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Societal challenges to the state Part 2: Islamist organizations in Egypt: Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group)

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Presentation on theme: "Societal challenges to the state Part 2: Islamist organizations in Egypt: Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Societal challenges to the state Part 2: Islamist organizations in Egypt: Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group)

2 Basics Egypt’s largest militant group Responsible for much of 1990s Islamist violence Spiritual head: Sheikh Omar Abd al-Rahman Unofficially split into 2 factions One supports 1998 ceasefire, other does not No violent incidents in Egypt since ‘98 Sheikh Omar Abd-al Rahman. Photo: al-Ahram.

3 Jama’a Origins (mid-1970s): Islamic university students in upper Egypt On-again, off-again relationship with Jihad Membership Leadership: educated univ grads, middle-class; rank-and-file: working class General goal: overthrow of Egyptian regime and establishment of Islamic state

4 Jama’a phases Overarching: Social reformism and revolutionary Islamic mass movement Shift from mass movement to strict membership criteria Loosely structured Increasingly divided through 1990s 1970s-1980s: “soft targets” Leftist students, Copts, “places of sin” Disruption of music festivals and weddings, destruction of video clubs, attacking beer deliveries, segregating men and women 1990s: rebellion Targets: policemen, security forces, prominent officials, tourists, financial targets, outspoken civilians Increasingly sophisticated weaponry Egyptian Copts continue to be an object of attack. Photo: BBC.

5 Jama’a activities and attacks: Highlights Assassination of Pres. Anwar Sadat (with Jihad) (1981) Uprising in Assyut Assassinations of parliamentary speaker (1990), secularist writer Farag Fouda (1992) attempts on the life of Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz (1993), President Mubarak (1995) Luxor massacre (15 Nov. 1997): 58 tourists, 4 Egyptian policemen killed Photo: BBC

6 A puzzle Why was there a sharp increase in Islamist violence in Egypt between 1991 and 1995? Source: Mohammed Hafez, Why Muslims Rebel, 2003, p. 34. Chart 1: Changing levels of Islamist violence in Egypt, 1970s through 1990s.

7 Reason #1: Jama’a growth and competition with the state “Liberated zones” around mosques, in upper Egypt Vice squads Law unto itself

8 #2: Increase in state repression Mass arrests, torture, and executions of Jama’a leaders By 1999, 94 death sentences against civilians (mostly Islamists); 67 carried out Source: Mohammed Hafez, Why Muslims Rebel, p. 87. Chart 2: Numbers of Islamic activists killed by Egyptian security forces in Egypt,

9 Civil society? Unilateral ceasefire 1997/1998 Jama’a inside the fold? No Jama’a violence for 7 years re-consideration of strategy Release of Jama’a militants


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