Vol.5, No.1 | [Book Review] Islamist Terrorism and Democracy in the Middle East




This is a work that starts out well with a solid premise, namely to critique the oft repeated claim that Middle Eastern terrorism stems, to a large degree, from a democracy deficit in the region. Unable to vote or participate in politics, so the theory goes, certain marginalized groups resort to terrorism. Pro-American authoritarian regimes like that of Mubarek in Egypt or the Saudi dynasty drove those whose voices could not be heard to join terrorist groups like Saudi-led Al Qaeda or Egypt’s Gamaa Islamiya. Dalacoura sums up her book’s objectives by stating on page 23 “The central purpose of the book is to investigate whether a convincing case can be made that Islamist terrorism in the Middle East has political causes stemming from non- democratic or authoritarian structures.” Dalacoura argues that it cannot by stating that “there is no simple or consistent pattern of causation or any identifiable and consistent relationship between democracy (or lack thereof) and terrorism.” (page 38).

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