In This Review

Islam and the Arab Awakening
Islam and the Arab Awakening
By Tariq Ramadan
Oxford University Press, 2012, 256 pp

Ramadan, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Oxford, is more famous for being the grandson of Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. In this book, he uses the Arab uprisings of 2011 as a pretext to revisit themes raised in his earlier writings. He hopes that contemporary Islamism can recapture values that were laid to waste by two centuries of colonialism and argues that Islamist governance can be compatible with the rule of law, equality for all citizens, universal suffrage, accountability, and the separation of powers. Secularist reformers, he fears, are less interested in those goals than in integrating the Arab world into a neo-liberal world order that he rejects. His analysis of the uprisings waffles between admiration for the protesters and a suspicion that the United States had a hand in training them. Ramadan sees almost every event in recent Middle Eastern history as serving a neoliberal order that favors regional stability, corporate interests, and Israel’s survival -- and as the result of a neoliberal plot, a common view in the Arab world.