Moderate Islam in the Maghreb: How US Foreign Policy Shapes Islamist Contention

By: Vish Sakthivel

April 4, 2019

Since the beginning of the U.S-led war on terror, a handful of Muslim-majority states have begun to brand themselves on the international stage as a source of “moderate Islam.” A recent report by Peter Mandaville and Shadi Hamid observes that states’ uses of Islam in foreign policy are extensions of domestic religious-political cultures.

Algeria and cases like it, however, reveal that this relationship might also be dialectic: Where states use domestic religious orientations to craft their foreign policy posture, the political-religious dynamics that result project back on to domestic religious actors’ considerations. Algeria’s regional role as an exporter of “moderate Islam” has shaped how domestic Islamists position themselves within the political-cultural milieu. 

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Editor's Note: This blog post was written as part of a Berkley Center/Brookings Institution collaboration on the geopolitics of religious soft powerRead the rest of the post on the Brookings Order From Chaos blog.

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Moderate Islam in the Maghreb: How US Foreign Policy Shapes Islamist Contention