Amman, 15 February (Jordan Media Institute) -- François Burgat, a French Orientalist who is specialized in political and Arabic studies and political Islam and a senior research fellow at the French National Center for Scientific Research, has stressed that before we stage a defense of Islam, we have to know the mechanisms and explore the backgrounds that push Muslim youth to choose violence over moderation on the religious political scene. Speaking in a lecture he delivered at the Jordan Media Institute (JMI), Burgat discussed the question of Islamic movements and the Arab Spring within the context of his 22-year personal experience, which he has spent in the region to follow these movements in the Middle East and North Africa. He indicated that there is no good Islam or bad Islam. However, Sharia scholars have the duty of condemning the violent interpretations of religion and the organizations that create terrorists and extremists. He said that these organizations have spoiled the sound political structure in a number of countries in the Muslim world.
He added that the Islamic trend on the contemporary scene has no concept or specific scientific definition; it is a movement that is linked to the issue of identity and the culture that had prevailed before colonialism and Western intervention, which dominated the region. Besides, it is not one political shade. It is multiple and includes diametrically opposed political methods. It extends from the Salafist al-Nour Party in Egypt, which chose to support the ruling regime; Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the familiar methods of Daesh (ISIS); to Rached Ghannouchi, who proved his contribution to the making of the best democratic and secular constitution in Tunisia.
Burgat, who is project investigator of "When Authoritarianism Fails in the Arab World" (WAFAW) at the European Research Council, added that the first lesson of the Arab Spring is the rise of the Islamic trend as a key political power in the region. This came as a surprise for some Western and Arab political analysts who said that Islamists disappeared and failed to lead the demonstrations of the Arab Spring. He pointed out that the reason for the rise of the Islamic trend was that it is an organized force, while the Arab revolutions lacked organized political forces to lead popular protests.
He said that political violence emerged in light of the failure of the suppressive establishments that had played the role of political representation in power and did not allow solving problems and addressing imbalances in society through parliaments or establishments of democratic political representation. Instead, they cracked down on freedoms. He indicated that political violence is linked to the failure of establishments. Likewise, the failure of establishments is linked to political violence.
At the end of the lecture, which was moderated by JMI Adviser Bayan Tal, Dr. Burgat answered questions by the audience.
Dr. Burgat has authored several books, including Islamism in the Shadow of al-Qaeda, Face to Face with Political Islam, and Islamism in Maghreb.
The JMI hosts, through the guest lecturer program, a number of prominent opinion leaders, decision-makers, and journalists to give lectures to its students in which they provide their personal views of a number of topics.