chapter
Illegitimate governance
The roots of Islamist radicalization in the MENA
ByMohammed M. Hafez
Pages 14

The year 1979 was an important inflection point for Islamist fundamentalism in the Muslim world. Islamist movements in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are a product of illegitimate governance, characterized by triple failures common to many post-colonial regimes in the region: political authoritarianism, economic corruption and military weakness. Radicalism has its roots in peaceful Islamist activism that emerged in the colonial and post-colonial eras spanning the 1920s to the 1960s. Radical Islamists' basis for such a stringent edict is their belief that humans cannot arrive at the truth or distinguish between right and wrong through intellectual reasoning alone. Qutb and militant Islamists after him promoted six major themes to radicalize Muslims and justify violence: jahiliyah, tawhid, hakimiyat Allah , takfir, wala wal bara and jihad & istishhad. Democracy will not end terrorism or radical Islamism by groups that view democracy as heresy, but it will marginalize extremism and encourage internal Islamist critique of fanaticism.