By: Ahmed Abdelkader
In June 2009, six months before the start of the Arab Spring, President Obama gave a peace speech in Cairo, addressing the region’s democratic aspirations. At that time, it was considered a historical speech and a start of a new approach towards the Middle East and the Arab people. In part of his speech he said, “Government of the people, and by the people sets a single standard of all who would hold power. You must maintain your power through consent not coercion, you must place the interests of your people, and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party.”
But after the revolution and democratic elections, Egypt is still far from having the kind of government Obama was describing and protesters are back in Tahrir Square. Now, there is no government, there is no constitution, and there is no parliament, which is considered partially the only thing the people decided to choose. However, people now have a civilian, “democratically” elected president, as most of the officials have said.
When the remaining candidates in the presidential election, General Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister to serve under Mubark, and Mohamed Mursi, the official leader of Free and Justice Party, a phase of the Muslim Brotherhood, were left standing, liberals described the presidential election as the choice between two extremes. Most Egyptians were avoiding such a choice.
Despite the vague environment which surrounds the people in Egypt during the hot summer and the unknown expectations of whether or not, Mursi will be the right man in the right place; the global situation is in such a critical position, that it requires self-initiatives for the Egyptians to take themselves out of their situation. Now, the world is changing, there is no more waiting for support from outsiders. And if you are going to ask for support, you have to be ready to relinquish some of your ambitions. That’s what most of the political analysts concluded in the latest period.
“Regardless of who is elected, one of the toughest challenges the new president of Egypt will face is to secure the hefty US$22.5 billion needed to finance the deficit of the recently released state budget for the fiscal year (FY) 2012-2013. Given the sorry state of the post-Mubarak economy and the deep financial woes of the past 16 months-compounded by the political unrest and uncertainty likely to persist even after the inauguration, this will be a daunting task.” That is what Mohammed Samhouri, Senior Economist at the Cairo-based Regional Center for Strategic Studies wrote in an article titled, “Egypt’s Looming Fiscal Crisis”, which was published on June 5th by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The 60-year-old U.S. trained engineer who had been the Brotherhood’s back-up candidate for the office, became the nation’s first democratically-elected civilian leader after a 16-month transition process that divided the country and set in motion a power struggle between him and the military leadership that is poised to continue.
All what we have up till now is patience and prayers for hope and change. Words are easy, but actions can be worth more than words. Actions must be taken by everyone who is looking forward to change him/herself and others around him/her. We have to recognize the fact that there is no one-man solution for this problem. Whatever people are expecting from the new president should not be dream about “superman” achievements but about collaboration and the realistic implementation of democratic ideals.
By: Akbar Ahmed ISPU-Adjunct Scholar
In early February, two American women in their 60s, admiring the rugged beauty of South Sinai around St Catherine's Monastery - probably squinting under the bright Egyptian sun - were suddenly set upon by armed Bedouin tribesmen in a pick-up truck. The women were robbed of their money and valuables and then, along with their Egyptian tour guide, taken hostage. This kidnapping came in the wake of the abduction of 25 Chinese workers in North Sinai last month by the Bedouin. The news spread like wildfire. Commentators immediately pointed to a possible al-Qaeda link. There were already reports in the media of the nefarious doings of groups like the Boko Haram in Nigeriaand the TTP of Pakistan and their links with al-Qaeda. What is happening with the Sinai Bedouin? The Bedouin responsible for these recent kidnappings provide us a clue to the motivation of their actions. In both incidents, they were seeking to put pressure on the government to release their fellow tribesmen detained by the Egyptian authorities, and released their hostages in a matter of hours.
It is a little-known but sad story that the Sinai Bedouin have been suffering decades of neglect and prejudice by the central government. Under President Mubarak's government, the Bedouin tribes with their nomadic traditions were subject to hostile policies, harassment and economic exclusion; threatened on one side by the growing infringement and exclusion from the tourism industry, and, on the other side, by the security mindset with which the central government views the Bedouin - turning Sinai into a security state.
The word Bedouin has unfortunately for them become synonymous with smuggler, spy or terrorist. Within such a framework, the Bedouin are subject to arbitrary detention, barred the right to own land or participate in the military, and have even been denied citizenship, as with the al-Azazma tribe. Without citizenship, the tribesmen are left with no schools, hospitals or government services, ignored by the centre. This oppression occurs on the lands the Bedouin have lived on through the ebb and flow of history with empires coming and going, dynasties rising and falling.
