Hassan Aourid, Politics and Religion in Morocco…The Dialectic of the Sultan and the Furqan. Beirut: The Arab Cultural Center, 2020). 232 pp. ISBN 9789953689555
The Moroccan writer Hassan Aourid presents his vision of the relationship between politics and religion in his country, taking into account the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, which created an unprecedented opening for some Arab opposition groups finally to take part in governing their respective countries. Of all these opposition actors, Islamist parties were best able to capitalize on the opening, such as the Justice and Development Party (PJD), Ennahda (Renaissance Party) and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) winning significant electoral victories in Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt, respectively.
However, the author focuses on the relationship between politics and religion in Morocco, because of the long experience of the Moroccan state and political parties in dealing with religion and political aspects of modernity without breaking with tradition and heritage. In this respect, he argues that the Moroccan state, as well as the main Islamic political parties, have successfully adopted flexible strategies to reconcile aspects of Islamic discourse with elements of Western modernity.
The Moroccan king’s assertion of his status as the “Amir al-mumineen” (Commander of the Faithful), for instance, has reinforced the religious leadership of the Moroccan monarchy and consolidated the legitimacy of the king’s rule as a head of state.
In turn, the main Islamist movement in Morocco, the PJD, has managed to oppose some of the king’s policies and his orientations, but its opposition has never been so radical as to question the king’s legitimacy or his constitutional powers. The party has also expressed support for modernization, but has rarely proceeded with it by reproducing Western experiences, without considering the historical specificity of Moroccan society. In short, the PJD, like the Ennahda Party in Tunis, has recognized the civil nature of the Moroccan political system without breaking with tradition or heritage, avoiding the Egyptian experience of conflict between the military establishment and the Islamists.
The other main Islamic party, the Party of Justice and Charity (JC), has attempted to monitor the relationship of Islamists with Western modernity by recognizing the necessity of Islamic reform or the process of Islamicization of modernity rather than through the modernization of Islam, arguing that Islam, as a universal religion, includes all modern values such as tolerance, equality, social justice, and freedom.
Hence, the author believes that Morocco is approaching the Turkish experience, led by the PJD, but without being exposed to the fundamental changes, including secularization as introduced by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, along with a broad range of reforms. The author makes clear that the Moroccan experience, unlike that of Turkey, was characterized by continuity with no serious attempt to break with heritage. However, there is a belief that Islam would remain culturally and politically influential, but the process of modernizing would acutely depend on the elites’ ability to reconcile its requirements with the historical traditions of Moroccan society.
Jassim Mohammed, Europe, Violent Extremism and Remedies (Cairo: The Arab Knowledge Bureau, 2020). 588 pp. ISBN 9789778124729
This book deals with terrorism in Europe and ways to combat it, presenting a map of the various Islamist extremist groups in Europe, along with the right wing, right-wing populists, and Nazi movements.
The importance of the book lies in its approach to dealing with extremism and terrorism from a view inside Europe, relying on new data and information on the activities of extremist groups and their leaders, in addition to their sources of financing. It reviews the policies of international intelligence services in combating extremism, with a critical review of those policies that could be useful to researchers, experts, and decision-makers concerned with terrorism, extremism, intelligence, and immigration issues.
The book discusses the issue of why young people, with relatively good living conditions, join extremist organizations and carry out terrorist or suicide attacks in Europe. It also reviews the social programs adopted by some European countries to deal with the extremist ideology of those fighters who have returned from Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Africa, and Southeast Asia as well as other areas of conflict.
In addition, the book examines the preventive measures that European countries are taking against the threats coming from extremist groups, regionally and internationally, indicating the twofold approach of European policies to combat terrorism and extremism. It also notes that Europe’s stance, regarding the return of European fighters to their countries, are void of legal and moral principles.
The book, however, stresses the need for social programs to prevent extremism, in collaboration with families, schools, organizations, and municipalities. It also recommends the necessity of recovering foreign fighters from Syria and Iraq in order to avoid recycling ISIS elements into other extremist organizations and pushing their families and children towards delinquency and extremism.
Khawla Mohiuddin Yusef, Human Rights before the International Court of Justice: A Study of Reality and Prospects (Beirut: Al-Halabi Juridical Publications, 2020). 223 pp. ISBN 9786144013496
The International Court of Justice (ICJ), by definition, is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, seated at The Hague in the Netherlands. It is charged with settling legal disputes submitted to it by states and giving advisory opinions on legal questions from United Nations (UN) bodies and agencies. Thus, in principle, the ICJ can hear cases between states, while individuals have no right of direct access.
This book assumes, however, that since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1948 paved the way for a long series of declarations, international agreements and conventions on human rights, the ICJ has had an abundant opportunity to contribute an important jurisprudence to the international law of human rights in several fields such as: genocide, race discrimination, self-determination, occupation, nuclear weapons, and diplomatic protection. In this context, the ICJ has issued advisory opinions on legal questions whenever asked by the UN General Assembly or UN Security Council or by other UN organs or specialized agencies, authorized by the General Assembly.
The book deals with the ways in which the ICJ handles human rights issues and disputes arising from the interpretation of Human Rights Conventions. It also deals with the role of the ICJ in promoting the implementation of international human rights law and accountability for human rights violations.
The book contains three appendices: the first relates to the statute of the ICJ, the second lists the issues and advisory opinions of the court, while the third refers to bilateral and multilateral agreements registered with the UN which provides for the jurisdiction of the ICJ in settling disputes.
