French political scientist Olivier Roy argued that political Islam has failed in his seminal book “Failure of Political Islam” published in 1998. In December 2015, Rashid Ghanoucchi, leader and founder of Tunisian Islamist Party Ennahda, announced in an interview with Al-Jazeera TV that he is no longer confortable with the term “Islamist” and would rather be seen as a “Muslim Democrat”. The collapse of the regime of Zine El-Abidene Ben Ali in 2011 paved the way for the return of the En-Nahda to power. Despite controversies and criticism, Ennahda is undoubtedly the most progressive Islamist political party in the Muslim World having abandoned it goal of Shariah implementation. The seminar will retrace the evolution of the party from its initial turbulent years while in exile within Europe to the post-revolutionary context. While the focus of this seminar is on the En-Nahda, the speaker will analyse this evolution in a comparative perspective with the Malaysian Islamist Party. This research is part of an on-going ethnographic comparative project on Political Islam in Tunisia and Malaysia.
About the Speaker:
Sophie Lemière (PhD 2014) is a research fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute and Adjunct Professor at NYU Florence. Her research on Malaysian Politics is based on extensive field research conducted since 2006. Sophie’s area of expertise includes both religious politics and political militancy. Her Master thesis explored the Apostasy controversies and Islamic civil society, and her PhD is an original analysis of the relationship between gangs and political parties in Malaysia. She was formerly a research associate at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies and a Junior Researcher at the Asian Research Institute, National University of Singapore. Her current research project focuses on a comparative study of connivance militancy in Malaysia and Tunisia, with an emphasis on Islamist movements.