The Sinai Peninsula has been an important thoroughfare since the time of the Egyptian pharaohs: the Jewish people crossed this wilderness fleeing Egyptian slavery and, atop Mt Sinai, God bestowed upon Moses his 10 commandments. In Arabic, Sinai is known as muftah, or a key space. Waves of invading armies and pilgrims over the centuries have stamped the pages of history into its soil. However, for over a thousand years, these transient groups, using Sinai as a bridge and rest stop, have passed through the lands of the traditionally nomadic Bedouin tribesmen, the only permanent feature in the shifting sands of Sinai. The first nomadic Bedouin tribes migrated into Sinai beginning in the 7th century CE, offshoots of the major tribes of the Hejaz region of present-day Saudi Arabia. In the harsh and sparse desert landscape of Sinai, they lived by a code of honour, hospitality and revenge based in their intricate kinship system.
This tribal code, urfi, was able to regulate order and justice in the desert independent of any structured legal or political institutions. This independence and general wariness towards central authority have defined the Bedouin and created tension with the centre. The government, leaving the Bedouin to regulate their own affairs, interacted largely on the basis of protection of trade routes and Hajj pilgrims. The first British agent in Sinai, W E Jennings-Bramley, noted in 1910 that he saw only one manned government garrison, housing the regional governor and 10 soldiers. The increased presence of the government in Sinai led to the division of the Bedouin between British Egypt and the Ottoman Empire in 1906.
This division became the permanent border between Egypt and Israel in 1948 and had little bearing on the reality of the tribes, splitting brother from brother. This arbitrary division between the two countries has resulted in the Sinai Bedouin being viewed with suspicion as Zionist conspirators by the Egyptian government, given the presence of their kinsmen in the Negev Desert and the Israeli occupation of Sinai from 1967-1982. Yet the same people are labelled Islamic terrorists by Egyptian and Israeli authorities during periods of strife.
In Sinai, the Bedouin are seen from the prism of a consistent security threat to the state, evidenced by the response to the bombing in 2004 in Taba, Sinai. Despite having already named the nine suspects, the Egyptian security services began mass arrests throughout North Sinai. Egyptian human rights organisations reported nearly 3,000 people were arrested and held without charge and subject to torture. Women and children were also arrested "as pawns to force men to turn themselves in". They began arresting individuals with beards as "presumed adherents of Islamist congregations". Alas, the fall of President Mubarak in February 2011 has not changed this security perspective on Sinai. In August 2011, six months after Mubarak stepped down, the military, with the permission of Israel, launched Operation Eagle, the deployment of two Special Forces brigades to crack down on "militancy" and restore law and order to Sinai.
A further 2,000 troops were deployed in December 2011. In addition to coping with the continued presence of Egyptian security forces, Bedouin must also cope with the continued presence of tourists. The tourist industry in Sinai quickly expanded during the 1990s. By 2000, 24 per cent of all the hotel rooms in Egypt were located here. The Bedouin were cast aside to make way for hotels and resorts, removed from their own land which had been an integral aspect of their traditional way of life for centuries. Their land ownership was denied by the government. Their only concession was to become hotel guards or day labourers. The remainder of the positions was filled by the migration of Egyptian workers from the Nile Valleyand Delta. Lack of investment outside of the tourism sector and lack of economic activity has led to high unemployment.
Bedouin are faced with the choice of either abandoning their traditions to travel for work or revert to illegal smuggling practices, one of the "causes" of the security apparatus present in the peninsula. Throughout history, the Bedouin have fallen back on smuggling when other sources of revenue have disappeared. The security-first policy of the central government does little to resolve the gross rates of poverty and economic marginalisation in Sinai.
Justice, compassion and welfare
Now with the Arab Spring spearheading one of the most exciting democratic revolutions in modern history, started in Tunisiaand picked up by Egypt, the Arab world has been changed forever. The real test of democratic rule in Egypt will be the inclusion of its periphery, the extension of rights, citizenship and justice to all people regardless of ethnicity or religion. The Muslim Bedouin and the Christian Copts alike must be given a voice. The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, following the recent elections, are, for the first time in history, represented in large numbers in Parliament. Given their commitment to their Islamic faith, they must further incorporate and provide for their fellow Muslims, the Bedouin, if any peace and prosperity is to be found in Sinai. Both the Holy Quran and the Prophet of Islam emphasise the obligation of the ruler to care for the poor and dispossessed; to treat them with justice, compassion and welfare.
