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Salafis and Political Participation


Development experts, researchers, and politicians that speak for the Salafi trend in Jordan and the Arab world were under the microscope for research and evaluation in a regional seminar organized by the Center for Strategic Studies and the University of Jordan in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. The seminar was entitled "Salafis and Political Democracy in Jordan."


The speakers distinguished between the political discourse in Salafi trends that have accepted the principle of participation in civil political life, and the other Salafi trends, know as "jihadist trends," as continue to refuse to recognize the principle of political participation.


Speakers and attendees at the meeting, which was attended by the president of the University of Jordan, Dr. Ekhleif Tarawneh, talked about multiple issues that concern Salafist groups' participation in political and parliamentary life and the situation of personal freedom, women's rights, international human rights conventions, the acceptance of others, religious and ethnic minorities in Arab societies, the Christian position, and the degree of acceptance Salafis have for each other.


The symposium, the first of its kind in Jordan and the Arab world, turned to talk about the extent and magnitude of the changes suffered by the political discourse of Salafi groups after the Arab Spring. The researchers stressed that the political discourse of these groups are still in the first

stages and have not sufficiently materialized to be judged. It didn't appear originally in the patchy image that we know know, but became so after the Arab Spring hit some of the Arab countries.


The first session, chaired by Musa Maaytah, discussed the "Intellectual and Movement Map of the Salafis." Moroccan researcher Dr. Abdul Hakim Abu Allooz presented a working paper in which he reviews the sociological discourse of Salafist movements in the Maghreb. He was followed by the Jordanian researcher who specializes in Islamic movements, Hassan Abu Haniya. He presented a paper in which he reviews the intellectual and movement map of the Salafis in the Mushriq.


The second session, chaired by the journalist and Tunisian researcher Salah Edeen Aljurshi, discussed the theme of "Salafis and Questions of Democracy, Freedom, and Minorities." Osama Shihadeh, from Jordan, presented a review on the position of Salafis in democracy, pluarlism, and public freedoms. Deputy Speaker Dr. Bahraini commented on it, and the researcher Yemeni Anwar Khudari presented a paper on the position of the Salafis towards individual freedoms after Dr. Musa Shteiwi.


The third session was devoted to the political role of the Salafis. It was chaired by program director Friedrich Ebert in Jordan Firas Khairallah. Researcher and Saudi journalist Nawaf Alqadimi presented a paper on the impact of Salafi movements in the democratic process and on other Islamic movements. The journalist and Tunisian researcher Salah Edeen Aljurshi commented and the Lebanese researcher Dr. Abdul Ghani Imad introduced a working paper in which he reviews the relationship of Salafis with minorities, following the Nour Party spokesman, Mohammed Noor.


The concluding session was chaired by the director of the Center for Strategic Studies, Dr. Musa Shteiwi. French researcher Dr. Stephanie Lacroix reviewed the changes in the speech of Salafi movements. Dr. Mohammed Abu Rumman reviewed the main proposals cited in the symposium. President of the University of Jordan, Dr. Akhalif Troana, stressed in his speech that opened the symposium, "The Religious Forces that Jumped the Arab Spring Countries to the Front of Events, Some Milde, Others Extreme, According to Thought and Practice." He said that meaningful dialogue was the way to explored the mosques' developing trends and to develop forward thinking visions and solutions to the problems that dominate our region and our world.


The Director and resident representative of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Amman, Achim Vogt, said that one of the reasons for this symposium was to try to understand the Salafi trend and outlook for topical issues concerning the role of women in democracy, freedom of belief, and the civil state. He noted that it is important to listen to the Salafis when developing participation and social responsibility towards the development community.


The director for the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan, Dr. Musa Shteiwi, reviewed the goal of the seminar, saying he intended to study speech and attitudes of Salafist groups in the Arab world in terms of issues such as democracy, individual freedoms, pluralism, religious minorities, and women in order to approach their influence and affect on the political process especially. Despite their presence, they didn't receive enough attention in the media as if the Muslim Brotherhood was outside of the Salafist current and outside of the political process in most countries in the region with the exception of Bahrain and Kuwait.



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