Who defines moderation? Adapting Islamist and Salafi identities in Tunisia to a changing religio-political field

Helen Lu Murphey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

The idea of Tunisian ‘moderation’ as an essential constituent part of national identity has been historically used by autocratic governments as an instrument of securitization, investing the state with the unique authority to suppress movements – in practice, usually the Islamist opposition – deemed antithetical to this identity and thus threatening to the nation and its people. This paper explores how, after the Arab Uprisings in 2010–2011, diverse groups of Islamists responded to pre-existing discourses of Tunisian national identity as moderate. After the revolution, Tunisian Islamists and Salafis initially both contested the assumptions behind pre-revolutionary conceptualizations of national identity that had previously excluded them from the boundaries of normative citizenship by reframing the nature of the threat or attempting to redefine and expand the nature of moderation. Both groups encountered different outcomes in their attempts to recalibrate the notions of identity, religion and the state. These divergences can be traced to their differing ideologies, political situations and incentives. Nevertheless, the fact that each group engaged with – rather than dismissed – this discourse suggests the centrality of the state-moderation-security nexus in structuring past and present conceptualizations of Tunisian moderation.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
JournalMediterranean Politics
VolumeLatest Articles
Early online date3 Jun 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Jun 2024

Keywords

  • Tunisia
  • Political Islam
  • Democratization
  • Religion
  • Governance

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