Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Outlook for the Islamists, country by country Add to ...

Egypt

Islamist role: Once barred from running for office, the Muslim Brotherhood’s new Freedom and Justice Party has a plurality of seats in both houses of parliament. The more fundamentalist Nour Party is the leading opposition. Islamists dominate the constitutional council (to the point that liberal and Coptic council members have withdrawn from the constitution-writing process.)

Place of sharia: The Muslim Brotherhood says the new constitution should not alter the 1971 constitution that stipulates that the principles of sharia are the main source of legislation (but not the only source).

Outlook: A moderate Islamist is likely to be elected president in the election, slated for late May, leaving the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces as possibly the sole defender of secular interests.

Wild card: Adverse reaction to the electoral commission’s banning of two leading Islamist presidential candidates could force postponement of the election.

Jordan

Islamist role

The Muslim Brotherhood's Islamic Action Front has boycotted the past two elections, arguing that Jordanian tribes have been given an unfair electoral advantage and that the government is appointed by the king, not the people.

Place of sharia

Islamic law is cited in the constitution as one of two sources of legislation in Jordan (the other being adopted European law). Surveys show that a majority of Jordanians would like sharia to be the only source of laws.

Outlook

Growing popularity of Islamists, especially the Brotherhood, is pushing King Abdullah II to accept new election laws and constitutional reform, although he is facing strong resistance from the country's tribal leaders.

Wild card

Jordanian tribes are fighting back, using their parliamentary advantage to try to bar religious-oriented parties from running. It will be up to the king to decide who wins.

Libya

Islamist role

Islamist parties were long forbidden, but Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the chairman of the transitional government who advocates “Islamic democracy,” was made chairman of the interim National Transition Council in post-Gadhafi Libya. Almost all the political parties that will contest elections later this year are Islamist of varying shades and personalities.

Place of sharia

The constitutional council drafting a new constitution favours making sharia the inspiration behind laws, but not the sole source of law.

Outlook

Islamists, probably moderates, will win the parliamentary election. “Salafists,” says a Western diplomat who specializes in Islamic movements, “barely show on the radar.”

Wild card

A militant Islamist leader, Abd al-Hakim Belhadj, who's associated with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and was renditioned by the CIA to Libya where he was imprisoned and tortured, has emerged as a popular hero and could mount a political challenge.

Palestinian Territories

Islamist role

Victorious in the 2006 election, Hamas's Reform and Change Party is relegated only to Gaza after conflict with the secular Fatah movement. Recent efforts by Egypt and, more recently, by Qatar, have led to a shaky reconciliation with Fatah that will allow for new elections.

Place of sharia

Hamas says Islamic law will be the basis of legislation in a future Palestinian state only if the people vote for such an idea.

Outlook

Hamas's popularity has risen in the Fatah-controlled West Bank, and it could win an election if one is held this year as expected.

Wild card

Pro-Iranian elements within Hamas and other Islamist groups could marginalize Hamas's pro-Qatar leadership of Khaled Meshaal.

Syria

Islamist role

Long banned in Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood is a major part of the opposition now challenging the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Place of sharia

Syria is officially a secular, socialist state, though there are Islamic courts that deal with family law and other religious legal areas.

Outlook

The current regime is likely to quash the current opposition, but the Islamist genie has been let out of the bottle and is likely to grow in support.

Wild card

Extreme militant Islamists, many from outside Syria, with sufficient military support, could carry on the civil war and unseat the al-Assad regime, leading to an Islamist state.

Tunisia

Islamist role

Banned for decades, the Ennahda [Islamic Renaissance]Party is now the largest partner in a coalition government (with two moderate, non-Islamist parties).

Place of sharia

Islamic law is not mentioned in the constitution, though Islam is recognized as the state religion. “We are not going to use the law to impose religion,” Ennahda leader Rached Ghannouchi said, explaining why the government wants to leave it this way. However, challenged by the more fundamentalist Salafist movement, the government agreed to permit women to wear the niqab (full veil) in public facilities, including universities, where they had been banned.

Outlook

The Islamists are popular but aren't likely to get an absolute majority any time soon.

Wild card

Salafist support could grow at the expense of the more moderate Ennahda.





Patrick Martin

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories