In the wake of the Arab Upheavals, Islamist and Salafist political actors have become increasingly relevant in many countries of the MENA region. After their rapid fall following the overthrow of Muhammad Morsi in Egypt in 2013, who was the first president of the state coming from the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in history, Islamist and Salafists have not fallen into oblivion but the Islamist political scene has experienced a massive fragmentation. The MB and its affiliated political parties have been split up in different branches oriented towards mainstream politics or being increasingly open to violence. The Muslim Brothers have also experienced heavy suppression in some countries and been pulled into violent conflicts in others. At the same time, Salafist political actors are increasingly engaged in politics. Some of them consider violence as a legitimate strategy to achieve their political goals. What all of these different Islamist and Salafist political branches have in common is that they increasingly engage in powerful transnational networks of political Islam. This has a growing influence on national politics and conflict dynamics in the MENA region.
Considering the fragmentation of political Islam and the increasing relevance of transnational networks the GIGA workshop “Who speaks for Political Islam? Islamist and Salafist Political Actors and the Relevance of Transnational Networks”, part of the IMES’ research platform activities, seeks to address the following research questions:
* Who speaks for political Islam? Are the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates still the most appealing Islamist political actors being able to mobilize the people or have Salafist political actors stepped in? And which of these actors can function as a dialogue partner for the West?
* Is it still possible to clearly distinguish between mainstream Islamist and Salafist political currents and their concepts or do both converge?
* How do Islamist and Salafist political actors engage in transnational networks and how does this influence Islamist politics in the transnational and local arena in the MENA region and the Gulf?
By bringing together researchers from the MENA region, Europe, and the US, the GIGA workshop aims to strengthen academic expertise in this field of research, to promote transregional academic exchange, and to provide political viable recommendations for policy makers.