Egyptians Protest Islamophobic Video

 by Jeffry Halverson With all the very serious problems facing Egypt, the region, and indeed the world today, what brought out thousands of Egyptian protestors in Cairo on September 11, 2012? A thirteen-minute Islamophobic online video produced by a group of US-based Coptic Christians. But Coptic officials in Egypt, understandably fearful that Muslim anger might turn against them yet again, quickly issued a statement condemning the activities of Copts living abroad in producing such projects. […] Read more »

Narratives Behind the False Pyramid Destruction Story

by Jeffry R. Halverson For the second time this year, remnants of the pro-Mubarak media in Egypt have caused a major stir in the international press and blogosphere by spreading false stories about alleged Islamist plans for Egypt. The latest claim is that the Islamist-led government of President Mohammed Morsi intends to destroy the pyramids of Giza and the rest of Egypt’s world famous Pharaonic heritage as un-Islamic or jahili remnants of pagan idolatry. A […] Read more »

Islamism and Dissent vs. Identity in the Voting Booth

by Jeffry R. Halverson* “If a group of people feels that it has been humiliated and that its honor has been trampled underfoot, it will want to express its identity.”                                                                                           […] Read more »

Why Story is Not Narrative

By Jeffry R. Halverson I’ll admit that I slip sometimes in everyday conversation and use the word “story” as a synonym for “narrative.” A lot of people do it. But I should know better. There’s an important difference between the two. For the average conversation the difference doesn’t really matter much. However, when it comes to strategic communication and understanding the role of narrative in messaging strategies, it’s a distinction that has to be made. […] Read more »

Putting the Islamist “win” in Tunisia in Context

by Jeffry R. Halverson Put him in power and see how wise he is. – Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms I have spent an inordinate amount of time studying Islamist ideologues and their ideas during my relatively short lifetime. I’ve never read War and Peace, but I have read Milestones and The Neglected Duty. In recent months, the Tunisian Islamist and leader of Ennahda, Rachid Ghannouchi, has occupied a good deal of my attention. […] Read more »

Extremism and Contested Tunisian Identity in Kairouan

by Jeffry R. Halverson I recently traveled to Tunisia where I visited the ancient holy city of Kairouan. Elections for the constituent assembly to produce a new Tunisian constitution are less than two weeks away and there is a lot of discussion taking place about the nature of Tunisian identity and the role of Islam in Tunisian society. Islamists, both mainstream and radical, obviously envision a prominent role for Islam. However, my experiences in Kairouan, […] Read more »

Seeing the Syrian Conflict through Narrative

By Jeffry R. Halverson Unlike the protests of the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt, the campaigns underway against the Assad regime in Syria have a distinctly sectarian character. The Assad regime is dominated by the Alawites, a little-known esoteric Shi‘ite sect. However, the majority of Syria’s population is Sunni Muslim (approx. 75%). And caught in the middle of the conflict are Syria’s Christians (10% of the pop.), Druze, Twelver Shi‘ites, and others, including a […] Read more »

Implicit Master Narratives in Extremist Website Launch

by Jeffry R. Halverson If you’ve read our book Master Narratives of Islamist Extremism then you already have a solid understanding of the major master narratives employed by Islamist extremists in their communications. For example, you’re able to recognize the significance of a Pharaoh reference when an extremist is condemning a world leader. Or you’re able to see the apocalyptic scheme articulated in Ahmadinejad’s praise of the “Lord of the Age” (which is not a […] Read more »

Zawahiri’s Curious Recollection of Karbala in Bin Laden Eulogy

by Jeffry R. Halverson The Karbala master narrative is one of the most rich and influential in the Islamic world, specifically among Shi‘a societies. We devoted an entire chapter to it in the book Master Narratives of Islamist Extremism, and Kamran Scott Aghaie has penned a wonderful study of it in relation to the history of Iranian identity and nationalism. There is a terrific documentary too, examining the narrative in contemporary Iran and Iraq, which […] Read more »

The Iranian Narrative Landscape Stirs

by Jeffry R. Halverson Recently, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been abuzz over the release of a video entitled “The Coming is Very Near,” a 28-minute production created by a group of Twelver Shi‘a devotees of the Hidden Imam al-Mahdi, known as the Harbingers of the Coming (perhaps associated with the Hojjatieh Society). It is believed that President Ahmadinejad’s chief-of-staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei is a member of the group. A report released by the […] Read more »