The Bedouin, as among the poorest and most dispossessed in Egypt, need the most compassion and assistance. The exhilaration of present-day Egyptians for the ideals of democracy is, however, matched by the lack of democratic precedent in living memory, given Egypt's subjection to rule by the cult of the despotic military dictator and, prior to this, imperial colonisation from the British to the Ottoman Empires. Let us look to distant history and to one of Egypt's most shining and celebrated leaders, Saladin. Visitors to Cairo are struck by the monuments and mosques associated with the great Saladin's rule nearly a thousand years ago. Saladin is celebrated above all because of his commitment to the Islamic obligation of compassion to the poor and marginalised within his domain. His magnanimity towards his people was so sweeping that, at his death, his only possessions consisted of the equivalent of a few dollars, a copy of his favorite Quran, a saddle and sword, having given away the remainder to his subjects.
This serves as a stark contrast to the array of military dictators in the Muslim world who have pillaged and killed their citizens. If there is no Saladin to leadEgypttoday, Egyptians must be inspired by his ideals of justice and compassion that won him the respect of his people. Just as Egypt's national flag bears the eagle of Saladin, a democratic Egyptshould bear the principles of Saladin. Only by reviving such ideals can all Egyptians, including the Bedouin, fully realise the aspirations of the Arab Spring.
This article was written by Akbar Ahmed and Harrison Akins. Professor Akbar Ahmed is a member of the Board of Advisors with ISPU and Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington DC and the former Pakistani High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. Harrison Akins is an Ibn Khaldun Chair Research Fellow at AmericanUniversity's School of International Service and is assisting Professor Ahmed on Ahmed's forthcoming study, Journey into Tribal Islam: America and the Conflict between Center and Periphery in the Muslim World, to be published by Brookings Press. This article was published by Al Jazeera on February 14, 2012.
By: Sara Khan Wayne State University
On January 25th in Metro Detroit, a protest was held, entitled “March in Solidarity with the Egyptian Revolution.” Wayne State Alumni, Occupy Detroit, and members of the Arab community got together to organize this event. With a turnout of almost 100 people, the march began at Grand Circus Parkand ended at McNamara Federal Building where several speakers gave a small talk. The purpose of the protest was to stand up against the United States providing military aid to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), the Egyptian military dictatorship. As many of us know, Egypthas been in the hands of its military ever since the fall of Hosni Mubarak last February. The way SCAF treats their people is very inhumane and violent. A protest in Tahrir Squarefor a civilian-led government resulted in 30 to 40 protestors dead and thousands injured. Many protestors ended up blind due to the rubber bullets that were purposely aimed at their eyes by soldiers. The United State srecognized SCAF’s actions as out of line, and recently called for restraint. However, the S.military continues to provide aid to SCAF. They justify their actions by claiming that the U.S.is an important ally for Middle East’s economic growth and political stability. General Dynamics Land Systems is a factory here in our very own city of Detroit that produces parts of tanks that are sent to the Egyptian military. One of the major concerns of the protestors was the large amount of money that goes to General Dynamics Land Systems to support the Egyptian military when that money could instead be used for the betterment of Detroit. The question basically boils down to whether the money should go towards helping an army to suppress its people or towards providing a needy city with the necessary sources it needs to rise out of poverty. This was all mentioned during the speeches at McNamara Federal Building. Some notable speakers that attended are the president of the Arab Student Union from Wayne State University, members of Occupy Detroit, and others of the Arab community. The organizers of the protest made videos and took pictures to send to Egypt to show Egyptians that we are supporting them. This was a very unique and bold move that showed how much these people are dedicated. Hania Ghazi, a student of Wayne State University who attended the protest, said, “I think it’s important that, as Muslims, we should show solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters in Egypt because we have the opportunity to do so.”With that, I encourage everyone to open up their eyes and acknowledge the horrors happening all around the globe to our fellow Muslim brothers and sisters. Families, women, and children are needlessly being killed and are in desperate need of help. The least we can do is spread awareness. Protests like these are what can start change, and protests will only be successful when people boldly step forward to join the fight.Photo Credit: Hania Ghazi
By Tasnia Elahi
Northville - MI
After a 30-year presidency, Hosni Mubarak ceded power on February 11th to the military after an 18- day revolt, which left about 300 people dead, according to United Nations. Egypt's military is said to soon transition to a democracy and honor a peace treaty with Israel.
