Policing Social Movements Term Paper

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Policing Islamist Social Movements

Many non-European countries around the globe are the product colonization. That is, having been colonized by one of the "super powers" of Europe; Great Britain, Spain, France, Portugal, or another European country. As such, the residents of the post-colonial nations, having at some pointing time gained independence, cannot deny the influence of their colonial periods. Whether or not a nation's independence came with or without civil war, civil disobedience, or some other manner of protest, prior to their independence the colonized nation took some form of protest. Having done that, the historical literature, and often the romantic literature have produced narratives that speak not just to the colonial period of that nation, but also the nation's period of protest and the nature of that protest.

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For instance, it is part of the historical narrative of India that Ghandi led India in non-violent protest against its colonizer, Great Britain. It is, too, part of the historical narrative of Pakistan that it carved itself out of and, in theory, away from India to create the Muslim state of Pakistan alongside the Hindu state of India (Smith 1947). It is part of the historical narrative of Algeria that Algerians carried out acts of terrorism against the "occupying" French; even though the French had colonized the country more than a hundred years prior to the advent of terrorist acts against the internal French forces in Algeria (Humphrey 2000: 1). Today, just as pre-independence, violence rages in Algeria not because occupation, but because of long held accounts of debt scorecards held by the different opinions that came out of independence (Humphrey 2000:1). What remains is the question of what are the social implications of the narrative on policing protests today?

Term Paper on Policing Social Movements Assignment

The existing narratives, historical, social, cultural and modern play a role in the polemics of the post colonial countries today. Understanding the narrative lends insight into how that narrative impacts policing protests in those countries today. For purposes of coherence in discussion, this study will limit itself to examining the narrative and the movements in post colonial Islamic nations today in order to answer the study's question as to what are the social implications of policing those protests today.


At the time of independence from France, Algeria's Muslim population reacted to the occupation with acts of terrorism, which eventually, in 1962, drove the French from Algeria after 150 years of French occupation in that country (Pontecorvo (dir) 1966). The hope that the violence would stop with independence was too much to hope for, since independence began with violence. Responding to what was perceived as the traitorous relationship with the French during the revolution, the militants murdered 60,000 to 100,000 harkis, or those Muslims who had remained loyal to the French; perhaps they thought that the French would persevere (Humphrey 2000:1).

Since that time, as has been the case in other post colonial countries, there began intermittent cases of violence in relation to political ideologies of the post colonial government (Humphrey 2000: 1). Over the years, it has taken on a radical and personal component, and with each escalating incidence of violence, the government responded accordingly (1). What has taken shape is an internal strife arising out of the continuous violence that has not stopped since the murder of the harkis (1). The issues that have resulted in internal violence have been expressed differently by the different factions from time to time, but it always seems to come back to revenge for something arising out of the past, or the present response to revenge arising out of the past (1).

How to police a movement that continues to be a pendulum of the narrative is the question in Algeria. How to bring to a halt the violence so that the past can, once and for all, be put behind the people of Algeria and new and peaceful roads taken toward uniting the people of this war torn country and moving toward an economic prosperity, away from the devastation of the past 40 years.

There have been various attempts by the government to appease the population of Algeria in order to bring about peace (1). Where the government had initially responded by rounding up insurgents and pursing its own brand of violent policing, which included the colonial tactics of torture, imprisonment, and murders; it then responded with elections and with attempts to bring all the players to the table to conference and resolve differences (1). It just has not worked, and it seems that Algeria has gotten caught up into a never ending vicious circle in acting out its own narrative again and again.

The contemporary violence in Algeria has been foreshadowed in this deeper violence done to society, the crisis in the project of the nation-state as inclusive and its unraveling. From the historical perspective of the massive deployment of violence in Algeria's history the present looks much more like desperation than revealing hope for social solidarity in a shared and valued project (1)."

The problem, regardless of how social scientists attempt to analyze it, is that they continue looping back to the colonial vs. post colonial loop that is impossible to break out in Algeria. The solution to policing the problem, then, it might seem, would be to develop an entirely new social science that moves away from the memory of colonization. This is not in an effort to erase the past, but in an effort to create a new future - a future that the country has not had since independence.

What is that science that might bring the nation to the present, as far from the not so distant past as possible? It would be something, someone, by whom the entire nation is inspired by in a role of leadership. Algeria's own Ghandi. Otherwise, Algeria is in a never-ending loop of its own colonialism, and it may never break free of the violence that continues to rip it apart today. The fear, of course, amongst the outside the world is that the hero-person who arises out of the ashes to inspire the nation towards the future might be an Islamic fundamentalist, seeking to gather the population unto his self in order to pursue a loftier violence aimed at non-Islamic states around the world. This, too, would only constitute a relooping of the violence.

Women in Islam

Of the many experiences arising out of colonialism is the experience of the western woman in Islamic nations. It is difficult to ignore the influence, especially if you are an Islamic woman. Even though the colonizers were, to a number, nation-states that were patriarchal societies, the western woman that was observed by the Middle Eastern woman had achieved a status that most Middle Eastern countries have continued to prevent their women from attaining. Yet these images of a freer woman, a more sophisticated woman, a woman as a partner in society has lingered on the minds of some Middle Eastern women. So much so that Iran, a state run by fundamentalist Islamic clerics, felt so threatened by the lingering western womaness that they have taken the country back to the dark ages, taking away from women the right to participate in government, teach, practice medicine, and have excluded women in other ways (Ganji 2002:106).

Under provisions of Principle 109 no woman can ever be elected to the role of Supreme Guide of the nation (106). Under Principle 115, no woman may ever hold the office of president of Iran (106). According to Islamic penal law, Articles 33 and 91 of the Revolution (post Shah of Iran and post western influence), the Law of Retribution, "the value of two women's testimony (in a court of law) is the equivalent of one man's testimony - in other words, a single woman's testimony is only half true, or should only be considered half the weight of that given a man's testimony (106). Iranian women are prohibited from marrying non-Iranian men without the express written permission of the Ministry of the Interior (106). Married women cannot obtain a passport to travel abroad without the written permission of their husbands (106). Certain laws have been revived from centuries in the past, making certain crimes committed by women punishable by stoning to death, burying the woman up to her neck, and other vicious and violent acts of punishment (106).

Iran has resolved its historic narrative of, not even colonialism, but of western influence vis-a-vie the Shah of Iran, by policing the freedoms that women enjoyed under the Shah, and by reversing and outlawing the progress that women in Iran had made in education, medicine, and law. Iran has found an effective means by which to police its historical narrative: suppression, oppression, depression, repression of all things feminine, including the feminist movement.

The experience of women in Egypt is very different than that of women in post-Shah Iran. In Egypt, which is a former colony, where the influences of west in combination with Egypt's own unique historical narrative of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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