The author is Mario Ferrero and you can find the source here.
Here is the paper’s introduction.
The Arab Spring started at the beginning of 2011 as a movement aiming at the overthrow of authoritarian rule in a number of countries. While it failed to remove traditional autocracies such as Bahrain’s monarchy, it did succeed against secular, post-colonial dictatorships including Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Tunisia. Although initially the stated goal of many participants and leaders of the movement was ‘‘democracy’’, more than 6 years on Islamist parties and groups of various descriptions, supported by majorities or pluralities of voters, have either taken control or established themselves as critical players in the aforementioned countries (and increased their influence in still others such as Morocco). Even though a partial backlash from turned-off citizens has belatedly been observed in places like Tunisia and Egypt, the Islamists’ position is firmly entrenched in parts of the society; it is remarkable that in Egypt it took a military coup, cheered by disappointed erstwhile supporters, to boot them out of government. While the outcome of the fighting in Syria is still undecided at the time of this writing, many observers fear that there too the Islamists may eventually gain the upper hand—which is itself one big reason why the Assad regime still enjoys substantial support, domestic and international.
Of course Islamic fundamentalism and Islamist politics had been on the rise throughout the Muslim world for several decades prior to the Arab Spring—the Iranian theocratic revolution of 1979 may be seen as an early warning. Usually, however, it was fuelled by repression: the dictatorships cracked down on Islamic movements, which turned them more radical (Algeria, Egypt, and Chechnya are good examples). So, in many a Western observer’s reasoning, once repression is replaced by toleration and freedom, popular support for the radicals will subside and the radicals themselves will turn moderate and ‘‘reasonable’’. This expectation has been contradicted by post-revolutionary developments. In part, the Islamists’ initial ascendancy must be put down to the fact that because all of the regimes in question were authoritarian, Islamic organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Ennahda in Tunisia were among the few ready to take over power after the revolution; but their endurance through time suggests that this cannot be the whole explanation. While these Islamist parties may be expected to undergo further change in their ideology and agenda under the challenge posed by their hold on power and by the competition from other parties, it seems clear that their central position in the new Arab political landscape in one form or another is here to stay, as is their radical confrontation with non-Islamic parties. Hence the central question that motivates this paper: why is political Islam on the rise in the wake of the Arab revolutions?
For perspective, consider the post-communist transition. After the collapse of communism in 1989–1991, most of the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union turned democratic and established full freedom of religion, thereby overturning the communist system of religious repression and state-sponsored atheism. This is a good benchmark for comparison because it bears a superficial resemblance to the position of religion in the Arab Spring, which emerged from marginalization or repression into political freedom. Yet in none of the traditionally Christian countries of Europe did a party with an explicitly religious agenda manage to acquire lasting prominence (Grzymala-Busse 2013). In striking contrast to Islamism in the wake of the Arab Spring, militant Christian politics has not been an important factor in the European democratic transition.
This paper disregards the specifics of each particular country’s history and politics and tries to get at the root of the problem: it will argue that the fundamental reason is the uncompetitive nature of the Islamic religion as it has historically evolved, when coupled with the disarray of political alignments left by the power vacuum. We will examine the contrast between Islam and Christianity in terms of their different propensity to sectarianism and sectarian competition, or lack thereof, and their different nexus between church, state and individual; in this connection, special attention will be devoted to Islamic Law and the law schools that define it. Finally, we will weave all this together and outline an explanation of the rise of political Islam based on political economy.
This paper provides a cultural explanation for differences in the nature of constitutional or law-bound governance. It differs from the cultural explanation suggested in de Montesquieu (1989), which stresses differences in civic norms and climate, and instead focuses on religion as an ideological foundation of legitimate governance and dissent. The main focus is on Islam, but some analysis of Catholicism and its effect on medieval governance is also outlined. The idea that religious grounding may amount to a quasi-constitutional constraint on government, however, is not new. In his masterful history of government, Finer (1997) suggests that the kingdoms of ancient Israel before the Babylonian captivity were the first historical instance of limited government, in which the laws of God as enshrined in the Torah and interpreted by the priestly class functioned as bounds on monarchical absolutism. This paper probes into the Islamic counterpart of such a religious ‘‘constitution’’.
In seeking to establish a link between the (un)competitiveness of a religious tradition and that religion’s political prominence, this papers breaks new ground. There is a rich political-economy literature on the compatibility of Islam and democracy (Paldam 2009; Rowley and Smith 2009; Maseland and van Hoorn 2011; Potrafke 2012). On the other hand, there is a literature, pioneered by the work of Timur Kuran (summarized in Kuran 2010), that probes the effects of key economic institutions and legal rules of Islam on long-run economic development in the Middle East. But there is as yet no study of the structure of the religion as such as it impacts contemporary political developments. This paper takes a step towards filling this gap.