Mubarak was the fourth president of Egypt and reigned from 1981 to 2011. He assumed presidency after the assassination of President Anwar El Sadat. Throughout his rule, Mubarak showed obsession with stability, ensuring control through rigged elections, a constitution his government wrote, and a police force that was accused of torturing citizens.
With the recent resignation of Mubarak, Egyptians can now expect there to be no more chaos in Cairo. However, just one day before his resignation, Mubarak had refused to step down from his post, saying that he will not bow to "foreign pressure" in a televised address to the nation. He announced that he would assign some authority to his new Vice President, Omar Suleiman, but the citizens of Egypt did not want a compromise. The dedicated protesters stood strong until Mubarak had no choice but to give up.
So on Friday, the streets of Egypt were in celebration with the news of their freedom. An outburst of "Egypt is free" sang throughout the streets and fireworks lit up as citizens danced, wept, and prayed in joy. Hundreds of thousands flooded the main squares of cities around the nation. Soldiers stood by, even threw cookies and biscuits to protesters who stood in front of Mubarak's palaces in Cairo and Alexandria, ordering for him to go.
So how is this affecting Americans? At the White House, President Barack Obama said "Egyptians have inspired us." He noted the important questions that lay ahead, but said, "I'm confident the people of Egypt can find the answers." The United States at times seemed overwhelmed during the commotion and its loyalty to their longtime ally Mubarak caused Americans to send mixed messages to Egypt, which frustrated many protesters. In Egypt, activists criticized the U.S. government for not coming down harder on Mubarak.
The question now turns to what will happen next in Egypt. The country is now ruled by the Armed Forces Supreme Council, consisting of the military's top generals and headed by Defense Minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi. Also, the military promised the country that they would not act as a substitute for a government based on the legitimacy of the people. The military is now taking the steps to make Egypt an ambitious country.
By Allen Colombo
Egypt has a unique position in the Middle East and North Africa, it is both different from many of its neighbors, and also similar than many would think at a first glance. There are many reasons for this seemingly uniqueness of Egypt. Those factors that make Egypt a very unique place can be divided into two categories, external issues, and internal issues. Things that would be different when comparing internal factors would be that Egypt cannot rely on the exportation of oil to keep its economy stable, not only that but Egypt is said to be a democracy, something that is rare in the region. External factors that make it different from other states in the region might include topics such as the U.S. military aid to Egypt, and economic aid to Egypt from the United States. Points that could be used to say that Egypt is a typical state often times have some overlap with those factors that make it unique, this again if broken down into internal factors and external factors could include; the relationship Egypt has with the United States, in terms of a way to solve regional issues such as the Arab-Israeli conflict. Also, how this relationship could be somewhat of a liability to the government’s internal stability, and legitimacy, and finally how the U.S. can affect the internal policies of the state by withholding aid or giving of more aid, be it in the form of military protection or financial benefits. Some of the internal issues, that could be claimed to be the same, would be the use of political parties, fake, real, or otherwise, and the political system in general, the use of repression as a way of maintaining stability, and finally installing a system that might look like a democracy, or at best is a low-intensity democracy.
