the Arab states, as well as the cultural exchange that occurs with the Muslims and Arabs who live inside Australia, and their contribution towards a growing multicultural society. This important analysis will be of interest to students, researchers and policymakers in a range of fields, such as International Relations, Middle East studies, multiculturalism and trade relations.

Islam and political violence: Muslim diaspora and radicalism in the West.

Edited research books
Shahram Akbarzadeh and Fethi Mansouri
Akbarzadeh, Shahram, and Fethi Mansouri. Islam and political violence: Muslim diaspora and radicalism in the West. Vol. 34. IB Tauris, 2010.
Publication year: 2010

Acts of violence by extremist groups and the resultant state responses (both national and international) have added fresh uncertainties to an already complex global order and heightened a widely felt sense of insecurity in the West and the Muslim world. Just as terrorism and counter-terrorism are locked in a mutually re-enforcing symbiosis, the sense of insecurity felt by Muslims (in both Muslim majority and minority states) and non-Muslims is mutually dependent and has the potential to escalate. The pervasive sense of being under attack by the United States and its Western allies, has contributed to a growing unease among Muslims and re-enforced deep-seated mistrust of the ‘West’. The subsequent policies that have emerged in this context of fear and mutual distrust have contributed to xenophobia and a vicious cycle of insecurity. ‘Islam and Political Violence’ seeks to redress the current debate on the uneasy and potentially mutually destructive relationship between the Muslim world and the West. It explores the modern concept of Islamism and the re-invention of Islam by political elites and counter-elites to advance temporal objectives. This book provides us with a new angle from which to examine the range of challenges to social cohesion and multiculturalism in Western societies and the future of Islam in the West.

Challenging identities: Muslim women in Australia.

Edited research books
Shahram Akbarzadeh
Akbarzadeh, Shahram, ed. Challenging identities: Muslim women in Australia. Vol. 5. Academic Monographs, 2010.
Publication year: 2010

Muslim women in Australia are at the forefront of a culture war, and not necessarily by choice. As visible representatives of Islam, veiled women face discrimination and abuse, and carry the stigma of a culture frequently deemed unacceptable and inferior.

Despite these adverse conditions, Muslim women have demonstrated a remarkable resilience by maintaining their presence in the public domain and by continuing to make a positive contribution to Australia. The experiences of Muslim women in Australia cannot be typecast as a sisterhood of oppressed females.

Challenging Identities questions the assumption of incompatible ‘Australian values’ and ‘Islamic values’, and provides valuable first-person accounts from the lives of Muslim women in Australia.

Obama and the US policy change on Iran

Refereed Journal articles
Shahram Akbarzadeh
Shahram Akbarzadeh: ‘Obama: Policy Change on Iran,’ Global Change, Peace & Security, Vol. 21, No. 3 (2009). pp. 397-401.
Publication year: 2009

US Foreign Policy in the Middle East - The Roots of Anti-Americanism

Scholarly books
Kylie Baxter, Shahram Akbarzadeh
Baxter, K., Akbarzadeh, S. (2008). US Foreign Policy in the Middle East. London: Routledge.
Publication year: 2008

Over the last sixty years, Washington has been a major player in the politics of the Middle East. From Iran in the 1950s, to the Gulf War of 1991, to the devastation of contemporary Iraq, US policy has had a profound impact on the domestic affairs of the region. Anti-Americanism is a pervasive feature of modern Middle East public opinion. But far from being intrinsic to ‘Muslim political culture’, scepticism of the US agenda is directly linked to the regional policies pursued by Washington.

By exploring critical points of regional crisis, Kylie Baxter and Shahram Akbarzadeh elaborate on the links between US policy and popular distrust of the United States. The book also examines the interconnected nature of events in this geo-strategically vital region. Accessible and easy to follow, it is designed to provide a clear and concise overview of complex historical and political material. Key features include:

  • maps illustrating key events and areas of discontent
  • text boxes on topics of interest related to the Arab/Israeli Wars, Iranian politics, foreign interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, the wars of the Persian Gulf, September 11 and the rise of Islamist movements
  • further reading lists and a selection of suggested study questions at the end of each chapter.

