Islamist Transformations after the Arab Uprisings: Tunisia’s Ennahda Movement

Dr Rory McCarthy
Wednesday, 21 October 2020

How can we explain the impact of the Arab uprisings on Islamist movements in the region? Most of the focus has been on the ascent of radical violent groups like ISIS, or the repression of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. But Tunisia’s Ennahda movement presents an alternative trajectory. Here is an Islamist movement which went from decades of underground opposition to become a coalition partner in government. At the same time, Ennahda transformed itself from an Islamist movement into, in its own words, a party of ‘Muslim democrats’. What does this tell us about Islamism as a political project? How has the movement reacted to this transformation? What characterises the new Ennahda today?

Dr Rory McCarthy is an Assistant Professor in Politics and Islam at the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University, where he works on social movements, contentious politics, and Islamism in the Middle East and North Africa. He is the author of Inside Tunisia’s al-Nahda: Between Politics and Preaching (Cambridge University Press, 2018), which was chosen as one of the Foreign Affairs best books of 2019. His research has been published in The Middle East Journal, the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, The Journal of North African Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies.

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