When looking at the internal factors that make Egypt a unique place there is little to draw upon unless searched for, speaking in real terms. However, these factors truly do change the Egyptian political landscape, the first factor would be the democratic tendencies of the state. Egypt being, on paper, a democratic state allows the Egyptians to have a voice in how their government is run. This is something that within the region is a rare thing until the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In 2005 the Mubarak regime actually did attempt to become more democratic, it could be argued more on part because of rising tensions among the population, which could be seen again in 2011 elections. If this were the actual case than it could be said that this is truly a point of differentiation from many of the other Arab states within the region. Another factor that also makes the internal factors of Egypt a different place is the fact that Egypt is not an oil rich nation. This plays a factor, because it makes the economy a much bigger issue to be thought about by the average Egyptian citizen, when compared to those living in the Gulf states. The economy of Egypt is more dependent on the exportation of other goods, such as wheat and cotton, in addition to its supply of oil products. However, because the government cannot provide subsidies and assistance to its population as easily as some other countries in the region this becomes an issue of stability. When looking at the external factors that make Egypt different, the main point of difference is its relationship with the United States and how that relationship affects Egyptian policies. Egypt receives a staggering amount of aid, and the only other state comparable is Israel, figures for Egypt show that the U.S. promised $1.3 billion for military aid in 2007, this has some long reaching effects. One of these effects is that because of the relationship with the U.S. the Egyptian government has had to accept some international policies that would be hard pressed for other Arab states to agree to, one such instance of this was in the Arab-Israel conflict they recognized Israeli sovereignty in return for the Sinai which was captured during the Six-Day War, also the recognition of Israel was something that came out of this conflict. Not only has Egypt had to accept some difficult international policies, but it has also been seen often times as the police force of the U.S. within the region, this is something that has strained relations with other Arab states, however, the Mubarak government has been working to try and repair ties to some of the states that it has had strained relations with. Finally, the ability for the U.S. to sell its products to Egypt is something that is very important in the Egyptian-US relationship, this ability to send financial aid to Egypt and in return have Egypt buy its products is a large benefit to the United States, this is something that is seen in other parts of the global south, but not so much in the rest of the region.
When looking at the factors that help to show how it is that Egypt is a typical state of the Middle East and North Africa, there is much more that can be seen. Again speaking in terms of internal factors it is very similar to other Arab states in terms of its government policies. Such examples could include how the government allows or disallows political parties, and how it uses political parties to its own advantage. The government in terms of political parties often times does not allow parties to run other than those who they feel are not a threat to the control of the regime. It has even been said that there has been “systematic fraud and ballot rigging, combined with more or less open violence vis-à-vis opposition groups and the media, ensuring that power remains within a network of the privileged, often closely linked to the armed forces.” In addition to this type of political control, the state has a vast network of police and security, insuring the stability of the government through the use of torture as a state policy, going so far that almost anyone arrested is at risk of being tortured, and where there is an increasing amount of Egyptians testifying to having been victims of some form of torture. The low-intensity democracy, or almost complete lack of real democracy, is also another feature that is common in many of the Arab states. This policy insures the continuation of the regime because it only allows for those candidates of the party to run for office, in addition to that the actions and laws the state implements often time are redirected from other programs that the people need, and so this puts the government into a position of looking as if it is trying to mend the situation that Egypt has found itself in. Not only this, but there are still instances where representatives of parties are targets of police investigations, and the Muslim Brotherhood is still illegal. This again shows just how even though on paper Egypt is a democratic state, there is still a long way to go before it is truly acting in the manner of such a state. Another tendency of states in the Middle East and North Africa, is a wide gap between the rich and poor, the same is true with Egypt. The problems that are rampant in Egypt are common in many other parts of the Middle East, such as the fact that although the government seems to be a capitalist system much of the businesses are connected to the government in some way or another. This is problematic because in reality there are few private businesses. Rather much of the economy is supported by the government, which if the government is lacking funds means that jobs will be difficult to find, and will provide little for those working. This forces Egyptians to work three or four jobs in order to meet their basic needs each month. The Mubarak regime has promised to take steps to limit government involvement in the economy and allow for more privet business, however, this might be a difficult task due to the level of poverty and the average Egyptian’s dependence on government aid or their multiple jobs.