Sajd Ahmeid Abl Al-Rekabi, Sustainable Development and Confronting Environmental Pollution and Climate Change (Berlin: Democratic Arabic Center for Strategic, Political & Economic Studies, 2020). 169 pp. Book registration number: VR. 3373–6363. B
This book affirms that in order to sustain human existence and protect it from disastrous threats, it is of imperative importance to deal with the catastrophic consequences of industrial and technological progress.
These catastrophic consequences are mainly represented by the consumption of the resources of the planet, climate change, hurricanes, floods, loss of billions of metric tons of the ice of the North and South Poles, ozone stratum corrosion, and greenhouse gases. In addition to this is the increase in pollutant emissions, ocean acidification and pollution, aridity, desertification, and destruction of forests. Therefore, the United Nations, governments, companies, individuals, and nongovernmental organizations should exert all necessary efforts to find practical and scientific projects through sustainable development to transform to green economies and clean technologies and to bring under control the massive emission of gases giving rise to global warming and the erosion of the ozone layer.
The book supposes that sustainable development is an overall program of economic, social, environmental, and technological effort to confront environmental pollution and climate change. Yet, as a humanistic global project, it faces difficulties and is slow in its movement. Moreover, its results, which are shown by sustainable development indicators, cannot keep up with the increase in the effects of the global pollution.
The book consists of three chapters. The first is about pollution and its aspects, while the second deals with the effects of environmental pollution and climate change and their impact on physical and mental health, in addition to the internal and external human migration and the effects on ecosystems. The economic effects, in terms of loss and harm done, are also studied. The third chapter elaborates on sustainable development and environmental pollution.
Finally, it should be noted that sustainable development projects are badly needed in poor and developing countries, particularly in least developed countries, which would be among those most adversely affected by climate change and least able to cope with the anticipated shocks.
Abdel Hussain Shaban, Identity and Citizenship: Ambiguous Alternatives and Hampered Modernization, 2nd edn (Beirut: Center for Arab Unity Studies, 2020). 208 pp. ISBN 978-9953-82-900-5
The author of this book, now in its second edition, discusses intellectual, political, and social problems related to identity and citizenship and examines the causes of the faltering of the state in the Arab region. The author’s main concern relating to the issue of identity and citizenship refers to the great changes in Eastern Europe that led to the explosion of sub-identities—be they religious, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, or other sub-national identities—in an unprecedented way after the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.
The author explains that the collapse of totalitarian regimes in Eastern Europe led to a new reality marked by the struggle between sub-identities and disintegration of some major meta-entities. These had a global impact that necessitated the recognition of pluralism, that is, cultural, national, and religious diversity, and the rights of sub-identities, as a global issue. This became a new global reality accompanied by external interference and internal polarization. It is also rife with fanaticism and extremism that led to violence and terrorism, which soon became transnational terrorism.
Highly interested in conflict management experiences of pluralistic societies in Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia, the author seeks to extract common denominators from those experiences to examine the precarious status of pluralistic countries in Arab world. Hence, he raises the issue of how to fortify national identity and preserve diversity within unity, based on human rights principles and modernity without breaking from heritage.
The author believes that citizenship, by its civil nature, is mainly concerned with national identity rather than any sub-identity or sub-culture. It is outside the circle of religions, ideologies ethnicities, and the like. It affirms that all people have rights and duties, and all are equal before the law, regardless of race, religion, beliefs, gender, number, or social status. People are the source of constitutional powers and all are guaranteed basic freedoms. Justice, especially social justice, and equal opportunity of participation in governance are also considered main pillars of citizenship.
In fact, the author approaches citizenship as a criterion to study the process of national integration, raising the issue of diversity within unity. Accordingly, he makes clear that citizenship allows each group or segment of society to fully respect basic rights, the democratic way of life or national common values, as well as those minority values that do not conflict with it.
The citizenship of which he speaks enriches rather than threatens the unity of society. It is based on civic education, commitment to the common good, the nation’s history, shared values, common experiences, and dialogues about the commonalities and needs of a people living together and facing the same challenges in the same country.
Hence, as he raises the issue of identity and citizenship in Arab countries, the author concludes that Arab culture is still far from adopting the idea of citizenship, and for this reason Arab states have generally failed to achieve democracy, justice, and equality, and thus have fallen short of building constitutional legitimacy, without which unity and progress is threatened.
Abdul Ghani Imad, Genealogy of the Other: Muslim and its Representation in Orientalism, Anthropology and Sociology (Beirut: Center for Arab Unity Studies, 2020). 270 pp. ISBN 978-9953-82-904-3
The existence of the “other,” different in belief, race, or color, has been considered a problem in all civilizations, as the issue of differences between human beings is a global phenomenon, and this explains why people resort to categorizing the behavior of their enemies and friends alike. In this respect, one may look at the “other” either with suspicion and hostility, or with admiration and esteem. In both cases, the classification of the “other’s” behavior is usually based on stereotypes or ready-made molds.
However, profiling becomes more dynamic when conflict begins, and the “other” becomes an “enemy.” In this case, all evils are affixed to the “other,” while all good deeds are attributed to the “ego.” Within this context and the “representations of the self and the other,” the image of the “Muslim” as the “other” is formed in Western culture, as a stereotype to which are affixed structural defects and deficiencies.
This book seeks to reveal the roots of the Western representations that targeted Muslims as other and to carry out cognitive excavations to find out the evolution of these representations, through the literature of Orientalism and anthropology in their approach to the East and Islam, and through sociology with its analytical methodologies for examining societies. The hypothesis of the book stems from the idea that these representations, built by Western culture towards the “other,” still continue in various ways, and include distortions and biases, which have remained a rich source of material that contributes to building the image of the Muslim as other, with no real change since these representations began.