Islamically framed mobilization in Tunisia: Ansar al-Sharia in the aftermath of the Arab uprisings

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This chapter addresses two main aspects of Islamically framed social mobilization, with a particular focus on the protest dynamics that took place in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab uprisings in Tunisia. It outlines the evolution of such mobilizations over time, as state control of the political and religious field changed and as intra-religious competition was reshaped. In Tunisia, while institutionalized political Islam was mainly channeled through the pragmatic approach developed by Ennahda, Islamically framed social activism was nonetheless significantly influenced by the Salafi network centering on Ansar al-Sharia. The attractiveness of the Salafi discourse, particularly among young and disenfranchised protesters in the aftermath of the Tunisian revolution, was that it offered immediate opportunities for action and for social recognition. Ultimately, Ansar al-Sharia failed to institutionalize their influence and to shape the patterns of democratization in the country, primarily because they could not agree between themselves on a political agenda, and because they could not impose party discipline on their youthful new supporters. The rapid grass-roots mobilization that underpinned the rise of the Salafi movement created a situation of hubris and was quickly followed by demobilization when the state used the security apparatus to repress activities that were seen as a threat to the newly established democratic system.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Politics in Muslim Societies
EditorsMelani Cammett, Pauline Jones
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Sept 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • social movement
  • Salafism
  • Islamism
  • Tunisia
  • democratization
  • institutionalization
  • mobilization
  • demobilization


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