In addition to these internal factors, in which it can be said that Egypt is a typical state of the Middle East and North Africa, there are also many external factors that aid in this view point. Often times these external factors are highly linked to the internal factors. Of these external factors, the one that has the highest amount of influence is the Egyptian relationship with the United States. As talked about in class, Egypt and the U.S. share a very complex relationship often tied up in U.S. aid, and how this aid affects the policies of Egypt. Because the Egyptian government is heavily dependent on the aid that it receives from the U.S. in the form of military aid and other aid in order to maintain stability. It must be willing to compromise in order to receive that aid. This is something that is used to allow the U.S. to have greater influence in the region. Although this is often in different forms than that of other Arab states, the concept is the same, which is this has been listed in something that is both different and the same. The Global War on Terrorism, has had a big impact on the role of Egypt in the relationship between it and the United States, it has been acting in recent years as a hub and detention facility for those political prisoners that the US cannot implement their methods of information extraction, and so on behalf of the US, Egypt has been willing to act on behalf of America in order to maintain good relations, which in turn provides stability for the Government. On other matters, this relationship has been used as a way to bring an end to other such regional conflicts, such as the Arab-Israeli conflict. Egypt has always played a key roll in the conflict and negotiation process because of its location and extensive border with Israel. Again, as stated earlier, this is something that makes Egypt different because of its willingness to comply with the pressures of the US in return for aid, however, it is similar because of the overall concept: whereas states such as Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi have been unwilling to come to terms with this exchange. The relationship with the US is similar in other ways as well, in that it could be a liability for the Mubarak regime. The reliance on the United States for aid places a great deal of pressure on the Egyptian government, and because of that it could be seen as weak in the eyes of its people. This is something that it shares in common with Saudi Arabia, of which those seeking a radical change in the social and political system could use to their advantage.
The rise in recent years of Islamism in the Middle East and North Africa is somewhat a regional phenomenon, and something that has had a long and somewhat complex, and very diverse history as to what the movement stands for, and who it represents. Not only this, but it can be said that there are many misconceptions about the ideas of Islamism in the West. However, it could be argued that the most important thing to understand about this rise in political Islam is that it is not always militant due to the fact it is in constant shift as to who it is representing, going along with that thinking it should also be said that it does in no way represent only one way of thinking about political Islam, again because of those who it claims to represent may vary in how they view Islam’s role in politics. This can be seen in the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and how it has changed over its existence into a modern political movement with many different views and ideas.
With the end of leftist and communist movements in the late 1970’s a new shift occurred, one in which a new political ideology arose to fill the gap in opposition to the established regimes who had failed in providing significant change and representation for their people. In Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood was this organization. It had historical roots in opposing the colonial rule of Egypt, and promoting the nationalistic identity of Egyptians, and because of this already had a large following on the grass-roots level. This was utilized in opposition to the government in the modern era, with far more success than any of the secular groups of the 60s and 70s. It held a stance that Islamic law should be put in place as the method of governing a nation of Muslims. They formed a conservative group within Egyptian society however the Brotherhood has often been representative of many different and varying opinions over its history. The support for the Brotherhood came about not only through common grievances against the government, but also had much support because Islam is seen as a way of life for the majority of Muslims, and thus it should be noted that the support had basis on principles that extend beyond the political sphere. An interesting facet of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is that because it represents a group advocating for democracy and rule by the people, many different ideas as to what democracy tend to rise up and cause many splits within the group, however this is not so common among the Brotherhood in Egypt, and it benefits from being relatively unopposed by groups of the same nature. Rather it attempts to bring all those who are unsatisfied under its umbrella, with issue specific groups underneath, to bring about the desired change.
When looking at Islamist movements in the region, it can be seen that because the term is able to be defined differently by its members the results are often times different interpretations of what the movement wants to achieve. This is due to the stratification of society as a whole rather than flaw in the idea of political Islam, it could be argued. This also could be said to bring about contradictions within the movement itself, leading to offshoots of groups, and rethinking of the methods, or goals of the movement as a whole. Such was the case with the Muslim Brotherhood, when in the 1970s there was a split in those who advocated social reform, and those who advocated for jihad against the government, from Islamist student associations. Those who advocated for the social reforms eventually joined with the Brotherhood and the Dawa party to bring about a rethinking of the methods and goals of the group, which were vastly different from older interpretations of what the group stood for under occupation. This rift among the Islamist student association left the same idea with two different groups now advocating their way of bringing about the change that was desired, one being gradual reform and one being direct action, violent if need be. It is in the interpretation and the methods used to bring about the end result that causes confusion about what Islamism actually is, and more often than not in the Western world it is portrayed as violent action against a government, rather than focusing on the end result many focus on the method of getting to the result when trying to define what Islamism is. This is why it could be stated that to understand the modern Islamist movements, an understanding of the goals of the movement must first be identified, and then its methods for bringing about that change can be studied, to see if it is a political movement or something altogether different. However, because of the variations in goals, and methods, modern Islamist movements tend to be very difficult to define, and thus difficult to study.