Dynamics of Radicalisation in the Relationship between Militant Islamist Groups and their Constituencies: The case of al-Jamaa al-Islamiyya in Egypt, 1986-1998
Title: Dynamics of Radicalisation in the Relationship between Militant Islamist Groups and their Constituencies: The case of al-Jamaa al-Islamiyya in Egypt, 1986-1998
Author: MALTHANER, Stefan
Series/Report no.: EUI MWP; 2012/09
Research on political violence has increasingly adopted relational approaches to analysing processes of radicalisation and escalation, focusing mainly on interactions between protest movements and the police, and the effects of repressive state policies. Drawing on an analysis of the Egyptian militant Islamist group al-Jamaa al-Islamiyya between 1986 and 1998, this paper argues that, beyond this dyadic relationship, in order to expand our understanding of violent processes, we have to take into account interactions between militant groups and their constituencies, that is, their supportive social environment. Thereby, two basic mechanisms of escalation and radicalisation can be identified in the case of al-Jamaa al-Islamiyya. Firstly, the militants’ agenda of transforming the Muslim community’s social and cultural order (fighting moral corruption in society) caused resentment and triggered a cycle of rejection and radicalisation, culminating in attempts to impose norms of moral conduct by force. Secondly, the weakening of support during the violent insurgency triggered a dynamic of social isolation and radicalisation, including a violent struggle over controlling the population, in which the militants reacted to the withdrawal of support by trying to coerce and terrorise local communities into compliance and non-collaboration with their enemy. Interactions between militant groups and their social environment, thereby, are closely intertwined with the dynamics of state-repression and resistance, forming a triangular relationship that shapes the trajectory of the processes of political violence.
Subject: Political Violence; Radicalization; Islamism; Egypt
Type of Access: openAccess