Prospects for Feminism in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Refereed Journal articles
Rebecca Barlow, Shahram Akbarzadeh
Shahram Akbarzadeh and Rebecca Barlow: ‘Prospects for Feminism in the Islamic Republic of Iran,’ Human Rights Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 1 (February 2008). pp. 21-40.
Publication year: 2008

Islam and Human Rights

Scholarly book chapters
Shahram Akbarzadeh, Benjamin MacQueen
Shahram Akbarzadeh and Benjamin MacQueen: ‘Islamic reformism and human rights in Iraq’ in Shahram Akbarzadeh and Benjamin MacQueen (eds), Islam and Human Rights (London: Routledge, 2008). pp. 52-74.
Publication year: 2008

Islam and Human Rights

Edited research books
Shahram Akbarzadeh and Benjamin MacQueen,
Akbarzadeh, Shahram, and Benjamin MacQueen, eds. Islam and human rights in practice: Perspectives across the ummah. Vol. 8. Routledge, 2008.
Publication year: 2008

Questions over the compatibility of Islam and Human Rights have become a key area of debate in the perceived tensions between ‘Islam and the West’. In many ways, discussion over the stance of Islam in relation to such factors as gender rights, religious freedom, social and political freedoms, and other related issues represents a microcosm of the broader experience of how Muslim and ‘Western’ communities interact and relate.

This volume seeks to engage with the various debates surrounding Islam and Human Rights, in particular, challenging assumptions of a ‘standard’ or ‘essential’ Muslim perspective on Human Rights. Through a survey of the experiences of Muslim communities across the globe (the ummah), this volume highlights the dynamic way Muslims understand and incorporate Human Rights into their personal, social and political experiences.

From conceptual discussions on the issues of gender rights and religious freedom, to examining Muslim communities from South East Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, leading global experts bring forth key insights into the way in which Muslim communities live and experience Human Rights. The potential for deeper engagement with this issue is critical, as it opens possibilities for more profound understanding and tolerance.

Scholarly book chapters
Shahram Akbarzadeh, Benjamin MacQueen
Shahram Akbarzadeh and Benjamin MacQueen: ‘Framing the debate on Islam and human rights’ in Shahram Akbarzadeh and Benjamin MacQueen (eds), Islam and Human Rights (London: Routledge, 2008). pp. 1-11.
Publication year: 2008

Uzbekistan and the United States: Friends or Foes?

Refereed Journal articles
Shahram Akbarzadeh
Shahram Akbarzadeh: ‘Uzbekistan and the United States: Friends or Foes?,’ Middle East Policy, Vol. 14, No.1 (Spring 2007). pp. 107-116.
Publication year: 2007

The Rise of Anti-Americanism

Scholarly book chapters
Shahram Akbarzadeh, Kylie Baxter
Shahram Akbarzadeh and Kylie Baxter: ‘The rise of anti-Americanism in the Middle East’, in Brendon O'Connor (ed), The Global Rise of Anti-Americanism Volume 3 (London: Greenwood Press, 2007). pp. 281-302.
Publication year: 2007

An Introduction to International Relations

Scholarly book chapters
Shahram Akbarzadeh
Shahram Akbarzadeh: ‘Globalization of Islam’, in Richard Devetak, Anthony Burke and Jim George (eds), Introduction to International Relations: Australian Perspectives (Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2007). pp. 307-317.
Publication year: 2007

There are in excess of 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. The great bulk of this population lives in South and Southeast Asia, where Muslims constitute the largest religious group. States with Muslim population majorities are often called Muslim states, regardless of the system of government and political system. But there are also significant Muslim populations in other states. Population movement in the second half of the twentieth century has led to the growth of Muslim communities in Europe, the US and Australia. Muslim migration to Europe seems to have closely reflected colonial links, so that the biggest Muslim community in the UK is from South Asia where the British Empire held sway, while Muslims from Algeria constitute a significant community in France. This picture, however, is fast evolving and Muslim minority groups in non-Muslim states are becoming increasingly heterogeneous in ethnic background and creed.

