Around the Web

Here are some important news stories involving law and religion from around the web:

“Civil Resistance in the Arab Spring” (Roberts et al, eds.)

In March, the Oxford University Press released “Civil Resistance in the Arab Spring: Triumphs and Disasters,” edited by Adam Roberts (University of Oxford), Michael J. Willis (University of Oxford), Rory McCarthy (University of Oxford), and Timothy Garton Ash (University of Oxford).  The publisher’s description follows:

Civil resistance, especially in the form of massive peaceful demonstrations, was at the heart of the Arab Spring-the chain of events in the Middle East and North Africa that 9780198749028
erupted in December 2010. It won some notable victories: popular movements helped to bring about the fall of authoritarian governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Yet these apparent triumphs of non-violent action were followed by disasters–wars in Syria, anarchy in Libya and Yemen, reversion to authoritarian rule in Egypt, and counter-revolution backed by external intervention in Bahrain. Looming over these events was the enduring divide between the Sunni and Shi’a branches of Islam.

Why did so much go wrong? Was the problem the methods, leadership and aims of the popular movements, or the conditions of their societies? In this book, experts on these countries, and on the techniques of civil resistance, set the events in their historical, social and political contexts. They describe how governments and outside powers–including the US and EU–responded, how Arab monarchies in Jordan and Morocco undertook to introduce reforms to avert revolution, and why the Arab Spring failed to spark a Palestinian one. They indicate how and why Tunisia remained, precariously, the country that experienced the most political change for the lowest cost in bloodshed.

This book provides a vivid illustrated account and rigorous scholarly analysis of the course and fate, the strengths and the weaknesses, of the Arab Spring. The authors draw clear and challenging conclusions from these tumultuous events. Above all, they show how civil resistance aiming at regime change is not enough: building the institutions and the trust necessary for reforms to be implemented and democracy to develop is a more difficult but equally crucial task.

Rougier, “The Sunni Tragedy in the Middle East”

This month, Princeton University Press releases “The Sunni Tragedy in the Middle East: Northern Lebanon from al-Qaeda to ISIS” by Bernard Rougier (Sorbonne Paris III University). The publisher’s description follows:

Northern Lebanon is a land in turmoil. Long under the sway of the Assad regime in Syria, it is now a magnet for Sunni Muslim jihadists inspired by anti-Western and anti-Shi‘a worldviews. The Sunni Tragedy in the Middle East describes in harrowing detail the struggle led by an active minority of jihadist militants, some claiming allegiance to ISIS, to seize control of Islam and impose its rule over the region’s Sunni Arab population.

Bernard Rougier introduces us to men with links to the mujahidin in Afghanistan, the Sunni resistance in Iraq, al-Qaeda, and ISIS. He describes how they aspire to replace North Lebanon’s Sunni elites, who have been attacked and discredited by neighboring powers and jihadists alike, and explains how they have successfully positioned themselves as the local Sunni population’s most credible defender against powerful external enemies—such as Iran and the Shi‘a militia group Hezbollah. He sheds new light on the methods and actions of the jihadists, their internal debates, and their evolving political agenda over the past decade.

This riveting book is based on more than a decade of research, more than one hundred in-depth interviews with players at all levels, and Rougier’s extraordinary access to original source material. Written by one of the world’s leading experts on jihadism, The Sunni Tragedy in the Middle East provides timely insight into the social, political, and religious life of this dangerous and strategically critical region of the Middle East.

Şahin, The Empire and Power in the Reign of Süleyman

Empire and PowerNext month Cambridge University Press will publish Empire and Power in the Reign of Süleyman: Narrating the Sixteenth-Century Ottoman World by Kaya Şahin (Indiana University). The publisher’s description follows.

Kaya Şahin’s book offers a revisionist reading of Ottoman history during the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent (1520–1566). By examining the life and works of a bureaucrat, Celalzade Mustafa, Şahin moves beyond traditional, teleological approaches and argues that the empire was built as part of the Eurasian momentum of empire building, and demonstrates the imperial vision of sixteenth-century Ottomans. This unique study shows that, in contrast with many Eurocentric views, the Ottomans were active players in European politics, with an imperial culture in direct competition with that of the Habsburgs and the Safavids. Indeed, this book explains Ottoman empire building with reference to the larger Eurasian context, from Tudor England to Mughal India, contextualizing such issues as state formation, imperial policy, and empire building in the period more generally. Şahin’s work also devotes significant attention to the often-ignored religious dimension of the Ottoman-Safavid struggle, showing how the rivalry redefined Sunni and Shiite Islam, laying the foundations for today’s religious tensions.

Pierret, “Religion and State in Syria”

This February, Cambridge University Press will publish Religion and State in Syria: The Sunni Ulama Under the Ba’th by Thomas Pierret (University of Edinburgh). The publisher’s description follows.

While Syria has been dominated since the 1960s by a determinedly secular regime, the 2011 uprising has raised many questions about the role of Islam in the country’s politics. This book demonstrates that with the eradication of the Muslim Brothers after the failed insurrection of 1982, Sunni men of religion became the only voice of the Islamic trend in the country. Through educational programs, charitable foundations and their deft handling of tribal and merchant networks, they took advantage of popular disaffection with secular ideologies to increase their influence over society. In recent years, with the Islamic resurgence, the Alawi-dominated Ba’thist regime was compelled to bring the clergy into the political fold. This relationship was exposed in 2011 by the division of the Sunni clergy between regime supporters, bystanders and opponents. This book affords a new perspective on Syrian society as it stands at the crossroads of political and social fragmentation.

%d bloggers like this: