Term Paper: Foreign Affairs

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¶ … Politics Book Review

Roy, Oliver. (2004) Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah -- the Ceri Series in Comparative Politics. New York: Columbia University Press.

One of the most perplexing questions for political analysts today is what is the most 'correct' rubric with which to view the emerging diversity of the Islamic world, without subsuming its many regional and religious questions and differences. For example, how to balance, in the emerging politics of post-war Iraq, the complex and long interrelationships between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, as well as protect minority and ethnic religious groups such as the Kurds? Oliver Roy suggests that, rather than view Islam as a seamless ideology that political analysts must take a comparative perspective upon various Islamic movements in different national and regional concepts.

Oliver Roy states that, despite Islamic neo-fundamentalist rhetoric to the contrary, there never was, nor can there be one singular Islamic mindset. Although Islamic differences are often elided in the American public's imagination, as well as in the speeches of some radical Islamic leaders, the Islamic world has never stood as unified politically and religiously, except in glorified and unrealistic projected future dreams of some religious zealots. Roy writes to both Islamic scholars of the West and pan-Islamic ideologues when he states that the differences as well as the similarities between Islamic ideologies must be acknowledged.

Furthermore, Roy goes on to suggest that the Islamic neo-fundamentalist movement stand at a crossroads, and is in far more disarray than one might think. Either, it can either eschew the ideology of innate Islamic differences with the West in the form of the modern nation state, or embrace fundamentalism in a religious fashion and look inward -- however, it cannot go on ignoring the differences between a Muslim in Chechnya, Russia, in Bosnia, and Saudi Arabia, regardless of an apparent shared religious ideology, and assert that all three fundamentalists will share the same political concerns, regardless of social and economic needs, status and borders. National contextual needs and social perceptions will change the way different Muslims view their Islamic faith. In France, a North African, "is an Arab" if he is "under thirty and from a poor neighborhood," and of dark skin, while a Saudi Prince living in Paris as an exchange student is simply "a Saudi prince" (4)

Why has such a de facto ideological schism emerged between different Islamic groups and nationalities? Roy believes Islamism in the form of building a modern political Islamic state that protects minority rights and has a sense of national containment often has little appeal for Islamic individuals living "uprooted" or as migrants or who find themselves living as an ethnic as well as a religious minority. (1) in other words, the North African is more likely to become radicalized than… [END OF PREVIEW]

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