Moderate Islamist parties in the MENA region and Europe

Between the democracy–human rights nexus and the stability–security nexus

Authored by: Djallil Lounnas

Routledge Handbook of EU–Middle East Relations

Print publication date:  December  2021
Online publication date:  December  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367330767
eBook ISBN: 9780429317873
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter explores the evolution of the relations between the moderate Islamist parties in the Arab world and the European Union (EU) in the post–Arab Spring era. Indeed, the EU has for a long time perceived those parties as an emanation of radical Islam and thus opposed to democracy and the respect of human rights, two fundamental EU principles. Thus, and after briefly enquiring into the ideological roots of moderation strategies adopted by those parties, this chapter looks at how they implemented them once in power, especially in the areas of democratic practices and individual/women’s rights. This paper shows, however, that the dramatic security changes in the MENA region with rise of radical jihadi organisations and illegal migration resulted in a shift of priorities. While not new, the security–stability nexus is now privileged over the democracy–human rights nexus. Moderate Islamist parties now in power have in turn had to adapt themselves to such a shift as to appear as credible partners for the European governments.

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