The demographic spread of Muslims has led to some key questions about identity, community and citizenship. Islam emerged in the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century, but was not tied to that geography.

Islam and Political Violence

Scholarly book chapters
Shahram Akbarzadeh, Fethi Mansouri
Shahram Akbarzadeh and Fethi Mansouri: ‘Contextualising New Islamism’, in Shahram Akbarzadeh and Fethi Mansouri (eds), Islam and Political Violence: Muslim Diaspora and Radicalism in the West (London and NY: IB Tauris, 2007). pp. 1-12.
Publication year: 2007

How do we engage with the pressing challenges of xenophobia, radicalism and security in the age of the “war on terror”? The widely felt sense of insecurity in the West is shared by Muslims both within and outside Western societies. Growing Islamic militancy and resulting increased security measures by Western powers have contributed to a pervasive sense among Muslims of being under attack (both physically and culturally). Islam and Political Violence brings together the current debate on the uneasy and potentially mutually destructive relationship between the Muslim world and the West and argues we are on a dangerous trajectory, strengthening dichotomous notions of the divide between the West and the Muslim world.

Women's rights in the Muslim world: reform or reconstruction?

Refereed Journal articles
Rebecca Barlow, Shahram Akbarzadeh
Barlow, Rebecca, and Shahram Akbarzadeh. "Women's Rights in the Muslim World: Reform or Reconstruction?" Third World Quarterly 27, no. 8 (2006): 1481-494. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4017691.
Publication year: 2006

The issue of gender inequality is an acute problem in countries where women’s lives are governed by laws, and configured by customs and traditions, said to derive from Islam. In the second half of the 20th century, two Muslim feminist paradigms have emerged in response to this malaise. Islamic feminists aim to establish women’s rights within the Islamic framework by re-interpreting Islam’s holy sources. In contrast, secular feminists challenge the particularistic nature of the Islamic framework and advocate the application of a set of standard universal rights for Muslim and non-Muslim women. This article focuses on the writings of the Moroccan feminist Fatima Mernissi, tracing her evolution from advocating secular reconstruction of Muslim societies to a position that resembles Islamic reformism.

Political Islam & Human Security

Edited research books
Fethi Mansouri and Shahram Akbarzadeh
Fethi Mansouri and Shahram Akbarzadeh (eds): Political Islam and Human Security (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2006).
Publication year: 2006

In the wake of the September 11 and subsequent terrorist attacks, the academic and media commentaries on Islam the religion and Islam the basis for political ideology haves received an unprecedented high level of exposure and attention. The acts of political violence by extremist groups and the omnipresent war on terror have added fresh uncertainties to an already complex global order. Just as terrorism and counter-terrorism are locked in a mutually re-enforcing symbiosis, the sense of insecurity felt by Muslims and non-Muslims alike is mutually dependent and has the potential to escalate. This general assessment holds true for Muslims living in the Muslim world and beyond. The pervasive sense of being under attack physically and culturally by the United States and its allies has contributed to a growing unease among Muslims and re-enforced deep-seated mistrust of the ‘West’. Public articulation of such misgivings has in turn, lent credence to Western observers who posit an inherent antipathy between the West and the Muslim world. The subsequent policies that have emerged in this context of fear and mutual distrust have contributed to the vicious cycle of insecurity.The present volume is anchored in the current debates on the uneasy and potentially mutually destructive relationship between the Muslim world and certain West countries. It brings together leading international scholars in this interdisciplinary field to deal with such inter-related questions as the nature of Islamism, the impact of the ‘war on terror’ on the spread of militancy, the growing sense of being under siege by Muslim Diasporas and the many unintended ramifications of a security-minded world order. This volume deliberately focuses on these issues both at a broad theoretical level but more importantly in the form of a number of prominent case studies including Indonesia, Algeria and Turkey.